You can get a lot of things wrong in life. You can go to the wrong school. You can give the wrong gift. You can wear the wrong outfit to a business presentation. You can buy the wrong house. You can marry the wrong man. But there is one thing you absolutely cannot get wrong in life: who Jesus is and what his time on earth was all about.

Who is Jesus?

If you want to know who Jesus is, ask Him. He isn’t shy.

“I and the Father are one,” Jesus declares in John 10:30.

Jesus is God.

Let that thought linger for a moment. Sit with it awhile. Jesus is God. Meditate on it. Ponder all the implications that statement carries with it. Jesus is God. Evaluate your reaction to his identity claim. Wrestle with any discomfort you may feel as the form Jesus has taken in your imagination morphs into the identity Jesus claims about Himself. Jesus is God.

What was Jesus’ ministry all about?

Jesus did many great things during His three-year ministry. He miraculously fed thousands of people, but those same people were hungry the next day. He healed numerous physical ailments and raised some people from the dead; however, those same people eventually died at the end of their time.

If Jesus’ miracles didn’t “stick,” then what was the purpose of them? Why feed people tonight who will only need to eat again tomorrow morning? Why raise someone from the dead now when they will only die again at some future date?

Again, let’s ask Jesus the “why” behind the miracles. He is transparent about them.

“The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,” Jesus explains in John 10:25.

The miracles are proof that Jesus is God. Jesus is God who took on the flesh of mankind to do what exactly? If the miracles aren’t the mission, if the easing of suffering is not the mission, then why, Jesus, are you here?

“I am here to suffer, to be humiliated, and die,” Jesus proclaims to His followers. “I won’t stay dead. I will rise from the dead on the third day” (Matt. 16:21, Mk. 8:31, Lk. 9:22, paraphrased).

Jesus is God. Jesus entered the world as a man so that He could die. Having divine power allows Jesus to fight death and rise again.

Jesus, I must ask what it is it that you are trying to accomplish by this mission.

When Adam and Eve sinned by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they severed their relationship with God. God is Holy. His holiness cannot allow sin to be in community with Him.

From that point on, mankind carried the stench of sin and the curse of death with them wherever they went. No longer would mankind visit with their Creator when the “Lord God [was] walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8). A barrier now existed between the divine and the created.

But God is a loving God. Instead of walking away from His creation with disgust, He stepped closer. Throughout the Old Testament we are witness to the covenantal promises God makes to His people.

God promises Adam and Eve that Someone will come to break the curse of sin and death (Gen. 3:15). God promises Abraham that Someone from his family line would be a blessing to all the nations (Gen. 12:3). God gives His law to Moses and the people of Israel so that they will know how to love, honor, and properly seek relationship with Him (Ex. 19:5-6). God promises King David an heir that will flawlessly reign God’s people forever.

Yet time and again, God’s people fail. The blood of animal sacrifices is never enough. The priests of God fail to stay pure. The line of kings is corrupt. God’s people are lost.

Then Jesus comes. Jesus takes on mortal flesh with all its weakness in order keep God’s holy law perfectly. Jesus silently suffers humiliation and death as a final, flawless sacrifice for God’s people. Jesus defeats death and the curse it holds on humanity by breaking out of the tomb on the third day. Jesus ascends to heaven and takes His place as the eternal King of Kings.

Jesus’ ministry was to restore right relationship between God and His people.

Why does getting this right matter?

You can get a lot of things wrong in life. You can wear white to a wedding. You can giggle at a funeral. You can even deny that pizza is the perfect breakfast food. But when Jesus tells you what it means to follow Him into eternal life, you can’t attempt to negotiate a more comfortable deal.

“If you want to belong to me,” Jesus states, “you need to surrender control of your life to me. You need to commit to following my direction even if it leads to humiliation and/or death. You need to follow the truth of all my teachings every single day” (Lk. 9:23, paraphrased).

This journey of following Jesus is sanctification. Every step we take along this road should transform us to look more and more like Christ. The thoughts you have, the actions you take, and the joy you experience should mirror those of Jesus more closely today than one year ago.

The path of sanctification is not an easy one. It is often painful as more of our sinful nature is unearthed and stripped away. It is uncomfortable to sit in conflict with our neighbors over issues of identity, morality, and priorities. It is hard to say “no” to pleasures that the world cheers on with a loud “YES!”

One day Jesus will come back. He will not arrive the second time quietly nestled in swaddling clothes. He will arrive with fire in His eyes and a heavenly army at His back. He will strike down the evil in this world with the “fury of the wrath of God the Almighty” (Rev. 19:15). So many will die on that day that the scavenging birds will be “gorged with the flesh” of the dead bodies (Rev. 19:21). Gruesome to think about but truth, nonetheless.

You can get a lot of things wrong in life; but there is one thing you absolutely cannot be mistaken about: who Jesus is and what his time on earth was all about.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Heather Molendyk

Heather Molendyk holds a degree in elementary education from the University of Miami and is the author of Building Little Pillars and Lead Me to Zion. Although she loves working with children in classroom and summer camp settings, her greatest joy is introducing young children to God’s loving promises found in Scripture. Heather currently worships and serves with her husband and four children at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, NC. You can connect with Heather @heathermolendyk on Instagram.