“Who is Jesus?” Only three words, but this is the most important question that any person can ever ask. Many people may give an answer based on their personal experiences or repeat a definition they've heard so many times that it has lost all meaning to them. While personal experiences and carefully defined terms are critically important, we must always start with the Bible. So what does the Bible say about Jesus? Alot! In fact, the entire message of all 66 books is centered on showing us Jesus. For now, we will start with how Jesus Himself answers the question.
The New Testament commonly refers to Jesus as Lord, Christ (or “Messiah”), and Son of God because that is who He is. These are also probably the ways that many of us most commonly refer to Jesus, yet He used none of these titles to refer to Himself. Jesus likely even purposefully avoided using the term “Messiah” because of the incorrect political connotations the people in His day applied to it. Instead, His favorite self-designation was “Son of Man”. This phrase appears 81 times in the Gospels, but we cannot understand it without first looking to the Old Testament.
The Psalms (such as 8:4 and 144:3) use this phrase to mean “human being”. Jesus is truly a human being, but if we read the context of how He uses this phrase in the Gospels (usually “the Son of Man”), then we know that Jesus must also mean something more. The key passage for understanding Jesus’s self-designation is one that nearly every Jew during Jesus’s time would have known well. Daniel 7:13-14 says, “Behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”
So why would Jesus use this phrase “Son of Man”? He is God and man; this passage in Daniel provides the best imagery to communicate that idea to His contemporaries. He is a human being--He is the human being--and He is the One coming to rule and to be worshipped alongside the Ancient of Days. Paul uses this basic idea in Romans when he describes Jesus as the Second Adam who brings peace, life, and righteousness to all who are part of the new creation in Him instead of the conflict, sin, and death to all who remain part of the original fallen creation in Adam. Jesus can only represent us and bring us into life in the new creation if He is truly human like all the sons and daughters of Adam. Jesus can also only be a perfect offering to pay for sins if He is God, because no man can live perfectly and no man can pay for his own sins, let alone anyone else's sin. Jesus must be truly God & truly man. We cannot have salvation if He is anything different.
Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Son of Man.
Grace and Peace,
“’Even if I must die with you,’” Peter said to Jesus, “’I will not deny you!’ And all the disciples said the same’” (Matt. 22:35). We sneer at Peter’s words when Jesus prophesied his denial. His bold declaration followed by his threefold rejection of Jesus within the same chapter informs us of his shaky commitment to the cause. However, the story of Peter’s denial, and his subsequent restoration to Jesus, illustrates the seemingly constant cycle of our own walk with the Lord. Despite being denied by all of His followers, Jesus pursued the cross to pay the debt of all of their sins—past, present, future—and of the whole world (1 Jn. 2:2). Jesus resurrected, conquering death, and came to restore Peter before He ascended into Heaven. Even when our sin may not consist of something as grave as denying the Lord, we must seek to kill the sin which threatens to kill our faith and be restored by Jesus.
King David had seen many hard days. He ran for his life from his own people for years, watched his children and closest friends die, and was betrayed by those he trusted. Through it all, David declared God his “strength and refuge, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). God Himself called David “a man after [My] own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14). However, David was still human and failed when God stopped being a priority. In David’s best days, when God had given him peace all around, he committed heinous acts of adultery and murder. His plea to God for forgiveness was recorded in Psalm 51 and demonstrates for us the need for restoration.
David told God, “I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me” (Ps. 51:3). The connection between him and God was disrupted, he recognized. Sometimes, when we feel far away from God, rampant sin may be blocking our eyes from the light—could anything else explain David’s oversight? David said, “Against you, you only, have I sinned” (51:4). Surely David had sinned against many others in his actions, but especially against the holy, inscrutable God he faced. Confronting sin reminded him of the infinite contrast between his sinful tendencies and God’s purity.
Before only God did he sin; only God could cleanse him. David pled to God, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (Ps. 51:7). Hyssop was an herb used in the Bible to symbolize purification. Those healed of skin diseases were to be anointed with a concoction containing hyssop (Lev. 14: 1-7). During the first Passover in Egypt, the blood of a lamb was to be applied to one’s doorframe with a stalk of hyssop in order to be spared from God’s coming judgment (Ex. 12:22). David’s request, then, is to the God of forgiveness to remove that stain from his heart. “Create in me a pure heart, O God… restore me to the joy of your salvation” (51:10, 12). Sin deceives us with a trap: “It’s just natural,” or “It’ll be fun.” Yet, for the man after God’s own heart, delight in God was the cost. He wanted to abandon his destructive lifestyle and return to the only true satisfaction that quenches our restless hearts: God’s joy.
Outward duties cannot bring about inward restoration. David said to God, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it” (51:16). In the Old Testament, animal sacrifices were the outward expression of thankfulness and repentance towards God. Though some falsely believed that the act of sacrifice pleased God, it did not. The sacrifice was an outward act to display an inward reality: “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise” (51:17). Whether you are a regular church attendee, do good deeds, and tithe regularly, all of this is for nothing if you do not offer your heart to God. Mature Christians, new Christians, and non-Christians all have the same continual need: we must surrender our hearts, not merely our actions, to God. To Him we will be held accountable. He alone can restore our wayward hearts.
Grace and Peace,