Is Jesus the Son of God

In the following narrative we try to answer the question using Scripture: Is Jesus the Son of God?


Throughout the years, many have questioned the claims that Jesus was the Son of God. Some even question whether Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. The opening chapters of the Gospels clearly teach that Jesus was the promised Jewish Messiah. We will focus on these opening chapters and then look at some other important proof that Jesus was indeed the Son of God.

The Bible tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, and favor with God. When He was twelve years of age, He demonstrated that He was wise beyond His years as He sat in the temple at the feet of the teachers listening and asking questions. “And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers” (Luke 2:47, NKJV). The Scriptures are silent on the life of Jesus between the ages of twelve and thirty. It seems that Joseph had died and, perhaps, Jesus continued working as a carpenter, as Joseph had done and as would be the custom of the Jews.

When he was 30 years of age, he began His public ministry through a number of appearances, where He presented His credentials as the promised Messiah. First, He appeared to John the Baptist, asked to be baptized, and then was immediately led by the Holy Spirit into the mountains where He withstood the temptations of Satan for forty days. Then, He chose a few men, who would later become His disciples, to travel with Him as He began His public ministry.

This is My Beloved Son

When Jesus was about thirty years of age, a prophet, who was called John the Baptist, began to attract attention. He was the son of Zacharias and began to preach a very special and long-anticipated message – the kingdom is at hand.

Although Matthew, Mark, and Luke all give the story, we will look at Matthew’s version of the message. “Now in those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, ‘THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!”” (Matt. 3:1-3, NASB1995).

For years, the nation Israel had been in bondage to the Gentile nations, and for years, they had dreamed of the day when they would be restored as a world power under the leadership of the promised Messiah. They envisioned that very soon they would break the iron yoke of Rome and return to the Golden Years of the reign of David and Solomon. Had not the angel, Gabriel, given the prophet Daniel the timetable of seventy weeks or 490 years (Dan. 9:23-27) for the future of Israel?

Most of those years had come and gone, and the nation was anxiously waiting for this anticipated era. In fact, the Jewish leaders used those past years, when God had been silent, to expand the law through their own interpretations. The new constitution was a masterpiece in the eyes of the authors. Since all the details had been worked out, according to the Jewish leaders, it was now the Messiah’s responsibility to come, conquer the enemy, and reign – just as David had done.

John is now saying that the time has come for the Messiah to make His appearance, and the people must repent. We usually think of the word “repent” as being sorrowful, but this is not what John meant. The Greek word “metanoeo” has been translated into English as “repent”, and it means to think differently and to change your heart. A sinner is one who is in rebellion against God’s will; therefore, he thinks differently from God. When a sinner repents, he changes his thoughts and will to agree with God’s will. The term “Kingdom of Heaven” means the reign of God over the earth and to the Jewish mindset it included all the promises of the Messianic Kingdom. John is now saying that if we are going to be ruled by God, our thoughts must be in harmony with God’s thoughts. We must trust Him as our Lord and Master and let Him determine what is best for us.

Let us now look at the results of John’s preaching. “Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore, bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones” (Matt. 3:5-9, NKJV).

For the first time, we see the seed being planted for the great confrontation which was destined to take place between the Jewish leaders and Jesus. The Pharisees and Sadducees considered themselves the sinless sons of Abraham; therefore, they did not repent. However, since the ordinary people confessed their sins and repented, John baptized them. The water baptism symbolized the sanctification and cleansing process that God had already done.

Now John makes a startling announcement – one that he may not have fully comprehended. “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt. 3:11, NKJV). Since the Mosaic covenant would soon be set aside, John was presenting a new relationship with God. The new relationship would be based upon the new covenant, which had been promised to Israel – the covenant of the New Kingdom.

John is also referring to the coming Messiah, but apparently, he does not know Jesus; even though they were kinsmen. God, the Holy Spirit, promised John a sign by which he would recognize Jesus. But when the two men met, even before God gave the sign, John immediately recognized Jesus as being the promised King. There was something special about this man called Jesus, and the Father’s celestial announcement, which took place at his baptism, confirmed to John what he already knew in his heart.

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’” (Matt. 3:13-17, NKJV).

This is the third time the Bible portrays the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit coming together for a special occasion. In each of the three accounts, the Bible clearly refers to the three persons of the Godhead – the trinity of God. First, they came to create man in their own image (Gen 1:26). Secondly, they came to confuse the language of the Gentiles who were building the tower at Babel (Gen 11:7), and, thirdly, they have come together to inaugurate the public ministry of Jesus, The Second Person of the Godhead.

First, we have the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove. A careful study of Greek will show that the Spirit went into Jesus, and became His source of power, while He was incarnated. He was called “The Christ” which means “The Anointed one”. Jesus was anointed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and during His public ministry, the Holy Spirit taught Him and directed all His actions.

Although Jesus was God, He was also man, and His humanity placed limitations upon Him. It is difficult for many to accept the fact that Jesus had limitations, but the Scriptures clearly show that He had all the restrictions of the flesh. Therefore, He depended upon the leadership of the Holy Spirit to direct Him.

Next, we see the Father confirming the deity of Jesus when He said: “This is my beloved Son.” This was the sign that had previously been given to John so that he would know Christ. Apparently, all who were present heard the words from heaven – we know John the Baptist did, for he later confirmed it to some Jewish leaders (John 1:33-34, NKJV).

We now encounter the question as to why Jesus was baptized. Was He baptized because He had repented of His sins? Was He baptized so that He might receive salvation? No, Jesus had no sin. He did not come into this world to save Himself but to save others.

The baptism of Jesus was a shadow of the cross and an open tomb, which foresaw His death, burial, and resurrection. The baptism of Jesus symbolized the primary mission of Jesus’ first advent and the criteria that must be met before the “Kingdom of Heaven” could be established. The “Kingdom of Heaven” must be grounded in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

It is apparent, from the study of the Scriptures, that no one, at that time, understood the two advents of Jesus. Therefore, neither John nor the people understood that their baptism was also symbolic of the cross and the open tomb.

Water baptism is and has always been a picture of our identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Before the cross, baptism looked forward to the cross, and after the cross; baptism looked back at the cross. Without the completed work of the cross, no one could enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Listen to the words of the apostle Paul as written to the Romans. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, we also should walk in the newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:3-6, NKJV).

We must absolutely understand that it is not baptism, but repentance and trust in Jesus that saves us.

For centuries, churches have been trying to convert the heathen to Christianity by forced baptism. This only resulted in a lot of people getting wet. Without a change in the heart, mental attitude, and conduct, baptism is in vain. Let us not forget, however, that Jesus ordained water baptism both in purpose and in form. When we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, He commands us to be submerged into the water as a symbolic picture, to ourselves and to others, that the death and resurrection of Jesus has saved us. Baptism, like salvation, is a personal matter.

The Second Adam

Let us now continue with the sequence of events by following Luke’s narrative. “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil” (Luke 4:1-2a, NKJV).

Let us not fail to note that the Holy Spirit is directing the actions of Jesus. Matthew 4:1 says, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit”, but Mark 1:12 states that, “the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness.” The Greek word “anago”, used in Matthew, can also be translated as “driven”. The tense of the Greek verb implies that Jesus was continuously under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ first order of business was to prove that He could do what no other man or woman has ever been able to do – resist Satan by not yielding to his temptations.

 Matthew, Mark, and Luke all state that Jesus was tempted by Satan. Mark implies that Jesus was tempted for forty days by Satan, but Matthew and Luke place their emphasis on the close of the forty days. It is probable that Satan continuously tempted Jesus during the forty-day period, but intensified his effort as hunger, exposure, and stress weakened Him. The devil had won the battle with Adam and Eve and was equally determined to triumph over Jesus – the only man since Adam, who was not born under the condemnation of sin.

It is important to understand that God does not tempt man or woman. In the book of James, we read: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13, NKJV).

Here, it is not God who does the tempting but it is Satan. Yet, God allows us to be tested so that we may be proven faithful. He allowed Satan to tempt Adam and Eve and they failed the test. Now, the Holy Spirit has driven Jesus into the wilderness so that He might also be tested but He was proven faithful when Satan used his deceptive tricks to tempt Him.

An enlightening way to study the temptation of Jesus is to contrast it with the temptation of Adam and Eve.

Let us review the events as recorded in Genesis. “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.” Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3:1-6, NKJV).

Now, let us look at the temptation of Jesus. He fasted in the wilderness for forty days. Many believe at this time, the Holy Spirit revealed more fully the details of His role as the Messiah.

We know that God, the Son, was a member of the team that created the plan for the ages. But as part of that plan, He chose to become a man; thus, took on the restrictions and weaknesses of humanity. One of those restrictions could very well have been a lack of complete understanding of His earthly role. The Holy Spirit taught Him in the wilderness and showed Him the complete divine plan. The physical repercussions of this ordeal left Him very weak and hungry.

“Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. And the devil said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread’ (Luke 4:1-3, NKJV).

The devil recognized Jesus as the Son of God, but he tempted Him to prove the fact that He actually was the Son of God. Since Jesus has the power, why not use it? After all, He is hungry! Satan is a master at making things sound so right and so easy; he did the same thing to Eve when he showed her the forbidden fruit.

Now watch the way Jesus answers Satan. “But Jesus answered him, saying, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God’” (Luke 4:4, NKJV). Notice that Jesus answered the devil with the Word of God.

But Satan does not give up very easily, so he tries again. “Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours’” (Luke 4:5-7, NKJV).

The devil knew that if he did not stop Jesus now that the day would come when Jesus would defeat him and take control of all the kingdoms of the earth. Therefore, he offered Jesus a compromise, which would save the suffering of the cross. He appealed to the human’s natural lust for power. We recall that he tempted Eve the same way when he told her that she “would be like God knowing good and evil.”

“And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Luke 4:8, NKJV).

Please note that Jesus knew that Adam had given Satan control of the earthly kingdoms, therefore, Jesus did not challenge Satan’s authority. But, again, Jesus responded with the Word of God.

Satan then took Jesus into Jerusalem and appealed to Him to demonstrate his power by performing a miracle. “And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,’ and ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE ‘” (Luke 4:9-11, NASB1995).

Finally, Satan tried to appeal to Jesus through the Word. But as he quotes Psalm 91:11, he altered its meaning by omitting part of it. “And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It is said, YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’ And when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:12-13, NASB 1995).

Matthew 4:11 tells us that after Satan departed “angels came and ministered unto Jesus.”

What Adam and Eve could not do, Jesus did! He was tested and proven faithful. He did not rebel against His father, thus becoming the puppet of Satan. Since Jesus did not yield to temptation, He was later able to redeem all those who did yield. Listen to the words of the apostle Paul, which were written to the Corinthians. “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” “The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven” (I Cor. 15:45, 47, NKJV).

In his letter to the Romans, Paul said it this way. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned”. “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:12, 18-19, NKJV).

Behold the Lamb of God

Shortly after His temptation by Satan, Jesus was walking by the river Jordan. John the Baptist recognized him and pointed Him out to some men who were nearby. The gospel of John gives us the details. “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me”” (John 1:29-30, NKJV).

“I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water. And John bore witness, saying, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God’” (John 1:31-34, NKJV).

“Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, ‘What do you seek?’ They said to Him, ‘Rabbi’ (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), ‘where are You staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour)” (John1:35-39, NKJV).

“One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, ‘You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas’ (which is translated, A Stone)” (John 1:40-42, NKJV).

“The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ And Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’” (John 1:43-46, NKJV).

“Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!’ Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’ Nathanael answered and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.’ And He said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man’” (John 1:47-51, NKJV).

John the Baptist and the disciples declared Jesus to be the Son of God and the promised Messiah, but Jesus also declared himself to be the promised Messiah. The term “Son of man” is linked to prophesy as recorded in the book of Daniel and is understood to be Messianic in nature. We will discuss this more in a later section. Jesus uses the term “Son of Man” many times when referring to Himself.

Jesus and his four new disciples returned to Galilee. Many scholars believe that Jesus was baptized in December or January, and probably returned to Galilee in late January or February. Between this time and the coming Passover, which would be in April, Jesus performed his first miracle by turning the water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana.

The Women at the Well

When it was time for the feast of Passover, Jesus and his disciples went down to Jerusalem. While there, He found himself in the spotlight when He overturned the tables of the evil moneychangers, performed miracles, and told the Jewish ruler, Nicodemus, that he must be born again (John 2:13-3:21). From Jerusalem, Jesus took his disciples down to the Jordan River, and his disciples began baptizing; just as John had done earlier (John 3:22).

In the late fall, Jesus and his disciples returned to Galilee by way of Samaria. Since they were hot and thirsty, they stopped by a well. Jacob had previously dug this well near the old city of Shechem (present-day Nablus). Jesus surprised a Samaritan woman, who was drawing water, by asking her for a drink. In those days, Jews made it a point not to have any contact with the Samaritans. “So the woman said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans” (John 4:9b, NKJV).

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’” “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw’” (John 4:10,13b-15, NKJV).

“Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly’” (John 4:16-18,, NKJV).

“The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’” (John 4:19-24, NKJV).

“The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When He comes, He will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He’” (John 4:25-26, NKJV).

Old Testament Credentials

“Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all” (Luke 4:14-15, NKJV).

Let us carefully note that it is the Holy Spirit who is directing and giving power to the work of Jesus’ we should let this be an example to us. Also, note that we have moved from John’s narrative to Luke’s narrative. This is because John usually provides details of events that take place in Jerusalem, and in Judea; whereas, Matthew, Mark, and Luke generally report more on the Galilean ministry. Now, let us go with Jesus into his hometown of Nazareth.

“And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And he opened the books and found the place where it was written, THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD” (Luke 4:16-19, NASB1995). “And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’” (Luke 4:21, NASB 1995).

We will see in a few moments that the people were stunned – Jesus, the local boy, had just declared that He was the promised Jewish Messiah. Also, if we look closely, we will see that Jesus stopped short of reading all of the prophecy as it is recorded in the book of Isaiah.

Let us look at what Isaiah had written. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. so they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified” (Isa. 61:1-3, NASB1995).

Now, look where Jesus stopped reading. He read up through “to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord”, but he did not read about the “day of vengeance” and the words that followed.

What He read was the prophecy that was fulfilled during His First Advent. What He did not read was the prophecy that will be fulfilled during His Second Advent. The two advents were a mystery that was hidden from everyone. When Jesus comes again He will seek vengeance against the wicked, and then He will set up His earthly reign on the throne of David.

At first the local town’s people were proud of the local boy who had become so famous. “So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, ‘Is this not Joseph’s son” (Luke 4:22, NKJV)? After a short period of time, there was a subtle change in the people’s response. Jesus began to notice the doubt that was on the faces of the people. They began to whisper. Jesus knew that they wanted proof of His claims.

“He said to them, ‘You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’ Then He said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:23-27, NKJV).

“So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way” (John 4:28-30, NKJV).

So, Nazareth became the first city to reject their long-promised Messiah because He did not conform to their preconceived image of Him. Many more would do so in the next two years.

The Great I AM

As Jesus went about His ministry healing the sick, raising the dead, and casting out demons, He was in constant conflict with the Pharisees and Jewish leaders. When he forgave the sins of a paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you” (Mark 2:5, NKJV), the Pharisees accused him of blasphemy. They accused him of casting out demons in the name of Beelzebub (Satan). They also accused him of violating the Sabbath and not performing the ceremonial washings as prescribed by their laws.

In the eighth chapter of John, a heated discussion developed over Jesus’ claim to be the Great I AM, the one who sent Moses to deliver the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage.

“Jesus answered, ‘I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death” (John 8:48-51, NKJV).

“Then the Jews said to Him, ‘Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ ‘Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM’ Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:52-59, NKJV).

As we look at the Old Testament, we see many references to the pre-incarnate Christ. The prophet Micah told us where he would be born, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2, NKJV). Notice that Micah says that the promised Messiah was eternal and that He had been active in the lives of the Jewish people throughout the Old Testament times.

Isaiah had these words to say, “In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the Angel of His Presence saved them; In His love and in His pity He redeemed them; And He bore them and carried them All the days of old” (Isa. 63:9, NKJV). Many times He appeared as the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament.

In reference to Moses’ encounter with the burning bush, we read these words, “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.’ So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.’ Moreover He said, ‘I am the God of your father – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.” (Ex. 3:1-6, NKJV).

After receiving instruction from the Angel of the Lord, Moses asked a question, “Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ So He said, ‘I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.’ Then Moses said to God, ‘Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name’? what shall I say to them’? And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Ex. 3:11-14, NKJV).

The Gospel of John lists seven I AMs that Jesus fulfilled:

  • I AM the bread of life (John 6:35).
  • I AM the Light of the World (John 8:12).
  • I AM the Door (John 10:9).
  • I AM the good shepherd (John 10:11).
  • I AM the resurrection and the life (John 11:25).
  • I AM the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:60).
  • I AM the true vine (John 15:1).

A Conversation with the Twelve Disciples

From this time forward, Jesus began to change the emphasis of His teaching and His ministry. The nation, Israel, will be set aside temporarily and another group will become the channel through which God will continue to reveal Himself and His plan for the ages. This new group, which was formed from a nucleus of the chosen twelve, would include everyone who will receive Jesus as their savior; both Jew and Gentile. Shortly thereafter, Jesus and the twelve went north to a secluded place near Caesarea Philippi, a village at the foot of Mount Herman.

When He had gathered His disciples around Him, He began the conversation with a question? “’Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets’” (Matt. 16:13-14, NKJV).

Let us remember that the term “Son of Man” is a messianic term that has reference to the Messiah. It is obvious that the people did not consider the Messiah to be God Himself.

Then Jesus personalizes His question. “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’” (Matt. 16:15-16, NKJV).

Simon Peter quickly moved to the head of the class and became a spokesman for the disciples. His answer is not only on target, but it is also from the heart. He is saying, I know that you are the Messiah and I also know that you are the Son of God.

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” “Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ” (Matt. 16:17-18, 20, NKJV).

“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men’” (Matt. 16:21-23, NKJV).

Peter’s response is typical of anyone who thought that he was destined to gain power as part of a political organization. Peter and the other disciples were members of Jesus’ inner circle and assumed that they would hold key positions in His new administration.

 This was the first time that Jesus’ primary mission was revealed to them, and they did not understand the agenda. All they could hear was defeat, defeat, defeat! Peter was saying “Lord it’s not over, we can do it. With your power, we can march into Jerusalem and conquer the Romans.” Since Peter’s will was contrary to the will of the Father, Jesus quickly admonished him. Without the death of Jesus, there could be no hope for the reign of God over the hearts and minds of mankind.

“Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matt. 16:28, NKJV).

The Transfiguration

“But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God. Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray” (Luke 9:27-28, NKJV).

“As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him” (Luke 9:29-32, NKJV).

Mark says, “His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them” (Mark 9:2, NKJV).

Whereas, Matthew says, “His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matt. 17:2, NKJV).

Due to the fact that only Luke reports that the disciples were sleeping, would probably imply that the vision took place during the night. Peter, John and James were awaken out of the sleep into this glory in the midst around them. Moses represented the law and Elijah represents the prophets. Luke says that they were discussing the crucifixion which was soon to take place.

We should also note that the clothes of Moses and Elijah were also white and as bright as light. This may well be an image of what our clothes will be like in heaven.

Both Matthew and Mark use the word transfiguration. It is an interesting word and it means metamorphosis. Merriam-Webster defines the word as, “a change of physical form, structure, or substance, especially by supernatural means a striking alteration in appearance, character, or circumstances”. The abrupt developmental change in the life of the butterfly or frog is an example of metamorphosis.

Imagine yourself in the place of the disciples – just waking from a deep sleep. Peter, as most always, is first to speak, “Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah – because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!’ Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.” (Mark 9:5-7, NKJV).

“But Jesus came and touched them and said, ‘Arise, and do not be afraid.’ When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, ‘Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead” (Matt. 17:7-9, NKJV).

Here we, again, have the prophecy that Jesus must die for our sins, but, we also have the Father confirming for the second time that Jesus is the Son of God.

This appearance of Jesus, in His glory, made such an impression on Peter that he later wrote about his experience. “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:16-21, NKJV).

The Son of Man

The theological term for Jesus being both Man and God is called the hypostatic union. No one word gives greater meaning to this relationship than the term “Son of Man”. It is used twenty-four times in the Gospel of Matthew, fifteen times in Mark, seventeen times in Luke, and twelve times in John. Many use this term to refer to the humanity of Jesus but it also refers to His Divinity.

These words are first found in the seventh chapter of the book of Daniel. “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened” (Dan. 7:9-10, NKJV).

“I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame. As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then 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 the one which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:11-14, NKJV).

It is clear that the term “Son of Man” refers to the Jewish Messiah. As Jesus was being tried before the Sanhedrin, He referred to Himself as the Son of Man who will sit at the right hand of the Power and come on the clouds of heaven.

Listen to the dialog between the High Priest and Jesus during the trial of Jesus just before he was crucified. “Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward and said, ‘This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.” And the high priest arose and said to Him, ‘Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?’ But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, ‘I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven’” (Matt. 26:59-64, NKJV).

“Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?’ They answered and said, ‘He is deserving of death.’ Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You’” (Matt. 26:65-67, NKJV)?

Jesus was found guilty of blasphemy because He identified Himself with the “Son of Man” who was expounded on as the Jewish Messiah in Daniel. He went to the cross claiming to be the Son of God.

Now we will close with the words of the angels that spoke to the disciples as they watched Jesus ascend into heaven. “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee’, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9-11, NKJV).

He ascended in a cloud and He will return to the Mount of Olives in a cloud as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The gospel evidence is overwhelming. However, God gives us a choice – we can either accept His divinity or deny it. The decision that we make has grave consequences.

Note: the following Scripture versions were used above:

Scripture quotations marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible, copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NASB1995 are taken from the New American Standard Bible, copyright © 1960, 1971,1977, 1995, by The Lockman Foundation, LA Habra, California.  Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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