Who is Jesus
Who is Jesus
“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-17)
Many people claim to know Jesus. Almost all of them have heard of Him. It is a fact that His name is known, mentioned all the time, in many places, by almost everyone. However, each person sees Him in a different way. Each person has their own idea about Jesus: a few think that He was a great prophet, others that He was a great religious leader; still others that he was a philosopher worried about injustices of this world – among so many other opinions.
It was no different during the time that Jesus lived among men, walking with them, teaching them. Mankind also had their diverging opinions regarding Him. A good number of people even had good and honorable opinions, opinions that demonstrated respect and admiration for Jesus. These views were fruit of their human understanding, even as a result of the miracles that they had seen Jesus operate.
However, none of these were close to the truth, and the truth about Jesus is only one: those who don’t know it go from one opinion to another and all of them are a result of a superficial knowledge of Jesus.
Jesus heard all these answers and then asked the most important questions: “but who do you say that I am?” This was the question that really mattered because through the knowledge of the correct answer comes salvation of men.
Note that Jesus wants to be known by humankind. Salvation is a personal issue. People around us may have several opinions about Jesus, but the question that affects us continues to be: “but who do you say that I am?” We should bear in mind that this question is asked to men every day, and not only to Jesus’ disciples.
Peter’s answer, albeit short, was complete and true: “You are Christ, the Son of the living God.” This answer was a confession of faith. It is convenient to evaluate this statement in detail and in parts, so profound and rich it is!
The Christ, the Son of the Living God
“The Christ” – Christ, a word of Greek origin, means the same as the Hebrew word Messiah: “anointed”. With this statement, Peter confesses that Jesus was the promised and expected Messiah, the one that would fulfill God’s will and who would save the people from their sins. Jesus was the only one who was chosen, anointed with the Holy Spirit and commanded by God to be the Mediator between God and men. In I Timothy 2:5 it is written: “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”
“The son of the living God” – it is interesting to note that the opinion of the men was that Jesus was one of the dead prophets. Peter’s statement, however, confronts these affirmations, for he professes his faith in Jesus as the Son of the living God, in direct opposition to a connection with the dead prophets, or with dead spirits, like a ghost or, even, in contrast to the gods of the time, mute and lifeless idols, made by human hands with different materials like stone, wood, iron, silver and gold.
Peter’s statement that Jesus is “the Son of the living God” cannot be applied to any mortal. Jesus was, and always will be, the Son of the Living God – like God in nature – and our only source of life.
Happy are those who Know Jesus
The designation “Simon Bar-Jonah” means Simon, son of Jonah. Jesus addressed Simon Peter like this as a reminder, perhaps, of who he was by nature, a simple human, son of human parents. He was a man, and for himself could not conclude with his human mind anything of eternal value.
Jesus emphasizes that the source of this understanding, that led Peter to that truthful, sublime and saving affirmation was not “flesh nor blood”, that is, mental or intuitive capacity, nor tradition of human knowledge. It was a revelation from the Father who is in heaven.
Men do not reach the knowledge of Jesus only by reading the gospels, by studying theology, or by hearing reports and experiences of others. There is a great difference between hearing about Jesus and penetrating the depth of this saving knowledge. Men considered Jesus a prophet, a great prophet, but the disciples received the revelation of God the Father about Jesus.
Note that it is possible to have many good ideas regarding Jesus but still not reach the truth. It was the Father who enabled Peter to reach the Truth. Jesus was the Christ – the Anointed.
This understanding could not be reached by the human mind, through its own thinking, even because Jesus’ external appearance was against what the Jews expected in the Messiah. However, in Isaiah’s prophecy, in chapter 53, it was prophesied regarding Him: “as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.” Jesus, therefore, did not have physical beauty, hence being very different of the images and paintings that attempt to represent Him around the world in our days.
Jesus, being the “Son of the living God”, the one who has life in himself and who is the source of all life, and not the spirit of ghost of one of the prophets, has the same nature as God, being, therefore, God himself. Prophecies regarding Him said that He would be Emmanuel, which means God with us (Isaiah 7:14): “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” In Matthew 1:23 it is written: “… and the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, God with us.”
Jesus, therefore, is God and was in eternity with God, as we read in John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus was made flesh, was born as a man but, unlike men, He was not born in sin. He was a perfect man, completely full with the Holy Spirit and who never sinned throughout His life. In other words, He never displeased God. Jesus was a perfect and holy man, who was always in profound fellowship with God the Father, from whom He received all revelation necessary for His ministry.
Upon hearing this confession, Jesus says to Peter: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
Note that in the beginning of this passage, Jesus asks His disciples: “”Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” The word “son” denotes relationship of participation. For example, sons of resurrection” (Luke 20:36) are those who will participate in the resurrection or who received the benefit of Christ’s resurrection. Sons of light – those who participate in the light, whose identity is with the works of light. Likewise, Son of Man designates Jesus as a participant of human nature, of its qualities and deficiencies.
The humanity of the Son of God was true and not fictional. He is shown to us suffering hunger, thirst, tiredness, pain and anguish. He was also tempted, humiliated, despised, rejected. He was subject to all the deficiencies pertinent to human nature, but without sin.
The first prophesy regarding Jesus is in Genesis 3:15: And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
Jesus would be born as a man, from the seed of the woman. God, there in the Garden of Eden, promised to rescue men through the one who, born from a woman, would destroy all the work of the enemy – “… He shall bruise your head.” This prophesy crossed centuries, millennia, until the day when the boy was born in Bethlehem of Judea, the seed of the woman, fulfilling the prophesy recorded in Genesis.
Jesus came, therefore, to bruise the serpent’s head and destroy all the work of the enemy. But in order for this to be done, He would have to die as an atoning sacrifice for the sin of all of us. And the power of the enemy was bruised when Jesus, the seed of the woman, gave his life for us at the Mountain of Calvary.
This act did not happen without suffering. Jesus’ whole life here on Earth was marked by suffering, despise, humiliations and persecutions. Jesus was mocked, criticized, scorned, His garments torn, bruised, He was sick and went to the Golgotha, carrying His heavy cross, and there He was sacrificed, experimenting a death of excruciating suffering – “… and you (serpent) shall bruise His heel.”
At the Calvary, when Jesus was crucified, the serpent bruised Jesus’ heel. But He resurrected victorious, thus bruising the head of the serpent and all the work of the enemy, which brings condemnation to men because of sin.
At the cross was Jesus, made a man for the love of our lives. There was crucified the one who came down from His glory – the glory He had before the creation of the world – the one who was made a man and subjected Himself to all the suffering of human beings.
Jesus, having wept, knows how to comfort; having suffered, knows how to alleviate our suffering. He was the true perfect man and the Son of God, made Son of man so that the sons of men could be sons of God.
“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah…” Blessed means “happy”. Jesus said: happy are you, Simon Bar-Jonah. There is a moment in which the man who has an experience with Jesus reaches the same revelation that the Father granted Simon Peter. Jesus is revealed to him not as a prophet, nor as a politician, but as the Savior, the Christ, Son of the living God and he, as Peter, confesses his faith.
Men reach this revelation not as a result of logical thinking, as the operation of human reasoning, nor by hearing about Him or by reading many books about Jesus, but as a fruit of an experience with Jesus himself.
It is written in Romans 10:9 and 10: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
“But who do you say that I am? … “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
Likewise today, all those who, by faith, reach this understanding of Jesus as the Christ, the son of the living God, are blessed, are happy, for they receive eternal life, a life of eternal happiness in the presence of God.