Was Jesus a Christian?
Question: "Was Jesus a Christian?"
Answer: It may sound strange to say, but no, Jesus was not a Christian.
A Christian is a person who has faith in Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9–10). Jesus is the foundation for the Christian faith, but, based on the definition of the word, He could not Himself be called a Christian. Christianity is built upon His identity as the Son of God (John 19:7), His perfect life (Hebrews 4:15), and His substitutionary death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus did not come into the world to start another religion. The world has more than enough religions. He came to complete the work of God in redeeming sinful mankind (Galatians 4:4). He came to defeat our enemy, Satan (Genesis 3:15; John 12:31). He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). He came to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law (Matthew 5:17). He came to establish a new covenant between God and mankind (Mark 14:24). He came “to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:14). Christianity is the result of Christ’s finished work of salvation, and He now builds His church (Matthew 16:18). Christianity is not a religion in this sense: religion is man’s attempt to reach up to God, but Christianity teaches that God has reached down to man. The Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, took on human flesh and, during His time on earth, was literally God reaching out to us (John 1:14; 3:16–18).
Jesus was not a Christian; He was a Jewish rabbi. Jesus followed the Jewish law God had given to Moses (Matthew 5:17–18). He lived perfectly under the law in order to present Himself as a sacrifice without blemish, acceptable under that law (Leviticus 9:3; 1 Peter 1:18–19; Hebrews 9:13–14). Christianity is the culmination of God’s plan, the completion of what God instigated when He set apart the Hebrew people for Himself (Deuteronomy 7:6–8). For centuries God had promised that He would send His Messiah to rescue His people and reign over them forever. The coming of Jesus was the fulfillment of that promise.
Another reason that Jesus cannot be called a Christian is that the term Christian was not coined until after His resurrection and ascension into heaven. Believers were first called Christians in the city of Antioch in Syria (Acts 11:22). The term means “little Christs.” It was originally used in a derogatory way, but believers came to embrace it as a badge of honor. Christians today should obey the voice of their Master and still consider themselves “little Christs” in the sense that they imitate the Lord Jesus. Jesus cannot properly be described as a Christian, but He is the Christ from whom Christians get their name.
Recommended Resource: The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Updated Edition by Alfred Edersheim
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