The next reason I believe in the resurrection is that the identity of Jesus was confirmed. Who is Jesus? This is one of the most important questions anyone can ask, and the answer has the power to change a person’s life trajectory for eternity.
For such an important question, the variety of answers is staggering. A quick Google search pulls up pages and pages of possibilities, and the arguments between readers quickly turn personal and heated. With so many different beliefs about Jesus’ identity, where do you begin to look for answers? Let’s imagine you wanted to discover the identity of your new, mysterious next-door neighbor. Before you text message the contacts on your street or knock on the doors of everyone on your block, it makes sense to talk directly to the new, mysterious next-door neighbor. Go next door and find out. Get to know their name, where they are from, about their family, and what they do. This time-tested, old-school method still works. That is what we are going to do. We are going to start with what Jesus claims about Himself. Then we will look at what God says about Jesus’ identity, and what many others say.
Jesus Claimed to Be God
Let’s take a look at how Jesus identifies Himself throughout His life. In John 14:6, He says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, He was taken before Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, for a trial. In chapter 14 of Mark’s account, we read that many people were testifying falsely against Jesus in front of Caiaphas, and Jesus remained silent. Finally, Caiaphas asked Jesus, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” and Jesus answered, “I am. . . . And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (vv. 61–62). Jesus’ answer so offended Caiaphas that he tore his clothes and declared Jesus guilty of blasphemy, a crime punishable by death.
Why was Jesus calling Himself the “Son of Man” so shocking? First, Jesus answered Caiaphas by affirming that He was the Messiah, the Savior. But the title “Son of Man” has a very specific meaning. Yes, He was a human being, a son of man, but in Daniel 7 the title of “Son of Man” is given to the exalted heavenly One who will rule heaven, and that is why Jesus uses that name for Himself. He will save men from their sins, giving them eternal life, and be the exalted One who reigns forever over the kingdom of heaven.
God the Father Affirms Jesus’ Identity
In Scripture, we hear the voice of God telling the world that Jesus is His Son. The first time is during His baptism and the second is on the Mount of Transfiguration.
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well-pleased.” (Mark 1:9–11)
God clearly identifies Jesus as His Son. A little later in Mark 9, we read that Jesus took Peter, James, and John on a hiking trip up a high mountain. Then before their eyes His garments became radiantly, exceedingly white, and the men could see Jesus talking to Elijah and Moses.
Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. (Mark 9:47)
Can you imagine what it was like for His disciples, Peter, John, and James? They were living life together with Jesus. Every day was spent walking together, eating together, talking together, and together they saw Jesus heal the sick and the blind and bring the dead back to life. The disciples’ account of Jesus in the Gospels further confirms His identity.
Jesus’ Disciples Claimed He Is God
If you could chart the book of Mark, the first eight chapters are full of Jesus serving, healing, and teaching people to establish His credentials as the Messiah. He launched His ministry by casting out a demon, healing a paralytic, calming a storm, raising a little girl from the dead, and feeding the hungry crowd of five thousand while he taught everyone about God, the kingdom, and eternal life. Then in chapter 8, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets.” Then Jesus asked them, “Who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah” (vv. 27–29). Flesh did not reveal that to Peter; God, Jesus’ Father, did. Peter knew the Old Testament. He knew all the promises and what the prophet Isaiah had said. Peter was living life alongside Jesus, listening to His teaching, watching Him heal and care for people. He was there when the blind could see, the lame walk, and the dead were raised. He heard teaching like he had never heard before, and he knew that Jesus was the Christ.
Jesus’ Enemies Confirmed His Identity
Although Jesus’ enemies didn’t like who He claimed to be, His works went unchallenged. In John 10 we read that the Jews gathered around Jesus as He came into the temple and asked Him,
“How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” (John 10:24–33)
Everyone in the temple listening to this escalating discussion understood what Jesus was saying and who He claimed to be.
Another account is found in Mark 1:21–28. Jesus was teaching in the synagogue when a man in the synagogue, possessed by a demon, cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus commanded the demon to be quiet and leave the man. The demon obeyed, and all the people who witnessed this event were amazed at Jesus’ authority over demons. His power demanded obedience from demons. Even the demon knew who Jesus was.
Ingram, Chip. 2017. Why I Believe: Straight Answers to Honest Questions about God, the Bible, and Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.
We have just completed a 6-Week Bible Study Lesson Series on Chip Ingram’s book, Why I Believe. It is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, as well as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription plan. The idea is to invite each participant to purchase their own book and discuss it each week.
Why I Believe, Lesson #1
Chapters 1, 2
Why I Believe in the Resurrection
Did Jesus Really Die?
Why I Believe, Lesson #2
Chapters 3, 4
Why I Believe the Bible
Don’t Take My Word for It
Why I Believe, Lesson #3
Why I Believe in Life After Death
Why I Believe, Lesson #4
Chapters 6, 7
Why I Believe in Life Creation
Science or God?
Why I Believe, Lesson #5
Why I Believe in the God of the Bible
Why I Believe, Lesson #6
How is that Working for You?