I heard a story today that made me wonder how I would respond if I were asked the following questions....

"So your family are Christians.  What does that mean?  I don't get it."

How would I respond?  Yes, my family members are all Christians.  So, what does that mean?

Well, I guess I could answer this many different ways, but I want to answer it on a personal level.

I want to tell you what Jesus means to me.

I believe Jesus is the Son of God.  Well, maybe I better back up. 

First, I believe in God.  God that is the Creator of all things.  God who has no beginning and no end.

God, through human means, wrote the words in the Bible.

So God created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, and they sinned, which means they went against what God wanted them to do.  They did it their way instead of God's way.

Before they made this decision, they lived in Paradise.....the Garden of Eden.  They had a perfect relationship with God.  After they went against what God told them to do, their relationship with God was broken.  Have you ever lied to your parents?  A bit of a wall goes up and you don't quite feel comfortable being around your parent, because you know you have done something wrong, and you feel guilty, and so your relationship has been broken.

So now fellowship with God was broken.  God eventually came up with some ways for his chosen people, the Israelites, to have their sins pardoned.  They could perform animal sacrifices so God would pardon their sins.

So this went on for hundreds and hundreds of years.  And through all this time, in the scriptures that God inspired man to write, there was a promise of a Messiah to come.  Lots of scripture was written about a Savior who would come such as Isaiah 9:6 that says:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

The people of Israel waited hundreds of years for their Messiah to come.  And then, Jesus was born.

This story begins when Mary was visited by an angel who told her she was highly favored among women, and would become pregnant and bear a son and she would call him Jesus.  Mary's then asks the angel an obvious question, "Well how can this be because I have not slept with a man?"

The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you;
Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God."

The angel then told her that nothing was impossible with God, and Mary's faith helped her accept was was happening to her, even though I'm sure she was very scared and confused.

So Jesus was born, and grew up, and spent a few years on earth preaching the message God wanted Him to share to the world.  The Gospel, meaning "Good News".

Jesus shared a lot of really great things.  Jesus wasn't really about dos and don'ts and rules.  He was about loving your neighbor, and eating at the table with sinners, and praying for your enemies.

His ministry here on earth began with what is popularly known as "The Sermon on the Mount".  Here is how it begins:

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

These are the words that started Jesus' teaching for the next three years.  At the beginning of these three years He gathered 12 men, called disciples, to travel with Him and learn about himself and about God. 

During the third year, Jesus was betrayed by one of His disciples, and was given over to the Roman Soldiers.  Eventually the people called for Jesus to be crucified, hung on a cross.

Jesus was hung on a cross, but this wasn't any normal crucifixion.  When Jesus agreed to die on the cross, He was the ultimate sacrifice, often referred to as "The Lamb of God", whose sacrifice took away the sins of the world.  Because Jesus died on the cross, all of our sins have been forgiven.  No more animal sacrifices were needed.

But it didn't end there.  Once He died, He rose from the dead.  His body rose from the grave, and He is alive.  And, because after all He is the Son of God, all of us here on earth can accept Him for all that He did, His sacrifice on the cross, and be saved from our sins. 

But the ultimate thing that happens when our sins are forgiven by God, and that our relationship has been restored with God.  We are now able to have that restored relationship with the Creator of the Universe. 

How cool is that!!!

So how does this whole story relate to us today in the 21st century?  Everything Jesus did 2,000 years ago is still relevant for us today.  He died on the cross for us.  He died on the cross to take away our sins so that we can have a relationship with God.

Jesus has a wonderful plan, and we are able to learn from him.  But it goes far beyond just learning from Jesus, and mimicking the things He did.

We have the ability to allow Jesus live through out lives.  God's Holy Spirit can actually change our lives, and give us direction.

And by allowing the Holy Spirit to live through us, we can love people who are very hard to love.  We can have a peaceful presence about us, and not cause strife.  We can be joyful.  We can be patient, kind, good.  Who doesn't want that to be a part of their life.  And it isn't something we have to strive for in our lives.  It is a gift that God gives to us that we share with others.

Well, I realize this has been a rather long and detailed answer to a very short question.  And there is so much more to share.  I really didn't get as personal as I would have liked.  That will come in a future blog post.

If you do not believe in God, or that Jesus was the Son of God, I hope you read through this story, and at least consider that Jesus was who He said He was here on earth.  We know Jesus was real.  He was an historical figure who walked the earth over 2,000 years ago.  But I know He was so much more, and I encourage you to really look at Jesus, and see if He isn't someone who would like to learn more about.

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