Who is Jesus?
“Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.”
Others said, “He is the Messiah.”
Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee?
For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.”
So the crowd was divided about him.
Some even wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him.
In the First Century, during the time of Jesus, when you asked, “Who is Jesus?” here is how you might answer.
Some say, he is the prophet of God.
Yes, he is the prophet of God that you read about in Deuteronomy 18, but he is so much more than that.
Some say he Messiah.
Yes, he is the Messiah.
Some say is not the Messiah, because he is not from Bethlehem.
Yes, he is the Messiah and he was born in Bethlehem, he just moved back to Galilee. You simply aren’t aware of this.
Some, just want him arrested.
In this case, you may or may not think Jesus is the Messiah.
If you think he is the Messiah, but you want him arrested anyway, you are probably corrupt and don’t want Jesus to take away your power and prestige.
If you don’t think he is the Messiah, you probably want him arrested because he could be a troublemaker to the Romans and you don’t want the Romans to go ballistic.
In the 21st Century when we think of this same question, “Who is Jesus?” we get similar responses.
Some say he is a great teacher, he is just not the Savior of the world.
People of many faith families, like Judaism or Islam, or even respectful atheists, might say this.
Some say he the Savior.
About half the world says this and would identify with Jesus as Savior.
Some say he is not the Savior, because he doesn’t fit what you think the Savior should be. You have no proof.
This would be some Jewish people and some skeptics of a variety of worldviews.
Some say he is bad influence and his teachings should be forbidden and his followers silenced!
You are probably a person of ill will who is afraid your power is being threatened by his followers.
It seems everyone has an opinion about Jesus. But, God doesn’t just leave us with opinions, God gives us brains to think and logic and reason to help our thinking. This is why if you have ever given the Gospels a careful, straightforward reading you generally come away amazed.
Who do you say Jesus is?
Almost Everyone Likes Jesus
When the Temple guards returned without having arrested Jesus, the leading priests and Pharisees demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”
“We have never heard anyone speak like this!” the guards responded.
Good for the guards!
The Temple guards are open to analyzing the teachings of Jesus for themselves. If you study the teachings of Jesus and apply logic and reason, you can make a case for his teachings being accurate. No one has ever understood the human condition and reflected reality so clearly.
If you try to honestly live out his teachings in your life, any of his teachings, you will know he is right. It will make sense.
In our country, for example, people from all political persuasion, all walks of life- whatever terms you use- conservative, liberal, right, left- most people actually do claim the teachings of Jesus and his followers as their own. How can I say that?
Because from the right to the left people admire the teachings of Jesus, it’s just they don’t know or they ignore it comes from him.
- Be honest in all you say and do.
- Care for the needs of all people, not just your own clan.
- Men and women have equal worth.
- Have a special sense of compassion for the poor and children.
- Work against violence and revenge and toward what is good, even for those who are your enemy.
- Have compassion for those in prison.
- Give people another chance.
- Care for all of creation.
Well, if the teaching of Jesus are so admired, why isn’t everyone a Christian, or at least admiring of Christians?
One reason is whenever atheists or other skeptics are critical of the teachings of Jesus, they are generally misinformed or simplistic in their understanding of the Gospels, or they haven’t carefully examined them at all. They haven’t made the connection that Jesus is the source of some of their most cherished beliefs.
Another reason is we Christians are fallen, like everyone else, and we aren’t pure models for Jesus. We aren’t always good ambassadors.
But, even when we do follow the beautiful model of Jesus, those who don’t follow are fallen people, too, and they will choose not to see it. They will underemphasize the good or try to explain it away and overemphasize our fallenness.
The real sorrow of those who deny Jesus is they are influenced by the devil who is helping to hide the good.
And God wants us to freely trust in him and so God allows us to deceive ourselves.
Look for examples of people who deny Jesus by admire his teaching.
False Logic and Those Who Oppose Jesus
“Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked.
“Is there a single one of us rulers or Pharisees who believes in him?
This foolish crowd follows him, but they are ignorant of the law. God’s curse is on them!”
The Pharisees are using three classic examples of false logic to try to gain advantage.
The first logical fallacy is the ad hominem attack.
This means attacking the person rather than their position. Using sarcasm and ridicule to attack the motive and character of the person, rather than showing the weakness of their argument. If your position has strong enough evidence and support, it shouldn’t be necessary for you to use sarcasm and ridicule. When you resort to cleverness to try to gain power over another’s thinking, it is generally a sign that your position is weak, or at least that’s what you think.
The second logical fallacy is called an appeal to the masses.
If the majority of people think the position is correct, then it is valid. The Pharisees are saying since so all of us are opposed to Jesus and his teaching, he must not be legitimate.
This is wrong on two levels. First, as the Pharisees will soon find out, many Jewish leaders do believe in Jesus. But, second, even if no one believes in Jesus, he might still be telling the truth.
The third logical fallacy is appeal to authority or expertise.
The Pharisees are saying they have the academic credentials and so their opinion is more valid that those who aren’t educated in the proper schools.
No, it doesn’t matter how much education you have or what schools you went to, your position must support itself. And someone who doesn’t have as much education as you may be more knowledgable.
What are ways Christians experience ad hominem attack?
Seek The Truth With Courage and Consideration
Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked.
They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself—no prophet ever comes from Galilee!”
Nicodemus is the Pharisee who visited Jesus at night to ask him questions. When Jesus told him, “You must be born again…”
Now, Nicodemus is showing integrity because he does know the law and is calling the way the other Pharisees are attacking Jesus into question. Here we see the case where someone sympathetic to Jesus and his teachings is willing to give him an opportunity to support his claims.
But the Pharisees are resorting to ridicule and sarcasm again.
“Are you from Galilee, too?”
Of course they know where Nicodemus is from, he is a key Jewish leader.
Then they use a blatant lie.
Search the Scriptures and see for yourself—no prophet ever comes from Galilee!”
This is the worst offense. These guys have memorized the whole Bible. Of course prophets come from Galilee. Like Jonah. Or Hosea. They are just boldly lying to Nicodemus’ face, except that he is also a Pharisee and he knows that they know they are lying!
When you seek the truth it takes courage. There is always the chance you will be attacked, ridiculed, and held in contempt. But the truth will not be stopped.
To be a Christian, however, also means you have consideration for others who oppose the truth. You don’t use the same weapons of attack, ridicule and contempt. These are people created in the image of God and precious in his sight. And you don’t need to use false and disrespectful ways, anyway. The truth always wins out, when it comes from Jesus.
The Pharisees seem to know what is right, they just don’t want to lose the upper hand. They don’t want to lose their power. They are threatened by Jesus, because many of the people are starting to listen to him and some are believing in him.
But, we know that other Pharisees and leaders of the Jewish people will eventually be persuaded and courageous after Jesus raises from the dead. After all, the earliest Christians all come out of Judaism!
Jesus doesn’t need us to defend him, he calls us to live his life. We are never surprised when people try to use logical fallacies to oppose Jesus. We are not shocked when ridicule and lying are used against us. When you worship Jesus and you follow him, the only person’s opinion about you that really matters is, “What does Jesus think about me?”
He thinks you are someone unbelievably special…
Jesus is always watching you. When, especially does he have a smile on his face when he is watching you?