Matthew 16:13-16 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 Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Throughout history there has been much talk about a man named Jesus. Many recognize His name or are even able to mention a few facts they have learned through the years, but quite a few have the same question: “Who really is Jesus anyway?
This is a good question and the answer holds the key to life itself. From the time Jesus physically walked on this earth, people were pondering His identity, and there were many different opinions. One day Jesus asked His closest followers, “Who do people say I am?” The answers were varied. Some thought He was John the Baptist returned from the dead. Others thought He was Elijah or one of the other prophets.
Jesus then asked His disciples, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” Peter, the outspoken one of Jesus’ close circle, responded immediately, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Why did these men come to this conclusion? They had walked closely with Jesus for three years. They had traveled with Him, eaten with Him, listened to Him, and watched Him. They had seen Him perform incredible miracles such as turning water into wine, giving a blind man sight, causing the lame to walk, and raising a man from the dead. They experienced these things first hand and could come only to the conclusion that their teacher truly was God’s Son.
Today those seeking the truth about this controversial man still ask the same questions. Some believe Jesus was a good man while others call Him a religious teacher Who died for His beliefs, yet they wonder what this would have to do with them today.
To find the answers one must consider a few things:
First, Jesus was a real person. Historians would agree that this man truly did live and die. He was born over two thousand years ago during the reign of Augustus Caesar and was crucified on a Roman cross. The Bible, along with other credible historical sources, record that He performed amazing miracles that were beyond human explanation.
Many called Him a great teacher or prophet, though there were many others who were jealous and refused to believe even after witnessing the great works He did.
But it is important to go beyond what others have said about Jesus to see what He said about Himself. Numerous times throughout the Bible Jesus gave testimony to the fact that He was One with the Father. These statements and others proved that Jesus claimed to be God. The great signs He performed all pointed to the truth of these statements. The greatest proof of Jesus’ deity was His death on a cross and resurrection three days later. Though the religious leaders tried to downplay what they called a rumor, numerous people, including his closest associates and total strangers, saw Jesus in the flesh during the days following His death and subsequent resurrection.
Anyone asking, “Who really is Jesus anyway?” must search out and wrestle with this information. If Jesus is not Who He claimed to be – the Son of God – then you cannot call Him good. A good man would not be so deceptive. If He is not Who He claimed to be, you also cannot call Him sane. A sane man wouldn’t be so absurd. If neither of those two choices is true – Jesus the Liar or Jesus the Lunatic – there is only one other viable choice: He was telling the truth and He really is Lord.[i]
If, after considering the evidence, you come to the conclusion that Jesus’ claims were true then you have come to a crossroad and must take action.
Throughout the Bible you will see that sin entered the world through one man’s disobedience to God’s command. From that time on, a sin nature has passed to all mankind bringing spiritual death and separation from God. The many other side effects of this tragedy can be seen clearly throughout the world today in the evil that abounds and the physical death that affects everyone.
But God in His love chose to make a way for us to escape this condition. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth in the form of a perfect human so that He could bear the punishment for our sins. Jesus, being fully God and fully human, was the only One Who could justly take our place and secure our salvation successfully. Salvation is not found any other way or in any other person. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.”
Jesus’ disciples came to know this man very well and, through observation and God’s revelation, they came to the conclusion that He truly was Who He said He was. They believed and their lives were forever changed because of it. For the rest of their days these men shared the message of God’s salvation with everyone they met even at great cost to their lives.
What about you? You also have a decision to make. Will you ignore this man Who claimed to be God and perish in your sins? Or will you believe and receive eternal life?
Your destiny all depends on how you answer the question, “Who really is Jesus anyway?”[ii]
[i] Adapted from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.
[ii] For more information on this subject read The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel, an atheist news reporter, who shares His personal journey to find the truth about the man, Jesus. After using his reporter skills to extensively search and study the evidence this man’s conclusions drastically changed his beliefs and his life.