Who Is Jesus?
Who is Jesus? From the rise of liberal protestant theology in the 19th century to the famous Jesus Seminars in the 20th century, this is a question that has garnered great attention through the ages. The identity of Jesus of Nazareth has not only been a subject of interest to those who have an interest in religion, it has been a subject of interest to people all over the world. This incredible man presented in the gospels attracted much attention and clearly influenced many even during his relatively short life. To get our grounding in who Jesus is, we have begun studying the gospel of Mark, most likely the oldest gospel and a credible account from a firsthand source describing who Jesus was and what it was he came to do. The answer to this question has a direct bearing on not only how we understand the world but also how we make sense of and live our lives in this world.
Mark’s gospel is fast pace moving from one scene to the next, quickly grouping stories together to ultimately make his point. Jesus Christ is the Son of God (1:1). Mark begins his gospel demonstrating that a messianic figure who God related to and spoke of as his Son had long been expected and even predicted even from the Old Testament. From 2 Samuel 7 to Psalm 2, the Old Testament reveals God relating to the King of Israel as his Son and even points forward to a Son to whom he would give the nations as his inheritance (Ps. 2:8). Mark is assigning to Jesus this status. Mark understands that John’s unique ministry of baptism in the wilderness heralding the coming Messiah fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy that one would appear in the wilderness and make straight the path of the Lord! In Mark’s gospel, Jesus arrives on the scene and is immediately baptized by John in a ceremony in which the heavens are torn open, the Spirit descends upon Jesus, and the Father announces that Jesus is his beloved son in whom he is pleased (1:9-11). This trinitarian event demonstrates the Godhead’s unified effort in the work that Jesus has come to do, a work that will have ultimate implications for humanity itself. Immediately following his baptism, Jesus is directed into the wilderness where he does battle with Satan. The same Spirit who rested upon Jesus at his baptism has led him to this task in the wilderness where the people of God have failed repeatedly. Jesus succeeds there and sets the stage for his announcement of the Kingdom of God which in Jesus is now near (1:15). Accordingly, those who hear of Jesus should repent and believe in the good news of his authority and the coming victory of God (1:15). Mark’s gospel aims to prove that Jesus is a uniquely important figure in the world, one who can claim the title Son of God.
When asking the question who is Jesus, we are asking a question that, if we are to believe the Bible, we don’t have the final say in answering. If we are to take the Bible as the authoritative revelation from God that it claims for itself, we have to allow the Bible to answer the question for us. Jesus was killed by human beings for the claims he made about himself, but God vindicated Jesus and his claims by raising him from the dead. When we ask who Jesus is, we must be ready to allow the very place that God has chosen to reveal himself to us to be our final answer. Only then can we be sure that we not only have the right answer but also are submitting our lives to the one who alone is God.