The church began with Jesus. He is the founder and sustainer of the church. As a Jewish man, Jesus came as the prophesied Messiah, Savior, whom the Jews had long awaited. As the story unfolds in the Bible, we see that some Jews believed that Jesus was the Messiah while others rejected Him due to unfulfilled expectations. With this in mind, the first Christians were Jews. The Christian faith first spread among the Jews and then to the Gentiles.
Jesus came to offer salvation. To redeem mankind back to God. To satisfy God’s wrath toward sin. To provide a path of reconciliation. To usher in a new covenant—a covenant based in His holy life instead of the old covenant, which, with all our failed attempts to obey the law, was not the end for us. Hebrews 9:15 says, “[Jesus] is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” Jesus is the new covenant, and He offers salvation to all. This led the way for the beginning of the church.
Jesus started the church with an eccentric group of twelve men including tax collectors and fishermen. He asked these men to leave their lives behind and follow Him. For three years, Jesus taught them about the kingdom of God and prepared them to be His witnesses in “Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Moments before Jesus ascended into heaven, He sent His followers out to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). This is how the church began—through Jesus and His commission to go to the ends of the earth and make disciples.
Colossians 1:18 says, “He is the head of the body, the church.” Jesus is the head of the church, the leader of the church, and the foundation of the church. Ephesians 5:25–27 further illustrates His position: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Jesus’ love for the church runs deep—so deep that He would give His life for her in order to present her as holy before God. The church is Jesus’ avenue for encouraging His followers and spreading the gospel. The church is of utmost importance to Jesus.
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He told the disciples to stay in Jerusalem until the promised Holy Spirit came upon them.