Jesus: Who is He?

Intro: Many of our lessons this year are on the basics. As we strive to be established in the present truth (as Peter described in 2 Peter 1) we will focus our attention on the fundamental subjects of the scriptures. There is no more fundamental, and essential, subject than the one for May. This morning we begin a study of Jesus.

Our lessons will consider two questions about Jesus: Who is He? (Person) What did He do? (Work)

Who is Jesus? What does the Bible teach us about Jesus? His identity and work are the bedrock of our faith and hope. He is the implicit or implied subject of the predictions of the OT prophets and the sermons of the NT apostles. If we get it wrong about Jesus, we miss it on everything else.

John, the apostle, penned the last inspired biography of Jesus. Even though he wrote 30 years after the other gospels, and 50-60 years after Jesus resurrected from the grave, the question he focuses on in his gospel is the identity of Jesus. Is Jesus God? Or was He just a man?

I. Jesus is God: The Christian cannot doubt the deity of Jesus. Jesus claimed to be God. If He is not God then He was a greatest impostor and a heinous liar. Let’s read from John’s record…

A. John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

1. Jesus Is The Word (logos) spoken of here. Notice the proper pronoun “HE” in verse 2, and “HIM” in verse 1. Jesus is the Word. This is made clearer in vs. 14 – John 1:1414 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

2. Three things are said about the Logos (Jesus) here:

a. He was in the Beginning – (He is before all time) John takes us all way the back to creation to place Jesus. He was there. He is therefore, not a created being, but preexistent. “The Logos [Word] did begin to be at creation, but He already was. The imperfect tense of the verb confirms this meaning – continuously in existence. Jesus claimed His own divine preexistence in John 8:58 – Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

b. He was with God – This conveys two absolutes about Jesus—

1) that He had a conscious personal existence distinct from God, as one is distinct from the person he is “with;” and

2) that He was associated with Him in mutual fellowship. The original words (pros ton theon) mean more than that Jesus existed with God. It gives the picture of two personal beings facing each other and engaging in discourse. John MacArthur says… From all eternity Jesus, as the second person of the trinity, was “with the Father… in deep, intimate fellowship. Perhaps pros ton theon could best be rendered “face-to-face.” The Word is a person, not an attribute of God or an emanation from Him. And He is of the same essence as the Father. Jesus often spoke of being with God before His incarnation. John 17:5O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

c. He was God – These words (in English and Greek) are the clearest declaration of Jesus’ divinity in scripture. He possessed all the attributes of deity.

1) Jamieson says that no other grammatical reading is possible. (such as “He is a God”) The Jehovah’s Witnesses add the article (a) that is not there in the text, nor is it implicit. Albert Barnes says… “There is no evidence that John intended to use the word “God” in an INFERIOR sense. It is not “the Word was a god,” or “the Word was ‘like God, ‘” but the Word “WAS God.” He had just used the word “God” as evidently applicable to Yahweh, the true God; and it is absurd to suppose that he would in the same verse, and without any indication that he was using the word in an inferior sense, employ it to denote a being altogether inferior to the true God.” – (Barnes’ Notes)

2) The first two phrases point to their climax in this one – the Word WAS God. Each of these three statements complements the other and form succession of thought. Each one seems to correct any misapprehension formed by the previous one.

i. The Word was eternal;

ii. Yet this was not the eternity of the Father, Jesus, as the Word, simply is not an attribute of the Father, but a distinct personality;

iii. But Jesus’ distinct Person does not indicate that He is not absolutely divine. He is God in the fullest sense. Neither does the distinctness and fellowship of two different Persons mean that there is a plurality of Gods. There is one absolute Godhead.

B. Consider with me another key passage proclaiming Jesus’ deity: Philippians 2:5-6“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

1. Paul spoke of Christ as “being (existing) in the form of God” The term “being” is not a past tense form. It translates the Greek term huparchon [hoop-ar-khan] a present tense participle. This reveals a sustained mode of being, not one interrupted by incarnation. A.T. Robertson, Vines, Wuest, Hendrikson, and others point out this distinction of the tenses, and come to the conclusion from the original text that there was a time when the second Person of the Godhead did not exist as man; but there has never been a time when he was not in “the form of God.”

2. The term “form of God” (morphe) indicates that Jesus has the inherent quality of being “equal with God”. Trench commented that “none could be en morphe [mor-fay] theou [in form of God] who was not God” (1890, 263).

3. This passage does not teach that Jesus gave up (emptied Himself) of His deity but rather His divine prerogatives through voluntary submission to the Father to become a man. Strong expressed it this way… Jesus “resigned not the possession, nor yet entirely the use, but rather the independent exercise, of the divine attributes” (1907, 703).

a. His incarnation was not a loss of the divine essence or attributes, but rather a subordination of those attributes to the Father through humble submission (form of a servant).

b. When Jesus affirmed, “The father is greater than I” (John 14:28), he was not disclaiming divine nature; rather, he was asserting that he had subjected himself voluntarily to the Father’s will.

II. Paul catalogs the divine attributes of Jesus in Colossians 1:15-17“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (NKJ) Jesus’ divinity is here depicted through a description of His divine activity (creation) and relationship to creation.

A. He is the Image of the Invisible God (vs. 15) The word “image“… Comes from the Greek eikon {i-kone’} Meaning “an image, figure, or likeness” Jesus could not be the image of God without possessing the attributes of God.

1. John 1:18“No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him

2. Hebrews 1:3“who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”

3. 2 Corinthians 4:4“whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

B. The Firstborn of Creation (vs. 15) The term “firstborn can mean “the first one born” (or created) Some have therefore concluded from this passage that Jesus is a created being, the first of all God’s creations. (Jehovah’s Witnesses)

1. But it is also used in the Scriptures as a metaphor to describe one who occupies the rank and privilege of being firstborn (without literally being born first)

a. Used by God in this way to refer to the nation of IsraelExodus 4:22“Then you shall say to Pharaoh, Thus says the LORD: “Israel is My son. My firstborn.”

b. Used by God in this way to refer to David, who was the youngest of eight brothers – Psalm 89:20,27

c. And Jesus is clearly proclaimed to be the creator of ALL things. It could not be stated that He is the creator of ALL things if He Himself was a created being! Which is why the JWs try to get around these passages by inserting the modifier “OTHER” four times in their translation of Col 1:16-17! To let it read as written by Paul, it destroys their doctrine that Christ is a created being. So they must “add” to the Word of God…

C. The Creator of all things (vs. 16-17) John proclaims in John 1:3 – “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. Jesus was the CREATIVE AGENT by which everything came into being! Everything was created FOR Him also! He is before all things. Must be God!

D. The Sustainer of all things (17b) “In Him all things consist” That is, in Him all things are kept in their present state. Their existence, order, and arrangement are continued in the present form by HIS power!

1. Hebrews 1:3“…upholding all things by the word of His power” – What if Jesus withdrew His sustaining power? Every created thing would fall into disorder. The meaning, then, is, that Christ sustains the most exalted rank in the universe; he is pre-eminent above all others; he is at the head of all things. The expression does not mean that he was created, but refers to the simple fact that he sustains the highest rank over the creation. He is the Son of God.

III. The Worship of Jesus: One of the most defining proofs of Jesus’ divinity is the fact that He accepted the worship of men. If He was not God, He was a blatant blasphemer who usurped the prerogative of God alone. John denied worship. Peter denied worship, but Jesus never denied the worship of men.

• Matthew 14:33 – Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

• Matthew 28:9And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.

A. Jesus claimed to be equal with God.

1. At his trial when the high priest put Jesus under an oath as to whether He was the Christ, the Son of God, Jesus affirmed , It is as you have said, ( 26:63)

2. In John 10: 30 – Jesus clearly declared that He and the Father were One. The Jews understood what Jesus was saying. They charged Him with claiming to be God. (10:33). Jesus did not deny their charge!

B. The apostles preached the deity of Christ:

1. 1 Timothy 3:16 —16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.

2. Titus 2:11-13 – For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

3. 1 Peter 1:1 – 1 Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: The apostle Peter describes Jesus in the use of several important words here: Jesus is the Christ (messiah); He is our Savior, the one who died for us on the cross; and He is our God. Peter taught that Jesus is divine.

4. The culmination of the worship of human beings centers on Jesus, the Great God. Rev 5

Conclusion: Come to the One who is worthy. Do you know what Jesus has done for you? He redeemed you with His own blood. Worship Him every day.