Now that Christmas has arrived, it is remarkably easy to be distracted by all the commercialism, traditions, and festivities that come along with this season. Christmas is known as the time of year when people remember the coming of Jesus into the world. However it is also at this time of year when nothing is distorted more than the identity of Jesus. Some things add confusion to who Jesus really is, while other things may even bring some clarity to His identity. Hopefully I can shed some light onto who Jesus is and why His identity is of the utmost importance to us in the present day.
In order to do this, we need to first look at the events that occur in Mark 8:27-29. If we pay attention and read the dialogue carefully we can observe that there are two groups of people.
The first group of people is the general public and Jesus gets their opinion by asking the disciples “Who do the people say that I am?” To this question the disciples reply that some people say that he is John the Baptist, or Elijah, or perhaps even one of the prophets from the Old Testament times. These people were great men in their own respect. They were all highly regarded by the people and viewed as great teachers. They were even considered to be God’s messengers to His chosen people, Israel. As great as these previously mentioned people are, they fail to address the larger issue of who Jesus is. This is apparent when Jesus is not satisfied with their answers and He asks the disciples a slightly different but similar question. Jesus asks once more “But who do you say that I am?”
It is with this question that we finally move from the first group of people, the general public, to the second group of people, His disciples. Jesus realizes that the general public does not have an accurate view of His identity so His second question is aimed directly towards the people who knew Him the best, His disciples. His disciples answer the question with a simple but profound reply. Peter speaking on behalf of all the disciples calls Jesus the Christ.
Many people nowadays don’t realize the implications of this statement. People often think that Christ is just Jesus’ last name, but it is anything but that. It is a title that is bestowed to Jesus and it means that He was their Deliverer, He was their King, He was the promised one, whose kingdom would last forever, but most importantly, it meant that Jesus was God.
This was the last part of Jesus’ identity that the general public failed to realize. Jesus was not only a great man or teacher, but He was also God. This is Jesus’ true identity, fully God and fully man.
Now you may be asking yourself, “That’s cool to know, but what does it mean for me?”, and in order to answer that question, we need to take a step back and look at things through a broader scope.
The first thing we need to realize is that man has a problem called sin. Sin is anything we do that is in rebellion to God’s will for us. Since God is perfect it means that every time we fail to be perfect we are in sin. Therefore because of our sin, we are separated from God and have no relationship with Him. This is due to the fact that a perfect and holy God cannot accept anything other than perfection. Therefore when we die we all deserve Hell because of our sin. This is because the punishment for our sin is death, and God being perfect has to punish sin or else he would no longer be perfect and as a result he could no longer be God.
The reality of sin and its consequences leads to the question, “How can man ever go to heaven?”
The answer to that question is a simple one. It is impossible. Man when left to his own abilities can never earn his own way to Heaven since we are tainted by sin. No one deserves to get into heaven, and the only way we can get into heaven is if we rely not on ourselves, but on someone else.
The reality that we must rely on someone else in order to get into heaven is what makes Jesus’ identity so crucial for mankind. Jesus being God could live the perfect life that none of us could live. Jesus being God could live up to that standard of perfection that none of us can ever reach. However it is equally important for Jesus to also be human. Jesus being human could sympathize with our humanity, but most importantly Jesus being human could die in our place. The fact that Jesus died for our sins is exactly what allows us to be able to go to heaven. Out of everyone who has ever lived, Jesus was the only one who did not deserve to die. Yet Jesus willingly took the punishment for our sins and died on our behalf so that we may be able to be counted as perfect before God’s eyes. Through His death Jesus took the punishment for our sins, but it is through His resurrection that we can see that God’s wrath against us is truly satisfied. His resurrection demonstrates that Jesus’ death was enough to pay the price for the sins of all who believe in Him.
Therefore it is only through Jesus that we may be reconciled and have a right relationship with God. It is only through Jesus that we can have eternal life with God, and it is only through Jesus that we may get to heaven.
We can never get to heaven through relying on ourselves and our own actions, and therefore we must rely on the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf.
This leads to a final question of “Which group do you belong to?” Are you part of the first group, the general public, who viewed Jesus only as a good teacher or a wise man, or are you part of the second group, His disciples, who recognized Jesus’ deity and acknowledged Him as the Savior of Mankind.