Who is Jesus?
Matthew 16:13-17 13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" 14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.
Intro: People have different reactions when they hear or read the name Jesus. This name is a dividing line. It is divisive for some. For others it is unifying. Inspiring. Healing. Or, for yet others, a curse word.
Two thousand years of widely differing experiences have created hugely different reactions to this person. In the name of Jesus the lives of millions have been bettered, healed, lifted up from depression, given worth and hope.
And this name possibly more than 50 million people have been slaughtered. Inquisitions and pogroms have been initiated by religious people who thought they were protecting his name. [http://www.who-is-god-really.org/Jesus.html]
-There is no doubt that Jesus has, by far, the highest name recognition throughout the world. One-third of our world’s population—about 2.5 billion people—call themselves Christians. Islam, which comprises about 1.5 billion people, actually recognizes Jesus as the second greatest prophet after Mohammed. Of the remaining 3.2 billion people (roughly half the world’s population), most have either heard of the name of Jesus or know about Him.
-If one were to put together a summary of the life of Jesus from His birth to His death, it would be somewhat sparse. He was born of Jewish parents in Bethlehem, a small town south of Jerusalem, while the territory was under Roman occupation. His parents moved north to Nazareth, where He grew up; hence He was commonly known as “Jesus of Nazareth.” His father was a carpenter, so Jesus likely learned that trade in His early years. Around thirty years of age, He began a public ministry. He chose a dozen men of questionable reputation as His disciples and worked out of Capernaum, a large fishing village and trading center on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. From there He traveled and preached throughout the region of Galilee, often moving among neighboring Gentiles and Samaritans with intermittent journeys to Jerusalem.
-Jesus’ unusual teachings and methodology startled and troubled many. His revolutionary message, coupled with astonishing miracles and healings, garnered a huge following. His popularity among the populace grew rapidly, and, as a result, it was noticed by the well-entrenched leaders of the Jewish faith. Soon, these Jewish leaders became jealous and resentful of His success. Many of these leaders found His teachings offensive and felt that their established religious traditions and ceremonies were being jeopardized. They soon plotted with the Roman rulers to have Him killed. It was during this time that one of Jesus’ disciples betrayed Him to the Jewish leaders for a trivial sum of money. Then, they had Him arrested, had a series of mock trials, and executed Him by crucifixion.
-But unlike any other in history, Jesus’ death was not the end of His story; it was, in fact, the beginning. Christianity exists only because of what happened after Jesus died. Three days after His death, His disciples and many others began to claim that He had returned to life from the dead. His grave was found empty, the body gone, and numerous appearances were witnessed by many different groups of people, at different locations, and among dissimilar circumstances.
-As a result of all this, people began to proclaim that Jesus was the Christ, or the Messiah. They claimed His resurrection validated the message of forgiveness of sin through His sacrifice. At first, they declared this good news, known as the gospel, in Jerusalem, the same city where He was put to death. This new following soon became known as the Way and expanded rapidly. In a short period of time, this gospel message of faith spread even beyond the region, expanding as far as Rome as well as to the outer regions of its vast empire.
-So, to say that Jesus made a big splash in this world would be a major understatement. Even our system of keeping track of the passage of time throughout history was impacted by the life of Jesus. Who is this Man? In our text Jesus asked, “Who do men say that I am?” Let’s listen in on some street interviews to hear what people are saying about Jesus. [Play Blue Fish’s Who Was Jesus?]
-I’d like to take a few minutes and talk about 2 main facets of the identity of Jesus. He was fully God and fully man.
I. The Humanity of Jesus
1. Jesus had a human parent
-If you were making up a believable story that you wanted people to believe about someone, you probably would not invent a virgin birth. While not unheard of in pagan beliefs or in mythology, it would be a tough sell. Regardless, in the first couple of chapters of Matthew and Luke (along with other references elsewhere), we learn that Jesus was born to a virgin named Mary.
2. Jesus grew and developed physically and spiritually just as humans do.
Luke 2:40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.
3. Jesus looked like an ordinary man.
Isaiah 53:2 “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” When people saw Jesus they saw a normal Jewish man.
4. Jesus had a human body and spirit.
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
Luke 23:46 “Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
5. Jesus experienced sinless human weakness.
Matthew 4:2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
-Other Scriptures show Him being thirsty, tired, asleep, crying, mourning, being tempted, etc.
6. Jesus had human names.
Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
Matthew 1:21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus
Acts 2:22 Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him
II. The Deity of Jesus
A. Divine names were given to Jesus
God - John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Son of God - Matthew 8:29 "What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted.
Lord - Acts 4:33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus
The 1st and Last – Rev. 1:17 / Alpha and Omega – Rev. 22:13, cf. 1:8
B. Divine Worship is ascribed to Jesus
-The Bible is clear that worship is only given to God. Angels stopped people from worshipping them (Rev. 22:8-9)
John 20:28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Matthew 14:33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
Philippians 2:10-11 at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
C. Jesus possesses the qualities of Deity
1. Pre-existence - John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 8:58 "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"
2. Self-Existence and Life-Giving Power - John 1:4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. John 5:21 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.
3. Immutability - Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 1:8 But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.
4. The Fullness of the Godhead - Colossians 2:9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form
D. Jesus Has Divine Offices
1. Creator - John 1:3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
2. The One who upholds all things - Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
3. He can forgive sins - Luke 7:48 Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
4. He will raise people from death - John 6:40 “For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
5. He will be the Judge of all men - John 5:22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son
E. Divine Attributes of Jesus
1. Omnipotence - Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
2. Omniscience - John 16:30 “Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
3. Omnipresence - Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
-We can be sure that every characteristic of God we talked about last week is true of Jesus as well.
F. Jesus’ Name is Joined with God’s Name
2 Corinthians 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
John 14:23 Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
G. Jesus was conscious of His Deity
Luke 2:49 "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?"
Matthew 3:17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
Matthew 4:3 The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
Matthew 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22 But I tell you….”
-I realize that much of this is textbook stuff, but the truth is real and powerful and unchanging! Jesus is the greatest person to have ever walked this earth, but He’ll be back! He is fully God and fully man. He is God’s unique Son who came out of love to this world to save the world from its sins and being permanently cut off from God.
-Dr. James Allan Francis penned the following words that aptly describe the influence of Jesus through the history of mankind:
"Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.
"He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. . . .
"While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth—His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
"Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.
"I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life."
-Wilbur Smith, respected Bible scholar years ago wrote, “The latest edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica gives twenty thousand words to this person, Jesus, and does not even hint that He did not exist—more words, by the way, than are given to Aristotle, Alexander, Cicero, Julius Caesar, or Napoleon Bonaparte.”
George Buttrick, recognized as one of the ten greatest preachers of the twentieth century, wrote: “Jesus gave history a new beginning. In every land he is at home. . . . His birthday is kept across the world. His death-day set a gallows against every skyline.”
Even Napoleon himself admitted, "I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ was no mere man: between him and whoever else in the world there is no possible term of comparison."
C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity writes the following: “I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus Christ]: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.”
Close: Jesus asked His disciples who others thought He was. But then He asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” Maybe you’ve already answered that question for yourself. But if you haven’t, I hope you’ll take a few steps closer today. Jesus… Son of God, Son of Man. The same yesterday and today and forever! He took my sin and failure on Himself on the cross 2 millennia ago. He took yours too. Do you know Him? Do you want to know Him? He is the way, the truth, and the life. Nobody gets to God but through Him. I hope you know how much He loves you.