Who Do Men Say that I Am?
There are only three real options when it comes to Jesus of Nazareth. The famous writer and Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge wrote the following concerning the identity of Jesus of Nazareth:
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 a 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.--C.S. Lewis
Who is Jesus Really?
There is only one way that we can truly understand the identity of Jesus of Nazareth. Although the Gospel of John clearly explains that Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew which translated into English literally means Salvation, Matt. 1:21), is God with us, the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. When we compare the Old Testament verses with the New Testament we find that the Holy Spirit is using verses that pertain to Jehovah God and then applies them to the Messiah. The Hebrew Scriptures clearly describesxgb the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as being a plurality of Persons. Even in the original Hebrew, the word used overwhelmingly to describe Yehovah or YHVH (LORD, from Ex. 3:14) is Elohim. Elohim is the plural (El is the singular form of this word) and it is rendered correctly as “gods” when speaking of pagan deities. When you see this word used in conjunction with the God of Israel, Bible translators capitalize the “g” and drop the “s” at the end, e.g. God. You can see this distinction clearly in the following verse:
And God (Elohim = Gods) spoke all these words, saying: “I am the LORD your God (Elohim =Gods), who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. “You shall have no other gods (Elohim) before Me, Ex. 20:1-3.
It is interesting to note that the only verse in the Bible that Judaism considers a catechism of sorts is Deut. 6:4. It is accepted by all the sects of Judaism from the very Orthodox to the most liberal. It was connected by the Messiah to the greatest commandment in the Law of Moses (the Torah), Mark 12:28-30. The English translation is rendered:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! “ Deut. 6:4
But the actual Hebrew would be translated as follows:
Sh'ma Yis'ra'eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.
Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God (our Gods), the Lord is one (Unity).
There is a word that means absolute one and that word in Hebrew is yachid. It is usually translated as “only” as in Zech. 12:10, but echad is the word used to describe a cluster of grapes, Nu. 13:23, or Israel and Judah combined, Ez. 37:19 or a husband and wife becoming one flesh. We can assume that Moses understood Hebrew, so why is he using Hebrew words that indicate that Jehovah is a plurality of Persons or compound unity, yet He is truly one God? This is consistent with numerous verses in the Bible that characterize the Creator of the universe as being a plurality of Persons, Gen. 1:26, Gen. 3:22, Gen. 11:7; Gen. 19:24; Ps. 110:1, 149:2; Ecc. 12:1, Is. 48:12-16, I John 5:7.
When this truth is coupled with numerous verses in the Old Testament being used exclusively of Jehovah (YHVH) being applied to Messiah Jesus in the New Testament, Heb. 1:8 from Ps. 45:6 or Phil. 2:10-11 from Is. 45:23, as well as all the verses calling Jehovah the Almighty and the Alpha (first) and the Omega (last) being applied to the Messiah, Rev. 1:8; you find the biblical confirmation of what Jesus taught His disciples on numerous occasion, i.e., If you seem Me you have seen the Father, John 14:6-10, and I the Father are one, John 17:22 etc. Names applied to the Messiah are also applied to Jehovah, Is. 9:6, further confirming the tri-unity of God.
Perhaps the most astounding testimony of the Bible concerning this truth that Jesus is Jehovah manifest in the flesh can be found in Isaiah’s call to ministry, Is. 6:1-5. In the gospel of John, we read that the One who Isaiah saw on the throne of Glory was none other than the pre-incarnate Messiah, God the Son, John 12:41.
But Who Do You Say that I AM?
Now this might just be the most important question you will ever hear. Why? Because the Scriptures tell us that Jesus of Nazareth is not only the author of the Word of God, He is the Creator of all things, the living Word of God. He alone is the way to the Father, John 14:6, because He is the only acceptable sacrifice for sin. The prophet Isaiah tells us to make Him our guilt offering, Is. 53: 10, then we become his offspring. It is essential that we are able to trust Him completely and rely entirely upon the living Word of God as He is described in the written Word of God. When Yeshua asked His disciples, who He was, only Peter came up with the correct answer. Jesus quickly noted that Peter (Petros in Greek meaning small pebble or stone) did not come up with his confession on his own, but that God the Father revealed it to him. The revealed truth was that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, Ps. 2, Prov. 30:4. Yeshua explained that upon the rock (Petra in Greek meaning boulder or massive rock) of Peter’s confession, the body of believers would be built, Matt. 16:13-20.
In the context of this passage, it is clearly the confession of Peter (that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God) that is the Rock or Divine truth upon which the body of believers stands. The God of Israel is often compared to an immovable rock, the solid foundation that cannot be overturned.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. Psalm 18:2
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Ps. 40:2
The Apostle Paul when speaking of his own ministry refers to the gospel of Messiah Yeshua as the only acceptable foundation that anyone can ever build upon, that of Jesus Christ, the Holy One of Israel.
For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. I Cor. 3:9-11.
Speaking to the Gentiles in Ephesus Paul reminds them of what the gospel really accomplished in their lives.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. Eph. 2:19-22
It is the Stone the builders (the religious leaders of Israel) refused, that has become the chief Cornerstone, Ps. 118:22; Matt. 12:41:42; Is. 28:16; I Pet. 2:6. It is because of Him that we experience the great exchange, our fear, guilt, and shame is replaced by God’s faith, hope, and love. We are not who we used to be, we are who God says we are “in Messiah.”
There is only one God and that is true, but the true and living God manifests Himself as a plurality Persons, One God manifesting Himself as Father, Son/Messiah and Holy Spirit. This is a great mystery revealed to us by God’s Spirit: 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, I Tim. 3:16.