The apostles came to believe that Jesus was this Messiah who would someday bring peace to Israel. Isaiah had prophesied 700 years earlier that, “a virgin will conceive, and bear a son, and his name would be called ‘Immanuel’, meaning ‘God with us.’” Isaiah also gives us clues as to the identity of this child:
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
According to the writers of the New Testament, Jesus is the literal fulfillment of this Isaiah passage, as well as hundreds of other prophecies written centuries earlier. Incredibly, biblical scholars tell us that Jesus fulfilled more than 300 Old Testament prophecies regarding his birth, life, and death (see “Was Jesus The Messiah?”).
It stretches the imagination to think that the baby in the manger depicted in nativity scenes is the same person who flung the stars into space, engineered DNA, and created the power of nuclear energy. However, according to the apostles, that is exactly who he was. God the Son, Creator of the universe, had left his Father in heaven and visited Planet Earth.
The apostle Paul (formerly named Saul of Tarsus) originally believed Jesus was a false Messiah. After Jesus’ death on the cross, Paul launched a campaign against Christians resulting in many being executed. But something happened that radically changed him. After seeing Jesus in a vision, Paul wrote of him,
“Now Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God. He existed before creation began, for it was through him that everything was made. In fact, every single thing was created through, and for, him.”
When we speak of the mystery of God taking on human flesh, we will never be able to grasp how he did it, or what it fully means. But both Old and New Testaments clearly proclaim Jesus Christ as fully man and fully God.
Some ask, “If God left heaven to become a man, who was running the universe?” Was God confined to a human body? Not according to Jesus and the authors of the New Testament, who speak of God as their Father in heaven, and Jesus as the Son of God. So who is Jesus—is he truly God, or something less?
Professor Peter Kreeft states that “In Jesus we find one person with two natures (human and divine)….Of course, God, the eternal “I AM,” did not become human in nature, for God’s nature cannot change. He did, however, take on a second nature. So it is that Jesus, the Son of God, had a God-nature and a human-nature.”
Continue reading page 3 of 3 of “Who is the Jesus of Christmas?”