How to Answer 5 Common Questions about Jesus Christ

The Bible is a massive book comprising so many important stories of biblical figures. Yet, when reading through it or listening to the readings on Sunday, many things about Jesus can come up. Here are some ways to answer five common questions concerning Jesus Christ and His forgiveness. 

1. When was the Messiah’s coming first mentioned in the Bible?

The Book of Genesis is foundational to the entire Old Testament. It introduces topics that shape the rest of the books of Moses and the prophets. Most importantly, Genesis introduces the promise of a Savior, who will deliver humanity from sin and eternal death, and it traces that promise from Adam to Jacob and then to Judah.

The great human tragedy—the curse of sin that fell upon all humans through the acts of Adam and Eve—is told vividly yet quickly in just seven verses (Genesis 3:1–7). However, the consequences of that first sin are portrayed in more than twice that number of verses (3:8–24). When God confronted our first parents, He told them and the deceiving serpent of the curses that they had brought upon themselves and all creation (3:14–19).

The serpent and the woman together, apart from Adam, defied God. (Although Adam was present, he did not participate in the conversation with the serpent [see v. 6].) Therefore, the curse on the deceiver began with the penalties he would suffer (v. 14). However, the second part of God’s address to the serpent focused on his future relationship with the woman:

I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall strike your head, and you shall strike his heel. (Genesis 3:15, authors’ translation)

While the serpent had sought an alliance with Eve in defying God’s order not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the Lord now made them hostile to each other. This antagonism would be played out between the offspring (literally seed in Hebrew) of the serpent and the woman. The woman’s seed is often explained as a collective singular used to denote all her descendants. This would be like how we speak of grass seed in English, meaning not a single seed but a mass of seed collectively. However, the context does not allow that. The following pronoun He is singular and points to a particular offspring of the woman who will strike the serpent’s head—the Messiah (see Galatians 3:16, which references a similar meaning for seed at Genesis 22:18).

Thus, the curse on the serpent was also a promise to Adam and Eve that someone would come to undo the tempter’s work. That coming Savior would be the Messiah, who would have to suffer (“you will strike His heel”) to deliver humanity. While Adam and Eve would be sent away from Eden and its tree of life (Genesis 3:24), they had the prediction of access to the tree of eternal life through a better source—the One who would come from the woman’s offspring to bring everlasting life to many (Revelation 2:7).

Adapted from The Messianic Message: Predictions, Patterns, and the Presence of Jesus in the Old Testament

2. What was Jesus’ childhood like?

Now, given the two natures of Christ—Jesus being both true God and true man, as seen in His birth narratives—you might wonder what He was like as a child. But the truth is, we really don’t have answers to a lot of the questions we want to ask. That’s because there are only four stories of Jesus’ childhood in Scripture. 

The first story we are given occurs when Jesus is eight days old. Luke records that at the end of that day, “He was circumcised” and “called Jesus” (Luke 2:21). Though short, this one verse tells us two vital aspects of Jesus’ early infancy. First, Jesus’ circumcision on the eighth day reveals that He kept the covenant of circumcision that God gave to Abraham back in Genesis 17:9–11. Second, with the name Jesus, the angel’s words to Mary and Joseph are fulfilled. Their infant son is now publicly declared to be and known as the One who saves His people from their sins.

The second story of Jesus’ childhood occurs when He is about forty days old. With their infant son in their arms, Mary and Joseph travel to the temple in Jerusalem. As Mary and Joseph were presenting Jesus to the Lord so that He may be called “holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35) as Gabriel announced, a man named Simeon entered the temple. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that he would not die until he saw the Promised Child, the Lord’s Christ. Not only did Simeon see the Promised Child, but he actually held Him! 

Simeon reveals to Mary that many people in Israel would believe that Jesus is the Promised Child. But many would also reject Him. And that rejection would be a sword that would pierce Mary’s soul.

The third story of Jesus’ childhood occurs sometime before He was two years old (see Matthew 2:16). Sometime after Jesus’ birth, Gentile foreigners, Magi, travel to Jerusalem in search of a king. They’re not searching for just any king, but rather the one “who has been born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). After a brief encounter with King Herod of Jerusalem, the Magi head off toward Bethlehem to continue their search. Guided by the star this time, the Magi enter the house to see the child with Mary. And at this, all the Magi fall down and worship the child.

The Magi are then warned in a dream not to return to Herod to tell him where to find this newborn king as he instructed. Their absence provokes Herod’s anger. So much so that he orders the death of all male children in Bethlehem who are two years old and younger.

Jesus’ final childhood narrative occurs when He is twelve years old. While traveling home from their annual Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph notice that Jesus is not among their relatives. He is missing. After they return to Jerusalem and search for three days, Mary and Joseph find Jesus exactly where they left Him, in the temple. The crowd is all amazed by the understanding and answers Jesus gives to questions asked in the temple. But Mary and Joseph are perplexed by what Jesus says to them: “Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). They don’t understand that Jesus is calling God His Father and the temple God’s house. 

Subsequently, we know that Jesus’ childhood was like ours, ordinarily human. He ate. He slept. He traveled. He enjoyed time with His parents. He celebrated religious festivals. Yet unlike us, Jesus is perfect like His heavenly Father and holy like the temple. For He actively obeys and fulfills God’s Law perfectly (see Matthew 5:17). Furthermore, He is God’s Son, Christ the King, who has come and would later ride into Jerusalem on a donkey to save His people from their sins as foretold by the Old Testament prophets.

Adapted from Life in Christ: Rooted, Woven, and Grafted into God’s Story

3. What was Jesus like as a teacher?

As a teacher, Jesus regularly stunned His students. More than reading their expressions, He could read their hearts. He “knew what was in man” (John 2:25). As the Creator in human flesh, Jesus knew His audience more intimately than any teacher before or since. 

Two titles best summarize Jesus as teacher. The first is, well, Teacher! Jesus affirmed this title when He said to His disciples, “You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am” (John 13:13). But notice that He is more than a teacher. He is also Lord. To regard Him only as a teacher and not also as Lord is incomplete.

Along with Teacher, the other title that captures Jesus’ teaching function is Prophet. Luther’s Small Catechism teaches that Jesus occupies a threefold office: Prophet, Priest, and King. In His teachings, His prophetic office is on full display. At Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the crowds rightly said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee” (Matthew 21:11). In the Bible, a prophet is one who speaks for God. Prophets spoke on God’s behalf to reveal sin and summon the people to repentance.

The opening of the Book of Hebrews declares that Jesus is that greater prophet: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son” (1:1–2). When Jesus taught, therefore, He was performing the prophetic function of His office as the Christ.

Adapted from Jesus Said What?

4. Why was Jesus tempted?

After Jesus was baptized, He departed into the wilderness. The Spirit led Him there to be tempted by the devil. Jesus was amid wild animals and subject to the elements for well over a month. He also set in place a special self-imposed suffering. Jesus went without food, fasting for the entire time, all while the Tempter tempted Him. With the end of the forty days in sight, Jesus was in a physically weakened state of human exhaustion. It was at this point that the devil showed up with a climactic three-pronged thrust of concluding temptations.

And after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” (Matthew 4:2–3)

It is critical to recognize that Jesus’ forty days of temptation was a microcosm of misery, akin to the Israelites’ forty years of wandering in the wilderness. This connection is of paramount importance for Jesus, who was about to fulfill specifically what God’s chosen people could not. He had to pass the trials and remain sinless in a desolate location. 

It perhaps seems unusual for Satan to tempt Jesus in this way. Where exactly is the sin in eating? Gluttony? Really? Satan’s bid barely resembled a temptation, especially for a hungry man. Yet so much more was on the table. If Jesus couldn’t stomach the suffering of fasting, how would He resist not caving to stronger temptation down the pike when those watching the crucifixion would ask Him to prove He was the Son of God by coming down from the cross (Matthew 27:40)?

Jesus rebuked Satan, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Jesus quoted the very Word of God in His response. Jesus’ response references the time the Israelites sinned by grumbling against the Lord, for they were hungry in the desert. God provided manna, bread from heaven, for them to eat.

Where the Israelites had bellyached against the Lord in starvation, Christ had tamed His human hunger. Perhaps more relevant, the only other man without sin ever to be tempted was Adam in the Garden of Eden. That enticing temptation also concentrated on eating food. Once again, where man had failed, the Son of Man endured.

Then the devil took Him to the holy city and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ” (Matthew 4:5–6)

This diabolic test asked Jesus to prove His identity, yet in doing so, He would have defeated the point and Himself in the act. The devil evidently tried to put Jesus in an impossible situation, which Jesus easily saw through. The Son of God is sinless and must remain sinless all the way to the cross. Jesus brilliantly offered an equally scriptural reply: “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’ ” (Matthew 4:7). Jesus and the Father are both equally God. Jesus’ answer was true both from the perspective of Himself to God the Father and is also true from the perspective of the devil toward Jesus.

Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these I will give You, if You will fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8–9)

The price was much steeper than the mountain they stood on. Jesus referred back to God’s Word in the Old Testament one final time and passed the third temptation. “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’ Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to Him” (Matthew 4:10–11).

Adapted from Lord of Legends: Jesus’ Redemption Quest

5. Does Jesus forgive all sins?

We tend to judge certain heinous sins as unforgivable—murder, rape, sexually assaulting children, torture, and more. Some believe that evil leaders who have directed mass tortures and killings are guilty of unforgivable sin.

But to identify any sin as unforgivable, except as specified in God’s Word, is to minimize the atoning work of Christ. Such judgment of that sin, or of a person committing that sin, suggests that Jesus’ suffering and death were insufficient or that His redemption was not for all people.

 Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary paid the full penalty for all sin. In His words from the cross, Jesus declared, “It is finished” (John 19:30), meaning the debt for all of humanity’s sin has been paid in full.

Christ died for the sins of the whole world, as He asserted, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “The world” includes all people.

Nevertheless, the Bible does identify one sin that is “unforgivable.”

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:31–32)

Simply put, blaspheming against the Holy Spirit is rejecting faith in Jesus and His atoning work on the cross. To reject faith in Christ, a gift of the Holy Spirit, is to sin against the giver of that gift. Those who refuse to believe in Jesus’ forgiveness for them blaspheme the Holy Spirit of God.

Thus, it is not any particular sin judged by people as heinous that condemns, but rather it is the sin against the Holy Spirit—not believing in Jesus as Savior—that condemns. 

If you are concerned about sinning against the Holy Spirit, take comfort. You likely have not committed this sin, or you are on a journey to repent of this sin. Those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit are not worrying about it. Your concern demonstrates your fear of God and faith in Him. Pray that the Holy Spirit strengthens your faith and reassures you of God’s promise for you.

Adapted from Unforgivable? How God’s Forgiveness Transforms Our Lives


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Blog post adapted from The Messianic Message: Predictions, Patterns, and the Presence of Jesus in the Old Testament, copyright © 2023 Andrew E. Steinmann and R. Reed Lessing. Published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. 

Blog post adapted from Life in Christ: Rooted, Woven, and Grafted into God's Story, copyright © 2023 Adam T. Filipek. Published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. 

Blog post adapted from Jesus Said What?, copyright © 2023 Christopher M. Kennedy. Published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. 

Blog post adapted from Lord of Legends: Jesus' Redemption Quest, copyright © 2022 Eric T. Eichinger. Published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. 

Blog post adapted from Unforgivable? How God's Forgiveness Transforms Our Lives, copyright © 2023 Ted Kober and Mark Rockenbach. Published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. 

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