Question: Who was the real Jesus? Couldn’t he have just been a prophet, and not the Son of God?
Answer: This is a very important question, and one that deserves to be discussed. First of all, it is important to understand at the very beginning that we can be confident there was a real Jesus who grew up in the city of Nazareth. In addition to the historical records of the New Testament which tell about Jesus, there are other ancient historians like Josephus, Tacitus and Eusebius who also refer to Jesus as a real person. These secular historical records verify what the New Testament tells us about Jesus: that He was a Jewish leader who gathered a large following, was considered by many to be the Christ, was crucified, and was said to rise from the dead.
Based on actual historical records, both secular and sacred, we can be confident that this Jesus was a real person. But who was this Jesus, really? Was he a prophet? Was he a Jewish rabbi and religious leader? Or was he more than that? If we take an honest look at the evidence, it is clear that Jesus is more than just a man, that He was Son of God.
First, many people proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, and the Son of God. His followers made this claim.
When asked who Jesus was, Peter replied: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15-17).
Other followers made the same confession, and in many cases even allowed themselves to be put to death rather than retract their confession about Jesus.
- Consider the confession of Philip concerning Jesus: “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41).
- Or that of Thomas: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
- The Ethiopian confessed: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37).
- Referring to Jesus Paul declared: “God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).
- And John proclaims: “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:15).
- But there were also others who made the same confession, who were not followers of Jesus. The soldiers who crucified Jesus came to the same conclusion, proclaiming: “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).
Secondly, Jesus Himself stated clearly that He was more than just a man.
- On trial before the Jewish leaders, Jesus was asked: “Are You then the Son of God?” His response? “You rightly say that I am” (Luke 22:70).
- When Jesus was on the cross, people accused Him of claiming to be the Son of God: “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” (Matthew 27:43).
- It was because of who Jesus claimed to be that the Jews wanted to kill him (see Luke 4:16-30; John 8).
Third, Jesus fulfills hundreds of Old Testament prophecies which speak of the coming Messiah. These prophecies which were written hundreds and even thousands of years before Jesus was born foretell specific details about the life and work which only Jesus would fulfill. They describe:
- 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).
- How He would suffer and die: “they pierce my hands and feet” (Psalm 22:16 – see the whole Psalm); “He was numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12 – see the entire chapter).
- That He would rise again: “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10 – see also Job 19:25).
These prophecies include specific details that could not have been known hundreds of years earlier when they were written.
All of this points to the truth that Jesus was more than just a man. It shows that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God!
So what does that mean for us? If Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ who He claimed to be, if He died for us as He said He did, and rose again as the Scriptures foretold, then He is also the one and ONLY Savior from sin and death for sinners.
And that deserves your thoughtful attention.