Here at Walking Crossroads, I have made it my mission to answer the most commonly asked questions about religion, particularly in Catholicism. For today’s article, let’s have a closer look at Jesus and answer whether or not Catholics believe in him. Let’s also discuss who he is and what he means to billions of believers worldwide.
Catholics believe in Jesus as the Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity. He is born of the Father and the savior God promised to save humanity. For us, he also built the one true Christian Church and instituted the priesthood and the sacraments that allow us to experience God’s grace.
So you see, Jesus is at the very heart of the whole Christian life and his role in the Church is unparalleled. Why is that? Well, continue reading to learn more about him, his life, and what he is for Catholics.
What is Jesus to a Catholic?
As Catholics, we declare our belief in Jesus Christ through the Nicene Creed where we say: “We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God; begotten not made, one in being with the Father. Through Him, all things were made. For us men and for our salvation He came down from heaven. By the power of the Holy Spirit He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day He rose again, in fulfillment of the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.”
This is similar to the Apostle’s Creed: “And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”
So for us, Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior, and God incarnate. We also acknowledge him as the founder of the Catholic Church. Let’s discuss all these roles of Jesus in more detail below.
Jesus as the Son of God
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#65): “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son. Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father’s one, perfect and unsurpassable Word. In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one.”
In Matthew 16:15-16, you’ll also see Simon Peter telling Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That said, Catholics believe that Jesus is the Son of God who inherited divine powers from His Father (John 10:17-18). For us, he was sent to Earth by our Heavenly Father to set an example, share the gospel, and save us from our sins.
As the popular biblical verse goes: “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)
Jesus as the Savior and Redeemer
We refer to Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer. By sacrificing himself on the cross, he paid for all our sins, allowing us to heal and be forgiven by God. While he knew he would die soon, Jesus didn’t run. He willingly suffered and sacrificed his life on the line so we don’t have to.
In addition, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#430): “Jesus means in Hebrew: “God saves”. In Luke 1:31 and Matthew 1:21, Mary and Joseph were ordered to call him by this name. Through an angel that appeared in his dream, Joseph was also told that Jesus would “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). All these show that throughout Jesus’ earthly life and even in his name, he was revealed as the Savior God sent for the salvation of the world.
Jesus as the God Incarnate
Jesus Christ was also born of the Virgin Mary, which is why Catholics believe that Jesus is God incarnate. This means that he is both a “true God” and a “true man” – both divine and human. Furthermore, we believe that it is through Jesus Christ that God became man. So together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, Jesus makes up the Holy Trinity, the central doctrine of Christianity.
Jesus as the Founder of the Catholic Church
Catholics believe that Jesus Christ founded the Church in 30 AD when he told Peter: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)
Do Catholic Christians Believe Jesus is God?
As Catholics, we believe in Scripture and the Church’s teachings – which is why we believe that Jesus is God. So why are there other people saying that he isn’t?
Well, in John 14:28, Jesus says: “for the Father is greater than I”. For some quasi-Christians, this is Jesus’ admission that he is not a God. However, what this verse really implies is Jesus’ humanity, emphasizing his impending suffering, death, and resurrection. It also points out Jesus’ and God’s relationship as father and son – in the human sense. But with respect to their nature of being God, both Jesus and the Father are actually God.
Besides, Jesus also said in John 10:30: “I and the Father are one”. So by linking himself directly with God the Father, Jesus is also claiming deity. Furthermore, John 1:1 identifies the “Word” as God. Then in John 1:14, John confirms the Word and Jesus are the same.
As Catholic Christians, the Holy Trinity and the divinity of Jesus are at the center of the Church’s teachings. For us, there is one God manifested in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thus, with Jesus being the Son, we believe that he is indeed divine and God.