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Who Did Jesus Say He Was

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					              Who Did Jesus Say He Was?
Who Do They Say That I Am?
Thousands of years ago, on a quiet day of solitude, introspection and prayer, Jesus
decided to ask his disciples an important question:

       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?" (Luke
       9:18-20)

It was a powerful question in the first century and it is was still a powerful question in the
centuries that followed the resurrection of Jesus. In fact, the founders of the major
religious movements that came after Jesus also had to ask themselves the very same
question.

One of these religious founders was Mohammed, the founder of the Islamic faith.
Mohammed describes Jesus (called Isa or Issa in the Qur'an) as someone who came and
spoke for God. In the Qur'an, Jesus is reported as saying that he came: "To attest the law
which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden to you; I
have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear God and obey me." (Qur'an 3:50)
Mohammed himself said that Jesus was a true messenger from God:

       "Whoever believes that there is none worthy of worship but God, alone without
       partner, that Muhammad is His messenger, that Jesus is the servant and
       messenger of God, His word which He bestowed on Mary and a spirit proceeding
       from Him, and that Paradise and Hell are true, shall be received by God into
       Heaven." (A Hadith from the collections of al Bukhari)

While Mohammed did not teach that Jesus was God, he did teach that Jesus was a true
prophet who spoke the words of God, and to this day, Muslims across the globe will
accept this truth about Jesus. Syed E. Hasan, chairman of the Department of Geosciences
at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a member of the Islamic Research
Foundation, calls it "an absolute requirement of the Islamic faith to believe in him and the
message he brought." Most Muslims today reflect the position of the Qur'an which states
in Oud Emrom 5-45, that Jesus is "the greatest above all in this world and the world to
come." He is further described as speaking divinely with guidance and wisdom:

       "And, in their footsteps, we sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the law that
       had come before him. We sent him the gospel. Therein was guidance and light,
       and confirmation of the law that had come before him. A guidance and an
       admonition to those who fear God." (S-5-46)
In the centuries that followed Mohammed, there arose another man with a desire to start a
global faith system. This man was named Baha'u'llah and the Baha'I faith he founded also
has great respect for Jesus! Members of the Baha'i faith believe that Jesus, while NOT
God, was one of many manifestations of God (including Abraham, Moses, Buddha,
Zoroaster and Muhammad). The Baha'i faith teaches that these prophets of God are a
special kind of human being, who have the capacity to know God in a way that ordinary
people can‟t. These prophets are called manifestations, in fact, because they make God
manifest in their words and deeds. And Baha'u'llah himself believed that Jesus as a great
teacher who spoke the words of God:

       “The deepest wisdom which the sages have uttered, the profoundest learning
       which any mind hath unfolded, the arts which the ablest hands have produced,
       the influence exerted by the most potent of rulers, are but manifestations of the
       quickening power released by His transcendent, His all-pervasive, and
       resplendent Spirit. We testify that when He came into the world, He shed the
       splendor of His glory upon all created things. Through Him the leper recovered
       from the leprosy of perversity and ignorance. Through Him, the unchaste and
       wayward were healed. Through His power, born of Almighty God, the eyes of the
       blind were opened, and the soul of the sinner sanctified. (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings
       from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 85)

So, when answering Jesus‟ simple question, “Who do you say that I am?”, both
Mohammed and Baha'u'llah would agree that Jesus was a great teacher who spoke the
words of God. But what actually did he speak when referring to Himself? What did
JESUS actually say about who He was? Let‟s take a look:

Jesus Prefaced His Statements As If He Was God Himself
Let‟s begin by looking at the way that Jesus spoke, eve when he wasn‟t talking
specifically about himself. Jesus often prefaced His teaching in a way that separated him
from other prophets. Remember that when Biblical Old Testament prophets made a
proclamation, they would typically begin by saying, “Thus saith the Lord” or “the word
of the Lord came to me”, or in more modern translations, “This is what the Lord says”
Here are but a fraction of the examples found in scripture:

       Isaiah 10:24
       Therefore, this is what the Lord, the LORD Almighty, says: “O my people who
       live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians, who beat you with a rod and lift up
       a club against you, as Egypt did.”

       Jeremiah 6:6
       This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Cut down the trees and build siege
       ramps against Jerusalem. This city must be punished; it is filled with oppression.

       Ezekiel 5:5
       "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: This is Jerusalem, which I have set in
       the center of the nations, with countries all around her.
       Amos 2:6
       This is what the LORD says: "For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not
       turn back {my wrath}. They sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair
       of sandals.

       Obadiah 1:1
       This is what the Sovereign LORD says about Edom— We have heard a message
       from the LORD : An envoy was sent to the nations to say, "Rise, and let us go
       against her for battle"

       Micah 3:5
       This is what the LORD says: "As for the prophets who lead my people astray, if
       one feeds them, they proclaim 'peace'; if he does not, they prepare to wage war
       against him.”

       Nahum 1:12
       This is what the LORD says: "Although they have allies and are numerous, they
       will be cut off and pass away. Although I have afflicted you, O Judah , I will
       afflict you no more.”

       Haggai 1:2
       This is what the LORD Almighty says: "These people say, 'The time has not yet
       come for the LORD's house to be built.' "

       Zechariah 1:16
       "Therefore, this is what the LORD says: 'I will return to Jerusalem with mercy,
       and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out
       over Jerusalem,' declares the LORD Almighty.”

Now it makes sense that all these prophets would begin their proclamations in this way;
after all, they are speaking FOR God, Just as Mohammed and Baha'u'llah said that
prophets speak. But is this how Jesus spoke? Did he start his teaching with this kind of
divine qualification? No, in fact, He NEVER used such a preface. Jesus typically started
his teaching with the expressions we so often remember from the King James Bible,
“verily, verily, I say to you…”, or in more modern language, “I tell you the truth…”
There are dozens and dozens of examples of this throughout the Gospels

       Matthew 5:18
       I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not
       the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until
       everything is accomplished

       Matthew 11:11
       I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone
       greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is
       greater than he.

       Mark 11:23
       I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the
       sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it
       will be done for him.

       Mark 14:9
       I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what
       she has done will also be told, in memory of her."

       John 5:25
       I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear
       the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.

       John 10:1
       I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but
       climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.

This preface, as it is used by Jesus, is clearly very differe3nt from the Old Testament
prophets. The prophets spoke FOR God, But Jesus is clearly speaking here AS God! He
felt no need to qualify His words and tell people they had the authority of God as did the
Old Testament Prophets. Instead, Jesus ASSUMED this authority as God himself and spe
in the first person using “I” as the only description for the source of this wisdom! Jesus
had no misgivings about giving His words the exact same authority as the God who
spoke to the Old Testament Prophets because He WAS the God of the Old Testament
Prophets!

Jesus Identified Himself With God’s Own Name (“I Am”)
When God first appeared to Moses in the burning bush, Moses was adept enough to ask
God for his name. And God gave Moses an interesting reply:

       Exodus 3:14
       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.' "

For thousands of years after this, the Israelites recognized “I AM” as the name of God
Himself. The Hebrew word for “I AM” is a present tense verb and it tells us that God is
always with us in the present moment. He‟s not a God from the past, or a future God who
is yet to come. He is right HERE, right NOW. That was a comfort for the Israelites and
they revered the name of God as a precious thing that was not to be slandered or given to
anyone or anything other than God himself. Then along came Jesus. The Gospel of John
tells us that on a day when the Pharisees were questioning the power and authority and
teaching of Jesus, They actually accused him of being demon possessed. Look at how he
responded:
       John 8:49-58
       "I am not possessed by a demon," said Jesus, "but I honor my Father and you
       dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and
       he is the judge. I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see
       death." At this the Jews exclaimed, "Now we know that you are demon-possessed!
       Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your
       word, he will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He
       died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?" Jesus replied, "If I
       glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God,
       is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I
       did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. Your
       father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was
       glad." "You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen
       Abraham!" "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I
       am!"

Did you catch that? Jesus made two remarkable statements. First, he claimed to be eternal
and to have existed BEFORE Abraham! But more importantly, Jesus called himself by
the ancient title ascribed only to God Himself, “I AM”! The Pharisees knew exactly what
Jesus meant by this; they knew that Jesus was claiming to be God Himself, and that this
was an act of blasphemy that was worthy of death by stoning:

       John 8:59
       At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away
       from the temple grounds.

This is not the only place in the Gospels where Jesus takes on this divine title:

       Mark 14:62
       And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of
       power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

       John 18:5-6
       They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas
       also, which betrayed Him, stood with them. As soon then as He had said unto
       them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.

       John 8:24
       I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I
       am he, ye shall die in your sins.

       John 8:28
       Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up (Crucified) the Son of man,
       then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father
       hath taught me, I speak these things.
Now you may notice that in these translations of the scripture, the word “he” has been
placed behind “I AM”, but the word “he” does NOT appear in the original Greek of the
New Testament. It was added later by translators. Jesus repeatedly called himself by the
very title the ancient Israelites knew belonged ONLY to God Himself.

Jesus Said that He and the Father Were From the Same World
When asked about His place of origin, Jesus repeatedly identified it as the same „place‟
where God the Father abides. Mere humans such as you and I are from this world, But
Jesus and God the Father come from another Kingdom entirely. When addressing the
Jews, Jesus told them:

       John 8:23-24
       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 sins; if you do not
       believe that I am [the one I claim to be], you will indeed die in your sins."

And when addressing Pontius Pilate, who questioned Him about his position as the
“King‟ of the Jews, Jesus said:

       John 18:36-37
       Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight
       to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
       "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am
       a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to
       testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

Clearly, Jesus articulated the fact that he was not of human origin and that he and God the
Father came from the same spiritual Kingdom.

Jesus Talked As Though He Was Equal With God
In addition to all of this, there are many places in the scriptures that really don‟t make any
sense unless Jesus considered himself to be equal to God and of one essence with God.
Here is just one example. In Matthew 13:41, Jesus says that both the angels and the
kingdom are His:

       Matthew 13:41
       "The Son of man will send His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom
       all causes of sin and evildoers"

Now remember that in other places in the Gospels, the “angels of God” and the
“Kingdom of God” are described as belonging to God the Father, not Jesus:
       Luke 12:8-9
       “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also
       acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men
       will be disowned before the angels of God.”

To claim that GOD‟S angels are in fact HIS angels would be highly inappropriate unless
Jesus and God are one in the same. In addition to the passages we‟ve already described,
there are a number of comments that Jesus made about His relationship with God the
Father that would be difficult to understand if Jesus did not consider himself equal in
essence with God. Throughout the Gospels Jesus claimed that to see Him was to see God,
to know Him was to know God and to love Him was to love God:

       John 14:6-9
       Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the
       Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as
       well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." Philip said, "Lord,
       show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "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.

       John 14:23
       "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we
       will come to him and make our home with him"

These statements have their fullest meaning once we hear them in the way that Jesus
intended them to be heard. He was telling us that He and the Father are one. If there is
any doubt about this, we can simply look at the clearest statement Jesus ever said on the
matter…

Jesus Simply Said That He and God Were One
It‟s hard to wiggle out of the most direct statements Jesus made about his identity, and
perhaps the most obvious statement can be found in the Gospel of John. Speaking again
to non-believing Jews, Jesus made the argument that His miracles alone should have been
enough to demonstrate his deity. These miracles were proof that He was, in fact, God:

       John 10:25-29
       Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my
       Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.
       My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal
       life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My
       Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out
       of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."

There it is. The clearest statement possible. He said it plain as day. Jesus SAID HE WAS
GOD!! There is no other way to interpret this, and the Jews knew exactly what Jesus was
saying. That‟s why, once again, they wanted to stone Jesus for blasphemy:
       John 10:31-33
       Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, "I have
       shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone
       me?" "We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for
       blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."

So while we might argue that Jesus was not really God Himself, it‟s going to be hard to
argue that Jesus didn‟t TEACH that he WAS God. His words demonstrate that Jesus did,
in fact believe that He was God.

So Can He Still Be A Good Teacher?
Most of those who have studied the teaching of Jesus Christ have come to hold him up as
the world‟s foremost moral authority. Jesus‟ teaching has become the foundation for
some of the world‟s greatest reform movements. Jesus inspired the likes of Ghandi and
Martin Luther King Jr. Even Mohammed and Baha'u'llah considered Jesus to be a
divinely inspired messenger and manifestation of God. But can a good teacher teach a
lie? Can a moral teacher teach a lie? Jesus clearly taught many things about behavior and
morality, but He also taught that HE WAS GOD! In fact, he taught that His position on
moral issues was valid and should be followed BECAUSE He was God.

You can‟t have it both ways. You would not follow the moral teaching of a crazy person
who thought He was God, would you? If we are going to embrace the righteous teaching
of Jesus, we are going to have to embrace ALL of it. And that is going to have to include
the simple and obvious fact that Jesus SAID He was God. If Mohammed and Baha'u'llah
were going to be consistent, they would have to recognize the fact that Jesus never
claimed to be merely a prophet. Had these two men truly studied the words and life of
Jesus Christ, they would either remove Jesus from their list of Godly messengers, or
embrace Him as Lord.

				
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