2 October, 2023

Who Is Jesus?

Yeshua; the Son of God; the Christ; the Messiah. These are all names that refer to one person: Jesus of Nazareth. But who exactly is Jesus? Ask your average person this question, and you’re bound to get somewhat of a different answer from each person you ask. In fact, the answer to this question is the very thing that divides most religions.

So today, let’s answer it. Who is Jesus according to the Bible, and why should we care?

Ask the Right Questions

When we get into conversations like these, especially those surrounding the reconstruction of our faith, it’s important that we not only look for the right answers but that we also ask the right questions.

Many times, when it comes to asking very deep questions like this, the quality of your answer depends on the quality of your question. So today, as we are looking through the bible to see who Jesus is, the question is not, “Who is Jesus to me?” The question is, “Who is Jesus according to the Bible?”

To make an example as to why this is important, take your parents, for instance. If someone were to ask you who your parents are, versus asking one of your parent’s friends who your parents are, you’re going to give different answers. The role that your parent plays in your life is very different from the role that they play in a friend’s life.

Different people are different things to the people around them. But, as we look at this question today, we cannot just say, who is Jesus to me, but rather, who does the Bible say Jesus actually is? To get a full picture of Jesus’s identity today, we’re going to have a look at who he is in the grand narrative of the biblical story.

Who WAS Jesus?

To start getting a full look at Jesus’s identity, let’s first look at who he was, looking all the way back to before he was even born as a man on Earth. An important question to answer here would be, “Where did Jesus actually come from?” As I said earlier, many religions are actually divided over this very thing.

Christianity, for instance, believes that Jesus is God as part of the trinity of the Godhead, but other religions believe that Jesus was just a created being. Maybe he was just a man, or certain religions believe he was just a prophet. Some even just view him to be a good teacher. But it’s important to see what the Bible says about who he is and see where he truly came from.

One of the biggest distinctions here is the argument as to whether Jesus was created or begotten from God the Father. These are two very different things. Fortunately, the Bible actually has something really important to say on this topic in Colossians 1:15-17:

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.

Now, some translations here actually say that Jesus was the firstborn of all creation.

And some might take that to say, “Oh, well, if Jesus was the firstborn of all creation, that must mean he is part of creation.” This comes from a misunderstanding of what the firstborn really means within the context of the biblical narrative and within the context of a first-century cultural outlook.

The word firstborn here, used in many translations, is actually talking about Jesus’ rank and supremacy above creation. In ancient times, there was a concept called primogeniture, which basically was the concept that the firstborn in a family had a rank above the rest of the family. This meant that if anything happened to the father, then the firstborn would be the one who would take leadership and authority over the rest of the family.

Being firstborn was a matter of rank, not a matter of origin. In fact, we can see this even more when we go through Paul’s writings in this passage. See that he says that everything, all created things, were made through Jesus and for Jesus. If Jesus was a created thing, he would have to be part of that category. All things should mean all things.

But if all things were made through him and for him, then he must not be part of the category of created things. In fact, this issue is such a hot topic issue that in the Jehovah’s Witness Bible, they actually changed their verse to not say everything or all things, but rather all other things to imply that Jesus is part of the category of created beings or created things.

We don’t have to change the Bible here. We can see what the Bible originally intended to say, which is that Jesus, as the firstborn of creation, in that concept of primogeniture, has a rank over all of creation. He is not part of the category of created beings. He is above that because he is God.

Not only was he not created, but rather begotten before all things. He’s also the person by which all things were created, through whom all things were created, and for whom all things were created. Everything in creation was created for Jesus, he is before all things, and in him, all things hold together.

We actually see John talk about this in his gospel in John 1:1-3:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and 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.

See, John is also calling upon this idea that Jesus was actually before all things. He was pre-Genesis 1:1 when it says that:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Jesus was there before that. He was with God and he was and still is God as part of the Trinity along with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Here, we can see that John is actually mimicking Genesis 1:1 to make a point that Jesus was there in the very beginning. He has always existed with the Father and the Holy Spirit as part of the Trinity.

So now that we know who Jesus was in eternity past, the next question we need to answer is, “Who is Jesus in the context of human history?

Who IS Jesus?

Who is Jesus right now? What role did he play from creation all the way up until now? Well, after the fall of mankind in Genesis 3, we see a very interesting verse that many people quote. Verse 15 says:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

From Genesis 3:15 onward, The people of the Bible are constantly looking for this person who will crush or strike the head of the serpent, effectively vanquishing evil for them. This concept actually evolves through the Old Testament into a figurehead called the Messiah.

Who is this person that is being prophesied about in the Old Testament that will eventually come and save the people of Israel from all the things that are oppressing them? This Messiah figure is exactly who Jesus comes to be when he is incarnated on the earth as the God-man; fully God, fully man.

He was still God, but he placed himself under the limitations of being human to come as the Messiah and save humanity from oppression. Paul puts this well in Philippians 2:5-8:

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.

Jesus came and he saved us. He saved humanity from sin. This is the gospel. We should all have heard about this already.

If you haven’t, the gospel in a nutshell is that Jesus, the Son of God, God Himself, came to earth as a sinless man. He lived the perfect sinless life that we cannot live but then he died a criminal’s death that we actually deserved because of our sinful nature. He died on our behalf and then he rose from the grave, defeating death and paving the way to life for all who believe in him.

That’s who Jesus is in the context of history. He is the savior, he is the Messiah, and he is the one who came to save humanity from their sins. If that wasn’t enough, he now still plays a role in our current and continued sanctification. As the author of Hebrews writes in chapter 4:14-16:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

In the Old Testament, there was a person who had the role of the Great High Priest. This person’s role was to intercede on behalf of the people with God. He was like the mediator, the go-between, between God and the rest of the people. What these verses are saying is that Jesus, now that he has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, is now our Great High Priest.

He intercedes for us on our behalf with God. Put differently, in 1 Timothy 2:5-6, Paul writes:

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

So now, currently, Jesus is interceding for us with God. He is the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through him. Now the final question that we need to answer is, “Who will Jesus be in the future?”

Who WILL Jesus Be?

What role does Jesus play in the end of all things? Remember Colossians 1:16-17, that all things were created through him and for him. This means that all things will be given over to Jesus at the end of time. If we look at Daniel 7:13-14 when Daniel is prophesying, here’s what he says:

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

His rule is eternal. It will never end. His kingdom will never end. The son of man that is talked about here is Jesus himself. We see this fulfilled in the scriptures. He will be given an everlasting kingdom. He’s given all things, including an everlasting kingdom, that everyone would bow, serve, and worship him.

This is how it ends. This is the end times right here. Jesus gets everything. Everything is given to him at the end of all time because everything was made through him and everything was made for him. The truth that we need to understand is that in the end, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

The question is, will we choose to do that now of our own volition? Or will we choose to be forced to do it later, when all things will be given over to Jesus, and His will be the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever? That’s a choice we have to make.

A Choice

Will we bend the knee now and live with His joy and His glory in our lives now and for eternity? Or will we wait until He comes back with a sword and conquers all things until the end of time? That’s our choice.

So we see that at the end of the day when we understand a little bit about who Jesus is in the context of the grand narrative of scripture, the real question is this: What will you do with Jesus?

Will he be your Lord of your life? Will you accept him as your savior, or will you just treat him as an accessory? Or maybe you’ll reject him altogether? That choice is up to you.

If you’re interested in being a part of a community where we talk about these kinds of things together, consider joining my Unroll the Scrolls Discord server. You can do that by clicking this link: https://discord.gg/QVsTTwScwS

Also consider following me on Instagram at @zachjheffner or subscribe to my email list below for more content and regular updates.

* All verses are from the ESV (English Standard Version).