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About this series
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 or myth? 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.