Jesus: Who is this man of Nazareth?
This is surely a question everyone should ask and work to secure a correct answer. In the time of His earthly life, many people couldn’t help but wonder about this man. His words and actions caused some to respond favorably but others simply wondered about Him with amazement. Here’s the record of their response after what many call His sermon on the mount.
28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. [Emphasis added]
Luke also makes some statements about this.
36 And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this [meaning, what words these are]! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.
37 And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about. [Emphasis added]
He was doing such miraculous things as healing the sick, making the blind to see, and even bringing people who had died back to life. The evidence for Him being more than a teacher was overwhelming, but most people didn’t seem to understand the meaning of it all. He was certainly teaching things that caused people to think and to wonder about Him. Even the top political leadership in the area began asking about Him.
7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;
8 And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again.
9 And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him. [Emphasis added]
People today should be asking the same question. Who is this? People should realize from all that’s said about Him that He was someone totally out of the ordinary. He was a unique person. Later we have our Lord asking His own disciples some questions to do with His identity.
13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And 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. [Emphasis added]
But it was just as it is today. Many reject His teaching and that of the Bible, having only disdain for it. Why is that? In his first letter to the Corinthians the apostle Paul sheds some light on this for us.
I Corinthians 2:14-16
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ. [Emphasis added]
What does it mean to be “spiritual” and to “have the mind of Christ?” It means to understand something the way Christ would. For us to do this today demands a thorough understanding of the teachings of the apostle Paul, and, as I hope you know, that can be quite different from the way others in the Bible thought and taught. Even the teachings of Christ in His earthly ministry are often different from His teaching in His heavenly ministry. Here are Paul’s words about this.
II Corinthians 5:15-16
15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. [Emphasis added]
This is telling us that until the revelation Christ gave to Paul from Heaven, everything that was known about Christ came through His teachings of the time of His earthly ministry. BUT NOW we know Him through His heavenly ministry that comes to us today through the writings of the apostle Paul.
7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
The word Unsearchable [ANEXICHNIASTOS = unsearchable, not a trace of, something that can’t be found] tells us there’s not even a trace of this information outside of the revelation given to Paul which was then taught by him to others.
9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: [Emphasis added]
This is true even of the gospel message of today for salvation. This message of truth is given to us through the writings of the apostle Paul.
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
He wouldn’t put it this way if his message was more of the same as what was being proclaimed by the Twelve Apostles and others.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. [Emphasis added]
People typically assume that Paul taught the same gospel message Peter and the other apostles taught. But Scripture clearly tells us otherwise.
7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; [Emphasis added]
Peter’s message was first to Israel and then it was to go to the Gentiles. But because Israel rejected that gospel, God interrupted that program and introduced a whole new program. He saved and commissioned Paul with a new gospel message and sent him to the Gentiles to proclaim it.
8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me [Paul] toward the Gentiles🙂 [Emphasis added]
The charge to Israel was to believe in the “name” of Christ, that is, His identity as their resurrected Messiah. Today, it is important to believe that as well, but salvation comes now only by believing in what He accomplished through His death, burial, and resurrection.
II Corinthians 5:21
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]
The Twelve Apostles and others knew nothing of this until it was later disclosed to them through the special revelation given to the apostle Paul. This gospel message for us today is summed up perfectly in this next passage.
I Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]
Upon believing this message a person is immediately and permanently saved. It is the apostle Paul’s teaching that serves as Christ’s teaching to us today. That’s why we are repeatedly told to “follow” Paul. It is the gospel message and teaching our Lord gave to him that we are to live by and boldly proclaim.
I Corinthians 4:16
16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. [Emphasis added]
Why does he state it this way? Because, again, it was the gospel message Christ personally disclosed to him from Heaven. Peter and the others had known nothing about this until they learned it from Paul. It was at what is called the Jerusalem council meeting [Acts 15] that Paul first disclosed this message to the Apostles.
I Corinthians 11:1
1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. [Emphasis added]
Following Paul means to learn and comply with his teaching in his thirteen epistles—Romans to Philemon. These books include the message Jesus Christ provided for Paul from Heaven. That’s why we speak of it as Christ’s heavenly ministry, contrasting it to His earthly one.
How has his doctrine affected your life? If you mix it or try to blend it with such things as the Mosaic Law and the teachings of Peter and other apostles, you end up with numerous distortions. The two don’t mix because they are not the same. Because most of the church today has tried to mix or blend these different messages into one that we have so much confusion. This is the heart of why we have so many church denominations today. They all work out of the same Bible, but they try to combine Paul’s teaching with the others, creating all kinds of confusion where people often don’t know what to believe.
The whole Bible certainly has great value for us. The Bible is clear on this. Here’s a general statement about this.
12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. [Emphasis added]
But the whole Bible is not directed to us. Sorting these things out is what is called rightly dividing the word of truth, the Scriptures.
II Timothy 2:15
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Emphasis added]
Until people learn and apply the meaning of this passage, they can’t help but be confused about many things of Scripture.
Jesus was certainly the promised Messiah for Israel. He’s the One who will someday establish an earthly kingdom for Israel just as it has been prophesied. But we, today, are not Israel. We are spoken of in the apostle Paul’s writings as members of the Body of Christ that is made up of believing Jews and Gentiles.
I Corinthians 12:12-14
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many. [Emphasis added]
Thousands of articles and books have been written about this unique man Jesus of Nazareth. One of the most famous of statements about Him was supposedly written by Dr. James Allan Francis. Here’s the famous quote.
“Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.
“He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…
“While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
“Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.
“I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.”
Yes, there’s never been another like Him. To refuse to accept Him for who He is would be the biggest mistake anyone could ever make. He surely is the One who can save you from eternal condemnation and punishment. If you’ll receive Him by faith as your Savior today, you’ll get to spend all eternity in this wonderful place called Heaven. I hope you’ll do that today. It is surely a decision you’ll never regret.