Photo by Mauro Gigli on Unsplash

Who do you say that I am?

The most important thing that anyone can ever know is who Jesus is. Our life rests upon the knowledge we have of who Jesus is. Life and death pivot on the name of Jesus.

In Matthew 16:13-17 we come across this account

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.1

Notice how Jesus shifts from the general to make it personal by asking them “But who do you say I am?”. In other words, forget who people call me but who am I to you personally? Today many have given Him different titles- To the Muslims- He is just a prophet. To the Historical atheist, He was a good teacher who taught good morals. But you (the reader) who do you say He is?

So where do we start to know who Jesus is? In Luke 10:22 Jesus says “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” In other words, the only person who can give you the right definition of who Jesus is, is the Father. The correct definition Peter gave wasn’t from himself. It was never taught to him by any man that had ever lived. It came directly from God the Father. If we are to truly know who Jesus is, our intellect, resources, studies, and anything else outside the living God cannot give us the right answer that’s why Jesus said “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants” Unless the Father shows us we will only be left with speculations. Yes, it’s true that He was a good teacher but if your definition doesn’t go beyond that then it misses the bull’s eye.

How are we to hit the bull’s eye then?

In Matthew 17:5, God the Father says to the disciples about the Son “This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased. Listen to him!”. If we are then to listen to Him, what does He, therefore, say about Himself? In John 14:1, He says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Another way to put it is that without me there is no going to Heaven, without me there is no knowing and without me there is no living.

Jesus goes on ahead to tell his disciples, “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me?”

It is clear throughout scripture that without the Father we cannot know the Son and without the Son, we cannot know the Father.3 The Father leads you to know who Jesus is4 and it is through Jesus that you get to know the Father.5 To know the Son is to know the Father.6

Repeatedly through the gospels, we see Jesus calling God His Father but what does He mean when He calls God His Father. Christians throughout the world have been slanderously charged by Muslims that calling Jesus the son of God means that God had relations with Mary and they together gave birth to Him. We have also been challenged to show from the scriptures where Jesus calls Himself God with the words “I am God, worship me”. To which if we are to look for those exact words we won’t find them. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t find other words that show that Jesus did indeed claim to be God.

We find this in John 5:17-18; Jesus answered them, My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working. For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

Calling God his own Father meant that Jesus was claiming to have the same nature like Him, as7 He says in John 10:30; “I and the Father are one” namely they are of the same being. Whenever Jesus made such a claim the Jews knew explicitly what He was saying, which explains their reaction of wanting to kill Him in many cases(which they eventually did), their response is recorded in verse 33- The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because you being a man make Yourself out to be God.” He indeed made Himself out to be God even when faced with great hostility He didn’t waver on the claim because He knew who He was and where He was from but they didn’t.8 We see this in Matthew 26:62-64 where the high priest put Him under oath to clearly state if He was the Messiah. To which He replies “You have said so, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the Mighty One and coming down on the clouds of Heaven.9” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy!”

One may not really see at first why the high priest called it blasphemy and acted in such extremes to the point of tearing his clothes. As a high priest, he was well acquainted with Psalm 110:1 which says “The Lord says to my Lord: Sit at My right hand…” In simple terms Jesus is saying I am the Lord, the Lord tells to sit at His right hand in Psalm 110:1.

It was inconceivable to the Jews for a man of Jesus’ stature to be God. He didn’t have a lot for people to admire Him. He had no place to lay his head but what does John write of Him- He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He(Creator) came to His own(creation), and those who were His own did not receive Him.10 Isaiah writes of Him- He had no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised and we did not esteem Him.11

Imagine this: A friend you have known for quite a time and also known his family, walks up to you with a stern look and says “believe in me and you will have eternal life, and I myself(not God but me) will raise you up on the last day.” The question lingering in your mind would be “But who do you think you are? Is not this my friend, whose father and mother I know?”. You would advise him to repent of his blasphemy because you know that only God requires people to believe in Him and only Him can give eternal life. Yet these are the exact claims Jesus made about Himself in John 6:40-42.

Logic demands it that a person can not give what he does not possess. If Jesus was a man like any other man, how could He give out eternal life if He didn’t have it in the first place? How can that which is temporal give out that which is eternal?

How can a person you haven’t sinned against say to you that you are forgiven? It is only the One who has been sinned against who has the prerogative to forgive. We see this take place in Matt 9:2 “ Some men brought to Him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man,’ Take heart, son your sins are forgiven.’ At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, ‘This fellow is blaspheming!’.” This judgment would be true if indeed He didn’t have the authority to forgive sins but knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?12 Which is easier to say: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk?’ But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go”.

As John MacArthur explains in his study bible:

It is certainly easier to claim the power to pronounce absolution from sin than to demonstrate the power to heal. Christ actually proved his power to forgive by instantly healing the man of his paralysis. If he could do the apparently harder, he could also do what seemed easier. The actual forgiving was in reality the more difficult task, however, because it ultimately required Him to sacrifice his life.

Even the disciples at one point when filled with terror asked themselves this: “What sort of man is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him?13 Only God can rule the wind and the sea. As the psalmist puts it “O LORD God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty Lord?… You rule the swelling of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them.14

Jesus’ claims to Deity were outright which only leaves us with only three conclusions we can make; either Jesus was a liar, or Jesus was a megalomaniac,15 or Jesus was indeed telling the truth.

To the reader: Jesus Christ asks: “Who do you say that I am?” This is a question you can’t avoid answering. It is a question you do not have forever to answer. It is a question no one else can answer for you. It is a question that determines where you will spend eternity. If you had never seriously pondered about it, Now is the time. Tomorrow is not assured.

Like the thief on the cross, you do not need to know a lot to get to Heaven. All he needed to know was that He was a sinner who needed forgiveness and he put his trust and faith in Jesus and it is this Jesus who said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” This my friend can be your assurance too today. There is no amount of wrongs that you have done that He is not ready to forgive you of. He is more ready to forgive you than you are ready to forgive yourself. Those who are well are in no need of a doctor, but those who are sick. He didn’t come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. Your many sins however heinous they are, qualify you to go to the Great Physician. He says “Come Now, and let us reason together, Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.”

Let the world mock, let the world laugh, let the world ridicule but as for you know who Jesus is, as He said in John 8:24 “for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Like the doubting Thomas do not be unbelieving but believing. Like the believing Thomas may you say “My Lord and my God!”. For blessed are they who believe without seeing(John 20:27-29)

We can be wrong about every other thing in this life and it’s still fine but when it comes to the name of Jesus, we must be dead-on, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.16

Bible references used;

1 Matt 16:13-17

2 Matthew 11:25

3 John 8: 19

4John 6: 65 …no one can come to me unless it has been granted him from the Father.

5John 14: 6 No one comes to the Father except through me.

6John 14: 7, John 8:19

7Hebrews 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being…

8John 8: 14

9Daniel 7:13

10John 1:10-11

11Isaiah 53: 2-3

12Question: 1 Corinthians 2:11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in Him?

Answer: Acts 1:24, Acts 15:8, Romans 8:27, Jeremiah 17:10, Psalm 139:1, Revelation 2:23, Luke 16:15, 1 Samuel 16:7

13Mark 4: 41

14Psalm 89: 8-9. See also Psalm 107:28-29 “Then they cried to the LORD… He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed.” Psalm 65:7

15This is a mental illness that makes you believe that you are more powerful and important than you really are.

16Acts 4:12

Written by:

Brian Asiimwe

A member of Reconciliation baptist church