Who Do You Say Jesus Is?

Some time ago I heard an interview with Bono on a public news station, and the subject of Jesus came up. I guess Bono was in one of his truth-moods because here’s what he said:

“The secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: ‘He was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius.’


But actually Christ says, ‘No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher; don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying … “I am God in the flesh.”’


And people say: ‘No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet we can take. You’re a bit eccentric, but we’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey; so we can handle that. But not the Messiah! Because, you know, we’re going to have to crucify you if you say that.’


And he goes: ‘No, no, I … actually am the Messiah.’


At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and saying, ‘Oh, my God; he’s going to keep saying this.’


So what you’re left with is either Christ was who he said he was—God incarnate, the Messiah—or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson … I’m not joking here. And, the idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me that’s a little far fetched …”

What Bono was communicating, despite the anchor’s best efforts to change the subject, is basically what the Apostle Peter said to those who liked Jesus but would not submit to his lordship: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36 CSB).

Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, the long-awaited King. They tried to redefine him, but he wouldn’t have that, so they killed him. But then God overturned their verdict with his own, the resurrection, declaring Jesus to be both Lord and Messiah.

And now, like those whose opinion was overruled, we have to choose: Is Jesus who he says he is, or is he who we say he is?

It’s time to put away this redefinition game with Jesus. How insulting! We wouldn’t do this with any other human being. Why do we think it’s OK to do with Jesus?

Imagine someone came up to you and said, “I’ve been watching you, and I’d like to write your biography.”

Pretty honoring, right? But imagine if they kept going:

“You see, in my biography of you, I’m going to describe your lifelong dream of becoming an astronaut, a dream that never came to be—because of your fear of heights. This led you to a series of jobs that you couldn’t hang on to, proving that all of your career ambitions were as earthbound and futile as your astronaut fantasies. I also plan to highlight the string of failed relationships you left in your wake, a pattern that led you to such depths of loneliness that you started to live with cats. Even now, your 15 feline friends are your only companions.”

Seeing your face drop, they quickly add, “I know none of this is really true, but you’re much more interesting this way. The book will sell.”

How would you feel about such a “biography”? My guess is your feeling of honor would quickly transform into one of insult. It’s unkind and dishonest to refashion another person into something that suits your needs. People aren’t Lego pieces. You can’t just rearrange them.

Neither is Jesus.

Why would we think Jesus would be any different when we do the same to him? If you’re not comfortable with the Jesus who actually existed, at least be intellectually honest enough to reject him outright. Don’t patronize him by saying, “My Jesus would be this …” You don’t get your own personal Jesus.

When it comes to who you say Jesus is, there are only two sides of this line: You’ve either submitted to him as Lord and Messiah, or you have rejected him. “Lord” means you have surrendered your life to him, and “Messiah” means he is your only hope for salvation.

Jesus is either Lord of all or he’s not Lord at all. There is no such thing as partial surrender, just as there is no such thing as partial faithfulness.

Which side of the line are you on? Who do you say Jesus is?

Better yet, what does your life say that he is? Your belief system is better demonstrated by your life than by your mouth. You cannot call Jesus “Lord” and not live fully submitted to him.

Are you hoping in him alone for salvation? If I asked you, “Why would God allow you into heaven?” what would you say? The most common answer, “I’m a good person,” just doesn’t cut it.

Are you telling people about Jesus? How could you say you believe he is the only way and not open your mouth about him? The only way you could do that is to not really believe it.

“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

What is the verdict of your life on Jesus?