Do You Believe in Jesus?
Do you believe in Jesus? Many would immediately answer yes. What exactly do you believe?
Believing in Jesus begins with believing that He was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, became an influential teacher (affecting the course of history), did many good things, yet so infuriated His enemies that they crucified Him. This is historical faith, accepting historical facts. Many in Jesus’ day believed these things, including those who opposed Him, men such as Caiaphas (John 11) and Pilate (Lk. 23). Believing in historical Jesus is a start, but if that is as far as it goes it is of no more value than believing in George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.
What is the significance of these events? The crowd that crucified Him saw little; to them, it was the end of an imposter (Matthew 27:38-42). Peter announced, however, that these events were all planned by God (Acts 2:22-24; cf. 13:27). Indeed, they were the means by which Jesus provided salvation (1 Peter 1:18-21).
This is what Jesus foretold about His death. He said He would give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28); that His blood would be poured out for forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28); that as the good shepherd He would lay down His life for the sheep and take it up again (John 10:11, 17-18).
How could Jesus foreknow these events? How could He control them? Just who is He?
That is precisely the question raised in John 8:25. Jesus answered that He is the Son who makes us free (v. 36), the one who came from God (v. 42), the sinless one (v. 46), the one whose word prevents us from dying (v. 51). Who is He? I AM (v. 58), one of the Old Testament names for God. Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14). Make no mistake, Jesus said He is divine, and belief in divine Jesus is essential. “For unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
Look again at Peter’s sermon in Acts 2. Peter connects God’s promise to David to seat one of his descendants on his throne (2 Samuel 7:12-16) to Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to God’s right hand. Indeed, this is the site of His throne (Psalm 110:1-3; Revelation 3:21). Verse 4 of Psalm 110 adds that Jesus is a priest according to the order of Melchizedek. That means His kingship and priesthood are combined (Zechariah 6:12-13); He is king and priest at the same time.
Does this matter? It most certainly does! If Jesus is not king, He is not priest. As priest He makes atonement for our sins (Hebrews 9-10) and the continuing intercession for us by which He saves us (Hebrews 7:25). It is in Jesus’ kingdom that we have forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13). Denying that Jesus is now the king of Old Testament prophecy means denying His priesthood—remember, the two go together—and that means denying Him as the means of our salvation!
Peter’s sermon concluded, “ . . . God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). Some who believe in Jesus in one or more of the senses we have reviewed do not act on their faith. They will say they believe, perhaps even sing about it, but do not enact it.
This is the crux of the matter: Do you believe in Lord Jesus? Are you demonstrating that faith in the way you live? Are you Jesus’ disciple? Discipleship requires commitment: it means being devoted to Him above all others (Luke 14:26), going wherever He directs and bearing whatever hardships that entails (v. 27), and giving Him your all (v. 33). Discipleship requires obedience: “Why do you say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). Discipleship is what Jesus requires of us (Matthew 28:19).
Now, do you believe in Jesus?