Who Is Jesus Christ?
ACCORDING to reliable history, a man named Jesus was born over 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem, a small town in the land of Judea. Herod the Great was king in Jerusalem then, and Caesar Augustus was emperor in Rome. (Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:1-7) Roman historians of the first two centuries generally avoided mentioning Jesus, since Roman rulers at that time were trying to suppress Christianity.
On the other hand, The Historians’ History of the World observes: “The historical result of [Jesus’] activities was more momentous, even from a strictly secular standpoint, than the deeds of any other character of history. A new era, recognised by the chief civilisations of the world, dates from [Jesus’] birth.”
Time magazine reported that more books have been written about Jesus than any other person in history. Many of these books focus on the question of Jesus’ identity, that is, who he really is. There has perhaps been more controversy about this matter than about any other subject in human history.
Early Questions About Identity
When Mary was told that she would have a child and that she was to name him Jesus, she asked: “How is this to be, since I am having no intercourse with a man?” God’s angel Gabriel replied: “Power of the Most High will overshadow you. For that reason also what is born will be called holy, God’s Son.”—Luke 1:30-35.
Later, Jesus performed miracles that caused his apostles to marvel. When a mighty windstorm threatened to sink their boat on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus calmed the waters with the rebuke “Hush! Be quiet!” In astonishment, his apostles exclaimed: “Who really is this?”—Mark 4:35-41; Matthew 8:23-27.
Questions about Jesus’ real identity became common among people of his day, so Jesus asked his apostles who people were saying he was. “Some say John the Baptist,” they replied, “others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets”—all of whom were then dead. Afterward Jesus asked: “‘You, though, who do you say I am?’ In answer Simon Peter said: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” Even the demons—wicked angels—said of Jesus: “You are the Son of God.”—Matthew 16:13-16; Luke 4:41.
Who Jesus Said He Was
Although Jesus rarely spoke of himself as God’s Son, he did acknowledge that he was. (Mark 14:61, 62; John 3:18; 5:25, 26; 11:4) Almost invariably, however, he said that he was “the Son of man.” By identifying himself this way, he highlighted his human birth—the fact that he was truly a man. Thus he also revealed himself to be that “son of man” whom Daniel had seen in vision appearing before Almighty God—“the Ancient of Days.”—Matthew 20:28; Daniel 7:13.
Rather than proclaim himself to be God’s Son, Jesus allowed others to reach that conclusion. And even people besides his apostles did so, including John the Baptist and Jesus’ friend Martha. (John 1:29-34; 11:27) These believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah. They learned that he had lived in heaven as a mighty spirit person and that his life had been miraculously transferred by God to the womb of the virgin Mary.—Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:20-23.
Similar to the First Man, Adam
In many respects, Jesus was similar to the first man, Adam. For example, both were perfect men who did not have a human father. (Genesis 2:7, 15) So the Bible calls Jesus “the last Adam”—a perfect man who could serve as “a corresponding ransom.” Jesus’ life corresponded to that of “the first man Adam,” whom God created as a perfect human.—1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Timothy 2:5, 6.
The first Adam is called in the Bible “son of God.” (Luke 3:38) However, that Adam lost his precious relationship as God’s son by willfully disobeying God. On the other hand, Jesus was always faithful to his heavenly Father, and he remained God’s approved Son. (Matthew 3:17; 17:5) The Bible says that all who exercise faith in Jesus, accepting him as their Savior, can receive everlasting life.—John 3:16, 36; Acts 5:31; Romans 5:12, 17-19.
Yet, some argue that Jesus is not simply the Son of God but that he is actually God himself. They say that he and his Father are both Almighty God. Are they correct? Is Jesus somehow part of God? Is that what Jesus, or any of the Bible writers, said? Really, who is the only true God? Who did Jesus say He is? Let us see.
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No One Better Known
The account of Jesus’ life was recorded by four of his contemporaries—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—two of whom were intimate associates. Their books, named after them, are commonly called the Gospels, parts of which can be read in over two thousand languages. These small books are usually incorporated with others that make up the Bible. The circulation of the Gospels—either as individual books or as part of the Bible—is greater by far than that of any other writings in history. No wonder that Jesus is better known than any man who has ever lived!
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“Who really is this?” the apostles asked