Bible Studies for Life
Matthew 16:13-16; Luke 1:26-35
John Hull, lead pastor
Eastside Baptist Church, Marietta
Who is Jesus Christ? In this writer’s opinion, this is the most important question in human history! One cannot ask a more significant, weighty question.
The way one answers “Who is Jesus Christ?” determines a number of things about that individual. The answer reveals a one’s worldview. The answer sheds light on how one interprets current events or even larger issues on the global landscape. The answer can trigger how one responds to issues of life, illness, even death and eternity.
Who is Jesus Christ? The answer is incredibly revealing – it exposes one’s values; it can determine charitable giving or the overall view of money and material items.
The answer can impact the quality of one’s marriage and how one will raise children. The answer can impact how and where a person spends their Sunday mornings and how they conduct themselves in the workplace throughout the week.
The disciples are asked the same question
One day when Jesus was with his disciples, the issue of “who is Jesus?” came to the surface of a conversation. In Matthew 16, Jesus asks them, “Who do people say the Son of Man (Jesus) is?” The disciples quickly responded with a variety of answers. They suggested that some say that “you are John the Baptist, others say you are Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets” (vv.13-14).
Then, Jesus gets very personal. He asks them directly, “But what about you? Who do you say that I am?”
Peter declared, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (vv.15-16).
Peter’s answer revealed how he would live the rest of his life – he would be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.
Today, we regularly witness the “de-deification” of Jesus. Declaring that Jesus alone is God in a cross-cultural missions setting is immediately met by critics with disdain as being imperialistic. To proclaim that Jesus is “the truth” in our culture – and the only way to heaven – is marginalized and dismissed as unenlightened thinking, even bigoted and extreme.
However, if one includes Jesus as one of many gods, truths, or paths to heaven – that’s often met with applause and seen as open and accepting. That is today’s definition of enlightenment, and it will resonate with the masses.
In a era when Jesus is simply seen as another selection on the salad bar of life, we need to reach back to the Christmas story to reinforce exactly who Jesus is, who Jesus was when He came, and as well to the unique story as to how He came.
As an adult, Jesus did not refer to Himself as an option, but as the only way (John 14:6). This sets Christ-followers in direct opposition to a worldview that celebrates a variety of religions.
How Christianity differs from other religions
In Luke 1, the angel Gabriel tells a virgin, Mary, that she will give birth to a baby she will call Jesus. He tells Mary that Jesus will be great and called the Son of the Most High. He continues, telling her that Jesus will be a king and His kingdom would never end (vv.31-33).
The prediction came true months later. Jesus came to earth, fathered by the Holy Spirit and born of Mary, a virgin. Even in His conception and birth, Jesus was set apart. That’s how He came into this world.
A Scottish evangelist friend of mine was preaching in a community in British Columbia, Canada. A local radio host, a skeptic of religion, asked the evangelist to be a guest on his show. The skeptic asked, “What makes Christianity different from any other religion?”
My evangelist friend answered, “In all the other religions of the world, man has to go to god. Christianity is the only religion in the world where God came to man.”
That’s the Christmas story! God came to man in the form of an infant. That infant would grow up, never sin, go on the cross, and become sin for all humanity. He would die a bloody death and rise from the dead three days later.
Who is Jesus Christ? He’s the One (who arrived 2,000 years ago), in a world where all other forms of existing religions found humans pursuing various gods. With Jesus, everything changed. God, Immanuel, took human form and came to be with us on this earth. God, through the person of Jesus, came and pursued us!
God and man
Jesus Christ is the God-Man. He is 100% God and 100% man. He is holy and yet became sin – and upon our repentance – He alone has the power and authority to forgive us of our sins. Gabriel told Mary “so the holy one to be born will be call the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Only the Son of God, Jesus, can forgive us our sins.
In a culture that can quickly dismiss Jesus as just another path to the top of the same mountain of eternity, be sober in declaring that Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life – the only way to heaven. He is the one and only Son of God.
This Christmas season, let the world know your answer to the question: Who is Jesus Christ?