In the week before Jesus’ death, we see a massive wave of confusion and shifting loyalties. The large and adoring crowds on Palm Sunday give way to the crowds screaming for His death just a few days later. There are many opinions today on who Jesus is; but the most important question is, who is Jesus to you? Our answer to that question has eternal significance.
Who Am I to You?
We see in Matthew’s Gospel that Jesus takes a poll of His disciples and asks them this very same question.
He had just fed the 4,000 (after previously feeding the 5,000) with a few loaves of bread and some fish. The Pharisees and the Sadducees then tried to test Jesus, obstinately demanding another sign from Him.
Jesus leaves the primarily Jewish area of Galilee and travels to the beautiful and peaceful area of Caesarea Philippi. It was a Gentile city where there were fewer objections to His ministry.
While traveling there, the disciples show their confusion about who He is when Jesus tells the parable of the yeast.
Jesus asks them, “You of little faith… Do you still not understand?” Matthew 16: 8a,9a NIV.
The disciples were still confused about His teachings and were showing little faith, even after witnessing so many miracles.
Who Do You Say I Am Scripture
Upon arrival to the region, Jesus decided it was time to challenge the disciples on His true nature. They knew Him as a man, an excellent teacher, and His ability to heal and perform miracles.
He begins with asking them who others thought He was. They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Matthew 16:14 NIV. These popular answers missed His true identity.
That’s not much different from the opinions of Jesus today. Some deny His very existence; claiming He was a legend or a myth. Some say He was a good, moral teacher or a wise man with powers. Others think the exact opposite, even claiming He was an incredible liar, or insane.
This is Jesus
Jesus declares that He is God, the source of forgiveness of sin, and the only way to eternal life. For some, (then and now), that is too much of a stretch…
After Jesus had listened to the disciple’s answers, He boldly asks them the important question-
“But what about you? He asked. Who do you say I am?” v15.
You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God
Peter answers for the disciples as a group: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” v16.
This was the turning point Jesus was waiting for.
The disciples first began following Jesus as students, hoping He was the long-awaited Messiah. But here, Peter not only proclaims Him Messiah (the “Christ” or “anointed one”) but also the Son of the living God. Even though they did not fully understand His mission, the Holy Spirit had revealed Jesus’s deity to their hearts.
What does Jesus mean to you personally?
Jesus is God’s Son
God the Father announces it when He gives audible confirmation.
John Baptizes Jesus
“As Jesus was coming up out of the water, He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’” Mark 1:10-11 NIV.
Not only was this a visible display of the Trinity, but everyone heard the voice of God the Father call Jesus His beloved Son.
This is My Son Whom I Love
Mark records a second announcement when he tells of Jesus’ Transfiguration:
“… Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him and led them up a high mountain where they were all alone. It was there that He was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them… Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: ‘This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!’” Mark 9:2,3,7 NIV.
The transfiguration showed Jesus’s divine nature, and God’s voice gave Him full divine authority. For a moment, Jesus showed Himself as the true King of Glory. It was another piece of the puzzle the disciples would put together after His resurrection.
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The True Identity of Jesus
Jesus Himself made it clear who He was:
•The Samaritan woman at the well said, “I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us. Jesus declared, ‘I who speak to you am he.’” John 4:25-26 NIV.
•Jesus had a lengthy discussion with the Jews about His true identity. He tells them, “I came from God and now am here.” “My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him.” “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” John 8:42,54,58. NIV. He proclaimed his deity by saying he existed before Abraham and applied God’s holy name- I AM– to himself.
•Jesus healed the paralytic and commented on the healing this way– “So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Matthew 9:6 NIV. He was claiming the power of God for Himself.
There were many voices from the Bible who proclaimed the true identity of Jesus. The angels told the shepherds of His royal birth, Simeon and Anna proclaim Him Messiah when they meet Him one month after His birth. The healed blind man, the Centurion at the cross, the thief who died beside Jesus, and even the demons themselves knew Jesus’s true identity!
Who Is Jesus Christ?
●Jesus clearly proclaimed to be God himself and the only way to salvation and eternal life with Him. That makes Him completely different from other religions.
●If Jesus was not who He claimed, then He would have been the blasphemous teacher the Jews spoke of.
●He is just one of many gods to the Hindus.
●Islam believes Jesus was a prophet and wise teacher, but not God.
●Buddhists recognize Jesus as only a wise teacher and a holy man.
●Jesus is a common denominator in the major religions of the world. But they have read and studied the historical record of Jesus and denied His deity.
Even so, all are given free will and a choice to decide about the person of Jesus for themselves. Our opinion and decision about Jesus is personal. No one can decide for us. We either believe in Him, or we don’t.
And You Say…
So who do you say Jesus is?
When Jesus came to Lazarus’s grave, He told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies… Do you believe this?” John 11: 25, 26 NIV.
Only God could make this claim. Martha’s response was “Yes, Lord, I believe….” v27.
I believe. I put my trust in you, Jesus. This is the most significant truth we can ever acknowledge.
Who is Jesus Christ to you? Is He your everything? The Ruler of your life? Your King of Kings?
Romans 10:10 says, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with you mouth that you confess and are saved.”
It is a two-step process, not just reciting the words or agreeing with stated facts. A heartfelt belief and an open confession make us right before God and brings us eternal life with Him in heaven.
Who is Jesus in Your Life?
If we believe Jesus is who He says He is, our lives will show it. It will affect our everyday decision making. It will show others who He is.
He speaks of those who make a verbal profession of faith only-
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.” (Luke 6: 46-48 NIV)
When we say yes to Jesus (come to Him), hear His words (listen to His teachings), and put them into practice (obey), then we are living out our following.
I want my spiritual life, secure in Christ, to mirror my daily life. When I don’t obey His teachings or put them into practice, I want to be convicted and immediately ask for His forgiveness and mercy. When my trust wavers and I become anxious and go my own way, I want to lean on Him as my Rock and my Redeemer. It is a process we live out our entire lives, daily covered by His grace and mercy.
Questions for Reflection:
•What has Jesus done for me?
•How would you explain Jesus to others?
•A lukewarm answer of faith in Jesus leads to a lukewarm trust in Him. How would you describe your faith and trust in Him?
•Spend some time with Jesus this week thinking on all you believe about Him. Ask Him to show you what you still need to learn. Listen for His answers.
•We confess who Jesus is openly by our actions as well as words. We are to live out our new spiritual nature in two simple guiding principles: love God and love others. How do these principles play out in your thoughts, decisions, and actions?
•How can you be Jesus to someone today?
All Scripture is taken from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
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