Christian Essentials: Who Is Jesus?

This post is based on the book The New Christian’s Handbook by Max Anders.

If Shakespeare were to enter the room, we would all rise.  But if Jesus were to enter the room, we would all kneel. – Charles Lamb

Who Is He?

Of all the questions posed to humanity, “Who is Jesus?” is the most important.  Everything hinges on it.  If he is the one he claimed to be it changes everything. Was he for real?  Or was he a liar?  A lunatic?  Just whom did he claim to be?  Why does it matter?  The answer is the cornerstone of the Christian faith and life itself.

“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation” Isaiah 28:16

Who Did Jesus Claim To Be?

When Jesus arrived on the scene the Jews were eagerly awaiting a Messiah; someone to save them from Roman oppression and restore the Kingdom of Israel.  They expected a great leader to come and set up a powerful human kingdom, led by the Spirit of God.  They did not anticipate what Jesus came to do.  But they did recognize Jesus was different.

“They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.

Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!’

‘Be quiet!’ said Jesus sternly. ‘Come out of him!’ The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.’ News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.” Mark 1:21-22

People were wondering about Jesus.  They heard his teaching and saw the miracles he performed.  He was laying seeds for them to discover a a much bigger kind of kingdom; one they didn’t expect; one they had to seek to find.

“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’

They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’

But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’

Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’

Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.'”

Matthew 16:13-17

The religious leaders of the day found what Jesus did and said to be quite subversive. They had their own system going and he wasn’t following. He was leading.

“So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.’ For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.'” John 5:16-21

Here are Jesus’ claims in his own words:

John 4:25-26 – “The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’  Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you—I am he.'”

John 6:35 – “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

John 8:12 – “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:23 – “I am from above.”

John 8:58 – “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

John 10:9 – “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”

John 10:11 – “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

John 11:25 – “I am the resurrection and the life.”

John 14:6-7 – “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will knowmy Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

John 14:11 – “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.”

John 15:1 – ““I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”

John 18:36 – “Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.'”

Jesus claimed to be God the Son, the second person of the divine trinity.

He possessed and demonstrated the omni-attributes of God alone: omniscience, authority, and power.  He is God as much as if he wasn’t a man at all.

Jesus was a true man, as much as if he weren’t God at all.

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:14-18

Jesus claimed to be the Savior of all mankind from sin.

He sacrificed himself to take our place of punishment.  He was the only one who could do it by virtue of his deity and his humanity, his innocence and our guilt.  He’s the solution, the alpha and omega, a wonder of God’s love for us.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, wehave peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And weboast in the hope of the glory of God.Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:1-11

If Jesus told the truth his deeds would back up his words, and they did.  If he was lying…

“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:19

Next in this series: Why Do We Follow Jesus?


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