Disciple Up #117
Let’s Talk About: Who Is Jesus?
By Louie Marsh, 7-17-2019
This question is a vital one. There is no doubt that Jesus stands at the crossroads of history. Our calendars, culture and history all affirm that fact. But it’s also a delicate issue, because it deals with the very nature of our Lord Jesus. So we must approach this issue carefully and respectfully.
What is (or was for those of you who aren’t sure of the resurrection) Jesus Christ? Is He God in human flesh, a very good man, or half man/half god? The way you answer this question can settle your eternal destiny. Obviously then this is a critical question!
It’s delicate because of the balance that Scripture maintains when dealing with the Lord’s nature. The Jesus of the New Testament (all other’s being false) is neither God alone nor man alone, but fully God and fully man simultaneously. It is this unique nature that allows Jesus to be our Savior and high priest.
It’s no surprise then that every cult attacks the nature of Jesus. They deny that He’s God, or that He is man. They will not accept the Christ of Scripture and therefore lead their followers astray. The rest of this podcast is devoted to expounding the basic Biblical teaching on the nature of Jesus.
The Humanity of Jesus
This may seem rather obvious but it bears thinking about – Jesus was a man. To have a balanced view of Christ we must see both sides of His nature. In recent times some fundamentalist theologians have stressed Christ’s deity at the expense of His humanity. We must avoid this error and cling to the “sane center” of biblical truth.
The Lord Jesus limited Himself in order to be truly human, Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. Phil. 2:8 (Message – see Phil. 2:8-11)
So as a boy Jesus had to grow into maturity, And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:52. Jesus displayed limited knowledge on at least two occasions: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Matthew 24:36…At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” Mark 5:30 In both these incidents Jesus displayed the truly human trait of not knowing everything.
Like a man Jesus felt sorrow, Jesus wept…Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. John 11:35,38
Jesus also felt mental and emotional anguish strong enough to cause Him to sweat blood, something unusual because a person usually passes out before reaching that point. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:44
When speaking of Jesus the Apostles did not hesitate to call Him a man. Paul said, For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Tim. 2:5. Paul saw no contradiction between believing in Christ as God and man at the same time.
Apparently neither did the writer of Hebrews who said of Jesus, For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Hebrews 4:15
It’s clear then that Jesus was a real man with real emotions needs and drives just like the rest of us. Jesus had sexual, emotional and psychological needs like the rest of humanity.
Jesus was a man – but that’s not all He was!
The Deity of Jesus
While the humanity of Jesus is important it’s His divinity that is usually under attack. Yet the New Testament is blunt in it’s teaching that Jesus is God in human flesh.
Jesus Claimed He Was God
There are so many instances of Jesus saying that He was God in the New Testament that we are only going to be able to cover a few of them due to space considerations.
So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. John 5:16-18
This verse is important because it shows that the Jews who didn’t believe in Jesus understood Him! They clearly understood His claims to be God in human flesh, they just rejected it!
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 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’? John 14:6-9
This is about as clear as you can get. By calling Himself truth and life, qualities normally attributed to God alone, Christ is clearly sending a message. Then when poor old Phillip doesn’t get it, Jesus makes it crystal clear – if you’ve seen me you’ve seen God, Phillip! Making Himself God!
I and the Father are one.” Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” John 10:30-33
Again here it is interesting to see that the enemies of Jesus often understood Him better than His followers did! The Jews clearly understand what He is saying, they simply don’t believe it! That Christ and the Father are one in essence but different persons (check out Episode 114 for more info on the Trinity) is made clear in the Greek, which reads literally, “I and the Father we are one.”
During the trial of Jesus there’s a dramatic encounter between Jesus and the High Priests. Here’s how Mark records it: But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death. Mark 14:61-64
Here the High Priest is desperate to convict Jesus. All of his planned lies and concocted stories about Jesus have fallen apart. So in an audacious and illegal move, he confronts Jesus with the ultimate question. Are you the Christ, he asks. To which Jesus answers, “I am.”
Jesus was convicted of blasphemy because of His own testimony (that too was illegal under Jewish law by the way!). This is clear evidence that Christ believed and claimed Himself to be God.
Jesus Acted As God
Jesus often acted in ways that would be totally inappropriate for anyone other than God Himself! For example He accepted the worship of Thomas. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:27-28
The Old Testament is explicit that God and God alone may be worshipped. Yet Jesus, a pious Jew, allowed His followers to worship Him and to even call Him God! How else can this be explained unless Jesus is God?
Jesus also claimed that He was able to forgive sins. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5 (see also Luke 7:48). According to Jewish Law only God could forgive sins, no one else would even dare suggest they had such power.
Obviously only someone convinced of his own divinity would say and do the kind of things we’ve seen Jesus say and do. But what about His followers? Did they believe that Jesus was God in human flesh?
What Others Said About Him
The Apostle Paul is very clear in a number of places that Jesus Christ is God. We’ve already looked at Phil 2:5-11, so now let’s look at another passage.
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. Col. 1:15-20
This passage is a beautiful hymn of praise to Jesus, and proves that He was indeed God! He’s the image of the invisible God, preeminent over everything in the universe – things that you can only say about God!
If that’s not clear enough – how about this one? while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Titus 2:13. Hard to get any clearer than that isn’t it?
Peter too believed in the divinity of Christ. He even told Jesus that’s what he believed. “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. Matthew 16:15-17
Here Jesus not only accept such statements, but actually approves it and says it’s origin isn’t with Peter, it’s actually a revelation from God the Father Himself!
So the evidence from the Scriptures is clear and overwhelming – Jesus claimed to be God, was understood by His contemporaries to be saying exactly that, and His followers believed in and taught others about His divine nature!
The Good Man Scam
It has become common for people to try and show at least some respect for Jesus, His teachings and Christianity, without actually believing what Christ taught about Himself. This is done by saying something like, “I believe that Jesus was a good man, a great man, and a great teacher, but not God.”
That sounds good, but there’s a real problem with it. This problem was pointed out by C.S. Lewis in his great book “Mere Christianity.” Here’s what he wrote on pages 40 and 41.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I am ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. Either this man was and is the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.”
“You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Lewis was right – and that is why Jesus said He didn’t come to bring peace but a sword (Matt. 10:24). He is the great divider of history. An honest examination of the life and teaching of Jesus forces you to either accept or reject Him. There is no middle ground.
When confronted with this people will still struggle and often try to continue their contradictory attitudes towards Christ. Perhaps you are in that situation right now. If so, or if you are dealing with someone who is, consider this thought from the late Dr. Walter Martin.
Would you say that Christ is a better person than you are? Do you think He was wiser, more spiritual that you? If you say yes, which most people will, then you are left facing a terrible question: Why don’t you obey Him?
He claimed to be God, died for our sins, and you say He is better than you. Yet my claiming He’s only a good man you are calling Him a liar or a lunatic.
The Scriptures teach us that Christ was both fully man and fully God – simultaneously. That is what Christians have always believed – and continue to believe today.
But how did it work???? I DON’T KNOW.
Application – What Does This Mean to Me Practically?
1) It allows me to know and worship the Real Jesus –
4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 2 Corinthians 11:4 (ESV)
2) It keeps me out of the cults who ALL deny that Jesus was fully God and fully man at the same time.
3) It deepens my understanding of the Trinity. See Episode 114
4) This brings into clear focus how Jesus can totally relate to me and yet be completely without sin simultaneously.
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV)
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