Stating that another fellow human being is Jesus can easily attract scorn—from those used to viewing Jesus in Trinitarian context. However, while Jesus came to shade the light, the stubborn humanity prefer to remain in the comfort of confusion. See [Simplified analysis to eradicate Trinitarian confusion]
“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:37-40) (ESV).
As said in Isaiah 8:14, looking at who Jesus is, leads to stumbling, when taking offence. This is so true. Too often we stumble through failure to make a distinction between God and ourselves. We give God human emotions when He is clearly not like humans, who take petty annoyances.
Before analysing the personality of Jesus let us discuss how the doctrine of Trinity comes about. Trinity is scripturally deduced, but not explicitly cited in the Bible. Although some people believe Trinity was an idea of the Roman Catholic Church, Trinity can scripturally be deduced. In order to learn and to understand more about this, the reader could study the Council of Nicea1.
The early disciples—dealing with converts, mostly of Jewish background—were preoccupied with testifying to the evidence of Jesus being the crucified and resurrected Messiah. The question of Trinity could not have arisen at that time, as those converts had always held to God’s monotheistic nature, according to Hebrew Scriptures.
However, as the gospel spread to other areas like Greece, questions demanding convincing answers arose. This prompted theologians to take deeper study, using scriptural citations with convincing answers. It could not have been an easy task. But truth––being a Godly attribute—needed exploration and answers produced. This was arrived at using all data of comparable magnitude, including non-biblical language; as a guiding principle.
While God cannot be likened to anything created, He uses the same language used by humans in their personal relationships. God, in His love, communicates with humans in their language––when interacting with them, as revealed in Scriptures like Matthew 28:19. The language, with words suitable for the human mind to comprehend, enables God to accommodate such humans.
The most significant example of this is in the incarnation of Jesus—deity taking human form. However, language may be crudely influenced or eroded by customs and culture, depending on the background of the person concerned. The limitations of language, therefore, can lead to confusion unless one appreciates differences between Godly nature and created beings.
In our language, the Bible can be viewed as showing three modes of identities to describe the omnipotent God—Father, Son and The Holy Spirit––being co-essential, yet distinct Persons, describing God as a divine being. But, being deeply engrossed in such studies is not necessary, as implied by Jesus in John 5:39-40.
These terms refer to the same being, as one can be a King, a husband and father, yet be the same personality. But even the term “personality” has its limitations when describing God. The term “personality” is generally understood in describing created beings. Therefore, Trinity is a concept that can only be appreciated in the province of Theology, rather than through God’s revelation.
Truth remains in that there is no human language that can adequately describe God—as His divinity transcends all things created. It is like an ant trying to describe a human being. An ant cannot understand a human being at all—and we cannot understand God except what we ‘impose’ on Him. His accommodation, through human language enables us to apprehend, without fully comprehending Him.
On the reference “Jesus Christ,” the term “Jesus” is a personal name while “Christ” is a designation or an office. We are not going to discuss much about the designation. Humans are identified by names and Jesus, born of a woman, was no exception. “Jesus” is a Greek expression for the Hebrew “Joshua” which means Jehovah is his help or Jehovah the Saviour.
This name identifies with humans, without any need to associate it with divinity, for reasons shown here-under. The confusion arises from failure to appreciate Jesus’ representation of sinful humanity. His personality is idolized instead of being emulated. The name “Jesus” on its own does not bear divine connotation—like other expressions describing God—revealed when meticulously analysing Hebrew Scriptures. Here are the seven characteristics of the Man Jesus:
The physical Jesus was the Son of God; but so are we God’s children, whether we accept Him as our personal Saviour or not. His being “Son of God” was primarily in consideration of Him being human—identified by Judas’ kiss, because Jesus was as human as all of us are.
While Jesus affirmed Himself as being the Son of God, often times He also declared being Son of Man. This ascribes His identity as associated with the created humans. In other words, in His human capacity, Jesus was our representative, in behaviour that led to His crucifixion.
Because He identified with humans—who later crucified Him—the humanness of Jesus could not be worth idolizing. This is why Jesus refused to be called “good Master” (Matt. 19:17 KJV).
The one bellowing, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!” (Matt. 27:46) was not God, but Jesus in His human form. He was at that time human, just like all of us. Jesus uttered words of anguish that most humans would utter in times of distressful agony.
God, being Spirit, cannot experience physical pain as humans do, confirming that Jesus’ humanness could not be associated with the so-called “Trinity.” As a human being, Jesus prayed just as we would have similarly prayed.
Jesus did not seek to be idolized. His mission was most superior, as compared with the prophets of all time. But He never succumbed to desiring being served or worshipped. He was God incarnate, yet ordinarily relating to us in our human form.
Showing our reverence to the physical Jesus can be good, as long as we maintain the hindsight of what Jesus also said in Matthew 25:44–45. This is in agreement with John’s admonition (1 John 4:20).
Although in the name of “Jesus” there is no inference of it being another name for God, His birth identifies with the characteristics revealed in Isaiah 9:6; “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, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (KJV).
Certainly, no other Hebrew scripture describes Jesus’ qualities more lucidly than the prophet Isaiah. However, Isaiah did not confirm the name “Jesus”, as known today. But, certainly, one cannot describe Jesus without encompassing the other co-essential identities, as described in the doctrine of Trinity.
The being of Jesus was, and is God. However, the name “Jesus” is associated with His humanness only. How possible it is for God to become human when being God at the same time, is a mystery not easily handled outside the complexity of metaphysics. Let us take the simpler approach, helping readers to understand Jesus’ simplicity, rather than His complexity.
God took on the human form to save humanity (Heb. 2:14–18). In Jesus, a mere human declares Himself as being God. This is a serious offence according to Jewish statutes (Lev. 24:16). The seriousness of that offence had to be carried by Jesus, on behalf of the entire humanity, since Adam.
On that cross, Jesus represented humanity: “And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself” (Luke 23:35-37 KJV).
The person being insulted on that cross was not God, but Jesus, the man bearing our likeness. Jesus endured the mockery and insults on our behalf. He willingly suffered the pain inflicted on Him, on our behalf. At that point, Jesus fulfilled His mission of bringing us into oneness with God.
For those with ears to hear, the term “Jesus” refers to humans, not God. “And when did we see you ill, or in prison and come to you? And the King will answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Because you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matt. 25:39-40 BBE).
Those mocking Jesus on the cross did not suppose they were mocking the Christ. You would also not be aware of the fact that you would be mocking Jesus when ill-treating another fellow human being. Similarly, you may also not be aware that you love Jesus and yourself when you assist another human being.
Paul had not imagined he was persecuting Jesus when persecuting the early disciples: “…And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’” (Acts 9:5 EMTV). John concurs: “If anyone claims, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how is it possible for him to love God whom he has not seen?’” (1 John 4:20 EMTV).
Jesus carried sinful characteristics, but only for helping humans to appreciate God’s characteristics. We cannot identify with God before identifying with Jesus. Even though relating to God, Abraham could not necessarily identify with God, as in Jesus’ goodness and righteousness. We appreciate Jesus’ principles being the only gateway to Heaven. “….I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6 KJV).
Accepting Jesus as personal Saviour simply means looking at His behaviour, as portrayed in the Gospel books, taking seriously His teachings as Paul affirms: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:….But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:5-8 KJV).
Who is Jesus? Anyone appreciating humility, as described by Paul, has figuratively died, hence, rightfully having taken the name of Jesus as his/her own. This is why Jesus refused to be called “good Master” (Matt. 19:17) (KJV). Jesus bore sinful characteristics of humanity, leading to His crucifixion, though not a sinner Himself.
True Christians accordingly emulate Him: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (l John 3:16 NIV). See [Christianity is described in one word: Altruism].
While the term “Christian” is traditionally adopted as depicting one who is Jesus Christ’s follower––I, personally, would rather opt identifying with “Jesus” as a person. There is no single human being who can ever achieve the fiat of being the Christ.
The term “Christ” is a divine title, unlike the name “Jesus”, referring to one like us, whom we should emulate in everything connected with humanity. Claiming to be Christian may not be biblically accurate. “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:5).
Though being human like us, Jesus was also the Christ—and we cannot be the Christs. I do appreciate fully that the term ‘Christian’ describes those accepting Jesus as their personal Saviour. I do not intend to sensitize the wrongness of Christians viewing themselves as Christ’s followers. Nor do I imply that those calling themselves as such are not necessarily Christians.
But my view seeks to emphasize the point that the thirty-three and a half years of Jesus’ mission on Earth was, among other things, to serve humanity. That principle of service is the only perfect way of living sinless lives, as demonstrated by Jesus.
Calling oneself Christian, causes non-Christians to construe inference of being superior to non-Christians, which cannot be true. When Christ instructed His disciples to preach—the usage of “Christian” as a term identifying disciples was not among those specific commands (Matt 28: 20).
The Christian term was first adopted at Antioch by non-Christians who may not have necessarily intended to compliment those early disciples (Acts 11:26). A Christian cannot be easily identified among fellow humans, just as Jesus was not. See [The Enigmatic Sons of peace represent truth].
Adopting the Christian term, as form of identity, could possibly cause failure in penetrating other religions. It may also be on this point that Christians are divided, yet without knowing what causes division. Paul’s inference of being everything to everyone confirms this viewpoint. Paul could not have related to non-Christians, when calling himself “Christian” at the same time (1 Cor. 9:19–23).
Jesus represented an ideal man, created in God’s image. Instead of looking at Jesus as having been one of us, Christians prefer disconnecting Him from us. His existence is considered mystical, where our existence is viewed as common. Ordinary human beings are viewed as not deserving respectful treatment. But Christ declared that the only sign showing our respect for Him is in respecting other fellow human beings.
As humans, we cannot identify with Christ’s divinity, but with Jesus’ humanity. The issue of identity, if taken as of consideration, should be left for others to see Jesus’ behaviour in a converted person. But a true Christian does not necessarily go about claiming to be anything, except doing what is good to others.
The term “Christian” invokes superiority attribute. That, unfortunately, contradicts the principle of humility inferred in Jesus, whose human behaviour we should identify with. Understanding this is only possible when the doctrine of Trinity is left alone. See [The only time a Christian should be depressed].
It is interesting to note that when John’s disciples came seeking confirmation of Jesus’ identity, Jesus simply confirmed it by what He was doing than claiming to be Jesus or the Christ (Matt. 11:2-6). My strong persuasion is that it is the doing that should identify Christians––from the standpoint of outsiders.
Claiming to be “Jesus” or “Christian” is not necessary. Empowered by the Spirit, there is no need for Christians to stand on mountaintops claiming to be anything. There will always be a difference between adopting Jesus’ principles and what the majority of Christians apply in their Christian endeavours. See [Created to solve, instead of creating problems].
The Council of Nicaea 325 AD > Early Church History 101 www.churchhistory101.com www.probe.org > the-council-of-Nicaea, & www.examiningthetrinity.blogspot.com
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99
Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com for $6.99