Great Lives: Jesus Bible Companion: The Greatest Life of All

Great Lives: Jesus Bible Companion: The Greatest Life of All

by Charles R. Swindoll


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Great Lives: Jesus Bible Companion: The Greatest Life of All by Charles R. Swindoll

Who do you say that I am?

Whether or not you know it, this question, posed by Jesus, is the most important question you'll ever answer. But it's not only a question for those who haven't trusted Jesus for salvation; it's also one for those who call themselves followers of Christ.

Many will claim to know the answer, but even Peter, who answered it correctly, didn't fully understand who Jesus was until later. And in a culture two millennia removed, Jesus' true identity and purpose are often obscure, making His question relevant and vital, both for non-Christians and Christians alike.

This Bible Companion is designed to help you answer His question, so that you might know Jesus—the real Jesus as revealed in the Bible. But be warned. This book doesn't offer a mere biographical study because He was no mere man. Regardless of what you think of Jesus, encountering Him in the Bible is a mind-changing and life-altering event.

So, if you're ready to answer Jesus' question truthfully, then this Bible Companion will serve as a good guide to His life and teachings. And it can help you grow to know Him better than you ever have.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781418517762
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 04/01/2008
Series: Great Lives Series
Pages: 236
Sales rank: 1,151,336
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.63(d)

About the Author

Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the clear, practical teaching and application of God's Word. He currently pastors Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, and serves as the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. His renowned Insight for Living radio program airs around the world. Chuck and Cynthia, his partner in life and ministry, have four grown children and ten grandchildren.

Read an Excerpt

Jesus: The Greatest Life of All Bible Companion

By Charles R. Swindoll

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2007 Charles R. Swindoll, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4185-1776-2

Chapter One

Lesson 1

The Identity of Deity

Selected Scriptures


More than two millennia ago, an ordinary-looking Jewish man began doing some extraordinary things. He taught a form of spirituality that focused more on the heart than the external appearance of righteousness. He healed disabilities and diseases. Moreover, He did something only God can do: He forgave sins! An encounter with the remarkable Jesus of Nazareth typically prompted the question, Who is this man?

Two thousand years later, people are asking the same question. Who is Jesus? Is He the Son of God, a great teacher, an ordinary man, or a myth? To answer this question, we don't have to waste time sorting through various human opinions. The Bible offers a completely reliable source of information about Jesus so we can discover His identity for ourselves.


In a "man-on-the-street" interview conducted at a large mall in a major American city, several people were asked the question, Who is Jesus to you? Most admitted having little or no knowledge at all, others offered such answers as, "A great teacher" and "A brother of Mohammed." However, not one person-among the dozens of people interviewed-answered the question with any confidence.

Who Is This Man?

Things weren't much different two thousand years ago. People having firsthand experience with Jesus had difficulty coming to terms with who He was. Of course, the confusion was not helped by the fact that He was no ordinary man! Luke 5:17-21 records an event in the life of Jesus Christ that illustrates the challenge He presented.

Read Luke 5:17-21.

If you were present at this event, what would you have found most remarkable about what occurred?

________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

What captured the attention of the religious leaders? (See also Luke 7:48-49.)

________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

C.S. Lewis explained why the religious leaders had good reason to be upset:

Now unless the speaker is God, [forgiving someone's sins] is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toe and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men's toes and stealing other men's money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history.

Mark 4:35-41 describes another incident in which the disciples of Jesus discovered that He was more than merely human.

Read Mark 4:35-41.

What extraordinary power did Jesus demonstrate?

________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

What does this imply about His identity?

________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

By the time of this incident in Mark's narrative, the disciples had seen Jesus do some extraordinary things. Why do you think they were so astonished by this particular event?

________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

He Is The Messiah

After spending perhaps as long as two years with Jesus, the disciples finally began to understand that Jesus was much more than a revolutionary Jewish teacher.

Read Matthew 16:13-17.

Who did people in Jesus's day think he was?

________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Who did Peter say Jesus was?

________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________


Reminders of the Promise

The term "Christ" comes from the Greek word christos, which means "anointed one." The equivalent term in Hebrew is mashiach, from which we derive "Messiah." Peter's declaration affirmed that he believed Jesus to be the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. Peter's use of "Son of God" also drew upon an image whose roots ran deep into the soil of Israel's history. During the Exodus, God referred to Israel as "My son, My firstborn," commanding Pharaoh, "Let My son go that he may serve Me" (Exodus 4:22-23). God also spoke through the Old Testament prophet, Hosea, saying, "When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son" (Hosea 11:1). "Anointed one" and "son of God" were also titles historically given to Israel's rightful king (2 Samuel 22:51, Psalm 2:7). God used these affectionate titles to affirm His unique, intimate relationship with the Hebrew people. Unfortunately, the people and the kings of Israel corrupted this special father-son relationship by choosing sin over obedience. And so they looked forward to the Messiah, a pure and righteous Hebrew king from the line of David who would represent the nation before God. By His obedience, the nation would finally inherit all of God's covenant promises.

When Peter was asked, Who is Jesus?, he answered that He was the long-awaited Messiah, the Son of God. This was the boldest, most profound theological declaration he knew how to make. Indeed, it contained far more truth than he realized, prompting Jesus to respond, "Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 16:17).

Only later did the disciples of Jesus understand the complete significance of the title "Son of God." John, one of Jesus's closest followers, opened his gospel with the simple declaration, "In the beginning was the Word." Very quickly, we are able to discern that he used the philosophical term "the Word" (ho logos in Greek) as a name for Jesus. Logos means so much that not one word or even a multitude of words can fully describe it. It connotes the very mind of God, the reasoning of God, the truth of God, and the character of God. All of that is logos.

Read John 1:1-4. Everywhere you see the phrase "the Word" or its pronoun, substitute the name "Jesus." Who did John say that Jesus was? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Some people believe that Jesus is not God but an immensely powerful being created by God. What specific words or phrases in John's declaration rule out this possibility? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

"There are times when we find it difficult to comprehend the full intent of those words, In the beginning was the Word," wrote author Ray Stedman, "But if we find it difficult, how much more did His own disciples! They, of all people, would be least likely to believe that He was God, for they lived with Him and saw His humanity as none of us ever has or ever will. They must have been confronted again and again with a question that puzzled and troubled them, "Who is this man? ..."

I have often pictured them sleeping out under the stars with our Lord on a summer night by the Sea of Galilee. I can imagine Peter or John or one of the others waking in the night, rising up on an elbow, and as he looked at the Lord Jesus sleeping beside him, saying to himself, "Is it true? Can this man be the eternal God?"

According to John, the disciple closest to Jesus, the eternal God "became flesh" (John 1:14), a human being. (Lesson Two of this study will examine the theological implications of eternal God becoming a man.)

He Is the Creator

Not long after the earthly ministry of Jesus concluded, a zealous Jewish leader began a campaign of persecution to stamp out this teaching. As "a Hebrew of Hebrews" (Philippians 3:5), Paul considered any human claim of deity to be blasphemy. But after his own encounter with the evidence, he accepted the claim as true.

Read Paul's declaration about Jesus in Colossians 1:16-20. What did he say was created by Jesus Christ? Can you think of anything outside the categories mentioned by Paul? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Paul never denied the statement in Genesis 1:1 that God created the universe, so what must we interpret his statements to mean? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Who is Jesus according to Colossians 2:9? _______________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

As people in His day encountered Jesus, they may not have completely come to terms with His true identity as God. But even the religious leaders who objected to His forgiveness of sins could not dismiss His ability to heal. And even those who ultimately rejected Jesus as God recognized that He was something significantly more than an ordinary man.


As we encounter Jesus in the testimony of eyewitnesses who recorded what they observed, we too must make a decision. Like the men and women He confronted two thousand years ago, we must answer the question, Who is this man? While we don't have the opportunity to interact with Him face-to-face as did those of His day, we do have other resources.

First, we have a Bible we can trust. The eyewitness testimony of Jesus's life, teaching, and ministry was carefully recorded and dutifully maintained throughout the centuries. These accounts appear in the Bible as the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If the claims of the Bible are not trustworthy, then the God it describes either does not exist or has lied to us and is therefore not a God worth following. If, on the other hand, the Bible is trustworthy, then we must heed its message about Jesus Christ and respond accordingly.

Next, we have a life that He sustains. We discovered in our study of Colossians 1:16-20 that "in Him all things hold together." Jesus Christ sustains all life, and He superintends the daily experience of all people whether they acknowledge His authority as God or not. Those who believe that Jesus is God have firsthand confirmation of this truth. While those who have yet to believe have the testimony of believers. That testimony is admittedly subjective, but it is nonetheless genuine. As with all things, it must be viewed through the lens of Scripture.

Finally, we have a church that He leads. A church is a gathering of people who believe in Jesus Christ as God and teaches from the Bible, the authentic revelation of God to the world. Colossians 1:18 states that the risen Jesus Christ is "head of the body, the church" and as such is its leader.

* * *

To those who view Jesus Christ as simply an important historical figure, a mere man of influence that died more than two millennia ago, these claims of His deity sound preposterous-if not bizarre and confusing. But, as we have seen from our study of the gospel accounts, Jesus generally had that effect on those who encountered Him firsthand. The dilemma His identity triggers is the same today as it was then. C.S. Lewis described the quandary well:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

The chart on page 12 provides a visual representation of Lewis's words and shows the implications of believing Jesus to be a liar, lunatic, or Lord.

Set aside a few moments, reflect on the following question, be as honest as you dare, and record your answer below. Who is Jesus Christ? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________


Excerpted from Jesus: The Greatest Life of All Bible Companion by Charles R. Swindoll Copyright © 2007 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


A Letter from Chuck....................xi
How to Use This Bible Companion....................xiii
Part 1: The Child (Beginnings) Lesson One The Identity of Deity....................3
Lesson Two A Relationship, a Courtship ... a Miracle....................13
Lesson Three Deity in Diapers....................22
Lesson Four Responding to the Redeemer....................30
Part 2: The Rabbi (Teachings) Lesson Five Life ... As God Intended It....................41
Lesson Six Resting in Christ....................51
Lesson Seven It Is Best to Rest....................59
Lesson Eight The Astonishing Power of Jesus....................69
Lesson Nine The Ultimate Healer....................79
Lesson Ten Abiding in Christ....................89
Part 3: The Substitute (Passion) Lesson Eleven The Gathering Storm....................101
Lesson Twelve Betrayed and Arrested....................110
Lesson Thirteen Analysis of a Courtroom Fiasco....................119
Lesson Fourteen The Last Trials and Torture of Jesus....................132
Lesson Fifteen Delivered Up to Be Crucified....................141
Part 4: The King (Resurrection) Lesson Sixteen Not to Worry ... He Is Risen!....................153
Lesson Seventeen Encountering Jesus along Life's Road....................163
Lesson Eighteen Listening to Jesus beside the Sea....................174
Lesson Nineteen Challenged by Jesus on the Mountain....................185
Lesson Twenty Watching for Jesus in the Air....................195
How to Begin a Relationship with God....................205
Clearing Away the Clutter of UnresolvedSin....................211
Resources for Probing Further....................219

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