WHO IS JESUS?
(Article for the 2/26/2014issue of The Seward County Independent)
By The Rev. Dr. Daniel K. Schroeder
Pastor of Mighty Fortress Ev.LutheranChurch
If you ask the general population this question, you'll get a variety of answers. Some will say that he was a good teacher, a moral person, an honest and an upstanding individual, just to name a few. Others will call him a radical, a maverick, an anomaly, or a revolutionary person. Usually people will agree that he was someone who appeared on the scene with a new and different way of doing things.
For those who are Christians, this question seems to be a "no-brainer." The Christian recognizes Jesus as the central figure of their faith; otherwise they wouldn't call themselves Christians in the first place. Dr. Martin Luther answers the question this way: "I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten from the Father from eternity, and true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord." That is a very concise way to answer this question.
Back in Jesus' day, people were asking this question too. And like today, people were inventing answers and arriving at their own conclusions based purely on their own ideas, and not upon the facts. Jesus asks this question in Matthew 16:13-16: "...'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?' And [the disciples] 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?' Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'"
Here, and in other places in the Bible, Jesus affirms the fact that he is indeed true God. One of the more dramatic examples of this is an event the Bible calls "The Transfiguration." This account is recorded for us in Matthew chapter 17 and Mark chapter 9.
For this event, Jesus takes three of his disciples with him, namely Peter, James, and John. They go up on a mountain; and while they were up there, Jesus literally morphs right before their eyes. He changes his appearance in a way the Bible describes: "...his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light." And then God the Father appears in a bright cloud as he spoke from the heavens: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."
The three disciples saw all of this, and of course they were completely awed by it. According to Jewish law, it only took two witnesses to establish a matter as being factual. In this instance, there were three witnesses. That was more than enough to establish that Jesus was who he claimed to be. He demonstrates in every way to be true God who took upon himself human flesh and form when he came to the earth.
Knowing who Jesus is won't do anybody any good if they don't have a clue as to what he did. Jesus came to keep God's law perfectly. Even though he accomplished this, he suffered the pain and death that we by our sins deserve.
Jesus came to us because he loves us and wants us to share eternity with him. But as sinful human beings, we cannot attain the perfection that God requires for entrance into his eternal kingdom. And that can be a real source of frustration for people. There needs to be reconciliation.
Since Jesus is true God, he was able to do something nobody else could do. As the sinless Son of God, he was able to keep God's law perfectly. He never sinned, not even once. But yet, he was condemned by the Jews and put to death by the Romans. He was treated like the worst sinner that ever was. And he did this willingly, just because he loves us. It's only through faith alone in Jesus that we are reconciled to God in heaven.
There were and are many people in the world who we can describe as being good teachers, moral people, honest and upstanding individuals. And there is no shortage of those who fit the description radical, maverick, anomaly, or a revolutionary. And almost daily, we hear about someone who appears on the scene with a new and different way of doing things. That's the way it has been, and we can expect the same in the future.
We can use a lot of adjectives to describe Jesus. But he is the only person to actually be true God in the flesh. When he went up on the mountain with Peter, James, and John, he revealed his true glory to them. They heard the voice of God from heaven confirming his divine identity.
On March 2nd, churches all over the world will celebrate the Transfiguration of Jesus. This (along with other events) confirm Jesus' identity as true God. Three of Jesus' disciples were eyewitnesses. Knowing his true identity is important for us to appreciate what he did. Jesus loves you so much that he wants to make entrance into heaven as easy as possible. We enter through faith alone, faith in Jesus, God's only begotten Son, who is our only Saviour.