By Roland W. Keith
"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” (Matthew 16:13-16). Christians have read or listened to the recitation of these verses so many times most of us probably don’t even stop to think about how unique this conversation is. I can’t claim to be God (well, I could, but I’d be lying). Neither can you. Moses didn’t make such a claim, nor did Buddha or Mohammad. It is one thing to claim spiritual enlightenment or to be a man of God, quite another thing to be bold enough to claim to be God. Yet that is exactly what Jesus did. Moreover, by making that assertion He was saying that the nature of His existence was different from any other man.
All men are created beings, so made as to live eternally in the Spirit from that point on. By claiming deity Jesus asserted His eternal nature as an existence without beginning or end. We are created, He is the Creator. The man Jesus was born to a woman as we are, but the Spirit of God within Him was the second member of the Godhead. We are made in the image of God, but He is God. John wrote, “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). Of Jesus the apostle Paul would write: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent” (Colossians 1:15-18; see also John 1:3).
In the first chapter of Genesis when God said “let there be light,” or “let there be a firmament…,” etc. He did not call these things into existence, but rather gave the command for these things to be brought forth by His Son. Creation was a collaborative effort of the Trinity, as we can see from Genesis 1:26: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image,’ followed in verse 27 by, “So God created man in His Own image.” Paul also noted: “yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (I Corinthians 8:6). Like an architect and builder working hand-in-hand the members of the Godhead created the universe and us. Given our Savior’s role in the creation it is an amazing thing to consider that when we went astray Christ would come to earth to fulfill His part in the Father’s plan to redeem us by taking on the fleshly limits of His creation, as Paul wrote to the Romans, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).
Man’s sin was manifested in the flesh and required a legal remedy in the same realm. God created the law to expose man’s sin and convict him for his violations of God’s commands. The just punishment for sin is a death sentence for the guilty— both physical and spiritual. However, God developed a plan that requires only the physical death of the sinner but frees him from eternal spiritual punishment. To set man free God required a perfect sacrifice, that is a spiritually innocent man who would give his life for others in a selfless sacrifice of love. Once again Father and Son would collaborate. They created man together, and together they would extend the offer of salvation to him, when Jesus died on the cross. As Paul wrote to the Hebrews, “But we see Him Who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9).
Jesus’ sacrifice was a propitiation for man’s crimes against God (Hebrews 2:17). He lived in every way as a man yet overcame sin and death for us (Hebrews 14:15-16). Through His selfless act He enacted the “law of the Spirit of life” (Romans 8:1-3), freeing all men who come to Him from sin and death, setting us at liberty in His kingdom. Other than knowing that He lived as a man and was tempted in every way as we are we cannot know what it was like for Him to walk the earth as fully God and fully man in one being. We cannot in entirely understand the nature of what it meant to be Messiah. What we are able to comprehend is that which God chose to reveal to us, which is enough for us to come to the truth and to walk in it.
Jesus Christ is the Exalted One. “The” as in the only one. There is no one else that we should follow (Mark 9:7). He accomplished all the Father gave Him to do on our behalf, “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). In the early history of mankind God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets, but two thousand years ago He sent His Son to earth to deliver His final testament. Jesus was the word made manifest and perfected by His obedience (John 1:1-3, 14; Romans 5:19; Hebrews 5:8). Today God still speaks to us through Jesus’ words and all that was passed on through the Holy Spirit and recorded by the inspired writers.
When Jesus came to earth, He was not just another prophet, another man made in God image, delivering His message. He was the exact imprint of His Father fully knowing and understanding God’s will and able to deliver it as no one else could. Only through Christ could the LORD achieve His determined end for man. The being entrusted to uphold the universe (Hebrews 1:1-3), was the one chosen to save man. As Paul wrote: “and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” Ephesians 1:19-23).
Among all the humans who have or will ever live Jesus Christ is the preeminent one (Colossians 1:18). By obeying Him alone can we approach the Father (I John 2:1-6). It is through His nature that our own can be seen by the Father as perfected (Hebrews 5:9; 12:23). He is our savior, our example, our high priest, and our intercessor (II Timothy 1:10; I Peter 2:21; Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:25). All true wisdom comes through our seeking God, and Jesus is the one who can lead us to Him. Jesus said, “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
Why should we believe such claims? Because we have eyewitness testimony. Witnesses that no one has been able to impeach for two thousand years. Their very words have been inspired by God to make their claims sure. At the end of his epistle John wrote, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name… This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true” (John 20:30-31, 21:24). We have God’s own handy work proclaiming His existence (Romans 1:19-20), and the testimony of those who knew Jesus personally and bore witness to His life (I John 1:1-4).
So profoundly different was the nature of Jesus that His actions during the last hours of His life moved one man to ask to be remembered by Him after death (Luke 23:42), and another one observing His behavior and the events surrounding His death to exclaim, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54).
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.