Who is Jesus?
In Luke 9:20, Jesus asks His followers the question, “Who do you say that I am?” This seems a very straightforward question regarding Jesus’ identity, yet it is not. Although Peter will answer, “The Christ (Messiah) of God”, that does not imply that Peter really understood what he was answering. This becomes clear when Jesus explains what He has come to do, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Luke 9:22). This “mission” did not sit well with the disciples’ expectation of Jesus being the Messiah (cf. Matthew 16:21-23).
And yet Jesus’ identity is much larger than just being Israel’s promised future King. Jesus commands the storm (inanimate creation) to obey and it does. The disciples had no category for understanding Jesus’ identity at that moment, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” (Luke 8:25). Jesus commands a person to rise from the dead and they do (cf. Lk. 8:53-56; Jn. 11:43-44). Who is this who can resurrect the dead by a command? Jesus feeds thousands of people like Yahweh (the God of Israel) did in the Wilderness journeys with Moses (cf. Lk. 9:10-17; Ex. 16:1ff).
Jesus claims to be the key to unlocking the Old Testament and the fulfillment of its prophetic hope, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me” (cf. Matt. 5:17-18; Jn. 5:39, 45-47). Jesus claimed that He existed prior to Abraham, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (Jn. 8:58). Jesus continually uses the name of Yahweh, “I am” in reference to Himself in John’s Gospel, claiming to be the full revelation of God the Father (cf. Jn. 14:6ff).
When considering Jesus’ claims (as recorded in the Gospels), we are compelled to conclude what C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity,“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him:
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 the level with the 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 a 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 with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to”.
This is the paradigm shifting claim of Jesus; as author Bruce Milne put it, “Here we arrive at the staggering truth which lies at the heart of the Christian religion, that Jesus Christ while truly human was also true God”
On 10 February we begin a new teaching series on Sundays and in Fellowship Groups. It is called “I believe”. In this series we will be exploring the reality of the God-Man Jesus as revealed in the Scriptures (and what that implies for our understanding of God). So, don’t miss it!