A foundational question!
By Ysrael De la Cruz
Throughout centuries people have wrestled with the identity of Jesus. The question “who is Jesus?” has puzzled many great minds for millennia. Some people have viewed Jesus as a prophet, a great teacher. He was a great teacher; Scripture tells us that people were amazed at his teaching. Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet like Muhammad; Jehovah Witnesses believe Jesus was a created angel (Michael the archangel). Mormons believe Jesus was Lucifer’s brother. Scientologists believe Jesus was a great teacher who taught us how to be spiritually advanced. Who is Jesus? Was he just a prophet, a teacher? A created angel? Or is there more to Jesus than meets the eye. The question: Who is Jesus? is foundational and essential to our beliefs. We must wrestle with this question because how we answer it affects our belief. How we answer affects our destiny. What you believe about Jesus is important, but Who do you say Jesus is?
When Jesus began his public ministry, he attracted large crowds; lots of people wanted to see this man everyone was talking about. His fame spread out very quickly; he was the reason people would say things like: “No one ever spoke like this man.” The temple guards. John 7:46 “Come see a man who told everything I ever did, could he be the Christ?” John 4:29 the Samaritan woman. People were transformed after having an encounter with Jesus; and they would tell others about him. Come see a man…
For about three years Jesus’ disciples followed him everywhere he went, they witnessed his miracles, heard his teachings. They had a very good idea about Jesus’ identity. Late in his ministry, Jesus asked the disciples this question, who do people say I am? The disciples’ response gives us the public opinion of the day.
Jesus asked his followers, who do people say the Son of Man is? (Son of man is a messianic title referring to Jesus himself) It is as if Jesus said, who do people say that I am?
The disciples’ response: some people thought Jesus was John the Baptist; Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. People followed Jesus because they thought he was a prophet sent by God. Most people didn’t know Jesus as well as the apostles. They thought he was sent by God like the prophets of old. To think that Jesus was just a prophet is to have limited knowledge of him.
Jesus then asked his disciples the same question: “Who do you say that I am?”
Each follower of Jesus must know the answer to this question.
Peter’s answer: (v.16) “You are the Christ (Messiah) the Son of the Living God.”
Peter’s answer says a lot; they thought Jesus was the expected Messiah; God’s own Son. Jesus applauded Peter for the answer. “blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (v.17)
Peter’s answer was what Jesus wanted to hear.
We, like Peter, must confess Jesus as Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus was known by many names in Scripture. The Alpha and Omega, the Messiah, Lamb of God, Bright and morning Star, Lion of the Tribe of Judah; Son of God, so many names by which we can know Jesus.
After Peter’s response, Jesus told them what he was about to do.
Jesus is the author, founder of the church. (on this rock I will build my church)
The church was built on the very statement Peter confessed, Jesus is the Christ, he is the LORD.
Church: (Ekklesia): assembly, (Called out ones), congregation. The church is the gathering, assembly of those who profess faith in Jesus as Lord.
The church belongs to Jesus; it’s his church. He said he will build his church; Jesus purchased the church with his own blood. It belongs to him.
Jesus’ church is an unstoppable force in the world.
The gates of Hades (the realm of the dead) will not be able to prevail or overcome the church of Jesus Christ. His church will transcend time. It will live forever with her Savior.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” V.19
The church began with the preaching of the apostles; they presented Jesus as Lord and risen from the dead. Acts 2:36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, Lord and Christ.
Acts 4:11-12 Jesus is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. And salvation is only found in him.
Peter and the rest of the apostles certainly used the keys of the kingdom as we read in the book of Acts. They were empowered by God to accomplish his mission. This is what Jesus had in mind when he said, “I will build my church”
Who is Jesus? We see in Scripture that Jesus is more than just a prophet or teacher, he is the Messiah, Lord, the one by whom we can be saved. The more you know Jesus the better you will understand his identity. He is the Christ and Lord of all creation; the only one and can transform our lives if we invite him to be our Lord.
I love how John concludes his gospel, John 20:30-31 He tells us the purpose in writing what he wrote about Jesus.
30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
He wrote so the readers (we) would understand without a shadow of doubt that Jesus is the Christ and that by believing in his name we have life.
We who have believed in Jesus as the Messiah have eternal life in his name.
John the Baptist said Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. (John 1:29)
Thomas said, you are “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28)
Paul said Jesus was his master and Lord; his life was to live for Christ. (Php.1:21)
If Jesus asked you today, who do you say I am? What would you say?