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Who Is Jesus?
That’s the question we’re going to be discussing today and next week.
We began this series in the search of truth, what it is, where it must come from, who it must come from, can that one be known, and now we are going to talk about Jesus.
When a Christian talks about Jesus we sometimes us the phrase the Incarnate word, or the word made flesh.
This comes from John’s proclamation in the opening of his gospel,
In the Gospel of John alone, Jesus describes himself as:
Bread of Life - John 6:35
Light of the world - John 8:12
Door of the sheep - John 10:7
Ressurrection and Life - John 11:25
The Way, the truth and the life - John 14:6
That’s where we began our series, in search of truth.
Jesus said, John 14:6
John 14:6 (ESV)
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
In John 8:32 we read:
John 8:32 (ESV)
you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
And as Christians that is what we believe, isn’t it?
Jesus is the way and the truth and the life and since we know Him, He has set us free.
In Mark 8:27-30 we read:
Mark 8:27–30 (ESV)
And on the way [Jesus] asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”
And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”
And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”
You are the Christ.
This is a very specific title.
It means quite literally “anointed one”.
Ronald Hock writes,
The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Christ)
Not only in Greek sources, but also in those preserved in other languages, the term “the anointed one” seldom occurs.
References to a future royal figure predominate but differ in many details.
Only in the Qumran Scrolls do we find the expectation of an anointed high priest in the future, and one reference to a prophetic “anointed one of the Spirit”.
Discussions between Jews and Christians mentioned in Acts (9:22; 18:5, 28) center around the nature of the expected messiah and whether Jesus is the awaited one.
In these instances the designation ho christos is used without any further addition.
Jonge, M. de.
In D. N. Freedman (Ed.),
The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 1, pp. 914–915).
It’s important for us to recognize that this is the recorded profession of someone near to the date of who this Jesus was.
In John 20:28 the apostle Thomas upon seeing the resurrected Lord was invited to place his fingers in the nail wounds, and hand in Jesus side.
Jesus tells him “Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
John 20:28 (ESV)
Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
These titles: Christ, Messiah, Lord, and even God with a capital “G”, we throw around rather flippantly today.
We need to recognize that they were very specific in their day.
God was not some etherial Santa Claus in the sky, there were many different gods in the polytheistic culture of the Old and New Testaments.
Yet the Creator God that the Jewish people professed was the God of all the universe, the Unknown God of the pagans Paul conversed with at the Areopagus, and the God who had become flesh in the person we refer to as Jesus.
In Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae, he writes: Col 1:15-20, think about each one of these statements as it refers to Jesus:
Cornelius Tacitus was a Roman historian, who lived circa A.D. 55- 120.
He has been call the ‘greatest historian’ of ancient Rome, and an individual generally acknowledged among scholars for his moral ‘integrity and essential goodness’.
Tacitus writes about Nero burning Rome and who he blamed:
Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome.
Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities.
Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also.
(Annals XV. 44)
The Biblical Scholar F.F. Bruce points out: “Pilate is not mentioned in any other pagan document which has come down to us.…
And it may be regarded as an instance of the irony of history that the only surviving reference to him in a pagan writer mentions him because of the sentence of death which he passed upon Christ.
For a moment Tacitus joins hands with the ancient Christian creed: ‘… suffered under Pontius Pilate’ ” (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, 23).
McDowell, J. (2006).
Evidence for christianity (p.
Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Who Is Jesus?
Today most historians will point to a Jesus that really walked the earth, who was really crucified, whose tomb was mysteriously empty, and whose disciples went on to proclaim they had seen him after the resurrection.
Most people today if asked might refer to Jesus as a good teacher, a moral person, and one whose life we should choose to emulate.
But is that all?
C.S. Lewis in his famous book Mere Christianity put forth a Trilemma, three alternatives that you might believe about Jesus.
People refer to Jesus as a good moral teacher, and they stop there.
Let’s consider that for a moment.
If Jesus can be seen as indeed good, and moral, one would then have to look at statements that He personally made about himself and allowed others to make about him.
Jesus claimed to be God.
If False, you have two alternatives:
Jesus knew his claim was false an was a liar, or He did not know his claims were false and so he was a lunatic.
Was Jesus a Liar?
Jesus said,
John 14:6 (ESV)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth,...
If he’s the truth can he tell a lie?
Jesus said that he was the Messiah to the Woman at the Well.
John 4:25-26
Was he lying to her?
He said that He and God the Creator, the Father were one: John 10:30
That definitely is a grandiose idea if it were not true.
And if it were not true and yet Jesus was still a good moral teacher, then he must have been disillusioned, mistaken, deluded, and therefore crazy?
Was Jesus a Lunatic?
In our judicial system there are times that we do not hold individuals guilty because of reason of insanity, they genuinely believed that what they were doing/saying was right so we cannot hold them guilty.
It is possible to be sincere and wrong at the same time.
Perhaps this was true of Jesus?
Yet problems arise, where can we find traces of his lunacy in the rest of his life?
William Channing wrote:
The charge of an extravagant, self-deluding enthusiasm is the last to be fastened on Jesus.
Where can we find the traces of it in His history?
Do we detect them in the calm authority of His precepts? in the mild, practical and beneficent spirit of His religion; in the unlabored simplicity of the language with which He unfolds His high powers and the sublime truths of religion; or in the good sense, the knowledge of human nature, which He always discovers in His estimate and treatment of the different classes of men with whom He acted?
Do we discover this enthusiasm in the singular fact, that whilst He claimed power in the future world, and always turned men’s minds to heaven, He never indulged His own imagination, or stimulated that of His disciples, by giving vivid pictures or any minute description of that unseen state?
The truth is, that, remarkable as was the character of Jesus, it was distinguished by nothing more than by calmness and self-possession.
This trait pervades His other excellences.
How calm was His piety!
Point me, if you can, to one vehement, passionate expression of His religious feelings.
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