Inside View May/Jun 2014
Life is filled with questions. Questions help us focus on a subject and motivate us to seek answers. Many questions are simple; others can be complex.
Arguably, the most important question Jesus ever asked was one He posed in the least likely of places, when He took His disciples north of Galilee into the region of Caesarea Philippi (Mt. 16:13–20). Caesarea Philippi was a Gentile, pagan community where false gods were worshiped.
Each of our Friends of Israel Up to Jerusalem tours stops at Caesarea Philippi to recall where Jesus declared He would build His church.
A rock cliff marks the location of the ancient Roman community. In Jesus’ day, temples to pagan gods stood at the base of the cliff. The flute-playing, half man-half goat, Greek god Pan was honored and worshiped there. A spring flowed from the mouth of a cave at the base of the cliff. Believing the cave was the connection to the underworld, the pagan worshipers referred to it as the “gates of hell.”
Jesus was in Caesarea Philippi when He asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (v. 13). After hearing their answers, He asked them a much more personal question: “But who do you say that I am?” (v. 15).
The apostle Peter boldly replied, “You are the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the living God” (v. 16). Most English translations use the words the Christ. However, the word Christ is the anglicized version of the Greek Christós, which means “Messiah.”
Jesus responded by telling Peter he was blessed for correctly identifying Him because such understanding comes only from God, not from human reasoning (v. 17).
I believe the personal question Jesus asked His disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” is as relevant today as it was when He asked it several millennia ago. In fact, it is such an important question that we recently added it to our website, www.foi.org. It’s easy to find. Just look for “Who is Jesus?”
Jesus’ identity has been debated for centuries. What makes knowing the truth so critical for each person is the eternal blessing that comes from belief in Him as the Messiah. If Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, as Peter attested to and as we at The Friends of Israel believe, then Jesus is more than a great historical figure. He is humanity’s one and only Redeemer.
Peter identified Jesus as the Messiah, the promised one spoken of by the prophets in the Old Testament, who would redeem mankind from the curse of sin. But redemption comes only to those who believe in Him.
In all of life, there is no more important question that a person will answer than “Who is Jesus?” Scripture testifies that every individual’s eternal destiny is at stake when considering this question. The “Who is Jesus?” section on The Friends of Israel website walks readers through a series of questions, with answers from God’s Word:
- “Does God care what I think about Jesus?”
- “Does my dilemma matter to Jesus?”
- “Did Jesus have to die for me?”
- “Is Jesus my only answer?”
- “Who is Jesus to you?”
As evangelical Christians, it is part of our DNA to share the good news of the Messiah. Evangelical comes from the term evangelize, which means “to share or proclaim good news.” Telling the world about Jesus is what we are called to do (Mt. 28:19; Acts 1:8). Not to share about Jesus would amount to denying who we claim to be. And we would be less than honest in identifying ourselves as disciples of “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
If you would like to share “Who is Jesus?” with others, you may download it in pamphlet form from our website at www.foi.org/whoisjesus. Then you may print it and hand it out. Or you may request copies be sent to you by calling our headquarters at 800-257-7843.
If you have never come to faith in the Messiah, I pray that you will explore “Who is Jesus?” on our website. If you have come to faith in Jesus the Messiah, please pray with me that God will lead many to examine the question “Who is Jesus?” and come to saving faith in Him.