We have seen that Jesus Christ is to be the object of our faith. We, in order to be saved, must believe in Jesus. We must place our trust in Him. If we are to do that, we need to know who Jesus is. This then is a basic introduction and reminder for us about who this Jesus is.
Who is Jesus?
Jesus is identified by many names and titles in Scripture, including the Word, the Way, the Messiah (Christ), the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Truth, Immanuel (God with us), the Savior, the Redeemer, the Lord, the Life, the Lamb of God, the Mediator between God and men, and others. So let us see what a few of these names and titles tell us about who He is.
Immanuel – God with Us
Jesus is God. That is where we must start as we look at Who He is. Contrary to liberal and non-Trinitarian claims, Jesus absolutely identified Himself to His disciples and to the crowds to which He preached as God in human flesh.
We understand that the Bible presents us with the doctrine of the Trinity, and while the word trinity never occurs in the Scripture we do know that it is a good word used to explain the truth that Scripture clearly presents. The One Almighty Living God exists as Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As such, Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity.
In God’s plan of redemption, it is Jesus who came to be born as a man through the virgin Mary. He had no earthly father in the sense of genetics or conception. God is His Father. Being born of a virgin, He has not inherited the sin nature and the curse upon all mankind descending by natural means from Adam. He is thus fully human yet without a sinful fallen nature.
Jesus then is truly God in human flesh, Immanuel, God with us. He became a man in order to pay the penalty for mankind – we are conceived sinners, born sinners, and will die sinners, and the wages of sin is death. So Jesus came to be a man and therefore pay man’s penalty – death.
As fully God and as fully man at the same time, Jesus is One Person but has two natures. Therefore He was tempted as we all are, yet He did not sin. This allowed Him to serve as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He did not die for His own sin, but for ours. As since He was righteous and sinless, He gave to us His obedience while taking the penalty for our sin upon Himself. What a glorious transaction this is.
We start by understanding that the Bible plainly tells us that Jesus is God.
Son of God
By using this term to describe Himself, Jesus was saying to his audience that He was equal with God. In other words, He was God. So as we have already seen the Bible establish, He is God, fully divine. He chose to limit His divinity while incarnate as a man, but is nonetheless still fully God and fully man.
When He used this title the crowd on one occasion they took up stones to stone Him for blasphemy – the crime of claiming to be God – punishable by death. When He was crucified it was because the religious leaders accused Him of making Himself to be God.
Son of Man
This was Jesus’ favorite name for Himself. He used it to describe Himself more than any other name or title, using it 83 times in the Gospels. What does it mean to be the Son of Man? It is a title that only the Messiah could claim (Dan. 7:13-14). This title specifically speaks about His suffering as a man. Suffering hunger and thirst, tiredness (physical needs), pain, torment, and eventually death on the cross. It speaks of how He had to humble Himself to become a man in order to be our substitute upon the cross.
Jesus is Lord. We do not make Him Lord. We do not crown Him King. He is Lord. This is the plain testimony of Scripture. Jesus is Lord (master) over all of Creation. As such we are His slaves, purchased with His blood, and we owe Him perfect obedience and love and honor. At that final day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess what is true – Jesus Christ is Lord. But only those who confess it now, in this life, will have the hope of salvation in the life to come.
Messiah – the Christ
The term Messiah means literally the “anointed one” and is translated as Christ in the New Testament. He is the Messiah, the one appointed and anointed to save His people. He is the One who was promised all through the Old Testament. In fact, the OT points to Christ, showing us in shadows and types Who this Messiah would be and what He would accomplish. The crowd on the day of the Triumphal Entry professed that He was the Messiah. And a few days later that same crowd cried out “Crucify Him.”
Jesus as the Redeemer has paid the price to buy us for Himself. Many have stated that He paid the devil, but this is not true. If we examine the Scriptures we understand that God does not owe the devil anything. The question must be asked, what did Jesus save us from? As we have discussed here before, Jesus saved us from sin, self, death and hell – but above all, He saved us from God. Yes, it’s true. He suffered the wrath of God for our sin. Wrath that we would have suffered had He not died for us. Wrath that the lost man will bear for eternity if he dies without trusting Christ. So Jesus redeemed us, He paid the price God’s justice, holiness and wrath demanded. He bought us and we are His.
Jesus is our Savior. He has saved us from our sin. He has offered Himself once for all as the sacrifice that the Father’s holiness and justice demanded and He has become our Savior. In fact, as we study later why Jesus came, we will examine the fact that He came to “seek and save that which was lost.” He saves us from sin, self, death, and judgment. We could not save ourselves, so He saves us.
Jesus also is the Mediator of the New Covenant, the Covenant in His shed blood. He is the only Mediator between God and men – the only One who could stand between the two and make peace with the sacrifice of Himself. He intercedes for those for whom He has died. He Mediates the Covenant of God’s Everlasting Grace. Where we would have stood on our own condemned to death for our sin, He now stands as a substitute, giving His own life to atone for ours and presenting that to God the Judge, who declares us right with Him (justified) when we trust Christ to save us.
Prophet, Priest, and King
Jesus is a prophet, declaring to us the Word of God as He presents Himself to us, the very living Word of God. Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek, a new and everlasting High Priest who offered Himself as the supreme sacrifice for His people in order to reconcile them to God. And He is the King of Kings, the ruler of all Creation, in Whom the whole world and creation consists. He is above all and everything was created by Him for His good pleasure.
The disciples referred to Jesus as “Rabbi”, a phrase which means teacher. They were His “disciples”, learners or followers. He was the teacher. Thus He teaches us from the Word about our need for Him and our only hope of salvation.
The Way, the Truth, and the Life
Jesus is the only Way to God. The early church in fact was known as “those of the Way.” I wish that had stuck! He is also the Truth. God cannot lie, there is no deceit in Him, He is light, pure, holy, spotless, and immutable. He is also the Life. To know Him is to have eternal life. Without Him there exists but death and judgment. With Him there is life eternal.
And finally the Chalcedonian Creed of A.D. 451 affirms:
We then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the prophets from the beginning have declared concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers handed down to us.