Who is Jesus?
Some say Jesus was only a good man. Others say He is God. Still others say He was but a prophet. I ask then, who did Jesus claim to be? What say the Scriptures? What says the Torah? The claims of who Jesus is are absolutely vital! Let us make a careful search as to the things respecting Jesus Christ.
The Torah, also known as the Pentateuch, of which consists the first five books of the Bible, give us the first glimpse of Jesus. It is here that we read in the first chapter, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” A little later, we would also read, “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.’” (Genesis 1:26, 3:22)
Therefore, we see that there is a plurality within the Godhead. So, even though we have one God, we see that there is a plurality within this one God. Later, we will see that Jesus Christ is one of those included in this plurality.
Prophecy in the Law and The Prophets
Looking now into the gospels, we hear the very words of Jesus, “Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44) Indeed, hundreds of very unique and specific prophecies were made with respect to Jesus Christ! Hundreds of years prior to their fulfillment these prophecies were recorded.
Here is a sampling. To begin with, we read, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) This is a most unusual prophecy! When we look into the gospel of Matthew, it is recorded, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:23)
Turning now to the Psalms, we find it written, “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced my hands and my feet.” (Psalm 22:16) In its fulfillment we read, “And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him…” (Luke 23:33) Later on, Jesus would challenge doubting Thomas to place his fingers in the nail prints!
The Psalmist records, “I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they wag their heads.” (Psalm 109:25) In Matthew we read, “And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads.” (Matthew 27:39)
Again, the Psalmist writes, “They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” (Psalm 22:18) In the gospel of John, history is carefully recorded, “When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be. This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” (John 19:23-24)
One more. In the Psalms again, it is said, “He keeps his bones; not one of them is broken.” (Psalm 34:20) Looking then to the New Testament, we find it recorded, “But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs…For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: Not one of his bones will be broken.” (John 19:33, 36)
Indeed, the Scriptures could be greatly multiplied with respect to those things fulfilled by Jesus Christ! However, we need to move along to other things.
Jesus’s Own Claims
Now, when Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel, He said, “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” (John 3:13) Jesus’s claim is very clear here: He himself had come down to Earth from Heaven! According to His own words, He is no ordinary man. Clearly He existed prior to His physical birth! Jesus is therefore more than a “good man”!
Again, Jesus makes a most vivid declaration! “And He said to them, You are from below; I am from above. You are from this world; I am not from this world. Therefore, I said to you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” (^John 8:23-24) Again, Jesus makes clear that He is no citizen of this world, but that He originates “from above.”
Then He makes another most striking claim, “…if you do not believe that I AM…” Just what did Jesus mean by this? Looking back into the Old Testament, we come across a scene where God is speaking to Moses with respect to the deliverance of the people of Israel from the bondage in Egypt. Here we hear God say to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14) No question, Jesus was claiming to be the “I AM” of the Old Testament! Jesus was saying, “I am God”!
Now, after the resurrection, we have this encounter. “Then he said to Thomas, Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe. Thomas answered him, My Lord and my God! Jesus said to him, Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:27-29) Note that Thomas calls Jesus “God,” and that Jesus did not rebuke him for it, but rather said, “You believed.” Jesus then says that others too are “blessed” who will believe!
One more account to look at. We find a time wherein Jesus calmed the raging waves. After so doing, we have this written, “And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:33) We find here that Jesus accepted the worship of these disciples. However, when Cornelius did so before Peter the apostle, it is written, “When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, Stand up; I too am a man.” (Acts 10:25-26) Significantly, when Jesus was being tempted by the devil, told him, “It is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” (Luke 4:8) Yet, Jesus permitted the disciples to worship Him!
One of the strongest verses that testify to who Jesus is, is this one, “Christ Jesus. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20) Neither is this an isolated verse. Turning to the book of Hebrews, we have a couple of important verses to highlight. First, we read of Jesus, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” (Hebrews 1:3) On the heels of this we hear God the Father Himself testify of His Son, “But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” (Hebrews 1:8-9) These are indeed, a very clear declaration by God the Father Himself, that Jesus Christ is truly God!
Part of the Trinity
Listen carefully now as read, “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending on him like a dove and coming to rest on him, and behold, a voice from heaven said, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17) Right here we have revealed the plurality of God. We have the Holy Spirit descending. We have that one coming to rest on Jesus Christ. Finally, we have the Father speaking from Heaven.
Jesus is the Savior!
We come now to a most significant prophecy given by the prophet Malachi, “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.” (Malachi 3:1) Here we have the Lord’s words. The messenger is John the Baptist who prepared the way before “me,” the Lord God! For even the prophet Isaiah prophesies, “A voice cries: in the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD.” (Isaiah 40:3) Therefore, when the Jews came to ask who John the Baptist was, he replied, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as the prophet Isaiah said.” (John 1:23) A little later, John testifies, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.” (John 1:29-30)
Two statements quickly get our attention! The latter one being, “He was before me.” We must realize that John the Baptist was born six months prior to Jesus. Yet, “He was before me”! Clearly, Jesus existed prior to His birth, giving testament to the fact that Jesus is the eternal Son of God! Secondly, we have this proclamation, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” This was the long-awaited Savior! The one who would come as a sacrificial lamb to remove the sins of the people!
This is huge! All those Old Testament sacrifices pointed forward like a finger to, “The Lamb of God,” who not merely gives a temporary covering for sin, but one who, “Takes away the sin of the world!” Of this one the prophet Isaiah wrote, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – everyone – to his own way; and the LORD laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6)
He Came for You!
It is one thing to accept the historicity of the person of Jesus Christ. One can even regard this word as being true, “The gospel…that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) However, despite giving mental assent to all these things, one still cannot be saved. No, being saved goes much deeper, much more personal than this! Firstly, one must see that God is absolutely holy! Secondly, one must come to see that, “All,” including oneself, “falls short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) That is, none of us can live up to the holy standard of God’s holiness as required. In fact, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (~Isaiah 64:6) This would be akin to decorating a filthy trash can! The stinking stench within is still there. Most vitally, we need to conclude that, I need a savior – Jesus! Finally, and of huge importance, we need to place our confidence solely in the Savior to save “me”! That it is 100% Jesus who saves me, and 0% self. Jesus said from the cross, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) There is simply nothing left to do in addition to what Christ has done for us! Such things as baptism, confession, turning from sin, and our life of obedience, simply do nothing to save us! We in no wise play the role of savior. Christ alone is the Savior! As it is written, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.” (Titus 3:4-5) This is the definition of God’s grace! We were as guilty criminals stepping before a judge, and, instead of receiving the judge’s condemnation, we are offered a pardon! This is nothing but God’s grace to treat us so! We didn’t deserve it, but He gave it to us out of the kindness of His loving heart! As it is written, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Again, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works.” (Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9) Quite simply, if we are focused on self to perform, we are looking the wrong way. Much rather our focus ought to be on Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished on our behalf! This is precisely what gives us the assurance of our salvation! Just knowing that what Jesus has done is enough to save us completely and set us free from being under sin’s dominion!
We are left with this precious promise of God to those who place their confidence in Christ alone to save them completely, forever. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) Are you saved? Why not call upon Him to save you just now? He loves you and died for you so that you could be saved!
Victor J. Reimer
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Photo credit: “Jesus” by Lorene Troyer
*Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyrighted © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.