Summary: He has been called a mystic, a revolutionary, a legend, a troublemaker, and much more. Who is Jesus?
Who is Jesus? He has been called a mystic, a revolutionary, a legend, a troublemaker, and much more. Who is Jesus? What was He like? Do we think of Him as the child in the manger or the crucified Savior? People say lots of things about Him. John’s Gospel closes by saying the world could not contain all the books that could be written about Jesus…but Who did He claim to be?
Jesus was misunderstood by people in His day. Some saw him as a political activist; the religious leaders saw Him as a threat to their authority. Jesus asked His closest followers about this in our reading. The disciples were hearing all sorts of rumors as to who people thought Jesus really was. Some thought he was John the Baptist because of his preaching; Elijah because of His power; Jeremiah because of His compassion. To call Jesus a prophet only describes part of Who He was. He turned to His disciples and asked, “Who do you say I am?”
This is the most important question ever asked. School has started, and teachers will be asking lots of questions on tests. This is one question we can’t afford to get wrong. So let’s say someone asks you this week: “Who exactly is Jesus?” How would you answer?
John 3:16 could be translated, “For God so loved the world He gave His unique Son…” Jesus is unique among all the world’s religions because He is God-the-Son. He came to Earth to reveal God to us in human form. Jesus is God’s show-and-tell. To say that Jesus is the Word (as John’s Gospel opens) is another way of saying He is God speaking to us. We are fashioned in the image of God; Jesus is the image of God (Col 1:15). He lived the life we should have lived, and died a death we should have died. On the cross He purchased our forgiveness; He paid the ultimate price for damaged goods, and rose from the dead. He offers pardon to those who don’t deserve it. He didn’t come to judge the world but to save the world. This is true of no other religious leader, of no other religion.
In today’s scientific age, people outright reject what can’t be put under a microscope. And so they demote Jesus to a mere moral teacher. This is nothing new. The so-called “rich young ruler” of Mark 10 approached Jesus, addressing Him as a “good teacher.” Jesus stopped him, stating, “No one is good but God alone.” His point was: “Either you take Me for Who I am or reject Me; there is no middle-ground.” C.S. Lewis points out that it is “patronizing nonsense” to claim that Jesus was “a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.” Lewis goes on to state that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or Who He claimed to be. There can be no neutrality regarding our response to God-the-Son.
We read in the New Testament Who Jesus is: "Jesus Christ is Lord" (Philippians 2:6); "the Lord of glory" (I Cor 2:8); "the Holy and Righteous One" (Acts 3:14); "God blessed forever" (Rom 9:5); "Emmanuel, God-with-us" (Mt 1:23); "Savior" (used throughout the NT). The title “Son of Man” in our reading was a common Messianic title. And when He stated “I and the Father are one” (Jn 10:30), the word “one” means literally “of the same essence.” Jesus is God--fully divine, and fully human. He came to share with us the very being of God.
Though “in the form of God” (Phil 2), Jesus took on flesh, and for thirty years lived among us. God came to us in Jesus. The glory of God had a human face. The Author entered the story as one of His characters (C.S. Lewis). He suffered the limitations of humanity while retaining His deity. The Eternal Word born of the Father before time began emptied Himself for our sake and became a man! He was tempted, but did not yield to sin. When we pray to Him, He understands--He’s been there. He has experiential understanding of human suffering. He felt hunger, thirst, pain. He appeared to feel at home here, yet He was clearly not at home. Because He walked this earth, He is approachable; He is what the author of Hebrews calls our “sympathetic High Priest.”
When I’m sick, I want a doctor who understands what it’s like to be a patient. Because Jesus came as a man, never again would we be able to say, “God, You don’t understand; You don’t know how hard life is. You don’t know what it’s like to suffer as I’ve suffered. You don’t know what it’s like to face death.” Jesus did not need to experience life to understand us, but because He lived, we understand that He knows what it’s like to live here. Jesus didn’t protect Himself from pain. He felt the pain of nails and the pain of rejection; He felt it all--for us. Jesus reveals a God who loves us and who comes in search of us.