Who is Jesus and Does it Matter?
Today there is a lot of arguing going on between various religious groups about who Jesus was (or is) and whether or not it even matters today. It seems that many of the worlds religious groups are starting to find all sorts of things to agree on They have agreed on the need for peace, the benefits of love and even on the need for God. But on one thing they seem to have great trouble agreeing – Exactly who was Jesus. It seems that what Jesus predicted in Matt Chapter 10 has come true.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn "'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law-- a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'
Matt 10:34-36 (NIV)
So, recognizing this, this letter is simply written to help us focus on what the Bible has to say about this subject. In order to understand who Jesus is I think it is valuable to look at what the Bible says about Jesus during the following five different periods of history.
1.In the beginning (ie. during creation) 2.Before he came to earth (ie. during the Old Testament period), 3.While he was living on earth as a man (during the Gospels) 4.After he died, rose and returned to Heaven(from the new testament letters) 5.And who He will be in the future (from Revelation)
Who Jesus was “In the Beginning”
In the book of Genesis, we find something very interesting. God speaks about himself in the plural form during the creation of man. We find this in other references in genesis as well.
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Gen 1:27-27 (NIV)
The Book of John in the New Testament also speaks the of Beginning when John wrote –
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it (and skipping to verse 10) He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-14 (NIV)
Here we see Jesus no less than the co-creator of the universe- totally involved in creating all that is. With God, yet being God – a part of God, (the 2nd person of the Trinity
It seems that Jesus has been around a while.
Who He was “During Old Testament Days”
Perhaps one of the newest things the Old testament has revealed is something called the Bible Codes. These are words and phrases found encoded in the original Hebrew text of the Old testament in equidistant letter sequences. It seems that under every book of the Old testament, the majority of the encoded phrases contain the name of Yeshua, (Hebrew for Jesus) found along with other words descriptive of God. Now this is not news for those well read in the Old Testament for each book presents a view of some aspect of God that is also representative of Christ.
In the new testament even the names Yaweh and Adonai are ascribed to Christ. Certainly in Matthew when the discussion arose among the religious leaders, Jesus points out that even King David refers to the coming Christ as Lord and no merely his descendant.
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, "What do you think about the Christ ? Whose son is he?" "The son of David," they replied. He said to them, "How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him 'Lord'? For he says, "'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet."' If then David calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?" Matt 22:41-45 (NIV)
The prophecies of Micah point to the “eternalness” of the one who would come from Bethlehem.
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." Micah 5:2 (NIV)
In Isaiah, God equates the one who formed us, the Lord, and the creator to the “Redeemer” (a clear reference to Christ) – and the Redeemer to Himself.
"This is what the LORD says-- your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, Isa 44:24 (NIV)
Our Redeemer--the LORD Almighty is his name-- is the Holy One of Israel. Isa 47:4 (NIV)
The description of Gods reign in Psalms is quoted in Hebrews and ascribed to the “Son”
Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. Psalm 45:6 (NIV)
But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. Heb 1:8 (NIV)
Other references in the old testament that equate the Son with the Father include Daniel 7:13-14, Zecharaiah 14:9-21, Isa 24:23 and 9:6-7.
And lastly, in the Gospel of John , we find Jesus pointing out to the Jewish leaders that not only had He met Abraham personally but that He is the great “I Am” known to the Jews from the early verses of the Old testament.
Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." "You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!" "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" John 8:56-58 (NIV)
Who He was “While on Earth”
One of the key things to understand about Jesus birth was that in adopting human form and limitation, God actually “limited” Himself and for a time became less that He was. This is known as the “Emptying”. It is referred to in a number of New testament teachings like;
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Phil 2:8-9 (NIV)
.. and ..
You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. Heb 2:7-8 (NIV)
I think that perhaps the greatest miracle of all is what we call the Incarnation – the act of God becoming Man. When Jesus came and put on human form he stepped into our world and for a time became even lower than the angels. Here we find Him no longer emphasizing his equality to God but rather emphasizing his submission to the Father and yet at the same time His “oneness” with him (ie. consistency of union, consistency of purpose, etc).
“Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." :Mark 14:36
"You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. John 14:28 (NIV)
But then as we continue to read, Jesus begins to reveal one other key aspect of his nature. The concept that the authority to forgive sin and mediate who can have access to God has been given solely to Him.
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men--the testimony given in its proper time. 1 Tim 2:5-6 (NIV)
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . ." He said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." Luke 5:24 (NIV)
Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. John 10:7-9 (NIV)
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."
John 10:28-30 (NIV)
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matt 28:18-20 (NIV)
It has been said that given these words, Jesus can not be found to be great teacher, a wise man, nor even a prophet of God. For if he was not who he said He was, the very Son of God, then he must be found a lunatic and liar.
Who he has been “Since He Returned to Heaven”
Once Jesus died and rose again we see another change in how He is referred to. The same 2 verses we read earlier about his life each contain what the radio announcer Paul Harvey would have called the “rest of the story”.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Heb 2:9 (NIV)
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped ,but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name ,that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil 2:8-11 (NIV)
He is "'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:11-12 (NIV)
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Eph 1:22-23 (NIV)
Just as Jesus was lowered when he came to earth, Jesus is elevated to a position of God-hood above all created things. Now we find that Christ is restored to the position of King and even Judge.
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. John 5:21-23 (NIV)
He is also made the one who prepares the future of all men, Some to judgement and other to glory.
In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:2-6
Once again He begins to emphasize his union with the father through the indwelling of the Father.
If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; John 14:7-10a (NV)
But now something else is possible.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Rom 8:11 (NIV)
We can have God live in us. ….... major cool!
Who he will be “In the Future”
There will come a day when Christ returns and this time their will be no doubt in anyone’s mind who he is. He will be recognized as who He said he was and all the world who did not accept him will mourn for they will realize their mistake.
"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. Matt 24:11 (NIV)
John writes of that day;
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Rev 19:11-16 (NIV)
And the Apostle Paul adds;
Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. 1 Cor 15:24-28 (NIV)
"And the last few verses of scripture say –
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. Rev 21:23-27 (NIV)"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Rev 22:12-14 (NIV)
Who's book makes the difference? - The Lamb's!
Who is Jesus and does it matter ?
Jesus is not the Father and by his own words submits to the Father – yet Jesus is Lord and He is fully God (of one mind, of one purpose and of one power with the Father and the Holy Spirit) He is the 2nd person of the Trinity, a part of God that became less for a time in order to redeem mankind and all of creation for himself. Because of this he has been elevated to the highest place.
Further, for us today, access to anything of God that might be important to mankind, including eternal life, protection, and blessings – all come solely through the person of Jesus Christ . The Father has stated the condition for us to approach him, through Jesus. So in essence if we stand looking up toward God, if we look to the right or to left of Jesus to find God what we will find is nothing.
.. yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. 1 Cor 8:6 (NIV)
Do you seek the Father and the things of God, yet relegate Jesus to being something else. Perhaps for you He is just a piece of the gospel, someone less than God who contributed to your future? If this is true, please reconsider. Paul worried about this when he wrote –
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Cor 11:3 (NIV)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Co1:15-20 (NIV)
Please – do not ignore who Jesus is.