Charles Stanley - Jesus, The Son of God
Who is this man called Jesus? What difference does it make? And besides, who cares? And you and I might ask, well, what do other people think about Him? And I want to ask you, what do you think about Him? Who is this man called Jesus? We hear all kinds of things about who He is and what He did and who He is not, but who is He? Who is this man called Jesus the Christ? Well, that's the question I want to answer in this message. And you see if somebody says, "Well, what difference does it make who He is"?
Once you answer that question for yourself and once you discover what difference it is, you'll want to know who He is. And you'll want to know more than just a little bit about Him. You'll want to know everything you can possibly know about Him. And the purpose of this message is to answer the question, not what do I think or who do I think He is? But, who is this man called Jesus according to the book that He inspired to be written about Him and all of God's redemptive plan from the beginning to the end of the age? And I want you to turn if you will to Matthew chapter sixteen. In this particular passage Jesus is beginning to inform His disciples about how He's gonna be persecuted, how He's gonna be treated; that He's gonna die and that He's gonna rise again the third day.
And so, asking His disciples He said in verse thirteen, "When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, 'Who do people say that I the Son of Man am?' They said, 'Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' And Simon Peter answered, 'You're the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" How would you answer that question? Who is this man called Jesus?
Well, let me just say this. When you ask the question, what difference does it make, in the very beginning of this message I want to answer that question. What difference does it make who He is? This is the difference it makes. It will mold your character. No matter who you are, once you discover who Jesus is and you respond to Him in the right fashion, it will mold your character. Likewise, it will impact your whole belief system. Whatever you believe will be greatly impacted by it. It will influence your lifestyle, the way you live. And most of all, it will determine where you spend eternity. Well, the question comes, how do we find out who He is? How do you find out who this man Jesus Christ really is? Because once you do, once you find out who He is and once you're confronted with the truth, then you're confronted with an inescapable decision. Will I believe the testimony of the Scripture about Him or will I not? Will I accept Him for the person He says He is or will I not?
And I want you to be in remembrance of this. You cannot accept the Word of God but reject Jesus. And if you reject Him you will reject His Word. If you accept Him you will accept His Word. And if you accept His Word you will accept Him. The two are so intertwined. The question is, who do you think He is? Who is this man called Jesus? Well, to discover who He is let's begin with His birth. Who is this man called Jesus? Who was born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit, angels sang at His birth, or they announced His birth. He was born into a world which He created. And He did not begin at His birth but He was pre-existent with the Father, loved by the Father and had glory with the Father in Heaven. Therefore, that makes this very, very, very exceptional. And here's what really happened at His birth. When Jesus Christ was born, what really happened is this. God invaded earth, came to earth and was clothed in human flesh to walk among us in order to reveal to us absolutely who the Father really is.
The Old Testament saints had a great conception of God, but not the conception that you and I have now that Jesus walked among us. This was a momentous time in history, when God came to earth to walk in human flesh like a man. Always being God. Never at any time in His life on earth did He ever cease to be God. He was continuously uninterrupted God. He was both God and man. So, when we ask the question, who is this man called Jesus? You begin with His birth, you examine His birth, and as you look at His birth and see the things that happened you have to acknowledge this was certainly not a normal birth and He is not a normal man. For He lived before He was born. Listen, born into a world which He Himself created. The second thing that I would want to know as I would think about who is this man, Jesus, I would want to know something about His life.
So, think about us, let's examine His life for a moment. The Scripture says that He was born in Bethlehem but raised in Nazareth. That's where He grew up. And more than likely, He was probably about His earthly father's business after a while. But in those early years of His life, we don't hear anything except all of a sudden, we hear about Him being at the Temple with His family who came to the Passover and they couldn't find Him. And when they found Him, they found Him with the scribes and Pharisees, the teachers. And He was asking them questions and they were asking Him questions and He was having a theological discussion with them. Parents didn't understand that. But it's interesting that the Scripture says very specifically that He was in subjection to His parents. You remember what He said when they said, "Where have You been"? He said, "Do you not know then that I am about My Father's business"?
And so, then we don't see anything about Him for a long time. A long period of silence about the life of Jesus. More than likely, living in His home there in Nazareth, growing up as a teenager and at some point, probably helping His father as a carpenter and maybe took over His father's business when His father passed away at some point. And then out of nowhere here is John the Baptist, the prophet, out in the wilderness and the Bible says he ate locusts and wild honey, clothed in hair with a belt around him. And here he is preaching the Kingdom of God and preaching repentance and confession of sin. And people were coming everywhere for him to baptize them, confessing their sins. All of a sudden in the midst of this baptismal service he points and says, "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world". He was pointing to Jesus. And when Jesus came to John the Baptist and said to him, "I want you to baptize Me". John the Baptist said, "I can't baptize You. You ought to be baptizing me". And Jesus said, "No, you must baptize Me in order to fulfill the Father's will".
And so John baptized Him. And he said when He was baptized the heavens opened and the Spirit of God came upon the Lord Jesus Christ, anointing Him for the work that He was called to do. And there was this voice from heaven that said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased". Well, sometime after that or probably shortly after that He goes into the wilderness to be apart, to fast and to pray and to talk to the Father. And more than likely to get a good glimpse from the Father of the mission that was ahead of Him though He'd been knowing that a long time, now He was beginning to launch His ministry. Now He was beginning to move out into the world and to announce who He was. And so, in those forty-some day, forty days and forty nights out there with the Father in the wilderness, Satan came to Him at some point, tempted Him, tried Him, did his best to divert Him from the mission to which the Father had called Him. Promised Him all kinds of things.
Each time the Lord Jesus Christ responded with a passage of Scripture, until finally Satan realized he was defeated. And the Bible says that when He came out of the wilderness, He came full of the Holy Spirit and preaching the kingdom of heaven is at hand. When He began to preach, people began to flock to hear Him. There was something about the authority with which He spoke. And what happened? People flocked to Him, they loved Him. Others criticized Him, did their best to destroy Him. But His life was an absolute life of sinless perfection. You see He never ceased to be God. When He walked on the water or walked on the land, when He was healing or touching a leper or calling the little children to them, Himself, He was God and man all at the same time. You want to know who He is? Look at His life. You want to know who He is? Look at His birth. He is not just a man, He is the God-man walking on the face of this earth.
It's very important that you and I understand fully who is this man named Jesus. So, if I want to find out who someone is, one of the best ways for me to find out is to find out what they think about themselves. You and I could be friends, but if I do not understand the way you think about yourself, I'll never know you. If you don't tell me how you feel, what you think, I would never know you. So, if we're gonna find out who Jesus is, who is this man called Jesus, we have to ask the question, what did He say about Himself? And that's a good question. What did He say about Himself? He said many, many things about Himself and I want you to think about this. There will be people who'll tell you, Jesus can't be the only way to Heaven. That's too narrow-minded. That seems to speak of bigotry and pride. I don't believe that about Him. Or they'll tell you something else they don't believe. But I want you to hear, I want you to hear what Jesus said about Himself. And when you finish listening to what He said about Himself, you'll have to decide, this man is the Son of God. This man is the Savior of the world, or He is an imposter and a liar and I'll turn Him down, I will reject Him.
So, let's begin. What did He say about Himself? Here's what He said. He said, "I am the Son of God. He said, I and the Father are one". He said, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father". Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life". He said, "No man comes to the Father but by Me". That statement has caused more people to back off and say, "What a bigoted statement. How prideful, how egotistical, how narrow-minded to think that the only way to Heaven is through the Person of Jesus Christ. Who is this man who is called Jesus"? He's exactly who He says He is. He's the Good Shepherd. He's the Bread of Life. He's the light of the world. He's the door of life. He's the Way, the Truth and the very Life itself. Because you see, in order for us to have eternal life, we must have the Person of Jesus Christ living on the inside of us. All of these statements about Himself: either He is a liar, a counterfeit; either He's a fraud; or He is who He says He is, the Eternal Son of the Living God, who is the Savior of the world and the one who will judge the world one of these days, every single one of us standing before Him.
Then when you look to see who He says He is, then let me ask you this question. You either have to believe that Jesus Christ is who He says He is or not. And I ask you, who is this man called Jesus? Well, you will never know who He really is until we continue because if I'm gonna find out who He really is, I have to look at his death. Because we all know that Jesus Christ died and Jerusalem is the place. We talk about Golgotha and we talk about a place called Calvary and we talk about the cross. If I'm gonna find out who Jesus really is I have to look at His death. Now think about this. His death was plotted by the religious leaders of His day. You would think that men who were so minute in detail in the way they forced people to live by the law of Moses, which they had exaggerated to the point that the law had become pure bondage to anybody who tried to live up to it. These same men, because of their jealousy of Jesus, because of their resentment and hostility toward Him because of the crowds that thronged after Him, and primarily because He threatened their position of authority. He threatened their position, their control over the people.
In spite of the fact that they said, the law of Moses you must not disobey, these men were so ungodly. They were willing to lay aside one of the most basic principles in the Scripture which was, "Thou shalt not kill". They were committed, determined at all cost, to kill this man Jesus. You know what? They didn't have any idea who He was. They were so blinded by their laws. They were so blinded by the truth, so threatened by Him they had no earthly idea who He was. They said, "Kill Him! Whatever it takes. Get this man out of our society". Why? Because of their greed for position and greed for authority. So, when you look at the death of Jesus Christ, it was plotted.
Now watch this. Plotted by those who hated Him. Not by the common man but by the religious leaders of the day. It was performed by Roman soldiers. Likewise, here's a group of men who had no earthly idea what they were doing. They crucified two thieves. They crucified the Living God, clothed in human flesh, walking among men. Born of a virgin, growing up as a child and as a teenager, absolutely sinless. Beginning His ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit, preaching the Kingdom of God is at hand. Never harming anyone. Listen, never rebelling against the government. You hear, never hear Him talking against Rome. Did He say He was a king? Yes, He told the truth. He was the King of the Jews. And so, when He was crucified on the cross, it looked like a tragedy. It was a horrible, horrible death for anyone. The most excruciating pain that a person could possibly feel.
Why was He dying? Because He was a rebel? No. Because He was an insurrectionist? No. Because He'd violated the law? No. Because God the Father planned with the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit before the world ever began, knowing that man would fall and sin against Him and be hopeless and helpless to save Himself. God the Father predestined plan the death of the Lord Jesus Christ because when Jesus Christ died it was not simply a man dying. It was not simply a crucifixion, but it was an awesome eternal scene. A scene in which God the Father placed upon His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ all the sin of all of mankind, past, present, and future. The sin of those who crucified Him. And placing that sin burden and that sin-debt upon His Son, He then punished His Son. All of the wrath of God was directed upon Him, released upon Him, unleashed upon Him. And Jesus the Son of God, God in human flesh nailed to a cross, cried out to the Father, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me"?
In those moments suffering, listen, in those moments suffering the punishment that men will suffer for all eternity who deny Him, reject Him and die without Him. To live eternally without God, to live eternally separated from God. Having failed for the very purpose for which you were created, to love and to worship the Living God. Jesus Christ on the cross paid your sin-debt in full. No one else has, no one else could because no one else was perfect. No one else has ever lived a sinless life. It was the sinless Son of God who took your sin upon Him because He was holy and perfect and righteous, bore in His body your sin-debt and mine. Which made it possible that all who would believe the testimony of Scripture, all who would trust the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior, all who would look to the cross and accept the fact that His death was not simply a crucifixion, but a sacrificial atoning, all-sufficient substitutionary death that made it possible for Him to take our sin-debt, set us free. And the moment that you and I would accept Him as our personal Savior, you and I would be saved, eternally secure, the children of the Living God.
That's what the crucifixion was all about and that's what His death was all about. But if I really want to know who He is I have to go beyond His death. Now for everybody else, we could say, "Well, if you know about their birth and their life and what they thought and what they said about themselves and their death, that would be it". But you see, because He's the Son of God and the Living God walking in human flesh, that was not the end. Because He did exactly what He promised. He rose from the dead, shocked His disciples, shocked other people. And even His disciples didn't believe it. They went running to the tomb to find out, is this really true? And even after they testified, one of His disciples, Thomas said, I've gotta see, I've gotta see the nail-scarred hand which he had the awesome privilege of seeing. Jesus revealed Himself after His resurrection to hundreds of people so that nobody will ever have a definite realistic reason to doubt His resurrection.
And Paul said it this way. One of these days "every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father". Herod could not, listen, Herod couldn't kill Him. The devil, listen, the devil could not destroy Him. And the grave could not hold Him. He is the living Christ, the living God. Now listen carefully. You will never be able to say, "I don't know who He is". Never. You've heard it. I didn't give you my opinion. I have a verse or more verses, two or more verses in most cases to back up every single statement I made about Jesus about His birth, His life, what He said about Himself, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, and His coming again. It's all here. You can't ever say, "I don't know who He is". One of these days when you stand before Him in the judgment you will not be able to say, "Well, if I had only heard". You've heard. "If I had only had somebody explain it". You've had it. And here's the issue.
Will you be wise enough to accept the testimony of the Living Word of God and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, surrender your life to Him, become a child of God sealed by the Holy Spirit? And one day when you face death, face it fearlessly because the Bible says, "Absent from the body, present with the Lord for every one of His children". One of these days knowing that this body of yours no matter how many, how decrepit it may be, disease, sick, sin, whatever. One of these days it'll be resurrected, glorified like His own body, and you'll spend eternity with Him and with me and all the rest of us who know Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.
You say, "Well, I'm not gonna make a decision now". Sorry, you have to. Because you see, you've heard the gospel. You can say, "Well, I'm gonna think about it later". Your answer is, "I reject it for now". Or you could say, "You know what? I've been wanting to hear that all of my life. I'm willing to receive Jesus as my Savior. What do I do"? Here's what you do. You simply say to Him:
Lord Jesus, I do believe the testimony of Your Word, that You're the Son of God. That You died on the cross for my sins. I'm asking You to forgive me of my sins and I'm placing my trust in You to forgive me, save me, make me one of your children, and take me home to Heaven when I die.
And if you will simply tell Him that with all of your heart, you know what'll you'll find out? He's gonna mold your character. He's gonna impact everything you believe. Listen, He's gonna influence your whole lifestyle. And you know what happened? You just had your eternal, listen, your eternal destiny changed forever. Changed forever.