By Rev. Mark Creech
Christian Action League
One day while Jesus was ministering along the coast of Caesarea-Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They responded that some said he was John the Baptist, others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Then Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?” That’s when Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” (Matthew 16:13-17).
Can you imagine that moment? How the other disciples must have held their breath – waiting to see if Jesus would rebuke Peter for such a statement. Instead Jesus endorsed it.
Some might make the mistake of thinking because Peter referred to Jesus as “the Son” that this in some way means Jesus was less than God. Hardly! Even the religious leaders of Jesus’ day understood His claim to son-ship was a claim to equality with God. John 5:18 says this was the reason many wanted to kill Him – because he said “God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”
Who is Jesus? The Muslim would say Jesus was a prophet of Allah, but no more. The Hindu would say Jesus is one of many gods. A Jehovah’s Witness would say Jesus is a created angel. Others conclude that Jesus was a good man, a great teacher, or a wise philosopher. Still some argue it doesn’t matter who Jesus was or whether he even existed as long as one receives help from the teachings ascribed to him.
But the question of Jesus identity is inescapable because of its ramifications. If Jesus is indeed God as claimed, then his teachings have the highest authority and consequently require the deepest reverence and faith.
Is Jesus really God? In addition to the many declarations of his contemporaries and the testimony of Jesus himself, the prophets of the Old Testament made this claim. Although the prophets were before the time of Jesus and didn’t fully understand what they were writing about, they made it clear that the long-awaited Messiah would be God in human form.
Isaiah 9:6, a prophecy that is often repeated during the Christmas season, made certain that no honest inquisitor would miss this fact, writing: “And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” These are all names reserved exclusively for God.
Other prophets did the same. When Micah prophesied about the birth of the Messiah, he said the birthplace would not only be in Bethlehem, but that the One born would have his origin “from eternity” (Micah 5:2). Whom but God could that phrase adequately describe?
Many of the prophetic Psalms ascribe to the Messiah the attributes of deity. None is so plain as Psalm 45:6, also quoted in Hebrews 1:8 as spoken by God the Father to the Messiah, saying, “Your throne, God, is forever and ever; the scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of justice.” Here the Messiah is addressed by God as God.
Jesus himself referred to Psalm 110:1 as a reference to Himself, “The Lord declared to my Lord: sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” In quoting this text, Jesus asked the religious leaders of his day how King David could call one who was to be a son of David, the Lord? (Matthew 22:41-45). The answer was clear, Israel’s coming Redeemer was the Lord Himself, Jesus.
The point is that all of the Old Testament prophets, whether it be Isaiah, Micah, or David – agree with one voice that the Messiah would be God incarnate. And no one in human history sufficiently fulfills these prophecies but Jesus.
Of the more than two thousand predictions recorded in the Bible, 333 of them deal with the coming of the Messiah. Lee Strobel, a former skeptic, says the Old Testament provides a thumbprint. “It says when you find the person that fits this thumbprint that’s the Messiah. That’s the Son of God, and throughout history, only Jesus Christ has had that thumbprint.” His person and work fit every one of the Old Testament Messianic forecasts perfectly. 
Strobel meticulously studied the prophecies concerning the promised Redeemer and was stunned at the scientific evidence that Jesus is indeed the promised “Emmanuel”, which means “God with us.” He was especially shocked by the work of mathematician Peter Stoner who proved the chance of any one person fulfilling only eight of the Messianic prophecies was one in 10/17th power. That’s a one with seventeen zeros behind it!!! And if that’s not enough to boggle the mind, Strobel says Stoner also accurately demonstrated that the chances of anyone fulfilling eight of the Messianic prophecies were 10/157th power. Strobel said this would be like finding “a single atom among all nations in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, universes the size of our universe. Therefore, he concluded the only honest thing that he could do was to recognize Jesus for who he really is – the promised Messiah – the Son of God – God in human flesh. 
Certainly the way Jesus lived is evidence that His claim to deity is true. Dr. James Allen Francis puts Christ’s life and influence into perspective so remarkably in his famous narrative:
“He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He didn’t go to college. He never visited a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He had no credentials but Himself.
He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While He was dying, His executioners gambled for His garments, the only property He had on earth. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race.
All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one solitary life.” 
But perhaps the most compelling evidence that Jesus is God are the lives that have been touched and forever changed by Him – people who never had any interest or desire for anything eternal, anything nobler or better, but everything earthly and of lower ambitions. The great Prince of preachers, Charles Spurgeon once wrote of this:
“In these times, when the foundations of our faith are constantly being undermined, one is sometimes driven to say to himself, ‘Suppose it is not true.’ As I stood, the other night, beneath the sky, and watched the stars, I felt my heart going up to the great Maker with all the love I was capable of. I said to myself, ‘What made me love God as I know I do? What made me feel an anxiety to be like him in purity?
Whatever made me long to obey my God cannot be a lie. I know that it was the love of Jesus for me that changed my heart, and made me, though once careless and indifferent to him, now to pant with strong desires to honor him. What has done this? Not a lie, surely. A truth then has done it. I know it by its fruits. If this Bible were to turnout untrue, and if I died and went before my Maker, could I not say to him, ‘I believed great things of thee, great God; if it be not so, yet did I honor thee by the faith I had concerning thy wondrous goodness, and thy power to forgive’? And I would cast myself upon his mercy without fear.
But we do not entertain such doubts; for those dear wounds (the wounds of Christ) continually prove the truth of the Gospel and the truth of our salvation by it. Incarnate Deity is a thought that was never invented by a poet’s mind, nor reasoned out by a philosopher’s skill. Incarnate Deity, the notion of the God that lived, and bled, and died in human form, instead of guilty man…is itself its own best witness.” 
There are powerful intellectual arguments concerning the deity of Christ’s person. But no argument is so commanding as a life revolutionized by a personal experience with Him. The kind that makes one fall to their knees, saying as Thomas did, “My Lord and my God,” after it dawned on him who Jesus was and the way He had suffered for him. (John 20:24-29).
How do you answer the question: Who is Jesus? The preponderance of the evidence is that Jesus is the living God. Therefore, to know Him is to know God, to believe in Him is to believe in God, to obey Him is to obey God, to honor Him is to honor God, and to reject Him is to reject God.
Jesus came as God to do for mankind what he could never do for himself – to save and redeem him – to rescue him from the corruption of sin and restore him. In the person of Jesus, God comes seeking a personal relationship with us, which He offers as a transformational free gift that changes all of life for that which is worthy, honorable, virtuous, benevolent, fair, gracious and moral. “For by grace are you saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation – created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
While Jesus moved about the earth, He lived and taught the life God requires. And though He was innocent, He died on the Cross to endure the wrath we deserve for falling short of God’s glorious standards. For the Scriptures say, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Thus, Jesus atoned for our failures and paid our judgment in full.
When He rose from the dead, He destroyed death so that by simple faith in Him we could live with God forever. “Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again,” advocated the apostle Paul, “in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus…so we will always be with the Lord ” (I Thessalonians 4:14,17).
How will you answer the question: Who is Jesus? Answer it correctly from the heart as Peter did and the One who was born on Christmas day will also be born in you. You too will find yourself bowing to Christ’s Lordship as did Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds, the Magi and millions and millions more since.
 What if the Bible Had Never Been Written, D. James Kennedy, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville TN., pgs 214 – 215
 The Real Jesus and Other Sermons, James Allen Francis, Judson Press, Philadelphia, Penn., pg 123
 The Evidence of our Lord’s Wounds, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 34, Banner of Truth Trust, London, UK, pg 719
Editor’s Note: Share this by forwarding it to a family member, a friend or colleague, etc.