Whom Do Men Say that I am?

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Whom Do Men Say that I Am?

 

The shadows were lengthening across the landscape of Christ’s life. It was time to prepare His disciples for the greatest challenge and test of their lives. The question was, do these disciples who are commissioned to carry the gospel to the world, who are commissioned to show God to the world when I am gone, do they know the most important thing: who I am?

 

We are told the story in Mark 8:27. And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?

 

For the first time since the Garden of Eden, God had spoken to man directly during the life of Jesus. God spoke directly to Jesus three recorded times:

 

1. At His baptism: Matthew 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

 

2. At His transfiguration: Matthew 17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Mark 9:7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.

Luke 9:35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.

2 Peter 1:17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

 

3. At the time the Greeks requested to see Jesus: John 12:28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, [saying], I have both glorified [it], and will glorify [it] again.

 

All these times that the Father spoke directly from heaven to Jesus, the subject was the same – who Jesus was: the beloved Son of God who was living to glorify the Father.

 

The central issue in the trial of Christ before Pilate was who Jesus was.

John 18:33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?

18:34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?

18:35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?

18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

 

The three temptations of Jesus in the wilderness were couched in the same context – Who is Jesus:

 

1st Temptation: Matthew 4:3 “And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”

 

2nd Temptation: Matthew 4:6 “And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in [their] hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.”

 

3rd Temptation: Matthew 4:9 “And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”

 

And this is also our most important question: Who is Jesus to us?

 

Going back to the time Jesus asked His disciples the question “by the way”, what answers were given? Mark 8:28 “And they answered, John the Baptist: but some [say], Elias; and others, One of the prophets.”

 

If you were to take a poll of disciples today and ask the same vital question: “Who is Jesus, the Christ” – what answers would you receive?

 

I do not believe that the same answers would be given – however, my experience so far is that whatever the answers are – they would likely be just as wrong!

 

But how could that be!

 

Who do you say Jesus Christ is?

 

This misunderstanding of who Jesus is and the controversy surrounding Jesus began before the world was created. In fact the world and all that in it is – was created in answer to that question and the controversy that surrounded the question of who Jesus is.

 

We are told in Patriarchs and Prophets in the chapter 1, “Why was sin permitted?” that there was a meeting in heaven before the world was created over the question of who Jesus was.

 

Little by little Lucifer came to indulge the desire for self-exaltation. The Scripture says, "Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness." Ezekiel 28:17. "Thou hast said in thine heart, . . . I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. . . . I will be like the Most High." Isaiah 14:13, 14. Though all his glory was from God, this mighty angel came to regard it as pertaining to himself. Not content with his position, though honored above the heavenly host, he ventured to covet homage due alone to the Creator. Instead of seeking to make God supreme in the affections and allegiance of all created beings, it was his endeavor to secure their service and loyalty to himself. And coveting the glory with which the infinite Father had invested His Son, this prince of angels aspired to power that was the prerogative of Christ alone. {PP 35.2}

Now the perfect harmony of heaven was broken. Lucifer's disposition to serve himself instead of his Creator aroused a feeling of apprehension when observed by those who considered that the glory of God should be supreme. In heavenly council the angels pleaded with Lucifer. The Son of God presented before him the greatness, the goodness, and the justice of the Creator, and the sacred, unchanging nature of His law. God Himself had established the order of heaven; and in departing from it, Lucifer would dishonor his Maker and bring ruin upon himself. But the warning, given in infinite love and mercy, only aroused a spirit of resistance. Lucifer allowed his jealousy of Christ to prevail, and became the more determined. {PP 35.3}

To dispute the supremacy of the Son of God, thus impeaching the wisdom and love of the Creator, had become the purpose of this prince of angels. To this object he was about to bend the energies of that master mind, which, next to Christ's, was first among the hosts of God. But He who would have the will of all His creatures free, left none unguarded to the bewildering sophistry by which rebellion would seek to justify itself. Before the great contest should open, all were to have a clear presentation of His will, whose wisdom and goodness were the spring of all their joy. {PP 36.1}

The King of the universe summoned the heavenly hosts before Him, that in their presence He might set forth the true position of His Son and show the relation He sustained to all created beings. The Son of God shared the Father's throne, and the glory of the eternal, self-existent One encircled both. About the throne gathered the holy angels, a vast, unnumbered throng--"ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands" (Revelation 5:11.), the most exalted angels, as ministers and subjects, rejoicing in the light that fell upon them from the presence of the Deity. Before the assembled inhabitants of heaven the King declared that none but Christ, the Only Begotten of God, could fully enter into His purposes, and to Him it was committed to execute the mighty counsels of His will. The Son of God had wrought the Father's will in the creation of all the hosts of heaven; and to Him, as well as to God, their homage and allegiance were due. Christ was still to exercise divine power, in the creation of the earth and its inhabitants. But in all this He would not seek power or exaltation for Himself contrary to God's plan, but would exalt the Father's glory and execute His purposes of beneficence and love. {PP 36.2}

The angels joyfully acknowledged the supremacy of Christ, and prostrating themselves before Him, poured out their love and adoration. Lucifer bowed with them, but in his heart there was a strange, fierce conflict. Truth, justice, and loyalty were struggling against envy and jealousy. The influence of the holy angels seemed for a time to carry him with them. As songs of praise ascended in melodious strains, swelled by thousands of glad voices, the spirit of evil seemed vanquished; unutterable love thrilled his entire being; his soul went out, in harmony with the sinless worshippers, in love to the Father and the Son. But again he was filled with pride in his own glory. His desire for supremacy returned, and envy of Christ was once more indulged. The high honors conferred upon Lucifer were not appreciated as God's special gift, and therefore, called forth no gratitude to his Creator. He gloried in his brightness and exaltation and aspired to be equal with God. He was beloved and reverenced by the heavenly host, angels delighted to execute his commands, and he was clothed with wisdom and glory above them all. Yet the Son of God was exalted above him, as one in power and authority with the Father. He shared the Father's counsels, while Lucifer did not thus enter into the purposes of God. "Why," questioned this mighty angel, "should Christ have the supremacy? Why is He honored above Lucifer?" {PP 36.3}

 

What difference does it make who Jesus is?

 

The reputation of God the Father is tied up with who Jesus is. If God is not telling the truth about His Son, how can we believe anything God says about anything?

a) God says He begat a Son:

Psalms 2:7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou [art] my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

 

b) God says he gave His only begotten Son for the world because of His love:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

c) God says He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

 

d) God says that if we believe that Jesus is the anointed Son of God, we might have life through his name:

John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

 

e) God says that Jesus was brought forth and by inheritance has a more excellent name than the angels:

Hebrews 1:4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

1:5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

 

f) God says that His first begotten was brought into the world and that the angels were told to worship him.

Hebrews 1:6 And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

 

And God tells us some details of this event (the birth of Jesus to Mary) through the pen of inspiration:

A complete offering has been made; for "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,"-- not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father's person, and in all the brightness of his majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection. In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. {ST, May 30, 1895 par. 3}

 

g) God tells us details about the timing of the birth of His Only begotten Son and subsequent experience:

Proverbs 8:22 The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.

8:23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.

8:24 When [there were] no depths, I was brought forth; when [there were] no fountains abounding with water.

8:25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:

8:26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.

8:27 When he prepared the heavens, I [was] there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:

8:28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:

8:29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:

8:30 Then I was by him, [as] one brought up [with him]: and I was daily [his] delight, rejoicing always before him;

 

Patriarchs and Prophets page 34:

 

And the Son of God declares concerning Himself: "The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting. . . . When He appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him." Proverbs 8:22-30. {PP 34.1}”

 

The last night on earth, Jesus told about Himself to His disciples:

 

John 16:27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came (1831) out from God.

16:28 I came (1831) forth from the Father, and am come (2064) into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.

16:29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.

16:30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.

16:31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?

 

1831 is Strong’s numbering for the Greek word that Strong translates as meaning “issue, to come forth”.

2064 is Strong’s numbering for the Greek word that Strong translates as meaning “come or go”.

 

These thoughts are repeated in Jesus’ prayer in John 17:

 

17:8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received [them], and have known surely that I came out (1831) from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send (649) me.

 

649 is Strong’s numbering for the Greek word, “apostello” that Strong translates as meaning “set apart; send out”.

 

So “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” Matthew 16:13

What Jesus was really interested in was: ”But whom say ye that I am?” Matthew 16:14

Peter answered: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16

Jesus’ response was: “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 16:17

 

My confession:

 

I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, begotten of God before anything other than God existed. John 1: 1- 2; Proverbs 8:22 – 31; Psalms 2: 7; Hebrews 1: 4,5

I believe that Jesus created everything that was created. John 1:3; Colossians 1:16,17; Hebrews 1:2

I believe that God gave His only begotten Son to save the world from self-destruction and to change all who believe in Him into His own character and after test and trial to give them eternal life. John 3:16; Revelation 3:19

I believe that Jesus was the only begotten Son of God before He lived on earth, the Son of Mary. John 8:58; Isaiah 9:6

I believe that Jesus is able to perform in me all He says He is able to do by His indwelling in me through the Holy Spirit and my response to Him in loving obedience. Isaiah 13:12; Jude 24; 1 Corinthians 6:19,20; 2 Peter 1:4; Revelation 12:11