Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Themes: Koodosh E'tho, Who Is (Was) Jesus?
Volume 7 No. 444 November 3, 2017
II. Lectionary Reflections: Who Is (Was) Jesus?

What Jesus Said About Himself As Recorded in Gospels
Jesus preached the kingdom of God. However, the early church preached mostly about Jesus. Is there a contradiction in this? Did the early church get things turned around, preaching about the messenger but neglecting his message? Let's go back to the four Gospels to see whether the early church's focus on Jesus is compatible with Jesus' own teaching. Did Jesus actually preach about himself?

1. Near the end of the Sermon on the Mount, how does Jesus describe the people who enter the kingdom of God? Matt. 7:21-23. Is it appropriate to call Jesus Lord? Is it appropriate to do good works in his name? What else is needed? Verse 21. In verse 23, who is acting as Judge? Whose words are we to put into practice? Verse 24.

Matthew 7:21-24 "Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' 24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

Comment: Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke with personal authority. People are blessed or not blessed in relation to him. He set his own words on the same level as Scripture. He said that people must not only obey the Father, but they must also put Jesus' words into practice.

2. Did Jesus claim to be able to forgive sins?Matt. 9:2-6. Did he heal for the specific purpose of showing this authority?

MT 9:2 Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."

MT 9:3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!"

MT 9:4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, `Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? 6But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." 7 And the man got up and went home.

Comment: I can forgive the sins that are committed against me, but I do not have authority to forgive someone of the sins they commit against someone else. But Jesus claims to forgive all sins, even in terms of a person's relationship to God.

In this passage, Jesus is teaching something about himself. This is one aspect of the message God the Father wanted Jesus to preach: that forgiveness comes through Jesus Christ. This means that entry into the kingdom is through Jesus Christ. The kingdom of God is good news only for those who accept Jesus' authority.

3. If a person does not accept Jesus, how will that affect the person's relationship with God? Matt. 10:32-33. Is Jesus claiming to be Judge of our eternity? Does Jesus promise eternal rewards? Verse 42. Does he pronounce judgments about the future?Matt. 11:22. Which is worse—the sin of Sodom, or the sin of rejecting Jesus? Verse 24.

MT 10:32 "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. 10:42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."

11:22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 11:24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you."

4. What did Jesus claim about his own knowledge and authority? Matt. 11:27. Did he claim to be more important than Solomon, more important than Jonah, more important than the temple, more important than the Sabbath? Matt. 12:5-8, 41-42.

MT 11:27 "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

MT 12:5 Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, `I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

MT 12:41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.

Comment: As part of his mission, Jesus claimed an authority and knowledge that was much greater than any other person had. He claimed to be the key to eternal life in the kingdom of God. He was teaching about himself.

5. Did Jesus want his disciples to know who he was? Matt. 16:13-15. Did God the Father want them to know? Verses 16-17. Did Jesus have authority to give the keys to the kingdom of God? Verse 19. Is obedience to Jesus more important than life itself? Verse 25.

MT 16:13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" 14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

MT 16:16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

MT 16:25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

Comment: If an ordinary person said this, we would consider him either crazy or a dangerous cult leader. But Jesus said it about himself. He was extraordinary.

Jesus preached the kingdom of God, but he also preached about himself as the decisive factor as to whether a person is living in the kingdom. For the gospel to be communicated accurately, it is essential that people know about who Jesus is and what he taught.

6. Jesus called himself the Son of Man. Did he also claim that he would have the Father's glory? Matt. 16:27. Would he also be the Judge, the one who gives eternal rewards? Did he claim to give authority to his disciples? Matt. 18:18; 19:28. If Jesus can give that kind of authority, does it imply that he has even more authority than that—more than heaven and earth?

MT 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.

MT 18:18 "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

MT 19:28 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

7. Did Jesus claim that his life was worth more than all other people? Matt. 20:28. Did he take a psalm about God and apply it to himself? Matt. 21:16; Psalm 8:2. Does he claim to have angels, whom he can send throughout the universe? Matt. 24:30-31. Does he claim that his words are infallible, greater than the universe? Verse 35.

MT 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

MT 21:16 "Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, `From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise'?"

PS 8:2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

MT 24:30 "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Comment: These claims are astonishing in scope. Jesus is teaching that he is as great as God.

8. In a parable, Jesus again claimed to be the Judge, sitting on a throne in heavenly glory. Will he control the eternity of all human beings? Matt. 25:31-32. Will he have authority to give eternal life in the kingdom of God? Verse 34. Will he have the authority to condemn people? Verse 41.

MT 25:31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

MT 25:34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

MT 25:41 "Then he will say to those on his left, `Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

9. Did Jesus claim to institute a new covenant between God and his people? Matt. 26:28. Does this covenant bring forgiveness? Whose blood made it possible?

MT 26:28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Comment: Jesus taught that he was the sacrifice that enabled people to live in the kingdom of God, the ransom that could set them free. He claimed to do this by his death, and yet he also claimed that he would live forever. In all these things, Jesus was teaching something about himself.

10. Does Jesus again claim universal authority? Matt. 28:18. Does he put himself on the same level as the Father? Verse 19. Does he put his own commands on the same level as the Father's? Verse 20. Does he claim to be present with believers throughout the world and throughout the ages?

MT 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

11. Did Jesus give his disciples power over all things? Luke 10:19. Did he claim authority to give the kingdom of God and to give the highest positions? Luke 22:29. Even on the cross, did he claim authority to judge whether a person would be saved?Luke 23:43. Did he have the authority to send the power of God? Luke 24:49.

LK 10:19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. LK 22:29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me LK 23:43 Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

LK 24:49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."

12. When Jesus approached Jerusalem, did he equate his own coming with "the time of God's coming"? Luke 19:41-44. Did he acknowledge being the Son of God? Luke 22:70. Did he claim to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures? Luke 24:44. Was this what he taught before his crucifixion, too? Same verse, first part.

LK 19:41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you."

LK 22:70 They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied, "You are right in saying I am."

LK 24:44 He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."

Comment: The first-century Jews were looking forward to an earthly kingdom, with land, laws, king and subjects. If Jesus preached this kind of kingdom, most people would have found it normal, and certainly not objectionable.

But Jesus caused a big stir by the things he taught about himself. This was what caused the Jewish leaders to accuse him of blasphemy and to crucify him. This was an important part of his message.

13. Jesus' identity is much more explicit in the Gospel of John. What does he claim about himself? John 3:13-16, 35.

JN 3:13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.

14. Did Jesus teach that he had life within himself? John 5:25. Is he the one who gives eternal life? John 6:27. Is he the one who raises the dead? Verse 40. Is eternal life uniquely dependent on the flesh of Jesus? Verse 51. Is he the key to eternal life? John 11:25-26.

JN 5:17 Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." 18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

JN 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. 5:25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.

6:27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." 40 For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

JN 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

15. Did Jesus teach that he existed before Abraham? John 8:58. That he had glory with God before the world began? John 17:5. That he is able to resurrect himself?John 10:18. That he is equal with God? Verse 30. That he is the perfect representation of what God is? John 14:9-10.

JN 8:58 "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"

17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

10:17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." 30 I and the Father are one."

JN 14:9 Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father'? 10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.

Comment: Jesus did not begin his sermons with, "Let me tell you about how great I am." Nevertheless, in his preaching and teaching, Jesus often taught about himself. He taught that he had an extraordinary greatness, and our eternal future hinges on whether we accept him for who he is. He is the key to the kingdom. We must believe in him before we can experience his forgiveness and life in his kingdom.

Jesus' disciples didn't always understand what Jesus taught. He often chided them for being slow of heart and of little faith. They did not understand Jesus' role as Savior until after the resurrection. They seem to have misunderstood who he was, despite all the things that he taught. And there were some things that he specifically told them to be quiet about until after his resurrection (Mark 9:9).

After Jesus ascended into heaven and the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles, they understood much more about Jesus and his kingdom. They were inspired to see even more clearly that Jesus' teachings about himself were of supreme importance.

People can have many misunderstandings about the kingdom and still be saved, but the crucial thing for them to experience salvation is whether they accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. He is the most important part of the message. People need to know about Jesus.

Jesus taught about his own death and resurrection, and that forgiveness was available through belief in him. That also formed the focus of the preaching of the early church in the book of Acts. The apostles did not contradict their Master. What we see is continuity and greater clarity, not contradiction. The gospel focuses on who Jesus is and what he did so that we might be saved in God's kingdom.

When we compare the different sermons in the book of Acts, we see different ways to preach the gospel. When we see the different parables and sayings of Jesus, we also see a variety of ways to preach the gospel of salvation. When we examine the letters of Paul, which we will do in our next study, we will again see some differences, as well as continuity in the most important points.


Four Witnesses of Jesus

by Dr. Stephen Felker, Colonial Heights, VA 23834

Gospel: Mark 1:1-11 "Four Witnesses for Jesus"


This morning I begin a series of messages from the Gospel of Mark. Whenever we study one of the gospels, it is common to compare the four gospel accounts. Each gospel presents different aspects of the life & ministry of Jesus. Matthew, who wrote primarily for the Jews, had to prove to his readers that Jesus Christ is indeed the rightful heir to David's throne. He presents Jesus as King.

Luke emphasized Christ's humanity, and presents Him as the Son of Man.

John wrote to prove to the whole world that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the Son of God (John 20:31). He is the eternal Word manifested in human flesh (John 1:1-14).

Where does Mark's Gospel fit in? Mark wrote for the Romans, and his theme is Jesus Christ the Servant. In the case of a servant, you are more interested in what a servant can do, not so much in what he says. So the emphasis in this Gospel is on activity.

One reason Mark is the shortest of the gospel accounts is due to the fact that it contains less of the teaching of Jesus. Since Mark's gospel focuses more on the activity of Jesus, one of his favorite words is "straightway" (KJV) or "immediately". He uses it forty-one times. Mark is like a motion picture of the life of Jesus.

Notice how Mark begins his gospel, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." Mark begins with a grand announcement that he has good news to share, and it is good news about Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God. I don't know about you, but I've heard enough bad news the last few years. I would like to hear some good news. Well we are going to read & hear the good news as proclaimed by Mark, one of the Gospel writers.

And in this opening section Mark records the testimonies of several dependable witnesses to back up his opening assertion about Jesus. Notice first of all:


Mark does not identify himself as the author of this gospel, but it is clear from historical evidence that he is the author. It is likely that Mark was an eyewitness of some of the events that he wrote about, probably when he was an older teenager. He lived in Jerusalem with his mother, Mary. Their home later became a meeting place for believers in the city (Acts 12:1-19). Several scholars believe that Mark was the young man described in Mark 14:51-52. Since the apostle Peter called Mark "my son" (1 Peter 5:13), it is probable that it was Peter who led Mark to faith in Jesus Christ. Church tradition states that the Gospel of Mark reflects the sermons of Simon Peter. If that's the case, then this gospel also contains the eyewitness account of Peter.

So what was the witness of Mark?

A. That Jesus is the Messiah

Note the exalted title given to the Savior here in v.1. Jesus is called "Christ," which means the anointed one, hence, ordained, set apart (or commissioned) and qualified. He was ordained & anointed as Prophet, Priest, and King, in order to carry out the task of saving His people to the glory of God. He is the Messiah, the Savior, that God promised long ago. We're going to see what Jesus did to save us from our sins a little later.

Furthermore, Mark states boldly in the opening verse of his gospel:

B. That Jesus is the Son of God. 1

What dignity he ascribes to Jesus! The assertion that Jesus is the Son of God is in harmony with the fact that throughout his book Mark is constantly ascribes divine qualities and activities to Jesus. He is the One who calms the storm, heals the sick, and causes the lame to walk. Surely He is the Son of God!

Let believers cling to this doctrine. With it, we stand on a rock. Without it, we have nothing solid beneath their feet. Our hearts are weak. Our sins are many. We need a Redeemer who is able to save completely, and set us free from the wrath to come. We have such a Redeemer in Jesus Christ. As the prophet Isaiah foretold, He is "Mighty God" (Isaiah 9:6).

So Mark is writing his gospel to show that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.

1 This phrase is also found in 3:11 & 15:39 of his gospel.


There was nothing unforeseen and suddenly contrived in the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. From Genesis to Malachi we have hundreds of prophecies relating to the coming of the Messiah. So we should not be surprised that Mark quickly makes reference to the prophecies of Scripture. He says in v.2, "As it is written in the Prophets…." Then in v.2 he quotes Mal. 3:1, and in v.3 he quotes from Isa. 40:3.

In these two prophecies we see:

A. The Sign of Messiah's Coming

Today we are looking for signs of the Second Coming of Christ. But prior to the first coming of Jesus, the Jews were looking for signs of the coming of Messiah. One of those signs is given by both Malachi and Isaiah. Both indicated that God would send a messenger to prepare for Messiah's coming. In v.2 we read, "Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You." Mark pictures Christ as an active, energetic, swiftly moving, mighty King. In ancient times, before a king visited any part of his realm, a messenger was sent before him to prepare the way. It is not surprising, therefore, that Mark's Gospel starts out by picturing the herald, so that from the very outset the student of this writing may be impressed with the exalted character of the One who is being heralded or proclaimed.

So we see that already, Mark is proving his assertion that Jesus is the Son of God, the King of kings.

B. The Fulfillment of this Sign

We can know the identity of this messenger from several of the details about him:

1. He Will Cry Out in the Wilderness

In v.3 Mark says, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness…." That is not exactly the place where one would draw a crowd. It was contrary to expectation, except for the prophecy itself.

2. He Will Preach Repentance

What is the message he would preach? In the last of v.3 we see that he would preach, "Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight." In the final analysis the forerunner functions in a spiritual sense. His task is to prepare the hearts of the people for the reception of their Messiah. This implies that they must make straight His paths, meaning that they must provide the Lord with a ready access into their hearts and lives. They must make straight whatever was crooked, not in line with God's holy will. As long as you hold on to sin, you are putting up a barrier between you and God.

So the prophets said that someone would come just before the Messiah, who would preach in the wilderness a message of repentance. Has that prophecy been fulfilled? Indeed it has. This prophecy of the Old Testament was fulfilled in our third witness. Beginning in v.4 we read about:


Mark identifies John the Baptist as the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Messiah's herald. Likewise, as we see from John's gospel (John 1:23), John the Baptist acknowledged that he was the forerunner of the Messiah, by saying, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Make straight the way of the LORD'". So does Jesus Himself in Matt. 11:10.

Is there any evidence that John the Baptist was indeed the forerunner of the Messiah? Yes indeed, for:

A. He Fulfilled the Prophecy of the Messenger

1. He Appeared in the Wilderness

Mark says in v.4, "John came baptizing in the wilderness…." He fit one aspect of the prophecy by ministering in the wilderness. One might expect that John would have gone to the population centers, to the cities, to preach. Instead, he preached in the wilderness, in fulfillment of this prophecy. He must have been some preacher to get people to walk or ride for miles & miles through a wilderness to hear him preach. I can't seem to get more than 300 people to ride in an air conditioned car, and sit on padded pews in air conditioned comfort to hear me preach!

2. He Prepared the People by Preaching a Baptism of Repentance

In the last of v.4 we see that he was "preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." The task assigned to him from the days of his infancy (Luke 1:76-77), yes even earlier (Luke 1:17; Mal. 3:1), was exactly this, namely, to be Messiah's herald or way preparer. He must not only announce Christ's approach and presence but also urge the people to prepare the way of the Lord. John's message and baptism were preparation so that the people would be ready to meet and trust the Messiah, Jesus Christ. This required repentance on their part, that is, by God's grace and power to effect a complete change of mind and heart leading to a complete turnabout of life. Many people are going the wrong way in life. They are going down the path of sin. They need to repent, and change direction.

By the way, the truest way to create in men a longing for Jesus is to evoke the penitent consciousness of sin. The preacher of guilt and repentance is the herald of the bringer of pardon and purity. When men are roused to believe in judgment, and to realize their own evil, they are ready to listen to the blessed news of a Savior from sin and its curse. The Christ whom John heralds is the Christ that men need.

Now what was new and startling was not that he baptized, for the people were already acquainted with the baptism of proselytes, but rather that this rite, being the sign and seal of a fundamental transformation of mind, heart, and life, was required even of the children of Abraham. Even they needed to repent. The stepping down into the Jordan and later stepping up out of it reminded them that the old sinful self must be buried & left behind so that those baptized may rise to newness of life.

John proclaimed that such repentance could lead to the forgiveness of sin that the Messiah would bring. John preached repentance and baptized unto (Gk. eis) remission for sins, not for remission of sins. The word "forgiveness" means sending away. It is a very comforting expression, reminding one of such passages as Lev.16, where Israel was instructed to take two goats, one was slain for the sins of the people, and on the head of the other, they were to confess their sins, and send it away into the wilderness. This also reminds us of Ps. 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us." That removal of sin necessitated the shedding of the blood of the Lamb was taught by John the Baptist himself (John 1:29).

Another reason why we believe John fulfilled the prophecy is because:

3. He Was Successful

In v.5 we read, "Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins." It is clear that John's preaching arrested the attention of the whole Jewish people, and created an excitement all over Palestine. As a result, multitudes went out to see and hear John. The Baptist welcomed multitudes, not only men, but also women (Matt. 21:31, 32). There must have been thousands upon thousands of people, one crowd replacing another, and then still another, and another, etc. There was a longing in the people for the Messiah, and they sensed that John could well be the forerunner of the Messiah.

By the way, this just goes to prove that you don't have to have a good location to have a growing church. What is most important is that God is at work! If you have someone preaching the Word of God like John the Baptist did, you will have people come from miles around to hear such preaching!

4. He Fit the Image of a Prophet

In v.6 we read, "Now John was clothed with camel's hair and with a leather belt around his waist…." In his dress, manner of life, and message of repentance, John identified with Elijah. After all, God promised in Mal. 4:5 that he would send Elijah. Such rugged apparel may be regarded as symbolic of the Prophetic office (Zech 13:4; cf. 1 Sam. 28:14). Jesus makes special mention of the fact that John did not wear fine clothes (Matt. 11:8).

John's food was as simple as was his clothing. Since he preached in a wilderness, there wasn't an abundance of food, so he lived off the land. So what did he eat? The last of v.6 says "he ate locusts and wild honey." It is entirely possible that one shudders to think of actually eating them. Yet it was not as bad as it seems. He probably pulled off their heads, legs, and wings, and roasted or baked their bodies, and added a little salt. Nevertheless, it is clear from Lev.11:22 that the Lord permitted or even encouraged the Israelites to eat four kinds of insects. Even today certain Arabian tribes relish them. I'm sure the locusts tasted better with another staple of his diet: honey. It is, however, not necessary to conclude that v.6 gives us a complete summary of the Baptist's diet. The main point is that by means of his simple mode of life, evident with respect to both food and clothing, he was a living protest against all selfishness and self-indulgence.

To me, the evidence is overwhelming that John the Baptist was indeed the forerunner of the Messiah. Why would he do what he did, & live as he did, & preach as he did unless God gave him such a special mission? That means 2 things: First, since he was a prophet of God, we should listen to him. Secondly, that means that the Messiah came within his lifetime, or certainly shortly after he preached & baptized. That in turn gives strong evidence that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah that God promised to send!

B. His Witness Concerning Jesus

This great prophet that God raised up, what did He say about Jesus?

1. He Is Far Greater Than Himself

As we see from v.7, John preached, "There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose." John was a great preacher. He feared no one in his preaching. He was indeed strong. Yet John says that the One coming after him was far greater. In order to emphasize this contrast between himself and his Superior, John uses an illustration borrowed from the custom prevailing at the time, namely, that when, weary of travel and with dusty sandals, a master would return home, his menial servant or slave would try in every way to make him comfortable. He would of course render this same service to his master's honored guests. One item of service rendered, namely, that of untying or unlacing the honored person's dusty sandals and removing them. It was necessary for John to draw this contrast between himself and his Master, for soon the people were wondering whether perhaps the Baptist might not himself be the Christ (Luke 3:15; cf. John 1:19,20; 3:25-36). Just as John understood his place in reference to Jesus, even so we should humbly serve Jesus, and obey His every command.

2. He Has a Greater Baptism

In v.8 he preached, "I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." John was able to perform only the outward rite of baptism with water. But Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy when He sent the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, shortly after His ascension to heaven. As we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and filled by the Holy Spirit, we are filled with a new power for living right. We have a new power to serve the Lord.

Is there any evidence in your life that you have had this baptism of the Spirit?


Gloriously the Trinity here is revealed. We see here God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Notice the testimony of each person of the Godhead:

A. Jesus Witness Concerning His Saving Work

In v.9 we read, "It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan." The question may be asked, "Since Jesus was sinless, and the water of baptism symbolized the necessity of the removal of sin, how then was it possible for the Sinless One to submit to baptism?" The simplest answer may very well be the best. In baptism we identify with Jesus. We acknowledge that we are followers of Jesus. Even so in baptism, Jesus identified with us in every way, even to the point of taking upon Himself our sin. He was willing to fulfill the prophecy of Isa. 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." John the Baptist knew that was the mission of Jesus. He said of Jesus in John 1:29, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" It would appear, therefore, that the demand of Jesus to be baptized by John signified his solemn resolution to take upon himself the guilt of those for whom he was going to die.

B. The Holy Spirit's Witness

In v.10 we read, "And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove." This could be translated "coming up from the water." As John raised him up out of the water, Jesus saw heavens suddenly split open, and from that opening Jesus saw the Spirit descend upon him. Thus, the Holy Spirit was bearing witness that Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior God promised to send.

Notice that the Spirit descended upon Him "like a dove." Why was this third person of the Trinity represented by a dove?" Probably to indicate the purity, gentleness, peacefulness, and graciousness which characteristically mark the Holy Spirit.

The symbol of the dove may also be regarded as a prophecy of the gentleness of the Son. Jesus came to conquer by meekness, and reign by the omnipotence of love. He did not come the first time to be a conquering King, but a gentle, loving Savior. While that Spirit's descent was partly for Jesus' sake, it was for others too; for John himself tells us in John 1 that the sign had been told him beforehand, and that it was his sight of the descending dove which heightened his thoughts and gave a new turn to his testimony, leading him to know and to show "that this is the Son of God."

Besides adding a witness to Jesus, the anointing of the Spirit had another purpose. The divine Son at His Incarnation adopted the human nature, which is in need of, and capable of being strengthened. Thus qualified He, as divine and human Mediator, was enabled to function in his threefold office as Prophet, Priest, and King.

If Jesus needed strengthening, how much more do we need the Holy Spirit!

C. The Father's Witness

In v.11 we read, "Then a voice came from heaven, 'You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" In the quiet recess of eternity the Son was the object of the Father's inexhaustible delight. The Son's reaffirmation, by means of Baptism, of His purpose to shed His blood for a world lost in sin did nothing to diminish that love. In fact, the Father delighted in the Son's obedience. These words proclaimed the Father's full and complete approval of Christ's mission to seek and save the lost. No doubt the Father's voice heightened our Lord's own consciousness of His divinity and His mission. The Father's announcement from heaven reminds us of Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1.

How filled with comfort this paragraph, for it not only indicates that the Son loves His followers enough to suffer the pangs of hell in their stead, but that also the Spirit fully cooperates by strengthening Him for this very task, and that the Father, instead of frowning upon the One who undertakes it, is so very pleased with him that he must needs rend asunder the very heavens, that His voice of delightful approval may be heard on earth. All three are equally interested in our salvation, and the three are One.


So as Mark opens his gospel, we see 4 witnesses to the fact that Jesus is the Savior.

We have Mark's testimony. We have the testimony of Scripture. We have the testimony of John the Baptist. And we have the 3-fold testimony of the Godhead. God said long ago that at the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses everything shall be established. Well we have 4 witnesses confirming that Jesus is the Son of God, and Savior of mankind.

What do you think of Jesus? Do you believe that He is the Savior who died for our sins? Do you believe that He is the Son of God? If so, have you repented of your sin and placed your faith in Jesus as Savior? Is there any evidence that you have received the Holy Spirit? If not, I call upon you to repent, and believe in Jesus today. Then you need to follow the Lord in baptism. He was baptized for you, not only in water, but in death itself. Surely you should be willing to follow Him in baptism.

Those of us who are Christians need to follow Mark's example, and share the good news about Jesus with others. Will you do that?


William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Mark (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1975);

Alexander Maclaren (Expositions of Holy Scripture, Vol. 8 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977 reprint);

 J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible, Vol. 4 (Pasadena, CA: Thru The Bible Radio, 1983);

Larry Pierce, Online Bible [CD-ROM] (Ontario: Timnathserah Inc., 1996); J.C. Ryle (1816-1900), Mark: Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1993);

Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Diligent: Mark (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1987).

Other sources listed in the footnotes. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982).

© Dr. Stephen Felker.  

Did Jesus ever claim to be God? Is the deity of Christ biblical?
The New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus claimed to be God. The Bible also affirms the deity of Christ. This is evident in a variety of ways.

First, Jesus claimed to be equal with God. He could forgive sin, something only God could do (Mark 2:5). Jesus claimed power to raise the dead (John 5:25-29). He claimed to be honored as God (John 5:18, 23) as well as to be equal with the Father (John 10:30).

Second, Jesus claimed to be the great "I Am." John 8:58 states, "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.'" This "I Am" reference is made in connection with Exodus 3:14 where God revealed His name to Moses as "I Am." Jesus' statement, then, is a biblical claim for the deity of Christ.

Third, Jesus claimed to be Yahweh God, the same God of Israel from the Old Testament. This included His claim to have eternal glory with the Father (John 17:5), His claim to be the first and the last (Revelation 1:17), His claim to be judge of all humanity (John 5:27), His claim to be the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), His claim to be the Bridegroom (Matthew 25:1; Isaiah 62:5), and His claim to be the light of the world (John 8:12; Psalm 27:1).

Fourth, Jesus also claimed to be the Messiah God. This is evident in many of the titles attributed to Him in the Old Testament that are referred to in the New Testament. These include reference to Jesus as God (Psalm 45:6 and Hebrews 1:8), Lord (Psalm 110:1 and Matthew 22:43-44), Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9 and Mark 14:61-64), and as Messiah (John 4:26). These references affirm the biblical deity of Christ.

Fifth, Jesus accepted worship as God. Though the Old Testament commanded not to worship anyone but God alone, Jesus accepted worship on many occasions. Some of these included the healed leper who worshipped Him (Matthew 8:2), the ruler who knelt before Jesus after his son had been healed (Matthew 9:18), the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:25), the mother of James and John (Matthew 20:20), and a demon-possessed man (Mark 5:6). The disciples even prayed to Jesus (Acts 7:59) and in His name (John 14:6; 15:7).

Sixth, Jesus' followers recognized Jesus as God. They called Him God on multiple occasions (John 20:28; Colossians 2:9), referred to Jesus by other names used only of deity, such as Savior of the world (John 4:42), and prayed to or worshiped Jesus as part of the Godhead (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). John taught He was with God in the beginning as "the word" and that "the word was God" (John 1:1).

While the New Testament never makes the direct statement "Jesus is God," it is clear that He is referred to as deity in a variety of ways. Colossians 2:9 confirms, "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily." (See also Philippians 2:6). Those who claim Jesus never referred to Himself as God deny many clear statements in Scripture (such as John 14:6). The deity of Jesus is biblical. Jesus is God, the second person of the Triune Godhead, consisting of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

© 2011-2019 Got Questions Ministries. All Rights Reserved.

Is Jesus Christ God?
Is Jesus Christ God? This question has been asked ever since Jesus walked the earth.

First, are we sure that Jesus claimed to be God, or is that something His followers came up with?

From Scripture, we find that Jesus Christ did unequivocally proclaim himself to be God, and though the Bible does not record Him ever saying "Yes, I'm God!" there are plenty of examples of Jesus identifying Himself as equal to Jehovah. One very good instance of this is John 10:30, where Jesus said "I and the Father are one." If this statement leaves any room for doubt, the reaction of the Pharisees (the Jewish religious leaders) to this statement obliterates that doubt. They were so enraged by His words "I and the Father are one" that they were ready to stone Him, saying "… you, a mere man, claim to be God" (John 10:33 NIV). The Jews understood exactly what Jesus was claiming - deity.

Furthermore, even when he sees they plan to harm Him for His statement, Jesus does not deny His claim, or tell them He mis-spoke. He doesn't say "No, wait! You don't understand my meaning." Instead, He takes it a step further. He tells them again in John 8:58, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." The Pharisees again respond with death threats because when Jesus said "I am" He was using the name and nature of Jehovah to describe Himself (Exodus 3:14). This, had it not been true, was the worst kind of blasphemy a Jew could commit, and the Mosaic Law commanded the Pharisees to stone any person who committed that offense (Leviticus 24:15). Since that is what they were planning to do to Jesus when He said "before Abraham was, I am", we can see that Jesus was clearly claiming deity.

John, Jesus' disciple also claims Jesus' deity when in his Gospel he says "the Word was God" and "the Word became flesh" (John 1:1, 14). The Word is another name for Jesus. John makes this clear John 1:14-15. John would not have claimed his Master's deity unless Jesus himself had clearly claimed it first. These verses clearly indicate that Jesus is God in the flesh. Because of the trinity, Jesus did not claim to be "the Father" but that He was equal to the Father in essence and nature. In His wisdom, this must have been the best way to show us finite creatures that God could be sovereign and on His throne in heaven while still reaching out, in human form, to save mankind.

There are other verses in Scripture that give us a clear answer to the question "Is Jesus Christ God?" For example, Acts 20:28 (NIV) tells us, "Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood." We know who bought the church - the church of God - with His own blood. It was Jesus Christ. Since Acts 20:28 declares that God purchased His church with His own blood, Jesus is God. Another example comes from the disciple, Thomas, who addressed Jesus as "my Lord and my God" in John 20:28. A third example comes from the book of Titus, which exhorts believers to wait patiently for the coming of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). Another beautiful example occurs in Hebrews 1:8, "But of the Son he says, 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.'" In this passage, the Father refers to Jesus as "O God" indicating that Jesus is indeed God, and that they are equal.

Jesus' identity as God is the cornerstone of the gospel message. Had He simply been a man, just a good teacher or a prophet, His death on the cross would not have been sufficient to pay the penalty for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2), and those who hope in Him are deceived and pitiable (1 Corinthians 15:19). Thankfully, there is ample evidence, both from the mouth of Jesus Himself, and from other accounts in Scripture, to prove to us that Jesus Christ is indeed God.

© 2011-2019 Got Questions Ministries. All Rights Reserved.

Jesus Through the Bible

by Philip Graham Ryken

We believe in a Christ-centered Bible. The salvation that was expected in the Old Testament is exhibited in the Gospels and then explained in the rest of the New Testament.

From Genesis we learn that Jesus is the seed of the woman who will crush Satan's head, and the son of Abraham who will bless all the nations of the earth. From Exodus we learn that Jesus is the Passover Lamb whose blood saves us from the angel of death, and the wilderness tabernacle where God dwells in glory. From Leviticus we learn that He is the atoning sacrifice that takes away our sin. From Numbers we learn that He is the bronze serpent lifted up for everyone who looks to Him in faith. From Deuteronomy we learn that He is the prophet greater than Moses who comes to teach us God's will.

So much for the Pentateuch.

What do we learn from the historical books? From Joshua we learn that Jesus is our great captain in the fight. From Judges we learn that He is the king who helps us do what is right in God's eyes, and not our own. From Ruth we learn that Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer. From 1 and 2 Samuel we learn that He is our anointed king. From 1 and 2 Kings we learn that He is the glory in the temple. From 1 and 2 Chronicles we learn that He is the Son of David - the rightful king of Judah. >From Ezra and Nehemiah we learn that He will restore the city of God. From Esther we learn that He will deliver us from all our enemies.

Then we come to the poetic writings. From Job we learn that Jesus is our living redeemer, who will stand on the earth at the last day. From the Psalms we learn that He is the sweet singer of Israel - the Savior forsaken by God and left to die, yet restored by God to rule the nations. From Proverbs we learn that Jesus is our wisdom. From Ecclesiastes we learn that He alone can give us meaning and purpose. From the Song of Solomon we learn that He is the lover of our souls.

This brings us to the prophets, whose special mission it was to prophesy about the coming of Christ. Isaiah tells that He is the child born of the Virgin, the son given to rule, the shoot from the stump of Jesse, and the servant stricken and afflicted, upon whom God has laid all our iniquity. Jeremiah and Lamentations tell us that Jesus is our comforter in sorrow, the mediator of a new covenant who turns our weeping into songs of joy. Ezekiel tells us that the Spirit of Jesus can breathe life into dry bones and make a heart of stone beat again. Daniel tells us that Jesus is the Son of Man coming in clouds of glory to render justice on the earth.

These are the Major Prophets, but the Minor Prophets also bore witness to Jesus Christ. Hosea prophesied that He would be a faithful husband to His wayward people. Joel prophesied that before He came to judge the nations, Jesus would pour out His Spirit on men and women, Jews and Gentiles, young and old. Amos and Obadiah prophesied that He would restore God's kingdom. Jonah prophesied that for the sake of the nations, He would be raised on the third day. Micah prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. Nahum prophesied that He would judge the world. Habakkuk prophesied that He would justify those who live by faith. Zephaniah prophesied He would rejoice over His people with singing. Haggai prophesied that He would rebuild God's temple. Zechariah prophesied that He would come in royal gentleness, riding on a donkey, and that when He did, all God's people would be holy. Malachi prophesied that before He came, a prophet would turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children.

From Genesis to Malachi, the Old Testament is all about Jesus. But of course it is in the New Testament that Jesus actually comes to save His people. Whereas the Old Testament gives us His background, the New Testament presents His biography.

The gospels give us the good news of salvation through His crucifixion and resurrection. The Gospel of Matthew is that Jesus is the Messiah God promised to Israel. The Gospel of Mark is that He is the suffering servant. The Gospel of Luke is that He is a Savior for everyone, including the poor and the weak. The Gospel of John is that He is the incarnate word, the Son of God, the light of the world, the bread of life, and the only way of salvation. But all the gospels end with the same good news: Jesus died on the cross for sinners and was raised again to give eternal life; anyone who believes in Him will be saved.

Then the New Testament turns its attention to the church, which is still about Jesus because the church is His body. The book of Acts shows how Jesus is working in the church today, through the gospel, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Then come all the letters that were written to the church - letters that tell about Jesus and how to live for Him. In Romans Jesus is righteousness from God for Jews and Gentiles; in 1 and 2 Corinthians He is the one who unifies the church and gives us spiritual gifts for ministry. In Galatians Jesus liberates us from legalism; in Ephesians He is the head of the church; in Philippians He is the joy of our salvation; in Colossians He is the firstborn over all creation. In 1 and 2 Thessalonians Jesus is coming soon to deliver us from this evil age; in 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus He shepherds His people; and in Philemon He reconciles brothers who are separated by sin. This is the gospel according to Paul.

Hebrews is an easy one: Jesus is the great high priest who died for sin once and for all on the cross and who sympathizes with us in all our weakness. In the epistle of James, Jesus helps us to prove our faith by doing good works. In the epistles of Peter He is our example in suffering. In the letters of John He is the Lord of love. In Jude He is our Master and Teacher. Last, but not least, comes the book of Revelation, in which Jesus Christ is revealed as the Lamb of God slain for sinners, Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the great Judge over all the earth, and the glorious God of heaven.

The Bible says that in Jesus "all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17) and this is as true of the Bible as it is of anything else. Jesus holds the whole Bible together. From Genesis to Revelation, the Word of God is all about Jesus, and therefore it has the power to bring salvation through faith in Him. It is by reading the Bible that we come to know Jesus, and it is by coming to know Jesus that we are saved. This is why we are so committed to God's Word, why it is the foundation for everything we do, both as a church and as individual Christians.

We love the Word because it brings us to Christ.

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Source: Today's Topical Bible Study


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