Christians confess that Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man (Col 2:9). The two natures of Christ exist in one person in contrast to Monophysitism and Nestorianism. He has existed for all eternity as God, the second person of the Trinity and creator of all things in contrast to Arianism (John 1:1-3; Col 1:16). In the fullness of time, Jesus was sent by his Father to become man through the incarnation and was born of the Virgin Mary (Gal 4:4). Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life in obedience to the Father and was crucified under Pontius Pilate as an atonement for sin. He rose again from the dead three days later and ascended into heaven (1 Cor 15:3-8). One day, he will come again to judge the living and the dead and rule over all creation. He is prophet, priest, and king over God’s people as the precious cornerstone chosen by God but rejected by men (1 Pet 2:4). He is the head of the church which he bought with his own blood.
Jesus is the only mediator between God and man and he is the only way to God (John 14:6; 1 Tim 2:5). Salvation is found only in Christ because he alone can save people from their sins. He is to be worshiped and prayed to because he is fully God along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit in nature, yet distinct from them in person. He is sent by the Father and with the Father sends the Holy Spirit to convict the world of its sin (John 15:26; 16:8). His atonement propitiates the wrath of God for sin reconciling all of those who turn to him in faith and repentance (Rom 3:25). His perfect righteousness is imputed to all those who believe in him and their sins were imputed to Christ on the cross (2 Cor 5:21). Christians do not need to fear the wrath of God because Christ bore God’s wrath in their place for their sins (Isa 53:4-10).
Christian leaders can learn much from the servanthood of Christ. They are to imitate the life of Christ and so serve all of those God has entrusted to their care. As Christ suffered on behalf of his people, the pastor must imitate Christ’s self-sacrificial love and give himself to the sanctification of God’s people through teaching and imitating the life of Christ (Col 1:24). As Christ loved and cared for those around him, pastors must share in the compassion of Christ by serving others. They must demonstrate the love of Christ to all those around them. They must be the servant of all and wash the feet of those they serve through hospitality and generosity.
As Jesus discipled his twelve apostles, pastors must disciple other Christians and especially other Christian leaders. They need to entrust the sound doctrine they have been taught to others so that those they disciple can then teach others (2 Tim 2:2). The pastor should be someone that other people can look to and see the life of Christ in. Christian leaders should imitate all of the attributes of Christ. They should be humble, loving, meek, righteous, holy, compassionate, merciful, and gracious to all those around them. When a Christian leader is wronged by another, they should be quick to forgive and seek ways to be reconciled to their brothers and sisters in Christ. As Jesus rebuked the false teaching of the Pharisees, Christian leaders need to be able to refute false teachers as a shepherd protects his flock from wolves. As Jesus spent much time in prayer, Christian leaders must also make prayer a priority in their lives.
The incarnation reminds Christian leaders that they are truly strangers and aliens on earth. As Jesus became incarnate to fulfill God’s plan of salvation, Christian leaders must enter into the culture that they are serving to make God’s way of salvation known to others. They need to contextualize the gospel in whatever culture they live in without changing the gospel or compromising any of the truths of Scripture (1 Cor 9:22-23). As Jesus submitted to the will of his Father, pastors should also submit to God’s will for their lives and obey God in all things. Because Jesus Christ is Lord of all, pastors must submit to the lordship of Christ in their ministry. Jesus determines how his church is to worship him and how his undershepherds will care for his flock. Jesus Christ must be the focus and center of all preaching. It is to him that all Scripture bears witness (John 5:39). Preaching should therefore be Christ-centered and God-honoring with a view to accurately handling God’s Word as Jesus did (2 Tim 2:15).