The Essential Jesus

Day 1 of 100 • This day’s reading


Who Is Jesus?

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION in all of human history?

Of course, everyone is curious about their existence: Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? In addition, many wonder about the great challenges in the world today: How can we stop wars and maintain peace? How can we cure various diseases? How can we eliminate poverty? How can we protect the environment?

I'm convinced there is one question more important than all the rest: Who is Jesus? Why? Because Jesus claimed he was God on the earth. That's right; he said he was God's promised Messiah, the one and only Savior of the world. If that's true, really true, then everything else is secondary.

When you think about it, our world is full of information about Jesus–in movies and plays, on television and radio, and in magazines and books. Some of it is accurate, some not. Often he's positioned as the founder of a religion–Christianity. Other times he's portrayed as a moral teacher, a miracle worker, or a martyr. Some see him as a revolutionary, a charlatan, or a curse. Some don't think he existed at all; they think the stories of Jesus are legends and myths.

So how do we find out who the essential Jesus really is? The best way is to go to the complete source of information we have about him, the Bible. As you read through the selected hundred passages about Jesus, you'll quickly see the storyline of Jesus is the "scarlet thread" that runs through the Bible from beginning to end. Jesus is what the Bible is all about.

In our first five readings, we'll consider the thoughts of three people close to Jesus: John and Peter, two of his key disciples, and Paul, who had a unique encounter with Jesus. Each of these readings describes Jesus in the loftiest terms. Later in our journey, we'll get to his life's particulars. But for now, we need to get the big picture, and that's where we'll start.


PRAY: Dear God, I'm on a mission to find out who Jesus really is. Please open the eyes of my heart so I can take an honest look at him.

READ: John 1:1-18

REFLECT: Journalists think of their profession as a quest for truth: If they accurately report the facts of a story, they believe they've told the whole truth. As John begins his account of Jesus' life, he realizes the truth goes far beyond mere fact. The man he lived alongside for three years was divine and human at the same time. How do you describe a truth like that?

The other Gospel writers start with the practical details of Jesus' life–who his ancestors were (Matthew), how his public ministry got started (Mark), and how he was born (Luke ). John begins by calling Jesus "the Word," a curious phrase but one that captures something important. Jesus was a statement from God to humankind: If you want to know who I am, look at Jesus. Why? Because "the Word was God" (v. 1). Not just a great teacher or healer, celebrity or leader. The essential truth about Jesus is that he was God on earth (v. 14).

That's a bold claim, but what difference does it make if it's true?

First, Jesus is a new source of light in the world (vv. 5-9). John uses the image of light and darkness to describe Jesus' mission. A world without God is a sinful, dark place. If you need proof, turn on your television. When Jesus appeared, it was like a candle in a dark room; people could finally see a way to God.

Second, Jesus is the source of new life (vv. 4, 12). If there is no God and no afterlife, there is no meaning; death is the end. Jesus offered a way out of such futility. He invites everyone to be part of God's family forever (v. 12). How sad that some aren't interested (vv. 10-11).

As we explore what the Bible says about Jesus, we need to remember the facts tell only part of the story. The truth about Jesus doesn't contradict the facts. It's just far, far bigger.

APPLY: Has God ever communicated with you? How? How did you respond?

PRAY: Jesus, as I learn more about you, I'd also like to experience more of you in my life. I ask for your help with ...