Who was Jesus?
It has been said that there are only three options available when thinking about who Jesus is. Either he is who he said he is, the Christ the Son of God, or he isn’t. If he isn’t then he is either a liar and the biggest con-artist in the history of the world or he truly believed he was the Son of God and is therefore the greatest insane person in all of human history. Insane, criminal, or Savior. Are those truly the only options? What about just a man? A good person? A great teacher? A spiritual leader?
Perhaps Jesus was also some of these other things, but in essence we must take stock of what Jesus said of himself and measure him by his own words.
John 8: 16-20 - “But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me...” Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.
John 8:23-29 - But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sin; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” “Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell to the world.” They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”
John 8:31-42 - To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants....I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.” “Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” Jesus said to them, “If God were you Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me...”
John 8:50-58 - “I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham?...Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, who you claim is your God, is the one who glorifies me. though you do not know him, I know him. ....Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
This is only one chapter of many in which Jesus speaks about who he is. Perhaps it is a little confusing, what is he trying to say? In the first section Jesus is saying that God is his Father; the second and third section tells us that Jesus sees himself as come down from heaven to do God’s will. The phrase Son of Man was a name Jesus loved the most, it comes from Daniel 7:13-14 - “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
The fourth section is huge in implications. The Jews picked up stones to stone him because Jesus claimed to be God. That is right, before Abraham “I am” was a reference to God and the Jews knew very well what Jesus was saying then.
Exodus 3:13-15 - “Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I AM Who I Am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers - the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob - has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.”
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Son of Man who was prophesied by Daniel in the Fifth Century B.C., five hundred years before Jesus. He claimed to be the light of the world, the savior, the one who can take away sin and set us free. He claimed to be God, sent from God, doing and saying only that which God would have him say. What was that? What did he do? He healed the lame, sick, deaf, mute, blind, demon-possessed, leprosy, raised the dead, walked on water, taught a higher morality than has ever been heard on earth before, and died on the cross as an innocent man to pay for our sin and rose from the dead on the third day according to what the Bible records.
Here is the crux of the issue, if you believe anything about what the Gospels say about Jesus and who he was then you must take into account who he said he was. What he said of himself got him killed, do you believe him? Either way you cannot discount that if there is even a thread of truthfulness in the Biblical account that Jesus had to either be insane to say what he said of himself, a great con-artist who was out for power, or he was who he said he was, the Son of God, Savior of the world.
Mark 8:29 - “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”