But Who Do You Say That I Am?
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, 'Who do men say that I, the Son of Man am?' So they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' And Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.' (Matthew 16:13-17)
Many people refuse to take a stand concerning Christ. For example, Mahatma Ghandi expressed himself thus:
I may say that I have never been interested in an historical Jesus. I should not care if it was proved by some one that the man called Jesus never lived and that what was narrated in the Gospels was a figment of the writer's imagination. For then the Sermon on the Mount would still be true for me (Christmas address, 1931).
This represents the popular attempt to be neutral about Jesus by contending He was a great teacher but only a man.
But Jesus of Nazareth asserted that no one could be neutral about Him. This is because with Jesus, unlike with other great teachers, one cannot separate the teaching from the teacher. Buddha said, "It doesn't matter whether you remember me or not, remember my teachings. Remember the way, the truth." One may accept what Buddha taught without believing in Buddha. But Jesus proclaimed, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). One cannot separate the teachings of Jesus from His claims. To accept what He taught is to believe in Him. To reject Him as the Son of God is to reject what He taught.
Thus, the purpose of this lesson is to convince you that you must decide for yourself who Jesus is. the proposition is: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, or He is not a good man.
Claimed Equality With God
Jesus called God His Father, thus "making Himself equal with God" (John 5:17-18). He did not refer to Himself as a son of God as Christians are children of God, but as THE Son of God (Matthew 16:16-17). Over 100 times in the Gospel records Jesus called God His Father. This was not in the same sense God is our Father. Jesus was careful to separate His Sonship from that of His disciples (John 20:17). He claimed to possess an unshared Sonship (Matthew 11:27).
Jesus claimed to so reveal the Father that to see Him was to see His Father (John 14:7-10). Jesus claimed eternal existence, a quality only God possesses (John 8:56-58). In short, Jesus of Nazareth asserted He is God (John 10:30-33).
Thus, the conclusion is inescapable: either Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, or He is a blasphemer.
When tempted by Satan, Jesus asserted that God alone is to be worshiped (Matthew 4:10). But the Man of Nazareth repeatedly accepted worship (Matthew 8:2-3; 9:18-19; 14:33; 15:25; 28:9-10, 17; Mark 5:6; Luke 24:52; John 9:35-38), whereas His disciple, Peter, refused worship (Acts 10:25-26). One is forced to conclude: either Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, or He is an impudent pretender.
The humble Man of Galilee was forceful in His condemnation of self-righteousness (Luke 18:9-14). Thus, His disciples were humble men who freely admitted their own sin (Luke 5:8; 1 Timothy 1:15) and who declared that all men sin (Romans 3:9, 23; 1 John 1:8, 10). But Jesus Himself refused to acknowledge any sin (John 8:46). Thus, we cannot avoid the obvious: Jesus is either the sinless Son of God or a rank hypocrite.
Claimed to Be Sacrifice
Jesus of Nazareth taught men that He is "the light of the world" (John 8:12), "the door" to salvation (John 10:7-9), "the good shepherd" (John 10:11), and "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). One must recognize, therefore, that He is either the Christ, the Son of God, or a liar and an imposter.
Claimed to Be Sacrifice
Jesus taught that by the shedding of His blood in death He would redeem sinful men from the guilt and curse of sin (Matthew 20:28; 26:28). Thus, He is either the Christ, the Son of God or a fanatic.
Claimed to Be Son of God
Indeed, before the Jewish council Jesus of Nazareth confessed that He is "the Christ, the Son of the Blessed" (Mark 14:61-62). The council thus concluded He was a blasphemer and "worthy of death" (verses 63-64). They called him "that deceiver" (Matthew 27:63). If Jesus is not who He claimed to be, they were indeed correct. Therefore, He is either the Christ, the Son of God or the blasphemous great deceiver.
It is not obvious that there is no middle ground with Jesus of Nazareth? "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters" (Luke 11:23). We cannot be neutral. His teaching demands our attention; His claims demand a verdict. What is your decision? "What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?" (Matthew 22:42)
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