Who is he? This has been the age old question. Asked incessantly, debated continuously throughout the centuries since He made His appearance and walked this earth, the identity of Jesus is a question that continues to confound. For many the verdict is still out. Who is Jesus? Many continue to debate, to doubt, to question, to search, to study, to ponder, to wonder – just exactly who is Jesus? It is a question of true identity.
“Who is Jesus?” – the most important question one can ask because the answer determines the direction of the questioner’s life. Jesus’s disciples struggled with the question of Jesus’s identity even as they followed Him and spent time with Him. In Luke 9:18-20 we read about one such interaction,
“Once when Jesus was praying in private and His disciples were with Him, He asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.’ ‘But what about you?’ He asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ ”
So you can see that there was much debate as to Jesus’s true identity when He was here on earth – and that debate continues to this day. But Peter answered Jesus’s question that day with these words,
“The Christ (Messiah) of God.” Peter knew the truth of Jesus’s identity.
Peter affirmed his belief in Jesus’s true identity again in John 6:66-69 during this exchange,
“From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him. ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.’ ”
There were others who also discovered for themselves Jesus’s true identity. One such person was the centurion who stood before Jesus as He hung on the cross. We read his account in Mark 15:39,
“And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard His cry and saw how He died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’ ”
Jesus Himself said in John 14:9,
“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.” Jesus further explains in John 10:30 saying,
“I and the Father are one.”
Even when Jesus revealed His identity with words such as those, there were still many who refused to believe He was who He said He was, which was who their own Scriptures said He was. Instead they preferred to circulate lies about His identity as the following encounter shows. Jesus healed a paralytic, lowered down to Him through the ceiling of the house where He was teaching, surrounded by a large crowd of people. (hence the need for the paralytic to enter from the roof in order to be seen by Jesus)
“When Jesus saw their faith, He said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’ The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ ” (Luke 5:20-21)
They were questioning the identity of Jesus. Something they did often. We see them doing this again when Jesus healed an invalid waiting beside the pool of Bethesda. We read,
“So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted Him. Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I, too, am working.’ For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill Him; not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” (John 5:16-18)
They didn’t believe Jesus was who He told them He was. And because they refused to see His true identity, they crucified Him on a cross. One of the criminals being crucified along with Jesus recognized Jesus’s true identity while the other criminal being crucified that day did not. What a difference this made in outcome for the one who recognized Jesus’s identity. We read his story in Luke 23:39-43 –
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him; (Jesus) ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.’ ”
Yes, it is a question of identity. It was for the woman at the well. She was having a conversation with a stranger who asked her for a drink. She didn’t know who he was. This is how the conversation unfolded,
“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give Me a drink?’ The Samaritan woman said to Him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.’ ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘ . . . Are you greater than our father Jacob?’ . . . Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ ” (John 4:7-14)
If we only knew – like the woman at the well and the thief on the cross, it will make all the difference to me and to you, dear readers – this question of Jesus’s identity. How we answer that question of identity determines our destiny. Who is Jesus? If we only knew . . . The thief on the cross knew, the woman at the well came to know, the centurion knew when he witnessed the crucifixion, Peter knew, even the demons knew –
“In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, ‘Ha! What do You want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are – the Holy One of God!’ ” (Luke 4:33-34)
Simeon knew and his is a beautiful testimony to the identity of Jesus. It is given in Luke 2:25-32,
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. . . . When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for Him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God, saying: ‘Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel.’ ”
Simeon knew the answer to the question of Jesus’s identity – and it made all the difference in the world. Isaiah knew Jesus’s true identity long before Jesus was born. Isaiah shared that secret and gave us all a head’s up in Isaiah 9:6-7 as to who Jesus is, saying –
“For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
Who is Jesus?
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:3)
if we only knew – would we ask Him for life like the woman at the well did when she learned she could ask Jesus for living water?
if we only knew – it is a question of identity
sincerely, Grace Day