who is jesus?

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Daily Bible Reflections from St Benedict’s Parish

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who is jesus?

bite-sized Bible

Daily Bible Reflections from St Benedict’s Parish

Who is Jesus?

Jesus compels a choice like no other. Other religious leaders and founders claim to have discovered different insights or ways of living but they never claim to be Divine. Jesus, on the other hand, doesn't say he has found a way, he says "I am the way". Jesus doesn't say he has found a truth, he says "I am the truth." Jesus doesn't say he has found a new way of life, he says "I am the way of life." This makes Christianity unique and it compels a choice like no other.

Jesus asked his Disciples ... "Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Matthew 16: 13b-15

Maybe you’ve been told that Jesus is just a teacher, a good man, or that he was wise. These are all good things and many religious leaders or founders are exactly that, teachers, good, or wise. They point to their teaching or they point to God or some way of life. Jesus is utterly unique. He doesn’t make his life about his teaching. His life is solely about his identity. The whole of the New Testament is centred on this one question – Who is Jesus? 

Jesus says “unless you love me, more than your very life, more than your mother and father, you’re not worthy of me.” Jesus says to the paralysed man, “my son, your sins are forgiven.” The bystanders hear and ask “who does this man think he is? Only God can forgive sins.” To the woman caught in adultery he says “neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” A civilian with no rank would have no authority over a criminal matter, yet Jesus acts as someone above the law.

Jesus proclaims, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” A stunning claim that his words will last longer than creation itself. Jesus restored the blind man’s sight, he brought Jairus’ daughter back to life, he opened the ears of the deaf. All of this made Jesus a figure of utter fascination. People came from all over to hear and see Jesus.

At the height of his public ministry Jesus is travelling with his Disciples, when he poses them a question. “Who do people say that I am?” What a peculiar question. He doesn’t ask them how his teaching is being received, or how people were reacting to his actions. He wanted to know what they thought about his identity, his very being. This is what sets Jesus apart.

Prophets, religious leaders, writers, teachers etc. point away from themselves and toward their teaching or words. They don’t draw attention to themselves. Jesus formulated moral instructions and he taught the people. However, Jesus didn’t focus people’s attention on his words. Instead, he drew their attention to himself. “Who do you say that I am?”

Another time, Jesus is walking with his Disciples – “They were going up to Jerusalem and Jesus went before them, and they were amazed and as they followed they were afraid.” Mark 10: 32. They were simply walking along the road, you would understand if they were intrigued, or captivated. But amazed and afraid doesn’t make sense. Until we realise that throughout the Old Testament, the reaction to meeting God was awe and fear. 

The fact is, that throughout the Gospels Jesus consistently acts in the very person of God. He is speaking as one assuming the very authority of God. And the reaction of those around him was to be amazed and afraid as in the presence of God. 

"Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

Matthew 11: 28-29

All of this points us to conclude that Jesus really believed he was God in the flesh, God moving among his people. He drove out demons, he multiplied bread, he performed miracles, he healed people, he spoke with an unparalleled authority. After the calming of the seas, the Disciples ask themselves, who is this man that he can calm seas?

Ultimately, Jesus compels us to make a choice, the way no one else does. If Jesus is God, then he must be the centre of our lives. If he isn’t God then he is a dangerous man.

Jesus can’t be just a good man because he demands that we bow down and worship him. He can’t be just a good teacher because he tells us that we must put him first in our lives, above all else, even rejecting some things. Jesus, then, is either God or a dangerous man. And Jesus himself demands a choice, “Who do you say that I am?” “Either you’re with me or you’re against me.”

Now all of this can seem rather stark. If Jesus is who he says he is, then he is higher and more important than anything else, and we must give our lives to him. But the wonderful thing is – if his words are true about him being God then all of his words are true. And what can be more beautiful than the truth that – not only can Jesus point you to that “something more” that you have always been looking for – but that Jesus is that something more that you have been looking for. He is peace, love, joy and eternal life.

You have the choice.