17th December 2012

Who Do People Say The Son Of Man Is?

“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’”
Matthew 16:13 (NIV) 

Recently the BBC website reported that Harvard Divinity professor Karen King had unveiled a 4th Century fragment of papyrus, written in ancient Egyptian Coptic, which makes explicit reference to Jesus having a wife. Providing the fragment can be fully authenticated and that it is translated correctly, this is an example of the erroneous beliefs about Christ that arose during the first few centuries AD. 

From the first century onwards erroneous beliefs about Jesus centred mainly on his nature and identity. These views were often based on preconceived false assumptions derived from the cultural backgrounds of the originators. Some, believing that there was only one person in the Godhead, reasoned that Jesus was a man, perhaps a prophet, or a created being, but not God. Others, believing that matter was fundamentally evil, reasoned that God couldn’t have come in evil flesh, he only appeared to do so, and therefore Jesus was God but not man. Still others, accepting that Jesus had human and divine characteristics, had differing views about the relationship between these two natures. Some of these views have persisted down through the ages to the present day. 

In order to clarify the situation, early theologians had to review and reflect on all the biblical data available. What emerged was a coherent view of the nature of Jesus. From the earliest times a fundamental Christian belief was that Jesus was the saviour of humanity. In order to be a saviour he must be fully God since only God can save. No creature can spiritually save another creature, only the creator can redeem the creation. As Isaiah states, “And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Saviour; there is none but me.” (Isaiah 45:21). Jesus must also be fully human since only as a human being could he stand in our stead, as a representative of all humanity, and pay the penalty for their sins. As Isaiah states, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5). The Lord’s Supper is a visible reminder of Jesus’ humanity. 

Thus Jesus was fully God and fully man; all other views, no matter how sincerely held, would ultimately prove to be inconsistent with Jesus being the Saviour of humanity. 

Prayer
Heavenly Father, we thank you that your Son willingly humbled himself and became the Word made flesh to suffer death that we might have eternal life.
Amen 

Study by Eddie Marsh

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