Who Do You Say That I Am?

April 30, 2017 sermon
By John Maiden

Matthew 16:13-17

I. Three Ways in Scripture that we know that Jesus is God:

A. The Claims of the Biblical Authors of Jesus’ Divinity

  • Matt.16:14 Disciples described what others say of Jesus (teacher, prophet)
  • Matt. 16:16 Peter personally said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
  • John 1:1,14 John declared Jesus:“the Word was God,”“the only Son from the Father.”
  • II Peter 1:1 Peter spoke of “our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

B. The Claims of Jesus Himself of Jesus’ Divinity

  •  John 8:56-59 “Before Abraham was, I am.”
  • Mark 14:61-62 “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?..Jesus said, “I am.”
  • John 10:30 “I and the Father are one.”

C. The Works of Jesus Show His Divinity

  • In Mark 2:5-12, the author tells the story of Jesus’ first forgiving the paralytic’s sins. God alone can forgive sins against Himself, and Jesus proves the power of his divinity by healing the man.
  • In Matt. 8, Jesus controls nature, calming the waters, and amazing the disciples.
  • In the Gospel of John, Jesus shows power over death by raising Lazarus, and ultimately Jesus rises from the grave, never to die again, and then to return to his Father.

II. Implications of Jesus Christ as God:

  • Since Jesus is God, We Can Be Saved. Because He is God with an infinite nature, His death was for ALL people of ALL times (even to eternity), and only through following Jesus, the perfect God/man, can we have permanent salvation from our sins.
  • Since Jesus is God, We Must Worship Him. God alone deserves our worship, as we join Thomas in confessing Jesus as Lord (Jn 20:28), and surrender to His Lordship.
  • Since Jesus is God, We Must Give Our Lives to Make Him Known. When we recognize Jesus as our Lord, the Son of God (and not just a a good man/teacher/prophet) who paid the penalty for our sin, we will want to share the Good News and accept the challenge/opportunity to make Him known to others around us.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does God Himself say about Jesus’ divinity in the Bible? (Check out Mark 1:11 and Mark 9:7)
  2. Could we have been saved without Jesus’ humanity? Without His divinity?
  3. What do we have to say about Jesus as God from our own experience? Is it head/intellectual knowledge or heart/experience knowledge?
  4. Does my life paint a picture of worship to my Lord? Public or private? Is it beliefs or action? How much worship do we do?
  5. Are we fully worshipping Jesus if we don’t tell someone the good news of the gospel?

Introduction

Good Morning. Last week we started a new sermon series called “The Real Jesus.” There are so many opinions about who Jesus is. We are in the middle of a seven-week series to discover who He really was and is. Last week Pastor John opened up the series talking about humanity, and this week we will continue as we talk about Jesus’ divinity.

Who Do You Say That I Am? – that is a question that every single one of us needs to answer.

It was around 320 AD., and a man by the name of Athanasius stood on trial for the murder of man. The thing that was unique about this murder trial was that Athanasius was not at all guilty. He didn’t have someone killed. Men who hated Athanasius made up a story that he had a man killed, so that they could put him away and destroy his reputation. The men bribed the man to disappear, so that they could say Athanasius killed him.

As the trail is going on, Athanasius’ friends find the man in hiding. They bring him into the trial room. Can you imagine this? Athanasius is a trial for a murder, and the guy he supposedly had killed walks in the door. What a scene that must have been. Talk about a want to get away moment for Athanasius’ accusers.

Why did these people want to shut up this man so badly? Why did they want to go to such extreme measures? Because Athanasius believed in the Deity of Jesus – that Jesus was God. A group of people led by a man named Arius wanted to rid the church of what they though was a crazy belief. They did not believe that Jesus was God and wanted to get rid of anyone who did. They believed that Jesus was a created being and was not equal with God the Father.

Why was Athanasius willing to be persecuted so severely for his belief that Jesus was in fact God? Athanasius knew that the belief that Jesus is God was an issue of eternal importance for himself and for the sake of the whole world. He knew the incarnation, a fancy word meaning that Jesus came to earth as God in the flesh. He knew it was a salvation issue.

We live in a world today where it is getting less and less popular to believe that Jesus is God. Do we individually and as a church believe and live out the truth and willing to be persecuted to make the real Jesus known? Was Jesus God? How do we know He was and is God?

First, let us first address the question – is Jesus God? If you haven’t already, you are going to run across many people who do not believe Jesus is God. In fact, if you are like me, you may have wondered at times whether Jesus even claimed to be God or if the Bible even tells us he is God. This is a question that people were asking themselves in Jesus day, in 300 AD and today.

This may be a point that we can easily gloss over, especially if we grew up in the church. But it is important to establish for the sake of our own belief and for the sake of telling others, why we believe what we believe. There are three ways in Scripture that we know that Jesus is God.

The Claims of Biblical Authors

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered 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

“Who do you say that I am?” When Jesus first asked his disciples who people said He was, there were a variety of answers – John the Baptist – Elijah – Jeremiah. Then Jesus gets really personal. Jesus turned the question on the disciples themselves. He turned to them and ask, “Who do you say that I am?” In this passage, we see the biggest question that any of us will ever be asked: Who do you say Jesus is? The reason that this is the biggest question we will ever answer is because the answer to this question has eternal consequences. People are OK with saying Jesus was a good man, a good teacher, a prophet, or even a miracle worker. But when you begin to say he is God, that is when you will get pushback.

John Macarthur says it this way: “Who is Jesus? A person’s answer is the most monumental importance because on it, hinges his eternal destiny. It is a question that no one can escape or avoid. Every soul, as it were will be pinned against the wall of eternity and forced to answer that question.” Who do you say Jesus is? How would you answer this question? How would the people that you interact with answer this question?

Peter spoke up and said the truth about who Jesus really is. He said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus was the long-expected Savior and the Son of God. This was Peter claiming the deity of Jesus. By being the Son of God, He is of same essence of the Father. He is equal to God. He is God. Hebrews 1 says He is the exact imprint of his nature.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” – John 1:1-3

This Word is creator, eternal, and He is God.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14

We see that the Son is the Word described in Verse 1. The Word was God. Jesus is God.

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours. – 2 Peter 1:1

The Claims of Jesus Himself

Jesus’ is confronting some of the Jewish religious leaders who do not believe in Him. He made one of the most shocking claims. Let’s pick up in John 8:

“Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.”- John 8:56-59

Jesus is saying two things:

  1. Before something long ago happened, something in the present happened.
  2. He used the “I AM.” He was using a divine title that these Jewish leaders would have recognized right away. This is the title that God used to first identify Himself to His people the Israelites. Remember the story of the burning bush. God tells Moses His name is, “I AM who I AM.” Jesus was taking this same title for Himself. He is saying I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob! He is claiming to be the divine name, YAHWEH!

They knew that this was a claim by Jesus to be God, so they picked up stones to kill him.

At Jesus trail the High Priest asks Jesus point blank, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One? And Jesus said, “I am.” – Mark 14:61-62

I and the Father are one – John 10

Let this settle. Look what Jesus is claiming! Can you imagine what this would be like? Remember the God who created the heavens and the earth. The God of the Old Testament. That is Me!

The Works of Jesus

There is a story in that speaks perfectly to the divinity of Jesus:

“And when He returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And He was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.

And when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them,

“Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – He said to the paralytic – “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And He rose and immediately picked up His bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
– Mark 2:1-12

Jesus was already reaching much popularity and fame. The way He taught and how could heal was intriguing many people to come and see Him. In fact, there was so many people in the house that there was absolutely no more room. Even the doorway was blocked because there were so many people that wanted to hear and see Jesus. Can you imagine what it would be like if someone like Lebron James came to River Bend Elementary School?

As Jesus was preaching, four men were carrying a paralytic man to Jesus. The only way that they were going to be able to get the sick man to Jesus was through the roof. They made it, their friend was before Jesus, and now Jesus could heal him. Jesus then said something that took everyone by surprise. Everyone might have expected Jesus to just go right to healing the paralytic. Jesus said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Your sins are forgiven! What a statement made by Jesus.

What if you saw this? Jesus was claiming here to have the authority to forgive someone’s sins. Scribes were the experts in the law that day and they could not believe what they had just heard from the mouth of Jesus. Knowing the law so well, they immediately realized how big this statement of Jesus was. When someone sins the only person that can forgive the person is the person that the offense was committed towards. When I was growing up I had the awful habit of arguing and talking back to my mom. When I would do this, I would later go back and ask for her forgiveness. I did not go to my dad to ask for forgiveness because he could not give it to me. Only my mom could forgive me because she was the one whom I sinned against.

How did this man sin against Jesus? They never met! He had sinned against Jesus because He was God. Sin is an offense against God and His law. Therefore, only God and God alone can forgive a person of their sins. In Psalm 51, when David was repenting of his sin of adultery with Bathsheba, he said to God, “Against you and you only have I sinned.” When we sin, we sin against God and He is the only one that can forgive us of that sin. Jesus was then claiming that this man had sinned against Him, making Himself to be God, and that He had the authority to forgive the paralytic.

The scribes immediately claimed that Jesus was speaking blasphemy. Blasphemy is irreverent, profane, impious speech about God. Its penalty in the Old Testament times was death. They did not believe that Jesus was God and in claiming that he was God was blasphemy.

Next, we again see Jesus showing his divinity! He is reading the scribes minds and can see what they are thinking and their hearts. They were thinking that Jesus was speaking blasphemy. Bad speech against God.

So Jesus then took it a step further, to show his power and divinity. He said:

“Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – he said to the paralytic – “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
– Mark 2:8-12

Wow. Jesus says, not only will I forgive this man of his sins, but I will prove I can by telling him to get up and walk.

Who Is this man?

In Matthew 8 there is a big storm that comes up on the disciples as they are traveling by boat. They are all terrified and then Jesus gets up and at the sound and command of his voice the waves stopped. The disciples were amazed and said, “What kind of man is this, even the winds and waves obey Him.” He has power over death. He raises people from death to life by just commanding it. He also had the power to raise himself from the dead! According to Mark 2, Jesus even has the power to forgive sins!

We clearly see that Jesus is in fact God. So, what does that mean for us? Why is it important? Why was Athanasius willing to give up his life for this belief?

1. Since Jesus is God, we can be saved.

If Jesus was not God, we are still dead in our sins. Apart from Jesus being God and becoming a man, Christians cannot be saved from their sin. A created being cannot save another created being. If the Son was a creature, just like man, then man cannot be saved. In fact, if one is a creature than one must be redeemed himself.

Athanasius had three points to his argument against Arius and they went as follows:

  1.  No creature can redeem another creature.
  2. According to Arius, Jesus Christ is a creature.
  3. Therefore, according to Arius, Jesus Christ cannot redeem humanity.

Due to sin, man has a debt that they must pay to God. There is no way that man can pay this debt. God has to pay the full penalty for all the sins of everyone who would believe in Him. Jesus had to be God so that the payment for our sin can have eternal value. This again is where both his divinity and humanity is eternally important. His humanity also allows Jesus to die for me as a man. His divinity allows for Jesus to die for all people, at all times, for all of eternity.

Jesus had to have an infinite nature so that his death could cover the sins of the whole world for all of eternity. Just the death of a man, even a man who was sinless, could not cover the sins of all humanity.

For unbelievers: It is only through Jesus that we can be saved. That we can be forgiven of our sins. In Mark 2, it was Jesus who could alone forgive sins. The same is true today. All throughout the Bible we learn that it is only God that save people from their sins. No man, no creature. God and God alone. Jonah 2:9 says, Salvation is from God. Salvation is only found in the perfect God/man. Salvation is found in believing in and following Jesus. If you are today and there has never been a time that you have trusted in Jesus for your salvation, may this be the day.

“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

Here is the implication for us: For believers in Jesus, followers of Jesus are forever safe from the punishment of our sins! FOREVER!!!! STOP!!! You are completely forgiven, forever! Incarnation has to be true! God came in flesh. God became man.

If you are born again in Jesus.
– John 1

2. Since Jesus is God, we must worship Him.

The Bible is clear that it is God and God alone who deserves our worship. Since Jesus is God, he deserves our worship. He deserves our lives! Since Jesus is God, everything that he said or did is true. Only God deserves our worship and since Jesus is God, he deserves our worship.

Thomas, one of his disciples had the same reaction that all of us should have when we come face to face with the reality that Jesus is who he said he is. He is God. He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one can come to the Father except through Him. Thomas, “My Lord, and my God.”

Not only is Jesus worthy of our worship but what he did for us should lead us to worship. Jesus, God, creator, ruler of all, He left heaven and became a man so that we could be saved. Jesus left heaven, became a servant, and died a brutal death on a cross and bore the penalty of our sin! All the wrath of God was poured out on him! (Philippians 2) That is how much God loves you! This should lead us to worship! We should be amazed, in awe, of what Jesus has done for you. How much more beautiful does Jesus look when we see what he did for us, so that we can be forgiven of our sins and have life forever in Him?

Are you living a life of worship to Jesus? When we think of worship, it is easy to just think about Sunday mornings. But we live our lives in worship. We all worship something in our actions. Jesus is Lord of all, Lord of everything, and deserves all of our lives. Not just the part of our lives on Sunday morning.

Are there areas in your life where you haven’t surrendered to His Lordship? Is Jesus the Lord of your life? Is he the Lord of your marriage? Your family? Lord of your work? Lord of your time? Your money? Since our lives are worship, are we spending time with Jesus? Are we praying and having communion with Jesus?

A Christian is someone who bows their knees to Jesus. One day every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2). Will we do it now or at judgment?

3. Since Jesus is God, we must give our lives to make Him known.

Remember back to our Matthew passage. Jesus asked the disciples who do others say that I am. They said Elijah, John the Baptist, Jeremiah. People are still saying the same thing about Jesus.
People are OK with Jesus being a good man, a prophet, a good teacher, even a miracle worker. But if those are true other religious are missing it:

  • Islam – a prophet
  • Buddhist – holy man, a wise teacher
  • Jehovah Witness – Do not believe Jesus is fully God but created

He can’t be any of these things. He is God, and only belief in Jesus as God, the way to salvation, can lead to salvation. Belief in Him and his finished work on the cross in the only means to our salvation.

I love what C.S. Lewis says on this subject. “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

We must live our lives telling people about the Real Jesus! Jesus came to earth to tells others the Good News of salvation. We are to do the same! We are to go to others and tells others the good news of salvation. We are to go out and tell others who Jesus is and what he did for us. If you are not around unbelievers make an effort to begin building relationships. Go out and walk in these neighborhoods, go to restaurants and gas stations often, people at work. They are out there and hurting and we have the have the hope they are looking for.

My challenge to you this week is this: Ask one person this week who they believe Jesus was/is. Then come back next week in your small groups and talk about the conversations that you had! And then if opportunity presents itself, walk them through these passages and explain to them that Jesus is the way to salvation. People are looking for hope! And we have it!

Will we be like Athanasius and give our lives to make the real Jesus know?