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Who is Jesus Really - Man Myth or Messiah?
It's THE question. In fact, it's the biggest question facing the world today. Was Jesus a man, myth or Messiah? Historical footnote or historical turning point? Religious guru or God revealed? Opinions swirl about this mysterious manger-born man. Walk into any bookstore and you'll see shelves lined with conspiracy theories threatening to unravel the very fabric of Christian faith. Do you have a clear picture of who He is? More importantly, can you articulate why you believe the way you do? In this series, Chip Ingram unveils the true identity of this mystery man from the pages of Scripture. So before you marginalize Him as a mere man, write Him off as a myth, or embrace Him as Messiah, you should discover who He is - really.More from this series
I want to talk about this Jesus who died and came back from the dead and, what is He like? What would it be like to meet Him? The risen Lord. If He was here today, what would it be like?
And we pick up this historical account in Revelation chapter 1. If you will, open your Bibles, go all the way to the end, the last book, Revelation chapter 1. And we pick up the historical account in verse 9, where he says, “I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are ours in Jesus,” that’s what it was like to be a Christian then.
By the way, that little word, the, “the” article controls all of those things. It’s the suffering, the kingdom, the patient endurance – they all go together if you’re a Christian right now.
“And I was on the island of Patmos because” – why? “the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” So we learn who is writing – John. We learn where he’s at – this island of Patmos. And we learn why – the Word of God is being preached and the testimony about Jesus has people in a rough spot.
So now – when? Verse 10, “On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit,” we don’t know exactly what that means, whether God took him somewhere but he’s in an altered state of consciousness or Jesus is appearing to him in some way where he is getting revelation or truth.
“And it was the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, and which said to me: ‘Write on a scroll what you see and then send it to the seven churches.’” And then you have all seven churches, all historical churches, on a trade route that if you went there in that day, you would go to the first one and go right around that trade route.
So it’s an historical book to an historical person, an historical time with writing. Jesus is going to appear to him, but it won’t be Jesus, the Jewish carpenter. It won’t be the Jesus hanging on the cross. It won’t even be Jesus in the resurrected body. It will be the glorified Jesus and He says, “I want you to look, John, I want you to see who I really am, because My identity is under attack, the Church is under attack, you might be discouraged, and then what you see, I want you to write for this generation of Christians, and for all those who will follow.”
And as you turn the page, we pick it up in verse 12 and John will give us what is known as the unveiling or the apocalypse – that’s what that word means – of Jesus Christ. It’s, “the Revelation.” He says, “I want to unveil Jesus at a deeper, more significant level than ever before.”
And so he responds in verse 12, “I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands,” now, look in your Bible; skip down to verse 20, and you glance while I talk.
And so John is looking and there are these seven golden lampstands and in a minute, we will find there is the appearance of one like the son of man in the midst of them. And these seven lampstands represent those seven churches. And Jesus is going to speak to John in the midst of these churches.
“And among the lampstands was someone like a son of man,” well, what did He look like? “He was dressed in a robe reaching down to His feet and with a gold sash around His chest. His head and His hair were white like wool, and as white as snow, and His eyes were like blazing fire.”
Literally, the text is fire was shooting out of His eyes. “His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of rushing waters.” Like being right next to Niagara Falls or Victoria Falls [makes waterfall noises].
“In His right hand He held the seven stars,” and if you skim down to verses 19 and 20, you understand these seven lampstands represent the seven churches, and the stars are the word for angel or messenger is the person responsible for the oversight of these churches, and He holds these people who are precious to Him in His right hand, which is one of power and of strength.
“And out of His mouth came a sharp, double-edged sword. And His face was like the sun shining in all of its glory.”
This is the resurrected Christ, written to a persecuted Church, written to people who say they love God with all of their heart and following Him in a day when it meant their life.
And what Jesus is saying to John is, “John, you have to be clear on who I am. The only thing that will sustain you – relationships won’t; jobs won’t; your health won’t; people who say they are committed to you forever, sometimes they walk out of your life. John, the pain in this world and the suffering in this world and things that happen in time – you’ve got to look at them through all of eternity. And the only thing that is stable, the infinite reference point in all of the universe is Me. And so what I want you to do, John, is see Me more clearly than ever before and then I want you to articulate very clearly everything you see.”
And some of the symbols and some of the pictures are so vividly pulled out of Old Testament documents and Old Testament prophecies. And some of them are pulled about what Jesus will do in the future. So let’s examine: Who does Jesus say that He really is?
While He walked on the earth, there was a time when the popularity was growing and He asked the question, “Who do men say that I am?” And some said, “A prophet,” some said, “a teacher,” some said this, some said that.
But He got His disciples all to Himself and He said, “What about you guys? Who do you say that I am?” And they got it right. They couldn’t grasp how big, but, “You’re the Christ; You’re the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
And now, literally, you know what you have before you? You have Jesus saying, “This is who I say that I am.” And so as I studied these passages, I broke it apart into His general appearance. And then His dress. And then His eyes and His feet and His voice.
And what I have tried to do, is if I could summarize the very words I think that would come out of Jesus’ mouth about Him saying, “This is who I say that I am,” this would be it. So let’s look at a picture of the risen Christ.
His general appearance? This phrase: the son of man. The term “son of man” comes from Daniel chapter 7, verses 13 and 14. It’s a prophecy about the coming Messiah. In fact, follow along as I read. Imagine now Daniel looking hundreds of years into the future before Christ even comes and then now, notice what he says about this phrase: the son of man.
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. And He approached the Ancient of Days,” speaking of God, “and He was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory, and sovereign power; all dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
So John hears this voice and he is overwhelmed. And he looks and it’s not like a creature or an angel. It’s like a son of man. This is the Messiah! This is the Jesus that I knew but it’s very different than the Jesus that I laid my head against His chest that last night. This is different than the Jesus that we took long walks and talks together. This is different than the Jesus who said to the woman, “Go and sin no more, and neither do I condemn you.”
He is one like the son of man. But his mind goes back to try to describe it like the Ancient of Days. Jesus is saying, through this phrase: the son of man – by the way, it was one of His pet names for Himself. When Jesus referred to Himself, how often He said, “For even the son of man, for even the son of man.”
Son of God – His divinity. Son of man – His humanity. The message here is this: “I am,” Jesus speaking, “the Messiah, the Son of God and the Son of Man, the sovereign Ruler of all people and nations and men of every language will worship Me.”
His message is, “John, regardless of all the false prophets and all the books that ever come out now or later, I am fully God, I am fully man, I am the promised Messiah, and one day I will reign.”
And then He goes on to His dress. And His dress is a robe and golden sash. And the robe, the literal word for the robe is it means coming down to the feet. And only three groups of people ever wore a robe like this. One, the high priest did, especially with a sash. Another was princes or kings. And then one commentator says this actual same word for a long robe was used in ancient Greek literature for a type of linen that Daniel wore when Daniel came and gave his messages.
And so what it’s saying here is that Jesus speaks and says, “I am the greatly honored One who exercises all authority and judgment as the once and for all High Priest, Judge King, Prophet Messiah, and Messenger of God.”
Hebrews 5:5 to 10 – and when you read that, you’re going to find that He didn’t make Himself a high priest. And you’re going to read in that passage how that in the days on the earth, He, being fully man, would cry out to God with anguish and cries and tears, plural, in the days – multiple times when He was alone with the Father, when He sent the disciples ahead, He was praying and God heard Him, not because He was God, but He lived in perfect dependency on the Holy Spirit, lived a righteous, pure life empowered by the Spirit. And His heart bled for the needs and the hurts that He saw around Him.
And this is a picture where Jesus is saying, “Yes,” fully God, Son of man, Messiah. “But I am the once and for all great High Priest.” And in the Jewish culture, the high priest’s job was to do what? Once a year come in and come before the very holy of holies and take the sins and the needs of all the people and bring them before a holy God. And there were all kinds of ritual that they went through and the shedding of blood.
And Jesus is saying – here’s the message – “John, I am the once and for all High Priest. It’s finished. It’s done. I see your tears, I know your hurts, I am bringing your needs and your struggles and all the issues in your life. And you think God doesn’t care because you’re on this island.”
Or you think God doesn’t care because your mate left you, or you think God doesn’t care because you prayed and prayed about a disease or an issue in your life and you know what? Nothing seems to change.
I am telling you, I am your great High Priest. And I take your needs in the midst of the Church, I take your needs to the Father and I am interceding for you. I care, I love you, I am for you. That’s who the risen Christ is, in all of His glory, in all of His power.
And then we move on and we look at His head and His hair. And they are white as wool and white as snow and white has a clear picture of holiness and purity everywhere in Scripture. But you might put in your notes, “Daniel 7:9.” This exact phrase: “And His hair was white as wool,” is reference to the Ancient of Days, God Himself.
And so here, Jesus is saying, “I am the holy Eternal One who is before all things. I am the all-wise, all-knowing God of time and eternity.”
And Jesus is saying to John, in the midst of all this pressure and this craziness, “I am the Messiah! But I am your High Priest who cares. But I want you to know, I am eternal, I am holy, I am all-wise.” This wisdom. “I know the beginning from the end.”
He is saying here, “The Ancient of Days and I are one.” Translation in our day: “I’ve got it under control. Rest. Trust. I am the God of eternity. My purposes are never thwarted.
When you see Me in this resurrected, glorified body; the Ancient of Days and I are one. We are in control. The purposes of God will not be thwarted by terrorism, or by books, or by broken marriages, or by struggles, or by depression or drug addictions. I have the power. I have been dead, I have come to life, I have broken the power of death. I have broken the power of sin. I have broken the power of Satan. And I am the all-wise God, available to you, resurrected.”
He goes on to say His were blazing, or literally, shooting out fire. And it’s a picture of intensity. It’s a picture of judgment because the blazing eyes and the feet kind of go together, that are bronze. And the bronze has the picture of judgment. Remember, it was a brazen or bronze altar where the atonement for sin would occur and where the sin payment occurred in the tabernacle.
And notice what He says here, “I am the righteous judge of all the earth, whose judgment is just, because I see all things as they are, not as they appear to be.”
Flip over in your Bible, will you, to Revelation chapter 2. Picking it up, skim down to verse 18. Go through and look at each one of these and you will realize each one of these correspond to a message that He has to each one of the churches except one.
And here in chapter 2, notice what He says, “To the angel of the church,” or, “the messenger of the church at Thyatira: These are the words of the Son of God,” now notice the description of Him, “whose eyes are,” same word, “a blazing fire and whose feet are burnished bronze.”
And first, He’s got a good commendation. “I know your deeds, your love and your faith, your service and your perseverance, that you’re now doing more than you did at first.” You’re making progress!
But, “nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate the woman Jezebel,” she was a false teacher of the day, “who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching,” a false teacher leads people into false practice, “by her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.”
And Jesus is saying here, “I am the righteous judge of all the earth. And I am in the midst of My Church, and I want My Church to reflect Me, and My eyes are like fire, then I shoot through the way things appear and I go to the heart of bone and marrow and motive and who you really are that no one sees. And what I long for and what I demand is purity.”
And the application here, because so often it happens to us believers, sexual sin and idolatry are always connected. And whether it’s homosexuality or whether it’s adultery or whether it’s porn on the internet, male or female; whether it’s lusting in your heart – sexual immorality is always this idol pulling.
You say, How is it an idol? Because at the heart of sexual immorality, whether it’s visual, whether it’s in your mind, whether it’s on a screen, or whether it’s another person – you know what it’s all about? It’s all about you!
It’s all about lust, it’s all about me, gratifying my needs! Guess who the idol is? You! And the sex and the pictures are filling big holes and big gaps and big struggles that we have that give a quick fix and a lot of long pain. And about twenty-five percent of pastors in America are addicted to porn. And research says forty to fifty percent of most men in America visit pornographic sites on a regular basis.
This is so widespread in the Church, but not talked about. And here is what I will tell you. You can’t grow in Christ and have that struggle in your life. You just, you know what? It’s an oxymoron. So you have to deal with those things.
The number one sin in the Church that was judged was – what? Hypocrisy. And it’s the one that kind of gets glossed over. I think we think sexual immorality is the worst thing that could ever happen. I’ve got news. Spiritual sins usually have a lot worse negative impact than even physical sins. Both are wrong.
And I thought to myself, What would happen if God would lay bare, through His piercing eyes, issues in my life up on a screen where my real motive and what is going through my mind, not just how I appear? And what would happen if that happened to every believer to the point that we would repent and we would begin to do the right thing for the right reason? And when we weren’t we would say, “Oh, God, I’m sorry!” instead of just pretending?
He’s the resurrected Christ. This is not Jesus, meek and mild. His eyes are a blazing fire. His feet are bronze, glowing. This is that picture of judgment. He goes, “I am the all-powerful judge who will judge all creatures, visible and invisible, and trample the wicked under My feet.”
Psalm 91 you have that picture of when there is victory it’s like trampling the wicked under your feet. Revelation chapter 20. This is a picture of Jesus on the white horse at the very end and He says: all those things that make you crazy and make me crazy, the terrorist who walks in with a bomb and walks into a wedding of innocent people and explodes the bomb and kills thirty-nine people. Whoever that person was who took the nine-year-old and the eleven-year-old where they found the bones.
All these horrendous things that make this world so evil, Jesus says the day is coming when the resurrected Christ, not the One who came to say, “I forgive you. I came, I paid for the sin, whosoever can come. If you choose to reject Me, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do, I’m going to make all things right. I’m going to make all things right and the things you can see, I’m going to make all things right; and the things you can’t see.”
And you can read Revelation 20:11 to 15 with fear and trembling, because He comes and it’s by the Word of His power. And He takes wickedness and He tramples it under His feet. And whether it’s demons or whether it’s Satan or whether it’s kings or whether it’s nations or whether it’s regular people like you and me. And all things are exposed and He judges them.
This resurrected Christ is a judge! So often I think the Church, we have gotten so in love with the Jesus of the gospels – when was the last time you worshipped the Jesus of Revelation chapter 1, Revelation chapter 4, and Revelation chapter 5?
Myriads and myriads and myriads of angels bow down and says, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!” And they hide their face. And when people meet the resurrected Jesus, they fall on their face. But He is everybody’s good buddy. Self-help, cosmic vending machine. That’s what He has become in our day.
I’ve got news for you. People who think that’s who Jesus is are in for a rude awakening. A one whose feet are blazing bronze judgment, whose eyes are a fire, and though He is a High Priest with great compassion and a Messiah who came to save all of us from our sin, He will judge us according to – what? According to the voice of His Word.
And that’s where we go, with the voice of many waters. Isn’t it interesting, God’s voice? In the Old Testament, it talks about listening to His still, small voice. When Jesus was walking upon the earth He says, “I teach nothing except in parables.” His voice is, in a way, searching for those whose hearts are receptive.
The day is coming where it is not a still, small voice and it’s not going to be in parables. The truth of the resurrected Christ is going to be so loud that it is going to absolutely drown out all the superficiality and all the noise that clutter up your brain and mine. And the voice everyone will hear for all time is His voice. And no one will wonder who it is.
And no one will ever be in question about who is speaking or by what authority. Jesus is saying, “I am the One who spoke the world into existence out of nothing and upholds it by the Word of My power.”
Hebrews 11:3 says, “We believe,” the first tenet of faith is, “that God produced all that is out of nothing.” He spoke it into existence. It’s an amazing thing! He spoke it into existence. He spoke and light came into being.
The voice who spoke, “Let there be light!” He’s that, He’s big, big, big, big! Big enough to solve all of your problems, big enough to meet every need. But so big that you need to understand you are very small, I am very small. And we respond to the resurrected Christ with reverence and fear and humility, because His voice speaks and His message is, “Listen to Me. Believe Me.” Isn’t that what His voice is? “Believe Me. Don’t believe all the stuff you’re hearing everywhere. Believe Me.”
Then His right hand, we talked about the stars. That’s those messengers. And the point person for every church, the messengers of the Church, He says, “I am the Good Shepherd who will protect and provide for My bride, the Church. And My messengers, angels, by My great power and by My strength.”
And Jesus is saying, you almost get this picture of whoooaaa! His voice and the bronze and it’s just like this. And then He goes, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait a second. Wait a second. Wait a second. Wait a second. Am I that holy? Yeah. Am I that unapproachable? Yeah.
“But I want to remind you, I am the Jesus who is the Good Shepherd and no one can take you out of My hands. I am the Good Shepherd and My sheep know My voice.
And although I have unlimited power and I am the One who spoke that light of thirteen billion light years, just what we can see, the messenger and point person in every, single church and every, single person including the person who happens to be seated in your seat is the object of My love and My affection and I dictate and direct all My power and all My energy and all My strength to fulfill all My purposes for you, because that’s how special you are. But I need you to understand who I really am.”
That’s what He’s saying to John. And then out of His mouth comes this two-edged sword. The sword is called, “The Word of God” in Ephesians 6. And John chapter 1, “In the beginning was the Word,” right? “And the Word was with God and the Word was God,” speaking of Jesus. “And the Word became flesh,” verse 14 of John 1, “and dwelt among us. And He explained the Father,” who is that? Jesus.
And so this word that comes out of His mouth, Jesus is saying to us, “I am the Word made flesh who dwelt among you, and explained the Father, full of grace and truth. And it is by My Word that I will now judge you, my people, and by My Word, I will destroy My enemies.”
And His Word is the way that He speaks to us today.
His Word defines reality. Here’s the message. Your relationship to His Word is a one-to-one relationship to your relationship with the Lord. You are not who you think you are with Him. You are what His Word says you are with Him.
It was Jesus who said, “Man won’t live by bread alone, but every word that proceeds from the Father’s mouth.” It is in Hebrews 4 that, “This Word is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit and joint and marrow; and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before God, who lays all things bare.” It is by being in this Word, not like you’ve got to, you have to, two chapters a day keep the devil away.
It is about a loving relationship where Jesus speaks out of His mouth to His children in the midst of this absolutely wacko world.
It is in His Word you find strength, and it is in His Word you endure suffering. It’s through His Word that you grow, it’s by His Word that a newborn babe longs for the pure milk, that you’re transformed. It’s by His Word. Whatever your relationship to His Word is, I will tell you, that is your relationship to the Lord.
Finally he says that, he gives us a picture of His face. And I can’t help but believe, I wasn’t there, obviously. But I just can’t help but believe that as John saw all this and the final thing, when he really stared into His face, bang! he went right back to Mark chapter 9 and the Transfiguration, where, remember what happened? He was metamorphosized. And Elijah was over here and Moses was over here and all of a sudden, Jesus unveils His glory, and the light comes streaming out of Him, out of His face, as bright as the sun, and, remember, hearing God’s voice, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” And all of a sudden, John is going, Whoo, this is the Jesus that I walked with! This is the Jesus, who is the Son of God and the Son of Man. This is the Jesus that is my High Priest. This is the Jesus whose eyes pierced through to the very soul! This is the Jesus who is going to be my judge. This is the Jesus whose voice is powerful and mighty waters.
And this is the Jesus who I remember told me, “Don’t be afraid, John. I have called you My friend. I love you. I came to save you. No longer do I call you slaves, but I call you My friends. For a slave doesn’t know what His master is doing, but everything I have heard from the Father I have made known to you.”
And as he sees His face shining, the message is, “John, I am the radiant, brilliant, glorified, Second Person of the Godhead who did not consider it robbery to veil My glory for a season on earth, to purchase people from every tribe, nation, tongue, and to spend eternity with Me forever.”
And how did John respond? Did John put his hand out and go, “Oh! Well, thanks, Jesus! You’re my buddy! Everything is going to be great. Fantastic! I love Jesus! Do you love Jesus? Praise the Lord! I’ve got a big, black Bible. I’ve got stickers on the back of my car. Do you have a fish? I’ve got a fish. You can put it on your car. Isn’t Jesus great? Hey, man! Isn’t it so cool to be a Christian?
You meet the resurrected Christ, you don’t jazz around. “When I saw Him,” John said, “I fell at His feet as though dead.” That’s what happens when you see Jesus as He is, at this moment, today. I fell at His feet, as though dead.
And then I love this. Boy, if we ended here, “Then He placed His right hand on me,” the same right hand that can hold all the Church and all that power can be tender enough to touch one individual person in their need like you and me, and comforting words, “Do not be afraid” – why? I’ve got it under control, John. “I’m the First and the Last.” The Alpha and the Omega. The all-wise One.
“I am the Living One” – what does that mean? It means I am available 24/7. I am available late at night, in the ICU, when you get the oncology report, when the marriage is bad, when the marriage is good, when the kids are well, when the kids are bad, when the job is great, when the job is terrible.I am just here 24/7. The resurrected, all-powerful, living God of the universe, available to you.
“I was dead, but behold, I live and I’m alive forever and ever!” And, by the way, never forget this: “I hold the keys. I have the authority over death and Hades.”
And so what do we learn? John got a glimpse that was long and full. And I bet in the back of his mind, that passage that, I’m not sure who the writer of Hebrews was, it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God. And I think the fear of God overwhelmed him and then the grace of God nurtured him and picked him up.
And I think he heard the words, “Don’t be afraid,” not because you shouldn’t be, but because of how much I love you and who I am. And He said, “John, what will sustain the Church in persecution, what will sustain the Church when My identity is in question, what will sustain people in the midst of their pain and all the things they are going to go through is knowing that I am in control, I am coming back, I have power. The deal is already done. The victory is already won.
“And by the way, write all this down; get it really, really clear because I’m going to tell you what you see. Then I’m going to tell you what is to come. And by the way, John, make sure you let those people know who say they are a part of these lampstands, they say they are believers, they say they are followers, but My piercing eyes, I see through it all. And they are followers in name only and lips only and not in deed and truth. And they are phonies. John, make sure they know this is who they are worshipping. No room for hypocrisy. No room for game-playing.
“I will come with feet of bronze and with blazing eyes and I will be, not the merciful Savior. When I come back, I am the righteous Judge. And everyone will get exactly what they deserve. And that means every, single person will be consumed by My holiness, unless there is a veil of blood between them and Me that covers just like it did on the Passover. My very own blood, a free gift, for whosoever would believe.
“And for them, they will be a part of My family forever and ever and ever, not because they were good, not because they went to church, not because they read the Bible, not because they gave to the United Way, and not because they were a shade better, morally, than the average person next to them. It’s because they have been forgiven and received the gift of the resurrected Christ.”
And so the three questions I have to ask you, number one, are you ready to meet this Christ right now? Second, if you have never met this Jesus, would you be willing, on this day, to believe He brought you so you can repent and turn from your sin and turn your back on that life, receive the gift of eternal life by asking Christ to come into your life and say, “That’s the first step toward following the rest of my days”? That’s what is called, “becoming a Christian,” or, “born again.”
See, it’s not about church. When that happens, you will want to be here or somewhere that teaches the Bible to grow.
And finally, maybe you’re like I have been multiple times in my life. You’re a believer and just, over the years, or over the months, or over the weeks, your intellectual belief system and words say this and your life says that. And God brought you to say, “You know something? My blazing fire sees it all. I think we need to get this in alignment. Just own your stuff. I’m not surprised. I’m not shocked. I love you. I forgive you. But I will hold you accountable. So you need to repent.”
I want to be a follower of Christ, not just someone who intellectually believes in what He said. So do you know what you need to do? All the power of this resurrection is available to you. You don’t have to imagine, but the biggest question before you and me is this: How will you respond to the resurrected Christ?