Summary: Answers the question, "Who do men say that the Son of Man is?"
“Who IS Jesus?”
David P. Nolte
Any honest historian or any objectively thinking person has to admit that Jesus was a real man who lived in Judea and was credited with many astounding acts and was crucified under Pilate’s reign. The question is not, “WAS He?” but, “WHO was He?” There was, and is, confusion as to His identity.
I’m reminded of the old movie, “Freaky Friday,” in which Tess Coleman and Anna, her teenaged daughter, wake up one Friday to discover that they have exchanged bodies. That is, Tess occupied Anna’s body and Anna occupied Tess’ body. This led to all sorts of complications because when people thought they were talking to Tess they were actually talking to Anna and those who though they were with Anna were actually with Tess! As there was identity confusion for those two, so it was for Jesus. People misidentified Him then as they do now! Let’s check the text to see.
“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.’” Matthew 16:13-18 (NASB). Consider the question, “Who is Jesus?” from 3 perspectives:
“Everybody ought to know Who Jesus is!” That has been a matter of contention from that day to this. Let Jesus pose the question, hear Peter answer it, and let us consider it:
I. THE PERSONAL DESIGNATION:
A. WHAT JESUS SAID: He used the phrase:“Son Of Man.”
1. “Son of Man” was a title applied in the book of Daniel to refer to the promised Messiah or Christ. Daniel wrote, “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14 (NASB).
2. It has reference to His humanity.
a. As Ron Rhodes wrote, “The incarnation of Christ did not involve the subtraction of deity, but the addition of humanity.”
b. Jesus was referring to His partnership with us in the flesh and hence, “Son of Man” also emphasizes who Jesus is in relation to His work of salvation. He became the Messiah / Christ when He became a man, so He could rescue us from the power, peril and penalty of sin.
B. Take heart therefore!
1. He understands it all!
2. He has blazed the trail before us and opened the way to God’s grace and mercy.
3. When life cuts little chunks out of your heart and you bleed inside, remember that as man Jesus suffered, too.
C. Jesus, the Son of Man and Son of God, made many claims about Himself; claims which, if I made from this pulpit you would be right in declaring me a looney, a liar, a joker, or a heretic.
1. As a man, He claimed oneness with the Father.
2. As a man, He claimed to be the one and only access to God.
3. As a man, He claimed to have lived before Abraham.
4. As a man, He claimed that after He died He would rise again on His own power and initiative.
5. As a man, He claimed the authority to forgive sins.
6. As a man, He claimed to have authority over legions of angels.
D. Now, and this is review, either those claims were true or false.
1. If false and He knew it, we can call Him a LIAR!
2. If false and He thought they were true, we can call Him a LUNATIC.
3. But if true, we must call Him LORD!
E. He is Son of Man and Son of God. As man He understands us and as God He can rescue us. It is like the king who heard that some of the princes wee oppressing the people. So he disguised himself as a peasant and exposed himself to their situation. He ate what they ate; worked as they worked; suffered as they suffered and was as ill treated as they were. Nobody recognized him except a few friends to whom he revealed his mission – and until he came riding in with his army, mounted on a royal steed to punish the criminal princes, most considered him to be a poor peasant. So it was with Jesus – unrecognized by most as God in man as the Son of Man. So let’s go on to the next point: