Christianity is not about a religion, but about about a real historical person – Jesus Christ. To answer the question we need to look at him.
Mark starts his historical biography of Jesus like this: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark chapter 1 verse 1).
Jesus was called “Christ”. That’s not a surname, it’s a title, meaning the King sent by God himself who would rule over everything for ever.
And he was called “the Son of God”: God himself, come to live in his world as a human.
Now those are extraordinary things to claim! But Jesus proved he was the Christ and the Son of God by doing things only God can do:
He cured diseases with a touch.
He controlled storms with a word.
He even overcame death itself.
As he did these things, God’s King gave a glimpse of what life in his kingdom is like.
It’s a place ruled by love, with no more suffering, separation, fear or death: the kind of world we all want. A perfect world where people enjoy perfect life with a perfect King for ever.
Jesus’ actions prompted a reaction in everyone who met him.
Peter, who had known Jesus for years, told him: “You are the Christ” (Mark 8:29)
Later, a Roman soldier who had just met him realized: “This man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).
But not everyone responded like they did…
Jesus said about himself: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected…” (Mark 8:31).
Not everyone reacted by welcoming Jesus as King. In fact, people deliberately rejected him. But this didn’t surprise Jesus. He told his friends that he would be rejected.
Jesus knew this would happen because this is how all people, including you and me, treat God’s Son and King. We turn away from him, living as though he isn’t really our king at all. We choose not to live in his kingdom, because we think we’ll be happier ruling ourselves.
And that’s the reason why all of us sometimes sense life isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. It’s because we’ve rejected the loving King, who knows what’s best for us and what’s best for the world.
And this rejection of God’s king, which Jesus called “sin”, is a very dangerous thing to do. It means God will judge us for the way we’ve treated the King he sent, and for the way we’ve treated the people around us and the world we live in. God won’t let sinful people have a place in his perfect kingdom.
So our sin keeps us outside, facing what Jesus called hell: a life beyond death where we will be shut out of his kingdom for ever, without anything good at all: no love, friendship, joy, or hope.
What we need is to come into the kingdom. But there’s no way for us to get in. Even if we try to be very good people, or really religious people, we can’t change the fact that we’ve sinned.
And this truth is seen in what people did to Jesus…
“The Son of Man must … be killed” (Mark 8:31).
The truth that humans are sinful is proved by what people ended up doing to Jesus while he was on earth.
They were so determined to reject him that they actually killed him—by nailing him to a cross.
But Jesus’ death had actually been God’s plan all along; a plan which shows his amazing love and patience when it comes to sinful people like us. As Jesus said himself, he came to die, so that his blood would be “poured out for many” (Mark 14:24).
On the cross, Jesus was cut off from God’s friendship and goodness.
As he died, he experienced hell.
He was pouring out his blood for many, swapping places with sinful human beings and taking the punishment we deserve.
And by dying like this, Jesus opened the way into his kingdom. At the cross, he offers to take our sin and its judgment, and to give us his perfection.
But how can we know this is all actually for real?
Because, as Jesus predicted himself, his death wasn’t the end of the story…
“… and after three days rise again.” (Mark 8:31)
Three days after he died, Jesus rose from the dead. Dozens ate with him. Many spoke to him. Hundreds saw him.
His resurrection is the ultimate proof that Jesus really is “the Christ, the son of God”.
And it’s the ultimate proof that Jesus’ death opened the way into the kingdom of God, a place where death no longer has any power.
So Jesus’ identity, death and resurrection mean we face a simple choice…
Jesus invites people to come into his perfect kingdom, knowing him as their perfect loving ruler. Here’s his call to each one of us:
“The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).
Repent means to turn around, accepting Jesus as our King and wanting to live his way, not ours.
Believe means to trust that Jesus has done everything necessary to give us a place in his kingdom.
Jesus warned that living with him as king isn’t easy. Just as he was rejected and misunderstood, so his people will be too. But his people also experience the joy of knowing and speaking to him, of being helped and changed by his Spirit, of living the way they were made to, and of being part of his family.
And his people can look forward to a future of enjoying life with King Jesus in his perfect kingdom for ever. That’s a future offered to anyone who repents and believes—including you.
Find out more by attending a Christianity Explored Course