Who Is Jesus?
By Dave Butts
There is no more important question in the world than the one regarding the identity of Jesus of Nazareth. Who is Jesus? Your response to this question not only profoundly affects your life on earth, but determines your eternal destiny. There are other issues that are important, but all pale in comparison. Here are some responses of others when asked the question, "Who is Jesus?"
The humanist responds: "He was a great teacher."
The Muslim says: "He was a great prophet."
The secular historian views Him as the founder of a great world religion.
The Hindu, Buddhist, or New Ager sees Him as one way to God.
Who do you say Jesus is? Long ago, Jesus asked that question of the disciples. In the Gospel of Matthew we find a fascinating discussion of the identity of Jesus: "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 Christ, the Son of the Living God’" (Matt. 16:13-16).
Jesus is still asking the same question of each of us: "Who do you say I am?" Let’s first look at the words of Jesus Himself:
"I and the Father are one" (John 10:30).
"But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God" (Luke 22:69).
"They all asked, ‘Are You then the Son of God?’ He replied, ‘You are right in saying I am’" (Luke 22:70).
"Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).
According to the very words of Jesus, He is indeed the Messiah, the Christ. He is the expected one, the Son of God, come into the world to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.
It is not Jesus alone, though, who testifies to such things. Listen to the teachings of the early Church about the identity of Jesus:
"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation" (Col. 1:15).
"…Who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand – with angels, authorities, and powers in submission to Him" (l Pet. 3:22).
"Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name" (Phil. 2:9).
"In a loud voice they sang, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’" (Rev. 5:12).
The early Church fought a battle over the divinity of Jesus. There were many attempts to water down the Gospel by making Jesus less than the One He says He is. Many of the writings of the Apostle John were meant to counter the teachings from a group known as the Gnostics who believed Jesus was not completely God in the flesh. This precise issue is still a major stumbling block today.
I was leading a Bible study at my home one day, when we were interrupted by a knock on the door. Standing there were two members of a well-known pseudo-Christian cult that still holds on to the old Gnostic teachings about Jesus. Instead of turning them away as I normally would have done, I invited them into our Bible study. Upon accepting my invitation, they immediately began to bring up the key points of their unique doctrine. I refused to be drawn into their discussion, but instead asked them to tell me who they believed Jesus to be. Dismayed by my continued insistence that they reveal their beliefs about Jesus, they soon left without continuing their own doctrinal discussion. I turned to the others in my Bible study and pointed out that it is the issue of the identity of Jesus that separates the true Church from false churches.
The Lord’s Church today must hold firmly to the revealed truth of who Jesus is – God’s only begotten Son, the Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our world does not like to hear that. A Jesus who is a good teacher, or even a godly prophet is acceptable. The militant Islamic faith that is on the move today firmly rejects the divinity of Jesus. He is considered a prophet, though lesser in stature than Mohammed. In the midst of the turmoil and conflict of religions in the world today, the Church must hold out the truth of God’s Word that the only hope is the revelation of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ.
There is one more very important point for us to consider as we lift up Jesus as Lord and Savior for all the world to see. It is not enough for Christians to believe the right facts about Jesus. We must live in such a way that the world can see that He really is our Lord and Master. If we believe that God came to earth in the flesh as Jesus of Nazareth, then our lives must bring honor and glory to Jesus.
My good friend, David Bryant, is a man on a mission to help restore the Church’s understanding concerning the supremacy of Christ. Let me close this article on the divinity of Christ with David’s challenging words:
"When Christians wake up to the glory of Christ, important changes ensue. We shake off the soothing slumber of the status quo. We rise up once more to pursue wholeheartedly Christ and His global cause in the full light of His Day. Dispelling fears of fanaticism, we foster a fervency toward Christ for all that He is and all that He is up to. We start to care about Him" (Christ is All, p. 242).