Year by year, on the month of December, we may often hear a question, “What is Christmas all about?” We may also be pondering the real meaning of Christmas, is it more than just a holiday season and time of happiness with family and our loved ones? What does Christmas actually mean to you?
Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump declared that Jesus is the reason for the season. The birth of Jesus, over two thousands years ago, and the story of his incredible life has forever changed the course of human history. Things you may want to know about Jesus has been written in the Bible, the world’s best-selling book of all time.
The uniqueness of Jesus is attributed to his birth (from a virgin woman), his life (with miraculous signs and heavenly authorities), his ministry (to love God wholeheartedly and people unconditionally), his death (to overcome sins and become a perfect, flawless offering to God), his resurrection (to overcome the grave, showing his authority over life and death), his ascension (to prepare eternal home for us, showing his authority in heaven and on earth), and his second coming (to judge the living and the dead and to establish God’s endless kingdom). By this, Christians believe that Jesus is capable of saving people from eternal death, the condition of being separated from God forever.
Now, what does the Bible say about Jesus that makes him so special? There are many names, titles, and characters of Jesus, mentioned either by Jesus himself or by other people in the Bible. The author herein lists some of the biblical attributes of Jesus, which can be enough to prove his matchless nature, so that the readers may be convinced that Jesus is truly incomparable and his name is above all names.
The Word of God
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1, KJV)
He (Jesus) wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. (Revelation 19:13, NLT)
The universe is created by God through the word. If Jesus is the Word of God, then everything is created through Jesus. Mario Joseph once asked, “Is the word creator or creation?” If the word is creator, then Jesus, as the Word of God, is the Creator. However, if the word is creation, how did God create the word? Let me put it this way: of all the creatures, human is endowed with the ability to communicate through words. People make a living through words, by writing, speaking, listening, and reading. Simply to say, we all can’t live without words! Is it a coincidence that the Bible says in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God? Why does the Bible correlate the Word with Jesus? If Jesus is the Word of God, then we must acknowledge that he is the source of life!
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6, ESV)
The above verse is widely quoted during Christmas. It is the prophecy of Isaiah, written about seven centuries before the time of Jesus, which has been fulfilled in Jesus, who is a descendant of King David, and whose kingdom is everlasting. Let us now take a look at each of the title of Jesus here.
First, a counselor means “a person trained to give guidance on personal, social, or psychological problems.” If Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor, then he must be an expert to give us wisdom and guidance on any problems we may have. He is able to do that because he has experienced the most terrible suffering ever: the crucifixion; that’s why he totally understands our struggles and pains and he will never despise anyone who come to him. Knowing this truth, we may approach God with a confidence in the name of Jesus.
Second, who said that Jesus is not God? Clearly, in this verse alone, we can see the words “child”, “born”, “son”, and “God” exist together referring to Jesus. If Jesus is the Mighty God, then he must be able to empty himself and become a human. No doubt about that, because Jesus is the Omnipotent God. On the other hand, if Jesus is not God, then there has never been a story of God coming down to earth to lovingly reach out and communicate with his people. We may then think that God is “an indifferent creator” who lives comfortably at his throne in heaven and does not really care about us and what is going on in the world. There had never been a meaningful interaction between God and people or heaven and earth if Jesus were not God.
Third, one of the truth about God is revealed through Jesus, the Everlasting Father. What a privilege to be the children of God that we may call him “Father!” We know that being a parent (in this case, father) is a permanent role we may have in life. One can never say, “He is my ex-father.” Once you become a father, you are a lifetime father. A father is supposed to be the head of family, who is responsible for the welfare of all the members. In the father, children can find joy, love, peace, security, wisdom, and vision. What a personal and intimate relationship we have with God as our Father, the source of everything we need. And even more, what a joy to know that such relationship will last forever!
Fourth, the reconciliation between God and people is made possible through the work of Jesus on the cross. Jesus has become “the bridge”, creating peace between man and his Creator. As we see the world today, horizontal conflicts are everywhere; peace is what people, family, and nations are longing for. In this Christmas, we are reminded that even though the world has been damaged by sin, the coming of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, has given us the ultimate hope for a better life. As the children of God, we are also to be peacemakers wherever He has placed us (Matthew 5:9).
The Lamb of God
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29, NLT)
Jesus has come to earth with a clear mission: to take away the sin of the world. In the ancient times, as indicated by the Old Testament (see the Book of Leviticus), the people of Israel had to offer a various type of offerings to express devotion or thanksgiving to God and gain his approval. The annual ritual of the sin offering to make atonement or purification for all the people foreshadows the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, who was slain for our redemption from sin. Jesus has died once for all and we have been sanctified through the offering of his body. As a result, it is no longer required for those who believe in Jesus to present any sacrificial offerings for the forgiveness of their sins.
The Good Shepherd
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, NLT)
In Psalm 23, King David declares the Lord is his shepherd, he lacks nothing. In the above verse, Jesus declares himself as the Good Shepherd, who sacrifices his life for the sheep. He has not only talked about the selfless character of a good shepherd, but also proved it with his own life. Clearly, Jesus “practices what he preaches”, he “walks the talk.” This is a very critical lesson, especially for leaders. The most important value a leader must have is integrity; to act in a way that agrees with the things said. In agreement with the title of Jesus as the Lamb God, Jesus has accomplished his mission to take away our sins by laying down his life so that he may take it back again (John 10:17-18).
The Light of the World
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, NIV)
When we sinned against God, we chose to follow our own ways. We trusted in our own plans rather than His. We were walking in the darkness and the eyes of our hearts were blinded by the worldly things, such as selfish ambition, anxiety, envy, pride, and so on. Deep down in our hearts, we long for the light that would enable us to walk in the right path. Christmas brings a good news that the Light of the World has come. Jesus reveals who God really is to us because he is the radiance of God’s glory and the complete representation or exact imprint of God’s nature (Hebrews 1:3).
Human can’t live without light. In nature, we know that sun is the greatest source of light and energy to all creatures. Plants, for example, use sunlight to make nutrients for their growth through a process known as photosynthesis. On rainy and cold days, we miss sun so badly. With the modern technologies, people can use the energy of sunlight to produce electricity through a device known as solar cell. If you study about Physics, you may have learned that light is both particle and wave, the concept of which is known as wave-particle duality. Historically, this concept has emerged as the foundation of quantum mechanics and led to the discovery of electromagnetic waves, such as X-ray, ultraviolet light, infrared light, microwave, etc. Most of the electronic devices that we presently use, like computer, smartphone, and many analytical instruments, have worked on the basis of this principle. Now, can human live without all these devices? Did you realize that? Light is not only about sun! So, is it coincidence that Jesus describes himself in such an unimaginable way that addresses even the needs of people from every generation?
The Source of Living Water
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14, ESV)
Can human live without water? In fact, up to 60% of human body is water. Every day we must consume water to survive. Again, is it coincidence that Jesus talked about the spring of water to satisfy our thirst? He not only touches our physical desires, but also our emotional and even spiritual needs. What are we thirsty for these days? Love, acknowledgment, knowledge, money, or else? Jesus promises the spring of water, which refers to the work of Holy Spirit, for whoever drinks it. The first step we must take to drink the water is to open our mouth: be intentional in opening our hearts to him. Once Jesus is in us, he will satisfy the deepest longing of our hearts and we will never be the same person. We will see things differently and our focus will change, from the self-centered minds to the God-centered desires. No wonder Paul, after his conversion, said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20) and he focused on the unseen (eternal) things that would bring glory to God, rather than the seen (temporal) things that soon would be gone (2 Corinthians 4:18).
The Bread of Life
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35, NIV)
After the word, the light, the water, which represent the basic human’s needs, now Jesus declares himself as the Bread of Life. He is concerned with the human’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. He best knows that we all need a freedom to express and communicate through words, to walk this life without fears by light, and to be continually satisfied by water and bread (food). In particular, bread represents the source of energy to run our activities. Again, here we clearly see that Jesus is the source of life, who provides our daily bread (Matthew 6:11). We couldn’t live one day without him. Every day is the opportunity to grow in Jesus as we do what he commands. We find the ultimate joy when we please him. There is no way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.
Messiah, the Christ
The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!” (John 4:25-26, NLT)
Jesus is the long awaited savior of Israel and the world. The term of Messiah (Hebrew) refers to a future Jewish king who will be descended from the line of King David, to be the king of God’s kingdom. According to the orthodox views of Jews, the Messiah will gather the Jews back into the land of Israel. The term of Christ (Greek), meaning “the anointed one,” refers to the savior and redeemer who would bring salvation to the Jewish and mankind. Christians believe the prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament have been fulfilled in Jesus because he is the descendant of King David and has come to the world to save those who believe in him.
Immanuel, God with us
Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23, NKJV)
Before the birth of Jesus, people might never think God would like to dwell among his people. Before the death of Jesus, he promised to send the Holy Spirit, who would be with his people forever (John 14:15-17). This promise was later fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, about ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven. Before his ascension, Jesus declared that he would always be with his disciples, even until the end of time (Matthew 28:20). Christians believe in the trinity: God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, as three Persons of one Being. Putting them all together, we can see the consistency of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit’s intention to dwell with his people forever. Moreover, Paul also confirmed that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Knowing this truth, we can be sure of two things. First, the concept of trinity is undeniable. Second, Jesus is alive and he is Immanuel, God with us. It is truly a great honor to have God of the universe dwells in our hearts! Thus, we can say, “O come, o come Immanuel!”
The Alpha and the Omega
“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” (Revelation 1:8, NLT)
We are born to this world without knowing exactly where we come from (origin), why we are here (meaning), how we should live (purpose), and where we are going (destiny). But yet again, on this Christmas, we are so thankful that Jesus Christ is the one who was, who is, and who is to come. Jesus has the authority over life and death, in heaven and on earth, and also from the beginning to the end. He is the Alpha and the Omega. In him, we may find the origin, meaning, purpose, and destiny of our life. Don’t ask your ancestors about your origin; nor your teachers about your meaning; nor your friends about your purpose; nor a psychic about your destiny! We may never fully grasp them all, but we should believe that having an intimate relationship with Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, is enough because He is the author and the perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
There are actually names and titles of Jesus Christ in the Bible not mentioned here (such as the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Lion of Judah, the Living Stone, the Resurrection and the Life, and many more). The author therefore would suggest the other article that may supplement this writing. Nevertheless, the author hopes that, by the grace of God, through this writing, we all may grow deeper in our understanding and love with Jesus Christ and continually experience his joy, peace, and love throughout the years. Merry Christmas!
Vancouver, December 25, 2017
The Attributes of Jesus. (Photo of Jesus is adapted from here and the background photo is adapted from here; designed by the author)