What Can a Fish Teach Us about Who Jesus Is?
Dr. Ray Pritchard
Thankfully, we don't have to wonder who Jesus is. For 2,000 years Christians have affirmed their faith in Jesus with these words from the Apostles' Creed: "I believe … in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord." With this phrase we enter the second major section of the Creed. The Creed itself is Trinitarian—with a section devoted to the Father, a section to the Son, and a final section to the Holy Spirit. Of the 110 words in the Creed, 70 occur in the section relating to Jesus Christ. That tells us something important. The Christian faith is all about Jesus! He is the heart and core, the touchstone of all that we believe. You can be mistaken on some secondary issues and still be a Christian, but if you are wrong about Jesus, you are wrong in the worst possible place. Our faith in Jesus must be more than just an emotional experience of "having Jesus in my heart." Our faith must rest on the revealed truth about Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord.
If we take this clause from the Creed and examine it, we can see that it contains four statements:
- I believe in Jesus.
- I believe He is the Christ.
- I believe He is God's only Son.
- I believe He is the Lord.
Each of these statements deserves close examination. J. I. Packer notes that when the Creed calls God the "Maker of heaven and earth," it parts company with Hinduism and by extension, with all the Eastern religions. When it declares that Jesus is the Christ, God's only Son, and our Lord, it parts company with Islam and Judaism. This claim for Jesus makes Christianity utterly unique.
These titles were commonly used by the early church to describe their faith. Sometimes they used the familiar symbol of the fish, which in Greek is IXTHUS. Those letters were an acrostic for four of the words found in this phrase of the Creed:
The letter I is the first letter of "Jesus" in Greek.
The letter X is the first letter of "Christ" in Greek.
The letters TH stand for the first letter of "God" in Greek.
The letter U is the first letter of "Son" in Greek.
The letter S is the first letter of "Savior" in Greek.
So the word IXTHUS (and the fish symbol) stood as shorthand for:
Jesus Christ, God's Son, our Savior.
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