Summary: Jesus asked His followers, "Who do men say that I am?" We will talk about 2 main facets of the identity of Jesus. He was fully God and fully man.
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.