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WHO DO YOU THINK JESUS IS?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, May 11, 2003


"Whom say ye that I am?" (Matthew 16:15).


Peter answered, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). "Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 16:17).

"Whom say ye that I am?" (Matthew 16:15). Jesus said that Peter gave the right answer: that He is the Christ (Greek for Messiah), the Son of the living God.

Many, particularly in our time, say other things. They give other answers to Jesus' question, "Whom say ye that I am?" We will consider,

(1) What Jesus' enemies said about Him.

(2) What Jesus said about Himself.

(3) Which of them will you believe?

I. First, what the enemies of Jesus say about Him.

"Whom say ye that I am?" (Matthew 16:15).

Jesus had many enemies while He lived on earth - and afterwards. Here are some of the things His enemies have said about Him.

1. Some have said He was insane - a madman.

"There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. And many of them said, He…is mad [he is insane]; why hear ye him?" (John 10:19-20).

"And when his friends heard of it [the great crowds gathering to hear Him], they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself [He has lost His mind]" (Mark 3:21).

This is what many atheists and agnostics say about Jesus to this day. They think that He was just a crazy man. They say the same thing those people said in John 10:20, "He…is mad; why hear ye him?"

2. Some said that He was demon possessed, or demonically influenced.

"The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil [a demon]" (John 7:20).

"Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou…hast a devil [a demon]?" (John 8:48).

"This  fellow  doth  not  cast  out  devils,  but  by  Beelzebub  [a  name  for  Satan]  the  prince  of  the  devils"  (Matthew  12:24).

"But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils" (Matthew 9:34).

There are still those today who say that Jesus' power and miracles were actually witchcraft - and that He was under the power and influence of Satan. There are people in witchcraft and Satan worship who say that about Christ today.

3. Some said that He was a deceiver - that He deliberately tricked and deceived the people.

"The chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again"
     (Matthew 27:62-63).

There are those today who say that Jesus was nothing but a deceiver, that He hoaxed people, and tricked them deliberately.

4. Some said He was a blasphemer.

"Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death" (Matthew 26:65-66).

There are those who still say that today.

5. Some simply did not want to say anything about Him.  They  did  not  want  to  make  any  decision  about  who  or  what  He  was.

"Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified… [Then Pilate] took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it [see to that yourselves]" (Matthew 27:22, 24).

Many people are like Pilate, the Roman governor. They believe Jesus was a "just person," but they do not want to be bothered with thinking too much about Him. They just want to wash their hands of the whole thing, and go on living their lives without much thought about Jesus. Most people in Los Angeles are like Pilate.  They  just  don't  want  to  think  very  much  about  Jesus  at  all.

Some say He was insane. Some say He was demon possessed and a magician, some say He was a deceiver, some say He was a blasphemer, some do not want to bother saying anything about Him. But Jesus asks you tonight,

"Whom say ye that I am?" (Matthew 16:15).

II. Second, what He said about Himself.

We have seen what the enemies of Jesus said about Him. Now let us see what Jesus said about Himself.

1. Please turn in your Bible to John 8:56,

"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by" (John 8:56-59).

They took stones and attempted to kill Him because Jesus applied the very name of God to Himself. Moses asked God what His name was, "And God said unto Moses, I am that I am" (Exodus 3:14). The consonants in Hebrew form "Yahweh," or the English "Jehovah." It means "I am." God's name "I am" means that He is self-existent and eternal. They knew Exodus 3:14, and tried to kill Jesus for saying that He was Jehovah, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). Jesus claimed to be God.

2. Please turn to John 10:29. Jesus said,

"My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God" (John 10:29-33).

Jesus said, "I and my Father are one" (v. 30). This shows the unity of essence between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity. They understood very clearly what Jesus meant, as we see in verse thirty-three, "thou, being a man, makest thyself God." There was no doubt in their minds that He claimed to be God. Ecolampadius remarks, "He does not say we are one in the masculine gender - that is one person; but one in the neuter gender - that is one in nature, power, and majesty." The Father and the Son are of one essence, or "substance," as the Athanasian Creed puts it. "Augustine remarks that this text alone (John 10:30) overthrows both the doctrine of the Sabellians [similar to the Muslims] and the Arians [similar to the Jehovah's Witnesses]. It silences the Sabellians, who say there is only one Person in the Godhead, by speaking of two distinct Persons ['I and my Father']. It silences the Arians, who say the Son is inferior to the Father, by saying that Father and Son are 'one'" (J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Banner of Truth reprint of 1869 edition, volume 2, p. 240).

3. Now turn to John 14:7,

"If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.  Believe  me  that  I  am  in  the  Father,  and  the  Father  in  me…" (John 14:7-11).

Jesus said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (v. 9).  J. C. Ryle comments, "There is so close and intimate a union between the persons in the Trinity, that he who sees the Son sees the Father. And yet we must carefully beware that we do not, like some heretics, 'confound the persons.' The Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father" (Ryle, op. cit., volume 3, p. 72). When Jesus said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father," He was essentially telling us, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (John 1:18). Jesus is called "the express image of his person" (Hebrews 1:3). The unity of Jesus and the Father, as the First and Second Persons of the Trinity, is seen in John 14:7-11.

4. Now turn to John 5:17,

"But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God" (John 5:17-18).

Josh McDowell points out "that the Jews did not refer to God as 'my Father.' If they did, they would qualify the statement with 'in heaven.' However, this Jesus did not do. He made a claim that the Jews could not misinterpret when He called God 'My Father.' His claim was to a unique relationship with God as His Father. Just as a human father's son must be fully human, God's Son must be fully God" (Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Thomas Nelson, 1999, p. 142). They fully understood this. They sought to kill Him because He made "himself equal with God" (verse 18). J. C. Ryle points out that "One thing is very clear: whatever Socinians [Jehovah's Witnesses] may say, our Lord distinctly laid claim to divinity, and the Jews distinctly understood Him to mean that He was God as well as man" (Ryle, op. cit., page 310). Jesus gave a further comment on His relationship with the Father when He said, in verse 26, "For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself" (John 5:26). God the Father and God the Son have the same life, or essence. John 1:4 says, "In him was life." Jesus claimed equality with the Father.

5. Finally, turn to Matthew 26:62,

"And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?" (Matthew 26:62-68).

Jesus said that He would be seated next to God, "on the right hand of power." For this, they had Him crucified.

These, then, are some of the things Jesus said about Himself. "Before Abraham was, I am"; "I and my Father are one"; "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father"; "making himself equal with God"; "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power." These are things Christ said about Himself. Now He asks you,

"Whom say ye that I am?" (Matthew 16:15).

III. Third, which of them will you believe?

Will you believe that He was a demon-possessed madman or a deceiving hoaxster? Or will you believe that He is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity?

"Whom say ye that I am?" (Matthew 16:15).

The proof that Jesus offered of His deity was His resurrection from the dead. Turn to Matthew 20:18,

"Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again" (Matthew 20:18-19).

The Apostle Paul said that Christ is

"declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4).

When Thomas was confronted by the resurrected Christ, he fell at Jesus' feet and cried out,

"My Lord and my God" (John 20:28).

Jesus asks you tonight,

"Whom say ye that I am?" (Matthew 16:15).

If you say that He is a lunatick or a deceiver, what hope do you have? If Jesus is not the Saviour, there is no hope in life - only death awaits you - and an endless eternity of nothingness. But if Jesus was right, and He is God the Son, then you should come to Him, and believe on Him, and be washed from your sins by His Blood. Will you reject Him - and live and die without hope? Or will you trust Him and be saved?

"Whom say ye that I am?" (Matthew 16:15).

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 16:13-17.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "For All My Sin"
                                                                                      (by Norman J. Clayton, 1943). 

THE OUTLINE OF

WHO DO YOU THINK JESUS IS?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"Whom say ye that I am?" (Matthew 16:15).

(Matthew 16:16-17)

I.   What the enemies of Jesus say about Him, 
John 10:19-20; Mark 3:21; John 7:20; John 8:48; 
Matthew 12:24; Matthew 9:34; Matthew 27:62-63; 
Matthew 26:65-66; Matthew 27:22, 24.

II.  What Jesus said about Himself, John 8:56-59; 
Exodus 3:14; John 10:29-33; John 14:7-11; 
John 1:18; Hebrews 1:3; John 5:17-18; John 5:26; 
John 1:4; Matthew 26:62-68.

III. Which of them will you believe? Matthew 20:18-19;
Romans 1:4; John 20:28; Matthew 16:15.

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