I’m sure that you’ve seen man-on-the-street interviews on TV. Clips of regular folks being asked for their opinion or knowledge on any number of subjects. One night Tonight Show host Jay Leno collared some young people to ask them questions about the Bible.“Can you name one of the Ten Commandments?” he asked two college-age women. One replied, “Freedom of speech?” He said to the other, “Complete this sentence: Let he who is without sin . . .” Her response was, “Have a good time?” Leno then turned to a young man and asked, “Who, according to the Bible, was eaten by a whale?” The confident answer was, “Pinocchio.”* In a similar way Jesus conducted His own “man-on-the-street” interview. One day He asked His followers – Who do people say that the Son of Man (meaning himself) is? “And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” (Matt 16:14). Jesus then asked them the pinnacle big question – Who do you say that I am? Peter answered, “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt 16:13-16, Mark 8:27-29, Luke 9:18-20).
The answer to this question is the dividing line between truth and error, light and darkness. Let’s break this down just a bit. There are three acid tests, if you will, concerning true faith in Jesus Christ. The first is found in Peter’s answer, that Jesus is the Son of God. “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:15, NASB95) Understanding and believing in the revealed nature of Jesus Christ is vital. Many folks can accept that Jesus was a historic figure who was a good and moral teacher but cannot make the next step that He is God the Son. The second acid test is the historical fact of Jesus as coming from heaven in the flesh. “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” (1 John 4:2–3, NASB95) And, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.” (2 John 7, NASB95) In John’s day, there was a group that believed that only Christ’s spirit came from heaven. In a sense, they tried to divorce the heavenly Christ from the fleshly Jesus. Today there are those who either see Jesus as a never existent myth or as a de-mystified human. De-mystified in the sense of denying everything in the Gospels that smacks of the miraculous. But Jesus was/is fully God and fully human. The final acid test is Jesus’ bodily resurrection. “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9–10, NASB95) In a way, it is Jesus’ resurrection that proves the first two tests, that Jesus is the Son of God and that He did come in the flesh.
Here’s the thing. Each one of us must answer this big question for ourselves, who do you say that Jesus is? As we grow in faith our answer will become fuller and more complete. But it always starts with the understanding that Jesus is God the Son, that He came in the flesh, and although sinless suffered and died under the penalty of all of our sin but on the third day rose again. In addition, I would add, savior, redeemer, friend, master, cornerstone, lamb of God, healer, king of kings, the taker of anxiety, and the pruner of my soul. What about you? How do you answer this question, the biggest of all the big questions?