The Nature of Jesus

“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” —Matthew 16:16

WHEN Jesus asked, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” he received a variety of answers. These reported opinions of the general public as to the identity of Jesus were all good. They indicated that the people as a whole believed that Jesus was a prophet sent of God, even one of the ancient prophets raised from the dead. They had been impressed with his miracles, and with the gracious words which he spoke. Nevertheless, this report, favorable though it was, did not satisfy Jesus, for it came short of the real truth.

The same has been true of Jesus throughout all the centuries since. Few, if any, have ever criticized his personality, nor have very many found fault with his moral and ethical teachings, except that they seemed unattainable. Even in the unbelieving world of today most people are willing to acknowledge that the impact of Jesus’ life upon mankind has been powerful and good; and many will agree that in some way he was a special prophet sent of God. Millions have claimed that Jesus was a third part of a trinity of gods, and as such was coequal with God—in fact, was God. But all of these viewpoints come far short of the truth, just as did the good opinions expressed about Jesus at the beginning of the age.

Jesus did not berate the public of his day for failing properly to identify him; nor can the unbelieving world since be held especially to blame for their blindness. Indeed, to the extent that the people have adhered to the high standard of righteousness taught by Jesus, and have followed the example of his noble life, the world has been made better, but it has not been made Christian.

Jesus was not satisfied with the general idea of the people concerning him, that he was a good man, a prophet of the Lord, so he asked the disciples what they thought about it. It was in reply to this that Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16) “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona,” was the Master’s prompt reply to this true identification, and then added, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”

With God’s help, Peter recognized in Jesus the One whom the prophets had foretold would be sent by Jehovah to redeem and restore Israel, and to bless all the families of the earth. He was not an ordinary prophet with a message of repentance and reformation, as many of Israel’s prophets had been, but he was greater than all the prophets. He was the Messiah, the sent of God, the One of whom all the prophets wrote. Recognizing this great truth concerning Jesus, Peter would also believe that Jesus was the One who would fulfill all the wonderful promises of blessing to the people which had been made dependent upon his coming. Peter truly was blessed to be given such an insight into the divine plan.

The millions throughout the age who have looked upon Jesus as a good man, and have tried to emulate him in their words and conduct, have been benefited, but they have not been among those of whom Jesus said, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” (Matt. 13:16) Those whom the Lord draws to Jesus, and whose eyes of understanding are opened by the Holy Spirit, recognize Jesus as the Christ of promise, even as Peter did, and they have confidence that he will carry out all the details of the divine plan of blessing just as they have been promised by the Heavenly Father. Blessed indeed have been those who have seen Jesus as “the sent of God.”

John 6:35-40—“For I came down from heaven,” is the theme of this passage of Scripture, and it helps us to understand something of the nature of Jesus. The manner in which Jesus came down from heaven is explained in the opening chapter of John’s Gospel. There we are told that in his pre-human existence Jesus was the “Logos,” “the Word,” or mouthpiece of God. This Logos was made flesh by being born of a woman. It was thus that he “came down from heaven.”

Let us note, however, that it was not God himself who was made flesh, but the Logos, the son of God. According to a literal translation of the Greek in John 1:1,2, we learn that the Logos was “a” god, and that he was in the beginning with “the” God. It was the Logos, “a” god, or mighty one, who was made flesh, not “the” God, the Almighty Jehovah. But the fact is emphasized that Jesus “came down from heaven.” He was the sent of God, the One who visited the earth as an evidence of the Heavenly Father’s love.

In this lesson Jesus speaks of himself as the “bread” from heaven. The thought here is that those who accept him will have their life sustained through belief in him and by faithfulness in doing his will.

Jesus, the apostle explains, was the “firstborn of every creature.” (Col. 1:9-20) This great truth was expressed by Paul nearly two thousand years ago, yet today practically all professed followers of Jesus insist that he was not a creation of God, but God himself, who never had a beginning. But truth-enlightened Christians will accept the inspired testimony of the apostle, and thus know that Jesus was, as John states it, the Word of God, the Logos, “the only begotten of the Father.”—John 1:14

Paul confirms the testimony of John that the Logos, the “firstborn of every creature,” cooperated with Jehovah in connection with all the other works of creation—“For by him were all things created,” the apostle writes, “that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” (Col. 1:16) Of this same great truth John writes, “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.”—John 1:3

Paul’s list of the things created by the Logos includes those in heaven as well as on earth, the “visible and invisible.” Our understanding of the great universe would be limited indeed unless our faith can visualize the invisible things of God. Indeed, much of the inspiration needed in running for the “prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” is derived from looking “at the things which are not seen.”—Phil. 3:14; II Cor. 4:18; Heb. 11:1

When the Logos was made flesh and “dwelt among us,” he was visible to human eyes, but in his resurrection he was “quickened”—made alive—in the Spirit, and is now invisible, even as God is invisible. (I Pet. 3:18; Col. 1:15; I Tim. 1:17; Heb. 11:27) Due to the divine power which he possessed following his resurrection, Jesus was able to manifest himself to his disciples; but John tells us that these manifestations were merely “signs” which were given to prove the fact of his resurrection. (John 20:29,30) Neither John nor the other apostles saw Jesus as the glorious divine being which he was after his resurrection.

One of the biblical terms descriptive of the change of nature from human to spiritual is that of Spirit birth, and Paul explains that he saw Jesus as one “born out of due time [prematurely, Diaglott].” The “due time” for Paul to be born of the Spirit is at this end of the age—“in that day”—but at the cost of his eyesight he was favored with a glimpse of Jesus before the “due time.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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