Who Do We Say He Is

Jesusby Patricia L. Dickson   6/8/14
In Matthew 16:13, Jesus ask His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” Jesus asked this question after He had been teaching and healing multitudes of people. There was no question that many of the people that were following Jesus did so because they heard about His power to heal the sick and feed the hungry. Jesus knew that not everyone that was following Him from place to place, were following Him because of His teaching.  Nonetheless, it is possible that Jesus was trying to gauge the overall perspective of who people really thought He was.

Jesus took it a step further in verse 15 and asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”  By asking His closest disciples, Jesus knew that whomever His disciple said that He is [was] is most important because they would be the ones who would convince the world (through their conduct and speech) who He really is (regardless of how the world may try to define Jesus).

Matthew 16:13-15

13 Now when Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, Who do people say that the Son of Man is?

14 And they answered, Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.

15 He said to them, But who do you [yourselves] say that I am?

Although it has been over two thousand years since Jesus walk on earth, died on the cross, rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God the father, the world is still asking the question of who was/is this man called Jesus. Mainstream publications such as Time Magazine has displayed on its cover a depiction of Jesus with the words “Who was Jesus”.  It is as though after all these years, no one has been able to define to the world who Jesus really is. If that is truly the case, how can that be with thousands of people in the United States and around the world professing Christianity (followers of Jesus Christ)? The answer to that question lies in the response that Peter gave and what Jesus said in response to Peter’s response.

Matthew 16:16-17

16 Simon Peter replied, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 Then Jesus answered him, Blessed (happy, fortunate, and [d]to be envied) are you, Simon Bar-Jonah. For flesh and blood [men] have not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven.

When Peter declared that Jesus was indeed the Christ (Messiah –Savior) and the Son of God, he acknowledged that he knew not only who Jesus was, but also Jesus’ true purpose (to save humankind from our sins and reconcile us back to God the father). Jesus’ response to Peter that men did not (cannot) reveal these truths to him, but only God the Father could, reveals the true salvation experience. The Christian lifestyle is entirely spiritual and can only be successful through a genuine relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ.[pullquote]Some people, who claim to be following Jesus today, may be attracted to Jesus because of what they believe He can do for their physical needs (i.e., money, material goods).[/pullquote]

Some people, who claim to be following Jesus today, may be attracted to Jesus because of what they believe He can do for their physical needs (i.e., money, material goods). Many of today’s Pastors are preaching a prosperity message that focuses on the material blessings of God. These Pastors preach and teach as though God is some kind of a sugar daddy. This type of preaching may short circuit sinful man’s path to redemption by appealing to his/her physical needs and desires, while neglecting the spiritual. That is what happened to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan’s first attempt at man will always appeal to man’s carnal (fleshly) desires.

Genesis 3:4-6

4 But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die,

5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity.

6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate.

When men are only concerned with his physical needs and desires and not his spiritual, he is unable to have a genuine relationship with God. Our sin is what separates us from God and only a spiritual transformation will reconcile us back to God. This spiritual transformation can only take place through the repentance of sin, believing in our hearts and confessing with our mouths that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. This transformation is a spiritual rebirth.

John 3:5-8

5 Jesus answered, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a man is born of water and [[a]even] the Spirit, he cannot [ever] enter the kingdom of God.

6 What is born of [from] the flesh is flesh [of the physical is physical]; and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Only a born again Christian is able to live a spirit-filled life that enables the light of Jesus to shine through to the world. Jesus is the light of the world!  The Christian’s conduct and speech will reveal to the world who Jesus is. The Christian is responsible for teaching the world who Jesus is. Have we become so focused on our carnal needs and desires that we have neglected our spiritual relationship with God? Is the Church so backslidden that it cannot define to the world whom Jesus is? The Church is giving the world a free pass to define Jesus as it sees fit because our conduct and speech has not truthfully defined Him.

How has the Churches’ conduct and speech falsely defined Jesus to the world? Are we bound by the same addictions as the world? Are we too addicted to nicotine, alcohol and pornography?  If we are truly born again Christians, we have the power through the blood of Jesus to defeat carnal addictions.

I John 3:9

9 No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly, and [h]habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him [His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born (begotten) of God.

When we are facing a problem, is our speech (in the presence of nonbelievers) full of doubt and fear? The world has no other way to respond to trouble except fear. We as believers have a savior who is sitting at the right hand of God the Father, interceding on our behalf. God has said that He will never leave us nor forsake us. God the Father will fight for us.

Isiah 41:10

10 Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.

Do we rightfully give thanks to God for everything that we have in the presence of unbelievers? I remember making an “A” on a final exam in one of my college course and I immediately said “Praise God and Thank you Jesus”.  My instructor looked at me and said, “You were the one that did the hard work and studied”.  I responded by telling her that it was God that gave me the mind to be able to retain the information in order to pass the exam. She sat there speechless. When the Church gets back to cultivating our spiritual relationship with our God and Savior, there is no way that the world will be asking, “who is Jesus”. When we allow His power to be manifested in our lives, even the demons will tell the world who Jesus is.

Matthew 8:28-29

28 And when He arrived at the other side in the country of the Gadarenes, two men under the control of demons went to meet Him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce and savage that no one was able to pass that way.

29 And behold, they shrieked and screamed, What have You to do with us, Jesus, Son of God? Have You come to torment us before the appointed time?

The world is still asking, “Who is Jesus”?  Who Do We Say He Is?


PatriciaDicksonPatricia Dickson blogs at Patricia’s Corner.
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16 Responses to Who Do We Say He Is

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I don’t go to church if only because church bores the hell out of me. And there’s certainly something to be said for the fellowship of a church. But my impression is that church is more about entertainment than anything else.

    I like what you said here:

    Some people, who claim to be following Jesus today, may be attracted to Jesus because of what they believe He can do for their physical needs (i.e., money, material goods). Many of today’s Pastors are preaching a prosperity message that focuses on the material blessings of God. These Pastors preach and teach as though God is some kind of a sugar daddy. This type of preaching may short circuit sinful man’s path to redemption by appealing to his/her physical needs and desires, while neglecting the spiritual. That is what happened to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan’s first attempt at man will always appeal to man’s carnal (fleshly) desires.

    I may not be good enough to be a Christian. But I’m more than good enough to pretend to be one. I think for many people, becoming a Christian is like joining some Facebook group. You “like” it. And then you listen to a lot of swell music.

    But the real point of being a Christian, so far as I can determine, is not to stoke our egos, our material desires, or our fashion sense. It’s to take on a burden, a burden that entails limitations, not utopian/material exaltations:

    “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

    However one reasonably interprets “taking up their cross,” it does not mean getting a bigger house or boat or probably 90% of what passes for “Christian.” To quote G.K. Chesterton:

    Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

    This is certainly why so much emphasis in mainstream Christianity (even among good pastors) is on “social justice,” “diversity,” or various spin-offs of Cultural Marxism which stresses poverty — that is, which stresses material concerns, not spiritual or moral ones. Promising “free stuff” (even if disguised as a “blessing”) is easier than telling your congregation that the reason your life may suck is because you have not been holding to enough “thou shall nots.”

    This might even by why so much material emphasis is transferred to, and disguised in, the desire to live forever in Heaven. Surely union with God is the point. But I can’t help thinking that “Heaven” is little more than just another entitlement program as many people approach it.

    Myself, I’m just carving out my own little spiritual space that is hopefully outside of all the noise, bother, and showmanship.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      This is certainly why so much emphasis in mainstream Christianity (even among good pastors) is on “social justice,” “diversity,” or various spin-offs of Cultural Marxism which stresses poverty — that is, which stresses material concerns, not spiritual or moral ones. Promising “free stuff” (even if disguised as a “blessing”) is easier than telling your congregation that the reason your life may suck is because you have not been holding to enough “thou shall nots.”

      I think Jesus had a pretty good idea of human nature and that a large portion of those who would profess to being Christians would be anything but.

      Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of my heavenly Father. When the day comes, many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and in your name perform many miracles?” Then I will tell plainly “I never knew you. Out of my sight; your deeds are evil!”

      Matthew 7:21-23

      and:

      “Be careful not to parade your religion before others; if you do, no reward awaits you with your Father in heaven. So, when you give alms, do not announce it with a flourish of trumpets, as the hypocrites do in synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Truly I tell you: they have their reward already. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing; your good deed must be secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

      Matthew 6:1-4

    • “I may not be good enough to be a Christian”
      Brad,
      No man will ever be “good enough” to be a Christian. If that were the case, there would have been no need for Jesus to be crucified on the cross.

      Mark 10:18
      And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.

      The Christian faith is built on the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ that reconciled sinful man to a Holy God. The Christian faith is built entirely on faith; however everyone has the FREE WILL to accept or reject God’s gift of salvation. God loves humankind so much that He gave us free will to choose whether or not to have a personal spiritual relationship with Him.

      Romans 5:2
      Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

      The only reason that I am “good enough” to be called a Christian is because when God the Father looks at me, He views me THROUGH the blood of Jesus. Since Jesus has paid the price for my sins by suffering and dying on the cross on my behalf, He is now sitting at the right hand of God the Father interceding on my behalf.

      Romans 8:34
      Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

      Romans 4:25
      He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

      PRAISE GOD!!!

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    When I was in college, the “Jesus freaks” were popular on many campuses, and I once went to a meeting and talked with one of them. He pointed out the benefits (mostly emotional) he gained from his faith. I thought he was probably right, but I also saw that it doesn’t exactly work that way. One doesn’t say, “It would benefit me to have Faith in God, so I will.” One does or doesn’t — and the results follow from that.

    I also noted once an article they had in their publication, about God facing his own test at the Judgment Day as provided by Jews, Hindu untouchables, and other victims of persecution. It wasn’t hard to see the point of the requirements they proposed as a test, but the final conclusion — they all realized that God had already undergone the test — was inaccurate in that most of those proposing it wouldn’t have known this because they lacked the Christian upbringing.

    Another article I saw had an interesting vision of Hell: people in a room with a large pot of stew, each with a long spoon that evidently was physically attached to one of their hands. The spoons were so long (as is appropriate for one going to sup with the devil, though I don’t know if they were thinking of that reference; I certainly didn’t, not having yet encountered it) that they couldn’t feed themselves, and thus were very unhappy. Heaven, it turned out, was identical — except that the people were all feeding each other. I wondered if this meant that there were no merchants in Hell, since the idea of trading feeds would naturally occur to them.

    Incidentally, I think you might want to check out Hot Air, where Ed Morressey hs a religious reflection based on Bible readings each Sunday. I have no idea if these are the actual readings at his church (he’s a Catholic in Minnesota who actually attended the papal election as a reporter).

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      He pointed out the benefits (mostly emotional) he gained from his faith. I thought he was probably right, but I also saw that it doesn’t exactly work that way. One doesn’t say, “It would benefit me to have Faith in God, so I will.” One does or doesn’t — and the results follow from that.

      When people ask me why, knowing the Bible as I do, am not a Christian. I reply that true belief i.e. faith, is similar to being in love. It is not something one can simply turn off and on at will. One is or isn’t in love with another person. One doesn’t say “I have now decided to fall in love with so-and so”.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I think there is an inherent capacity for faith, which some have and some don’t. I don’t, so I’m a skeptic — but unlike most who call themselves skeptics, I don’t place any faith in the mechanistic view of the universe. I don’t believe in Christianity, but I don’t rule it out. I believe in evolution in some way, but I don’t rule out intelligent design. Above all, I make my own decisions, analyzing the arguments of others. (Since liberal arguments are heavily reliant on “shut up” as a means of persuasion, I find them very unconvincing.)

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I can definitely relate to what you’re saying, Timothy. And I must admit, although my days of any kind of a juvenile and knee-jerk reaction against religion are over, I am impatient with those who tend to put God in a small, tidy little box and say he wants this or he wants that.

          Nor am I a big believer in the mantra that God is infinite. God is all-powerful. God is perfect. And all that. And yet at the same time, we are told that God is a person (or three persons). Well, you’ll find a damn tough time having any kind of personality if one is perfect and complete within one’s being. And if such a thing is possible, we can’t possibly know it sufficiently to lasso it with words. I think a whole lot of humility is needed when talking about these things.

          That said, I happen to believe that it is more than plausible that one can gain “spiritual” knowledge and insights. I believe there are levels of consciousness or “knowing” that reach from the simplicity of light “knowing” when to be a particle or a wave all the way up to levels of consciousness or knowing that are so sublime and supreme that we cannot conceive of them. And I’m absolutely okay with the idea that some saints and prophets have had, at times, a pipeline to God.

          Even so, still we are left separating the St. Francis from the evil nut-jobs such as Mohammed. Just because one says that one is speaking for God does not mean that one is. And this will hopefully induce a very interesting discussion when we get to the real and full meaning of The Third Commandment, which (according to Dennis Prager) has little or nothing to do with saying “god damn it” when you hit your thumb with a hammer. It’s apparently about using the prestige of God for one’s personal gain.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I reply that true belief i.e. faith, is similar to being in love. It is not something one can simply turn off and on at will.

        I tend to agree, Mr. Kung. But I would also note that there are different kinds of faith and different “richnesses” of faith.

        Imagine turning down a nice mug of hot chocolate because your only experience with hot drinks (perhaps as a child) is relatively bitter coffee.

        Without wishing to pick a bone with any of the religious people at this site, I think some of what passes for “faith” seems a little bit too pre-packaged for it to be much more than an affectation blended with pleasing emotions. I’m not saying that those who proclaim faith don’t mean it and don’t have it to a degree beyond the superficial.

        But what I am saying is that religion itself has become somewhat of a cliché. I believe that in certain things — which I may write about in due time — I have much faith. But it doesn’t consist of going around proclaiming “Holy Jesus” this and “Holy Jesus” that. And as Seinfeld would say, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Again, I’m not picking a bone with those who do so.

        Surely if capital-F Faith exists (at the very least as a kind of Platonic ideal), then certainly there are many spin-off little small-f “faiths” that we partake in all the time, especially including marriage. There perhaps is no bigger leap of faith than that (which, in my view, makes it a shame to cheapen it by sanctifying anal sex as “marriage” — again, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”)

        Well, maybe there is something wrong with that, but I digress. You yourself wrote a terrific article about Atheistic Fundamentalists that still stars as the most unexpectedly provocative and well-read article at this site.

        I think you show in these comments and more that one can have a religious insight without necessarily proclaiming a particular denomination as your identity. And I do not consider that a bad thing (nor do I consider it a bad thing to proclaim a religious identity). But, again, if we are to think beyond the level of cliches, affectations, and cultural rote — in connection with the idea of the Divine which is beyond space and time and resists being put in a tiny little box with a ribbon neatly tied around it — then we necessarily leave lots of room in the shadows of the penumbras to say much about religion and religious faith that doesn’t necessarily consist of “Hallelujah, Jesus.”

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Earlier today, a Tea Party e-mailer had an article discussing an atheist sympathizer’s complaint that he didn’t seem to be welcome. They acknowledged that Tea Partiers tend to be religious people because too many atheists proceed to put their faith and salvation in the state (gee, I wonder where I’ve heard that sort of sentiment before), but that there’s no inherent reason an atheist couldn’t be a member.

          In responding (hey, it was Disqus, so I didn’t have to sign on or anything), I pointed out that I was myself a mild skeptic (i.e., a deist), so such skepticism didn’t seem a problem to me. (Although I didn’t mention it, one must wonder how often one’s religion even comes up in ordinary conversation there without bringing it up oneself.) But I also pointed out the problem that atheism in public life is militantly christophobic — hating (and seeking to expunge) what they claim to believe doesn’t exist.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Earlier today, a Tea Party e-mailer had an article discussing an atheist sympathizer’s complaint that he didn’t seem to be welcome.

            Timothy, I’m sure you’re going to scold me about the exception to the rule who theoretically exists out there, but I’d bet a day’s pay that that atheist was projecting his attitude onto the others. If he felt unwelcome it is most likely because he either expected too much from others (are believers particularly welcoming to each other at such meetings, or do they all just sort of stand around and engage in small chit-chat, at best?) or he wasn’t so welcoming himself.

            Atheists impress me as little narcissistic bullies who are looking for love in all the wrong places. They have a hole they keep trying to fill with the wrong things and then blame everyone else for never being dissatisfied. As you pointed out, “the problem that atheism in public life is militantly christophobic.”

            That is, it’s not enough for these Little Napoleons to believe what they want to believe. They, somewhat like Muslims, have a supremacist ideology. They mean to rub out everyone else. They don’t want to exist with other beliefs. They demand their own kind of cultural Cone of Silence. The atheist is the worst kind of religious zealot because, first of all, he denies he is a zealot.

            I have no use for atheists. And I’m still waiting to run into that theoretical atheist who simply doesn’t believe in any kind of Supreme Being but is otherwise a pretty reasonable and un-cantankerous person.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Well, I have a number of friends who are (as far as I know) non-theistic, though I don’t know if they are specifically atheists. But I do think that there can be, and probably are, ordinary people who happen to be atheists but aren’t militant christophobes. Unfortunately, they’re never the ones we see in public. Since, e.g., some homosexuals are less militant in public (such as Andrew Sullivan) toward dissenters than the Lavender Thought Police, this may indicate the rarity of such people.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                I’ve written about this in length in Mr. Kung’s Atheistic Fundamentalists article, so I won’t bore you or insult your intelligence or your good memory with yet another lengthy diatribe.

                But, in short, I think there are two kinds of atheists. The first is theoretical. He does not believe in any kind of Supreme Being but is not hostile to the idea or insulted by it. Nor does he require to be carefully walled-off from the idea. He just doesn’t see the necessary evidence for it but keeps an open mind.

                The other type of atheism is not a strict metaphysical proposition. It’s a cultural identity. And if we want to spend time eking out all the rotten aspects of this cultural identity (including almost always socialism or “Progressivism”), we can do so. But I do find many of the aspects rotten.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One thing I will say — not that believers need my endorsement…they certainly do not — is that there is the idea of faith allowing one to see what one could not see already. This is a known and legitimate phenomenon. If you have no conception of deep order itself, for example, it is arguable (and is argued in a wonderful book I am reading, “How the West Won”) that science itself could not have arisen. We’d be stuck in the backward Islamic age where everything that happens is “God’s will” and thus to even try to look deeper is considered blasphemy (which is one of the prime reasons Islamic regions are so awfully backward). In general, you cannot see things that are outside of your paradigm. St. Augustine wrote:

    “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”

    Speaking strictly logically, you could say that that is the recipe for delusion. And it often is a cause of delusion to believe in something so much that you begin to see it, regardless of the reality of the world itself. Many harmful political causes suffer from this disease.

    And yet although Marxism obviously fails (despite blind and stupid faith in it), and can be seen to fail because economics is a fairly knowable quantity, the “seeing” involved in something as metaphysical as the nature of existence itself is, or certainly can be, of a different nature.

    It is of little point to say “Prove it” about esoteric knowledge. That doesn’t mean that anyone’s claims are automatically true because they have raised them to the supposed “spiritual” realm. But it does mean that the strictly “rational” mind — the pedantic mind, if you will — must disengage from its death grip on scientific facts and loosen a bit its overly clenched sphincter muscles concerning “hard evidence” and be able and willing to truly grasp (as much as any human can) the breadth and depth of epistemological methods. He must be able to deal in probabilities, not certainties (which is not such a hard thing to imagine in this age of quantum physics). How we know what we know is not, and cannot ever be, limited to what we see under a microscope.

    Even in a scientific age where the idea of “prove it” has proven very powerful, this is still so. The challenge, so far as I see it, is to engage with esoteric knowledge while not also letting in the charlatans and hucksters. (And to understand that this isn’t just a religious problem, consider that Al Gore and other secular priests of the Church of Global warming have not been recognized as the hucksters that they are by the same people who will lecture the rest of us to the end of time about Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker).

  4. Rosalys says:

    “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” – Ez. 18:4, 20

    You and I, we, all of us, every single one, are sinners by nature. We are guilty. (If you have any doubts, run down the Ten Commandments and see how you measure up.) And we are rightly condemned. To Hell.

    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. – Jn. 3:16

    There is an eternal debt that God requires that each of us must pay. The only perfect Man that ever lived, who therefore had no debt of His own to pay, was able and willing to die in our place and pay our debt for us. We need only believe and receive this gift.

    That is The Gospel. Period.

    The word gospel means good news and that is the best news I have ever heard in my entire life!

    There seems to be much musing and thinking and trying to understand Who God must be. Understand the concept of trinity? Understand this whole eternity thing? Wrap my head around idea that three hours of suffering on the part of one perfect Man was enough to wipe out thousands and thousands of years of everything from worshipping other gods (Satan), to lying, cheating, stealing, and murder, to coveting what the guy next door has? I can’t and neither can anyone else.

    God, as Creator, exists outside of time, outside of His creation. That’s why one of His names is “I Am”. He just IS! He is in another realm, a totally other dimension, way beyond our experience, way beyond our understanding. We can’t know anything about Him other than what He chooses to reveal to us about Himself. Romans tells us that He has revealed Himself in nature so that no one has a good excuse for not seeking Him; but He has revealed Himself more fully in the Old and New Testaments. The Bible is the standard by which all musings and ponderings and thoughts about Who He is must be judged. If not than all thoughts are no better than what the heathen does. You construct a god in your own image.

    Read Flatland.

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