Pilgrim’s Keyboard

January 13, 2009

Who is Jesus?

Filed under: Bruce — pilgrimskeyboard @ 3:24 am

You shall call his name Jesus – Matthew 1:21b.

Who is Jesus in the Bible?
Many in our culture are confused and do not know how to answer this question. Some think that Jesus was just an ordinary man who lived a good life. Some say that Jesus was an extraordinary man upon whom God came in a special manner at his baptism and then departed at his death. Some say that he was God manifested before man but not human. Still others say he was and is God, the divine/man, the only begotten of the Father. Who is correct in their assumptions concerning this one called Jesus? Was Jesus just a man? Is Jesus God? Is Jesus the divine/man? Is Jesus the Savior? “Who is Jesus in the Bible?”

Jesus is presented within the Bible as being divine (God) and also human (man). In Christology, he is often referred to as the God/Man. Since Jesus is both divine and human, it seems that the correct way to determine who the Bible presents Jesus as, is to look at him from the three different aspects of his incarnation. These aspects are: 1) The Pre-Incarnation Period; 2) The Incarnation Period; and 3) The Post-Incarnation Period.

The Pre-Incarnation Period
The Bible presents Jesus as being divine and that he existed before his incarnation. In the Gospel of John, we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was the in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. . . . And the Word was made flesh” (John 1:1-3, 14). These words written by the Apostle John tells of how Jesus (John 20:30-31) existed before his incarnation. John testifies that he not only existed before his incarnation, but that he also was “in the beginning” with God, and was God, the Creator of all things.

In Philippians 2:5-11, Paul the Apostle writes, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Here it is learned that Jesus was not only in the form of God, but he was equal to God as well, existing before his incarnation. This is a clear statement by Paul of the deity of Christ. Paul continues stating in this passage that the pre-incarnate Christ humbled himself, and also came in the likeness and appearance of man by becoming human.

In Colossians 1:15-18, Paul also writes, “[Christ Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Here Paul is declaring that Jesus is the image of God (“For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” Colossians 2:9). He is the firstborn of creation – not the first created, but one who has all preeminence over creation. A similar statement is made about Jesus being the firstborn from the dead. Does this mean that Jesus was the first one ever raised from the dead? There are instances in both the Old Testament (2 Kings 4:8-37) and the New Testament (John 11:1-44), where individuals have been raised from the dead. Thus, this statement about Jesus being the firstborn of the dead cannot mean that no one was raised from the dead before him. Therefore, it must indicate that the purpose of Paul’s statement about Jesus being the firstborn of the dead is that he has the preeminence over death because he is the first fruit of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). Paul finishes out the text by showing the deity of Christ in that he is the Creator over all things.

From Hebrews 1:1-4, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” we learn from its author, that Jesus is the brightness of God’s glory, the express image of his person. We learn that through Jesus the worlds were made and that he (Jesus) is upholding all things by his word. This is another clear statement of the deity of Jesus.
Jesus himself testified that he was equal to God by calling himself, “I AM.” While addressing the Pharisees who were accusing him of having a demon, Jesus tells them that “If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death” (John 8:51). To this the Jews say Jesus is definitely crazy because even Abraham is dead, and then they inquired if Jesus is greater than Abraham. To this, Jesus replied, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (vs. 58). Immediately, the Jews took up stones to throw at him (vs. 59). Why? Because Jesus had made himself to be equal with God, and these Pharisees understood him in that way.

As evidenced from these biblical passages, Jesus is found to be divinely equal with God in his nature and attributes.

The Incarnation Period
The Bible presents Jesus as being in the flesh. In John 1:14, 16 – the scripture reads, “The Word [which we have seen was pre-incarnate] was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” The Word [Jesus], God, became flesh and dwelt among men. Jesus walked, talked, lived, breathed, and died among men – because he was a man.

Jesus was born of a virgin, according to Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-7. In Matthew’s account of this event, he says that this was in fulfillment of prophecy from Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Im-man’u-el,” which is translated, “God with us.” The significance of this passage is that it shows that Jesus was born of a human mother and that he was human, just like all of mankind. The Bible tells that Jesus grew and developed physically and mentally from childhood to manhood (Luke 2:41-52), that Jesus ate food (Matthew 26:26), that Jesus became wearied and tired (John 4:6), that Jesus grieved (John 11:35 and 38), that Jesus had a will (Matthew 26:39), that he was tempted (Matthew 4:1-11; the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John’s accounts; and Hebrews 4:15) yet without sin, and that, as a man, he died (Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; and John 19:30-33).

Also, as evidenced from these biblical passages, Jesus is found to be fully human in all of a man’s traits and natures. However, despite the fact that Jesus took upon himself a human nature, it needs to be noted that Jesus still retained his divine nature. A couple of examples will demonstrate this.

Jesus calling Nathanael illustrates the use of his divine attributes of omniscience and omnipresence at work, John 1:45-50, “Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said to him, Before Philip that called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.”

Jesus’ deity is evidenced in his forgiving of the sins and healing of the paralytic in Mark 2:1-12, “He entered Capernaum, after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door; and he preached the word unto them. And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether it is easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.”

The Post-Incarnation Period
Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried. But as the well-known biblical narrative reveals, after three day and nights, he arose from the dead and left behind an empty tomb.

The four Gospel accounts give testimony to the fact of the resurrection and the witness of the Apostles of the risen Lord (Matthew 28:16-17; John 20:19-28). Paul, as well, saw the risen Lord and wrote of such in 1 Corinthians 15:8 (cf. Acts 9:1-8; 22:6-11; and 26:12-18). The body that Jesus now has is glorified (1 Corinthians 15:35-49). The Lord in his resurrected body was able to appear and disappear at his will [yet his appearance was not that of a ghost] (John 20:19-20), in his resurrected body Jesus is able to eat (Luke 24:36-43), and he was seen by his disciples at his ascension (Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-51, and Acts 1:9-11).

Currently, Jesus is at God’s right hand. Jesus was seen standing observing as Stephen was being martyred (Acts 2:29-36, 7:56), Jesus is also sitting at God’s right hand after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, as the believer’s high-priest (Hebrews 10:12), and he is the Lamb of God, who holds the keys that control all events of creation – past, present, and future (Revelation 5:1-14).

Who is Jesus in the Bible?
He is the God/Man, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the resurrected Lord – the One Who is coming quickly, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).

Bruce

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2 Comments »

  1. Amen!

    Comment by digitalpublius — January 13, 2009 @ 1:04 pm | Reply

  2. Hassan – May the Lord bless as you serve Him daily.

    Comment by pilgrimskeyboard — January 13, 2009 @ 4:40 pm | Reply


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