by Kevin Burton
In Mark chapter eight, Jesus asks the disciples two questions. The first sets up the second. The second sets up the rest of your life.
This is the seventh installment of our series Ten Questions from the Bible. Our question for today came from Jesus as he was walking with His disciples.
“And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, ‘Whom do men say that I am?’
And they answered, ‘John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others, one of the prophets.’
And he saith unto them, ‘But whom say ye that I am?’ (Mark 8: 27-29a KJV).
Who is Jesus? The debate of the ages can’t be fully explored here in 700 words.
But I agree with the apostle Peter and his response: “And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. (Mark 8: 29b KJV).
All the Jews and many others living in that region at that time would have known exactly what that meant. The Christ was the Messiah the Jews were waiting for.
Isaiah chapter 53 is the most famous, but far from the only, Old Testament reference to a coming Savior.
That chapter paints a picture of a sinless Savior who dies to take away the sins of men. This is the Jesus of the Bible. The story of His earthly sojourn is told in the New Testament.
Google “who is Jesus” and you’ll see that just about everybody is weighing in. You’ll see that many of them do not portray Jesus as the Son of God.
“Many people have a positive regard for
Jesus, but they miss the mark altogether,” writes Kristopher Morris on www.sermoncenrtral.com. “You can speak of Jesus as a prophet, a holy man, teacher or spiritual leader, and few will object. But speak of Him as the Son of God, Savior from sin, the only way to Heaven, and multitudes of people will line up to voice their disapproval.”
This is Jesus as merely a “good teacher.” In his book “Mere Christianity,” theologian CS Lewis tried to put an end to that notion once and for all.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God,” Lewis wrote.
“That is the one thing we must not say. 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.”
And what sorts of things did Jesus say about himself? Here are just three:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6 KJV).
“As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17: 18-21 JV).
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one” (John 10:28-30 (KJV).
Those are not the words of a mere teacher.
“You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse,” Lewis wrote.
“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.”