Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” (Mark 8:27). In this day and age more than ever, Jesus is an unknown. To many, Jesus is just a word to use when frustrated or angry. To others, he is simply a good person who lived long ago and had some good things to say. But who is Jesus according to the Gospel?
Colossians 1:19 declares of Jesus, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”
When the gospel of John introduces Jesus it describes him as ‘the Word’—God’s communication to us. John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1,14).
So, who is Jesus according to the Gospel? Jesus is fully God.
In response to many people claiming that Jesus wasn’t God, but rather a great moral teacher, CS Lewis wrote:
“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.
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.
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 patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
…Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however, strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”
Who is Jesus according to the gospel? Jesus is fully man.
When Jesus came to earth, although still fully God, he also became fully man. Hebrews 2:17-18 tell us, “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers [that’s us] in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Jesus had to become fully human “in every respect” and live his life as a man in order to qualify as our representative before God the Father.
In 1 Timothy 2:3-5 the Apostle Paul affirms that Jesus’ humanity is essential to our salvation: “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” The two words in bold there are translated from the same word in Greek. Jesus is fully human. The same as you and I.
After Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” they gave him several answers. Then Jesus asked them the far more penetrating question, “But who do you say that I am?” I hope that now you can confidently answer: Jesus was and is both fully God and fully man. Because he is fully man he is qualified to represent us and die in place of us for our sin, and because he is God he is able to save us.
In order to be effective in evangelism and for people to understand the gospel, we must share both aspects of Jesus’ identity (deity and humanity).