Graffiti, found on a university wall says:
Jesus said unto them: “Who do you say that I am?”This bit of wit is not intended to imply Jesus is unable to understand verbal gobbledegook. The point is, many “educated” people in their efforts to be profound often miss the simplicity of who He is.
And they replied, “You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma in which we find the ultimate meaning of our interpersonal relationships.”
And Jesus said: “What?”
Jesus really did ask this important question to His disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” Today’s average man-in-the-street responds by saying He was only a man, maybe a great teacher or prophet, but still only a man. With that, they are forced to conclude that the Bible is not historically reliable (even though it is the most well-documented book in all history) because it says He is far more than a mere man.
Others say Jesus was a kook, some sort of religious nut. However, if that is true, we base our calendar, major holidays, and a large portion of our legal and ethical system on the life and sayings of a religious nut?
Others say Jesus was a liar, a grand fraud who claimed to be God in the flesh. According to them, He was simply not telling the truth. But if that is true, many of His followers have given their lives for a lie rather than admit they had been fooled.
I can’t buy that. Anyone who is convinced they saw a man alive after He had been crucified and put in a tomb has far more reason to die for their belief than a person clinging to some lies in a “hope-so” kind of way. After all, if Jesus offers eternal life to all those who trust Him, and if He rose from the dead Himself, why not die for that belief? Death merely ushers you into eternal life! Besides, the disciples lived with Him for over three years. Not one of them ever called Him a liar.
So who is Jesus? Only a man? Does a mere man walk on water, calm storms with a word, heal the sick, raise the dead, and start a movement that lasts 2000 plus years in spite of organized efforts to stop it? I cannot think of anyone else that has done what Jesus has done.
Was He a kook? A fool? Do fools live like He did? They may get themselves in trouble for their claims (Jesus did), but they do not gain the respect of anyone who honestly examines their life. Jesus lived to serve others, loved the unlovely, called hypocrites to account, and never broke one Old Testament law. Fools do not fit His description.
Liars don’t live like He lived either, even clever liars. Besides, there is no motive for falsehood. He gained absolutely nothing positive or personally beneficial by saying what He did about Himself. Instead, it made the religious leaders of His day so angry that they killed Him.
Jesus Himself said that those who saw Him saw the Father. John wrote that He was the “Word who existed in the beginning with God” and in fact “was God” (John 1:1). The writer of Hebrews said, “He is ...the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being...” Paul said, “He was ...in very nature God, (yet) did not consider equality with God something to be grasped... (Philippians 2:6). Instead, He became one of us.
The Bible says Jesus was born as a baby, grew up in a home with human parents, learned how to obey them as His Heavenly Father commanded, and when the time was right, He died for us. In other words, God pulled on humanity so He might deliver us from our sins by paying the penalty for them Himself... something no mere man, no fool, no liar would or could ever do.
Only God could act as our substitute or proxy because only God had no payment of His own to make. Furthermore, only God could rise from the dead and offer us forgiveness and eternal life. He may have done these things inside the skin of a man, a very real and fully human man, yet He could be none other than who He claimed to be. All other possibilities are easily eliminated.
God, being God, is not limited to what we can understand. We may not be able to grasp the mechanics of how God could become a man, but understanding the incarnation is not our responsibility — believing it is.
Jesus still asks, “Who do YOU say that I am?”