Who Do Men Say That I Am?
From the series Who is Jesus Really - Man Myth or Messiah?
Perhaps the greatest question facing the church today is “Who is Jesus?” Scholars, religious leaders, authors, movie makers are all attempting to answer this one question. Chip begins this series answering this one question: “Who Is Jesus?”
This broadcast is currently not available online. It is available to purchase on our store.
Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
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, 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
The biggest issue in the religious world today is, three words, you can summarize it. Three words with a question mark. Who is Jesus? That’s not just in North America. All around the world, the biggest issue is: Who is Jesus? I could add a fourth word. Who is Jesus, really?
And it’s interesting, in the book of Mark, Mark is written to a Roman audience. The book of Mark, from beginning to end – it’s sixteen chapters – breaks right in the middle of chapter 8. And in chapter 8, it’s the apex of the book and he asks a fundamental question of His followers. Look at verse 27.
In chapter 8, Jesus says, “And He went out along with His disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way,” you get the idea He is just walking with them, He’s talking with them, “He questioned His disciples, saying, ‘Who do the people say that I am?’”
He has done miracles, blind have seen, the dead have been raised, five thousand people were fed, later four thousand people were fed, the religious leaders have attacked Him. And He is walking with the disciples and after all of this, and imagine, if you will, the life of Jesus going through the book of Mark.
And He’s right in the middle of the book and He turns to them and He says, “Boys, so who do people think that I am? What is the scuttlebutt out there? When people hang out in the downtown Jerusalem coffee shops and they think about, ‘Hey, what do you think about this carpenter, this itinerant preacher?’ – what are they saying?”
Verse 28 it says, “And they told Him, ‘Some think You’re John the Baptist;’” option A, “some think Elijah;” option B, “and others, one of the prophets,” option C.
I want to look at the context of this question, I want to look at the timing of this question, and I want to look at the location. Why did He ask this question at Caesarea Philippi?
So let’s just start with chapter 8 and let’s find out what was happening before this occurred. Chapter 8, verse 1, “During those days, another large crowd gathered, since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people. They have already been with Me three days and they have nothing to eat. And if I send them hungry now, they will collapse on their way home.’ His disciples answered, ‘But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?’ ‘How many loaves do you have?’ Jesus asked. ‘Seven,’ they replied.”
Now, observation. “During those days, another large crowd gathered.” You need to know, if you would move back behind chapter 8, that there were five thousand people, we had a similar situation, and the five thousand people, they were in a Jewish arena. They were a place where all the Jews gathered. And do you remember? He had two loaves, three fish – how many people did He feed? Five thousand. How many baskets were left over? Can anybody tell me? Twelve. Does twelve, like, ring a bell at all for anybody, in terms of, like, how many tribes were there? Twelve tribes.
Does anyone think about bread? Manna? “I am the bread of life;” manna from heaven? When God was authenticating His Word through Moses and they needed food, the manna from heaven, came from heaven, came from God. Do you understand, when Jesus fed the five thousand and they picked up twelve baskets, what the message was? “I am the bread of life, I am the One who has come down from heaven, and I am sufficient for every and all Jews who would come to Me as the Messiah. So much so that there are twelve baskets you pick up afterwards,” And it’s a picture of His sufficiency for all Jews of all time who would come.
Now He is teaching not in a Jewish arena, but He’s teaching in a more Gentile arena, where there are both Jews and Gentiles. And there are needs and He’s popular, large crowd, it’s mushrooming. And so three days, can you imagine going to a three-day seminar with no breaks and no food? That’s what we are talking about here.
And so He looks at them and they are hanging on every word – why? Because He is giving them words of life. And He turns to the disciples and says, “You know, we need to get some food going here!” And basically, they are a real quick study, kind of like we are, going, You know, where are you going to get any food? We don’t think You could ever do this more than once.
And so you know the story, so, “How much do you have? Give Me what you have.” He then breaks it and how many people get fed? Four thousand. And how many baskets are picked up? Seven! Yes, that’s very good.
What does the Word “seven” in Scripture, and historically, have the idea of? Perfection or wholeness. “I am the bread of life that has come down from heaven, not only for the twelve tribes and the Jewish nation, but for whosoever would come and believe.” Are you tracking with me?
Then notice, verse 11. The Pharisees come and they begin to question Jesus. They are seeing miracles that are just off the charts. And so they come to test Him and they ask Him for a sign from heaven. And you kind of want to put your hands on your hips and go, Okay, four thousand people. A few loaves of bread. Like, what sign are you really looking for, guys?
And so He sighed deeply and He says, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it,” then He left them. See, they’re not really responsive. The test wasn’t so they could get an A. The test was try to get Jesus to make an F.
Now He is getting in a boat and He is with the disciples and He’s a teacher. What do teachers do? They use every moment, every time to teach.
So as you pick it up, look at verse 14. “The disciples,” here’s a little historical background, “the disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for the one loaf they had with them in the boat.”
Now, Jesus is teaching, but Mark wants us to know the historical landscape is, By the way, they don’t have a lot of food in the boat. Jesus teaches, “‘Be careful,’ Jesus warned, ‘watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.’”
In other words, there is a tiny something in the teaching of the Pharisees – yeast – something that will grow in your heart and will just destroy your ability to believe and trust. And there is a yeast, there is something in the way that Herod looks at life.
And as you study Scripture, the yeast of Pharisees is hypocrisy. And the yeast of Herod is worldliness. Hypocrisy, pretending to be more than we are, will always not allow us to see Jesus for who He is and follow Him; and worldliness will always put barriers before our eyes so we cannot see who He really is.
And so they discussed with one another. So He says, “Beware, I just came teaching. The Pharisees, they just attacked Me. Beware, guys. Those are religious leaders. When you were little Jewish boys growing up in the synagogue, and you heard them and you heard them pray on the street corners and you see how many hundreds of verses they have memorized and they are in the position of authority,” He says, “guys, be careful! There is something behind that that can really send you south.”
You know the Bible is not written by men because no one would put this much indicting information about the real followers. So He says that and so after He says, “Watch out,” notice in verse 16, they discussed with one another and said, “It’s because we don’t have any bread.”
Okay. “Aware of their discussion,” verse 17, “Jesus asked them, ‘Why are you talking about not having bread?’” Now get this, “Do you still not see or understand?” See what? “Don’t you see who I am? Don’t you understand who I am?”
And then He goes to say, “Are your hearts hardened?” That’s why, by the way, you can’t see Jesus. The ultimate reason people do not see who Jesus is our hearts are hardened.
He says, “Do you have eyes, but fail to see? Do you have ears and fail to hear? And don’t you remember?” He says, “What part of our experience together are you not getting? Don’t you remember when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets?”
Socratic method, He asked a question. Their answer: Twelve. “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets?” They answered, “Seven.” Notice this, “Do you still not understand?” Understand what? “Understand what I’m trying to communicate! I am the bread of life! I am the Messiah! I have come!”
So, four thousand people have been fed, attacked by the Pharisees, the disciples don’t get it. They don’t see; they don’t understand. Now, notice what happens in the text, verse 22. “They came to Bethsaida. And some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village, and when He had spit on the man’s eyes and put His hands on him, He said, ‘Do you see anything?’ He looked up and he said, ‘I see people, they look like trees walking around.’”
A man has an encounter with Jesus, he asks for help, Jesus interacts with him in such a way. Before, he was completely blind, it was all dark. And now he sees, but he doesn’t see fully; he doesn’t see clearly.
Are you starting to catch why this illustration is here? Now, notice what happens. Then they looked up and so he said, “Once more, Jesus put His hands on him,” so he gets another touch, another interaction with Jesus, “and his eyes were opened and his eyes were restored and he saw everything clearly.
Jesus sent him home saying, ‘Do not go into the village,” and Jesus was with His disciples going from this village, to Caesarea Philippi, and while He was there He said, “Who do people say that I am?”
You see what Jesus has done? He has taken this moment to say, “Disciples, you don’t get it. You don’t see Me clearly. You’re like this blind man. You have had encounters with Me, but you see Me like a tree walking. You see, but you don’t see clearly.”
He has another encounter, then he sees clearly. So now, to help them see, He says, “Okay, who do other people say that I am?” Well, you get John the Baptist, Elijah, maybe a prophet, and you know the next question: “Who do you think that I am?”
But here’s what I want you to see. The context here helps us understand this question: Who do men say that I am? is the greatest teacher in the world bringing people to a point where they can answer it for themselves correctly.
The second is, you need to know about the timing. Where does this come in the book? The theme of the book of Mark, written to a Roman audience, is following Christ on the road of discipleship. This is about being a follower, a radical disciple. This is about people who go from the kingdom of darkness, now into the kingdom of light. And the book of Mark is: Follow Me!
Well, there are two questions, in terms of timing, you always have to ask to follow anyone, right? Question number one: Who are you? Question number two: Where are you going?
Why would anyone follow anyone if you didn’t know who they really are and where they’re going? And if you study the book of Mark carefully, you can do it just like this: Chapter 1 through chapter 8 answers the question: Who am I? Chapter 8 from the middle and the end of the book is: Where am I going?
Who am I? I am the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, God in the flesh. Where am I going? I am going to the cross. I am going to suffer and die, pay for the penalty of sins of all men of all time and then out of My death, sins will be covered. I will be raised from the dead by the power of God, and I will provide life and their thirst quenched for whosoever would come.
And He says to the disciples, “In order for you to be life givers like Me, first, you need to know who I am. Second, follow Me on My journey to the cross.”
Because if you keep studying chapter 8, if you get really excited, and you think, I’ve got the first eight chapters down, you go home this week and He’ll say, “If any man comes after Me, let him do” – what? “take up his cross and follow Me.”
And then He’ll say, “Because it’s only logical. Because if you try and keep your life and do your own thing in this temporal world, you’ll lose it. But if you lose your life for My sake, you’ll find it.”
So we have a profound context, you have clear timing. And then this is done in an interesting location. Why does the author let us know this is happening in Caesarea Philippi? Jesus has been teaching them and teaching them and I bet there are times where He is getting a little bit frustrated, because they are not quite, “Do you not see? Do you not understand?”
And by the time they get to Caesarea Philippi, this is a place where, if you know historically, there are a bunch of caves. And it was a place where the occult was rampant. It was a place where people had secret practices. You can go there today and there are little waterways and they have inlets where people have all different kind of things carved, where they would offer sacrifices and there were occult practices and idols of all kinds.
And so, literally, when He asked them the big question, “Who do people say that I am?” it’s almost as though there is a large painting behind Him that says, “Here are all your options. Here are all these idols, all these cults, all these ‘isms.’ Here are all these people with all these belief systems. Who do people say that I am compared to this?”
It would be like Him going to some big New Age place and say, “Now, there are many opinions about Who is Jesus? Who do you say that I am in light of all these possibilities?” Do you get it?
Do you understand where we are going and do you now understand how profound it is, in verse 27, when He says to them, “Who do men say that I am?”
Because the fact is, a genuine relationship begins with an accurate view of the other person. When you think about dating someone, when you think about marrying someone, when you think about going into business with someone – have you ever had a relationship with someone that you thought, This is looking really good and I feel really comfortable, and you’re either going to get involved in some significant relationship or friendship or marriage and then you find a piece of information that brings into question their whole character and their whole motive? And what happens? Whoo.
See, Jesus understood with these followers, who would become the foundation of transforming the entire world, first and foremost, they had to know in their heart of hearts and with their intellect, and have opportunity to really explore and expose: Who is this Jesus? And you know what? In our day, you need to do the same thing.
I don’t mean intellectually agree with what you have been taught from childhood. I mean when the question is: Who is Jesus, really? there ought to be an intellectual, a volitional, and a heart response of absolute conviction that is built on your own evaluation of what He is, what He has done, what He said, and the evidence over the last couple thousand years.
Because there were multiple views of who Jesus was when He was walking the earth, and there are multiple views now.
I just did a little study out of the book of Mark and I have six different views of who, while He was walking on the earth, these people saw the miracles. Right? These people heard Him teach. And here are six different views, just out of the book of Mark.
John the Baptist, number one, he taught. “He was one who was mightier than I,” but later sent his disciples to evaluate Jesus’ true identity. He says, “He is one who is mightier than I,” then he says, “I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
So early on, John goes, “Man! This is it!” Well, he is in prison and he is having a little bit of a bad day. So in Matthew 11:1 and 2, it says, “After Jesus had finished instructing His twelve, He went on from there to teach and to preach in the town of Galilee. And when John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples and,” - remember what he said? “Hey, are You the one? Or should we wait for another?”
And Jesus’ response was, He reaches out of Isaiah, Old Testament passage, and He says, “You go tell John the blind see, the poor are fed, the dead are raised; and blessed is the one that doesn’t stumble over Me.” His identity, He rooted back into the promises of God. But even John the Baptist…
The second group is His family. His family thought He was delusional, insane, out of touch with reality from Mark 3:21. It says, “When His family heard about this,” they [Jesus and the disciples] didn’t have time to eat and He was doing all this preaching, “when they heard about it, they went to take custody of Him.”
Basically, His brothers are going, “Hey! We need a white jacket, we need a good clinic, we need a good psychologist, I think this guy needs drugs in a hurry. We’ve got to set Him down. He’s nuts! He’s delusional!” That’s an interesting view, isn’t it?
Notice what it says in Mark 3:22. It says, “And the teachers of the Law who came back down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebub; by the prince of demons.’” - He is driving out demons. They couldn’t argue with the purity of His lifestyle or His power. So you’ve got a lot of different versions here.
The political leaders, Herod, conjectured that Jesus was John the Baptist risen from the dead, in Mark 6. All he heard was He is doing this, He’s doing this, He’s doing this, and Herod’s going, Boy, I killed John the Baptist. Who could have such power, other than if John the Baptist came back from the dead.
The general population was divided in their opinion. Some thought Jesus to be Elijah, as we saw; some thought maybe an Old Testament prophet in Mark chapter 6, verse 15.
And then it was very interesting, the crowds that followed Him perceived Him to be a great teacher and a worker of miracles in Mark 2:12.
Remember the man who was lowered through the roof and the four buddies? And he gets up from his mat. It says that he got up and he walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God saying, “We have never seen anyone like this.” He is holding the biggest, greatest seminars of all time.
But what you need to hear is even in Jesus’ own day, they thought Him anything from demon possessed, to insane, to being maybe a teacher, to the reincarnation of John the Baptist.
And Jesus’ life and words and ministry were all about one singular thing; helping every man, every woman, every child and student understand: This is who I am. And it’s the biggest issue today and it was the biggest issue then, because when things get tough, every one of us has to bet on something. Every one of us has to decide: What is the purpose of life? What will be my hope? What is true? What is false? Why am I here?
And Jesus made outlandish claims, and He said, “I have the life to back it up,” and I am impressed, personally, that the authors of Scripture didn’t hide the fact that there were lots of views of Him and basically said, “Weigh the evidence and explore for yourselves.”
Before we jump into His true identity, I just also observed that it wasn’t just people back then with a variety of views of Jesus. I have lots of file folders and there are about four drawers of what I have studied over the years.
And I could give you thirty-five, forty-five, maybe one hundred different views of Jesus from different groups. There are a zillion groups. But I thought it would be interesting, just in our day, to give a top-level view of maybe the more significant groups of people. How do they answer: Who is Jesus?
Mohammed, in his writing, described Jesus as a virgin-born, miracle working Messiah, who would return in the last days to establish peace throughout the world. That’s from the Quran. But he also taught not to call Jesus the Messiah more than a man and that He could not die for sin. It was absolutely inconceivable in their worldview that He could ever die for sins or that He was God.
So they have a great prophet, a miracle worker – that’s the view of Islam, but that’s not the claims of Jesus.
Christian Science teaches Jesus was human, there was an actual man. But “the Christ” is a divine idea. The idea is that every single person is born with a Christ idea within you. There is this ooey-gooey, light portion deep down within you, and there is no such thing as sin. There is nothing bad in the material world, Christian Science teaches, and you just need to explore the Christ within you. And we all have a Christ within us. There is this good side of all of us. The only problem is the daily paper and the news every night that it sure seems like there is a lot of not good in the world.
So they don’t believe Jesus is an historical figure, necessarily. But they believe there is this concept of goodness that is a light within every person that you just need to discover. That’s their view of Jesus.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus is, in fact, Michael the Archangel and Jesus was God’s first great creation and is, in fact, the brother of Satan or, as he was called earlier, Lucifer.
Now, that’s not exactly what you get when they come door to door, but that’s their doctrine. The truth shall make you free, page forty-nine. They teach Jesus is not God, they teach Jesus is the Son of God. But when they say that, they mean He is also, you know, Satan, Jesus, half-brothers, totally different Jesus. That’s why the apostle Paul would say, “Don’t follow any other Jesus or any other gospel.”
Or the Mormons teach that Jesus is one God in a pantheon of Gods. Mormons are polytheistic. Out of their literature, the articles of faith, this is the mantra of the Mormon faith: As man is God once was, as God is man may become.” In other words, the God that we worship now that is divine, He was once a man. And out of His evolution, spiritual growth, He became a god.
And as God is, as we know Him now, every single man, someday, can become. And that’s why, if you read the literature and you realize that there are many, many, many gods and if you’re a man – ladies, you get left out on this one – but if you’re a man, you can become a god and someday you’ll have your own planet with all of your celestial wives.
Now, that’s a little different picture than you get from the absolutely wonderful commercials on having a solid family, isn’t it?
See, you’ve got to go back to: Who is Jesus, really?
Spiritualists – those people who dabble into the occult, people who channel, people who contact the dead – spiritualists teach that Jesus is an advanced medium. They use - you can talk to these people and they channel and they can use the word “Jesus.”
And Jesus, actually, is just someone who is advanced in contacting the dead and you can channel and talk to different people through the spirit guide, Jesus.
Dan Brown in his book, The Da Vinci Code, teaches that Jesus was married to the goddess Mary Magdalene, and had offspring from her, and Dan Brown teaches that the New Testament documents are a cover-up, a conspiracy to hide that information.
Seventh, the Jesus Seminar was very popular, not so much now, but the Jesus Seminar is a group of liberal scholars and they say that the Jesus of the New Testament is a complete myth – that it was developed by the disciples after the fact to perpetuate their movement.
So, how do you uncover Jesus’ true identity? How are we going to know who He really is?
And what we are going to do is we are going to look at Revelation chapter 1. And the book of Revelation, notice it’s singular, it’s not “Revelations.” The title of the book is in the first verse, “The revelation of Jesus Christ,” follow along, “which God gave Him,” – why? “to show His bondservants the things which must soon take place, and He sent and communicated it” - how? “by His angel to His bondservant John,” – and what did John do? “who testified to,” on parallel or par, “the Word of God and to the testimony of Christ, even to all that he saw,” firsthand, eyewitness.
Here’s the promise for the book, “Blessed is he who reads it and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it, for the time is near.”
“The revelation,” the word “revelation” is “apocalypse.” Do you know what the word “apocalypse” means? It means: an unveiling. Literally. It means to unveil something. It means to show, or expose, bring something into view.
And so, what “the revelation” – it’s the apocalypse, it’s the unveiling, it’s the exposure, it’s the clarity – what? Of Jesus Christ. If you want to know His true identity, if you want to see Him for who He is, if you want to understand the Jesus of the Bible, not only who was in eternity past, not only who was born of a virgin, not only who lived a perfect life, not only who died on a cross and rose from the grave, but if you want to know – unveiled – the Jesus who will return, King of kings and Lord of lords, who will judge all the earth and lay out all of history and be in charge of it, this book says, “We are going to lift the sheet so you can see some of the secret parts of Jesus’ identity that you don’t know yet.”
That’s what the revelation is. God gave to Him, notice it’s also to show the things which must soon take place. That’s the context. The unveiling of Jesus Christ is a book that will reveal, previously unknown secrets of Jesus’ true identity, and will also reveal God’s plan for the ages, things which must soon take place.
And if you want to put a little circle around the word “soon” in your Bible, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to happen in an hour or a day or a year. The word is translated seven times in the book of Revelation as “quickly.”
The idea is: Once it starts, it will happen suddenly and will progress rapidly. And so he says, “This book is an unveiling of who Jesus is in His fullness and an unveiling of God’s plan, historically, for the ages.” That’s the context.
What about the timing? When was this book written? This book was written in A.D. 95. Now you have to get this. John is the last of the apostles. As best we understand, different scholars, depending on Roman or Jewish calendars, somewhere between thirty to thirty-three, Jesus died and rose from the grave.
A.D. 95, now we’ve got sixty-five years, all of John’s buddies are dead, okay? Every single one of them has been martyred. And he is now on the island of Patmos. He has been put in prison there for his faith. That’s the location.
The timing, now, there are sixty-five years and a number of things have happened. At 70 A.D., there was an emperor and he came in and decided, “We’re going to take care of these Jews. They have been a thorn in our flesh,” and he comes in and levels Jerusalem and there’s an abomination and he goes into the temple, and I mean, just shatters the Jews once and for all.
And so the Jews find themselves as very poor and very scattered all over the Roman Empire. Then there was another emperor who had just about as bad an attitude and he thought a little persecution is good, maybe more persecution would be even better. And then after him, by A.D. 81 through A.D. 96 came Domitian.
And if you have ever seen any movie ever that depicts the slaughter and the persecution of Christians, this was the reign of terror for Christians. Domitian demanded emperor worship. In fact, the early Christians were called “atheist.” They weren’t called atheist because they didn’t believe in God, they were called atheist because they refused to worship the emperor as god.
And then Domitian, what they would do is they would often bring them to the Coliseum and they would skin an animal and take the bloody skin of an animal and tie it around the Christians and then they would put them right there in the middle of the Coliseum and then let out wild animals and it was sport to watch the wild animals as they smelled that blood tear apart the Christians.
Often, the Christians would come in tied and bound in the skins of animals, in unison, singing, holding hands, thanking and praising God for the privilege of dying in His place. Do you think they believed in who Jesus is, really?
Do you know what the word “witness,” you know what we get our Greek word for “witness” is? Martyr. Martyr.
And so this Domitian also had the idea that cocktail parties are nice but you need a little light for atmosphere and so he would take Christians and bind them, put them up on a pole like this, and then he would put tar all over them, and then he would light them. And so he would have his gardens lit with Christians on poles to provide light for his cocktail parties.
Now, it’s A.D. 95 and John is the last remaining of the disciples and God determines that these followers of His need hope, they need encouragement, they need perspective.
A lot of “isms” and a lot of different things have come up. In fact, in about 89 or 90, five or six years ago, John wrote a gospel. People were now claiming Jesus wasn’t really God. People were making all these claims.
So John is the last living eyewitness. He writes the gospel of John, and if you read the gospel of John, get a Coke, get a cup of coffee and read all twenty-one chapters really quickly. And it is about seven testimonies and seven miracles and vignettes that say Jesus is, in fact, God and this is why He came, that you might believe.
And so now five or six years later, he’s on this island and God speaks to him. And he has a revelation, he has an apocalypse, he has an unveiling. God the Father entrusts God the Son, who entrusts a messenger – an angel – who gives it to John the bondservant about these things that will come.
So the testimony is this revelation, apocalypse, this unveiling of Jesus and of future events, is to be put on par as God’s Word. And notice the second thing, “And to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that I saw,” eyewitness, firsthand.
So we have the testimony of the Word – what’s true? The testimony of Jesus Christ – who is He, really? And finally, what hope do we have? This book is going to open up: What hope do we have?
And do you have your Bibles handy here? Could you open to chapter 1? I’m just going to give you a taste of where we’re going to go.
Verse 17, this is Jesus after He has revealed Himself and notice it says, “When I saw Him,” John is speaking, “I fell at His feet as though dead.”
When you see the apocalypse, the unveiling of Jesus, He’s not your good little buddy who is the cosmic vending machine, trying to make your life work out the way you want it, in your time, in your way.
When you see the Judge of all the earth, you fall down before Him in awe and worship as though dead.
“Then He placed His right hand on me,” compassion and love, and said what we all need to hear lots, “do not be afraid. I am the first and the last.” Literally, “I am the alpha,” first letter of the Greek alphabet, “Omega,” last of the Greek alphabet. I have been here before time and the beginning of time, through time, and when time is over. I am the Beginning and the End, I am the Alpha and the Omega. I am the Living One. Not the dead Christ hung on a cross. “I was dead and behold, I am alive,” – how long? “forever and forever,” and in case you’re concerned, “I hold the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore what you have seen, what is now, and what will take place.”
And he gives us the entire book in a nutshell. Write, John, what you have seen! The resurrected Christ. What is now: the application. And what is coming. And this book became the anchor for the early Church to make it through the deepest persecution.
This is not a book about hard symbols, wild stuff, and a book to be afraid of. This answers the question: Who is Jesus, really, and the Jesus that will sustain you? The real big question today is: Who is Jesus? Who do men say that He is? But I have a bigger question.
The real bigger question is what God would say to you and what He would say to me. It’s not: Who do they say that I am? Who do you say that I am? Who do you say that I am?
Not, who do you say that I am intellectually, from what you heard in Sunday school or growing up. Who do you say that I am, as evidenced by: what you trust, why you do what you do, where you’re going with your life, how you endure, how you handle temptation, where your priorities are, what your purposes are, and who is the lover of your soul? Who do you think I am?