Who Is Jesus?

Jesus once asked who people thought He was. Answers varied. They still do. You hear a lot about Jesus—just who is He? Let Him tell you about Himself.

A Few Claims
Jesus made numerous claims about Himself. Consider a few references from the gospel of John.

▪ One who came from heaven. Concerning His teaching about God and His will, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak that which we know, and bear witness of that which we have seen. . . And no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man” (3:11, 13).

▪ The Messiah. The Jews of Jesus’ day had great expectations of a Messiah. The term means “anointed one”; it is a kingly reference. When a Samaritan woman expressed hope for the coming Messiah, Jesus answered, “I who speak to you am He” (4:26). Christ is the corresponding Greek term for the Hebrew Messiah. Every reference to Jesus as the Christ is a reference to Him as the Messiah.

▪ The light of the world. Darkness is often a symbol of ignorance and evil, whereas light stands for knowledge and right. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life” (5:12).

▪ A sinless man. Jesus challenged His critics, “Which one of you convicts me of sin?” (8:46). None could. This is particularly significant because Jesus often condemned self-righteousness.

▪ One whose death would be for our benefit. “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (10:11). Jesus went on to emphasize that His death would be voluntary (v. 18). Elsewhere, He plainly said that it would be the ransom for our sins (Matthew 20:28; 26:28).

▪ The only way to the Father. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (14:4).

The Ultimate Claim
All these identifications of Jesus point to the ultimate claim He made for Himself: that He was God in the flesh. Again, some passages from John.

When the Pharisees criticized Jesus for healing on the Sabbath day, His answer was that He had the same relation to the Sabbath as the Father (5:17). Verse 18 reports, “For this cause the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He . . . was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”

In John 8:58, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” I AM was one of the Old Testament names for God (Exodus 3:14). (The name Jehovah was similar in meaning.) The Jews were now ready to stone Him.

Later Jesus plainly affirmed, “I and the Father are one” (10:30). Again His audience prepared to stone Him. When He asked why, they said it was for blasphemy “because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (v. 33). On none of these occasions did Jesus make any effort to correct these interpretations of His claims. To the contrary, He confirmed them.

When one of the apostles asked for a manifestation of the Father, Jesus responded, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not come to know me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father . . .” (14:9).

John’s gospel ends with Thomas’s confession to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (20:28). Remember, Thomas had said he would not believe unless he could see and touch the risen Jesus (v. 25). Jesus’ response to him was, “Because you have seen Me have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (v. 29).

Thomas’s conclusion was accurate. We who have not seen Jesus personally will reach that same conclusion when we examine both Jesus’ own words and the testimony about Him from others who lived in His day. John says that was his purpose in writing his gospel (20:30-31).

How about you—do you believe in Jesus, that is, that He is all these things He said He is? You must, else you will die in your sins (John 8:24). But belief alone is not enough. Jesus saves those who obey Him (Hebrews 5:9). Have you acted on your faith by becoming Jesus’ disciple, being baptized into Him so you can be saved by His blood?

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