Who is Jesus?

Throughout the Gospels, one question that we could continue to ask ourselves as we read is: Who is Jesus? It seems that the authors are routinely trying, without necessarily explicitly declaring, to answer this question.

For example, yesterday, as I read Luke 5, it seemed that Luke was trying to answer this question with almost every one of the stories that he included. Here is what I mean:

In Luke 5, Jesus tells Peter to let down his nets in deeper waters. Despite not having caught anything after fishing all night, Peter and his fishing companions agree and bring in a catch of fish so large that their nets begin to break. The result is that Peter drops to his knees and worships Jesus as he performed a miracle that only God would be able to do as he demonstrated authority and control over nature.

A little later, a man with leprosy approaches Jesus saying that he knew Jesus could heal him if he was willing. Typically, a Jewish person would draw back, afraid that a leper, having a communicable skin disease, if they were to touch them, would infect them, giving them not only the disease as well but also making them ceremonially unclean. But that is not what Jesus does. Instead, he steps forward and touches the leper, showing that he is not only compassionate but that he is also both more powerful than the disease. Instead of the unclean nature infecting him, giving him disease and making him unclean, Jesus’s pure and clean nature overcomes that of the diseased and unclean nature of the man, healing him. Jesus then immediately sends him to the priest as a testimony to the Jews for what he had done for the man, just as it was commanded by God through Moses in the Law.

Go on to the next example… There is a man who was lame and unable to walk who is lowered down through a roof in front of Jesus. Knowing that the Pharisees were there, what does Jesus do? Instead of simply healing the man, Jesus tells him that his sins are forgiven. The Pharisees ask themselves, rightly, “Who is this that forgives sins?” Only God can forgive sins!” But of course Jesus demonstrates that he not only has the authority to forgive sins, but he also has the ability to make the man walk, and that is exactly what he does.

Then Jesus says that he has come to give forgiveness and call sinners to repentance.

Then he explains that he is the bridegroom who has come for his bride, even explaining that he is doing a new thing that people cannot, and even prefer to not accept.

And then we come to the beginning of Luke chapter 6 where Jesus’s disciples are picking a few heads of grain and eating them as they walk on the Sabbath. Jesus replies to the Pharisees explaining that David had done the same thing, and even worse by eating the consecrated bread, a bread that should have only been available to the priests. But Jesus explains that he is not only greater than David but has the authority to speak to any issue related to the Sabbath because:

“The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Luke 6:5

Jesus is saying that he himself is the one who can speak to the rules of the Sabbath. The One who is making the rules is the One with the authority, and Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. He is making the rules. He has the authority.

Can we see that Luke keeps telling story after story to answer this same question? Who is Jesus? Just in these few short stories, we can see these things about Jesus:

He has authority over, and can control, nature. No man can do this Only God.

He has authority over disease and sickness. What is more, he has authority over ceremonial cleanliness and uncleanliness. He isn’t made unclean. He makes the unclean clean.

Then Jesus forgives sins, something that the Pharisees rightly say that only God can do.

And then Jesus shows that he cannot only do all of these things, but he has authority over the Law. The Sabbath was established through the Law and Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, so he is the One who can speak to the writing and application of the Law. Only God can do this.

Luke does continue to ask and answer this question: Who is Jesus? Through his teaching and through his actions, Jesus continues to answer the question: I am God.

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