The person of Jesus
Blessed Brethren, today we will look at the testimonies of the people who believed in Jesus. We will see good and bad testimonies, and the reasons of these testimonies. Let’s first look at the opinions of people who were wrong about Jesus. First story:
„As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, "Never was anything like this seen in Israel." But the Pharisees said, "He casts out demons by the prince of demons."”
It’s a typical hardening when someone predetermines something bad about someone, and plugging their ears and closing their eyes, they don't want to think about to change their opinion. These people decided that Jesus is evil, and therefore His actions too. This is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit when we consciously call the good evil and evil good:
„Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”
„So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever." Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, "Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."”
Others said Jesus was strict, raised the bar too high, and many disagreed so they did not follow Him any further. How can Jesus say that only those can come to Him who granted by the Father? A little later I’ll explain it, let us first look at Peter's confession, which speaks for itself:
„Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Jesus has the words of eternal life, whether strict or not. The following story:
„As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, "Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?" Some said, "It is he." Others said, "No, but he is like him." He kept saying, "I am the man." So they said to him, "Then how were your eyes opened?" He answered, "The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.' So I went and washed and received my sight." They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know." They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, "He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see." Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?" And there was a division among them.”
Because of human dispositions, they did not see God’s will, they did not understand why God gave the Sabbath. These people were not ready to be examined; are they on a good foundation? This is a typical problem even today, people grow in knowledge, they give credit to human teachings without examining it in the light of the Word, and so the wall they built will be skewed. And as it gets higher, the more the deviation from the base will be visible, i.e. the sloping of the wall will be more obvious.
„therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant;”
If a plane deviates even by just one degree from its destination, you may find yourself in a completely different country in the long run. So it is with our lives, if we don’t hear the word of Jesus, if we don’t walk in His light, we will get to another place. These people testify that they rely on their own minds and not on knowing God:
„Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
So everyone saw Jesus according to their own hearts, but that has not changed to this day. That is why there are so many denominations, and as many denominations as many creeds and knowledge of God. We will return to this state of the heart later.
Now let’s look at the opinions of people who believed that Jesus was from God:
„Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."”
Obviously, I can’t claim that the people who saw Jesus like that were definitely right. The Word of God will testify it. Let us see unity among these people, more precisely: between John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah.
What they have in common is that they strictly proclaimed repentance, emphasizing the doing of God's will. Let’s see the words of John the Baptist:
„Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Let's see the words of Elijah:
„And Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." And the people did not answer him a word.”
If you do something, do it well! You cannot serve two masters:
„"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
We know from the story of Jeremiah that the people never listened to the word of God that Jeremiah spoke, because the word of God demanded change in people. And these changes were about leaving the visible things, they were requests from God that people didn’t want to do. One good example of this:
„Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the LORD, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land. But if you say, 'We will not remain in this land,' disobeying the voice of the LORD your God and saying, 'No, we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war or hear the sound of the trumpet or be hungry for bread, and we will dwell there,' then hear the word of the LORD, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: If you set your faces to enter Egypt and go to live there, then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow close after you to Egypt, and there you shall die. All the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to live there shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. They shall have no remnant or survivor from the disaster that I will bring upon them. "For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: As my anger and my wrath were poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so my wrath will be poured out on you when you go to Egypt. You shall become an execration, a horror, a curse, and a taunt. You shall see this place no more. The LORD has said to you, O remnant of Judah, 'Do not go to Egypt.' Know for a certainty that I have warned you this day that you have gone astray at the cost of your lives. For you sent me to the LORD your God, saying, 'Pray for us to the LORD our God, and whatever the LORD our God says declare to us and we will do it.' And I have this day declared it to you, but you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God in anything that he sent me to tell you. Now therefore know for a certainty that you shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place where you desire to go to live."”
It is not the first time that God has offered life and death through the prophet Jeremiah, one similar case was that who gives himself up to the enemy receives his/her life as a gift, and who does not, shall be put to death:
„"And to this people you shall say: 'Thus says the LORD: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who stays in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, but he who goes out and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you shall live and shall have his life as a prize of war.”
They did not listen again to the word of God that God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah. Let's see the attitude of the people:
„When Jeremiah finished speaking to all the people all these words of the LORD their God, with which the LORD their God had sent him to them, Azariah the son of Hoshaiah and Johanan the son of Kareah and all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, "You are telling a lie. The LORD our God did not send you to say, 'Do not go to Egypt to live there,' but Baruch the son of Neriah has set you against us, to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they may kill us or take us into exile in Babylon." So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces and all the people did not obey the voice of the LORD, to remain in the land of Judah.”
They did not listen to the word of the Lord, they returned to the land of Egypt because they chose the visible rather than the promise of God.
Jesus didn’t ask His followers for a radical change? We must die for ourselves and for this world, and live for God:
„Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
So John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah, they have testified of the perfect following of God’s word and the judgment that comes to those who do not walk according to it.
People tried to get to know Jesus in many ways, getting to know Jesus by heart did not always lead to good results, but neither did signs and wonders. Although Jesus himself says that if they do not believe His word, they should believe in miracles:
„Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.”
This is because Jesus himself stands at the end of the signs and wonders! His deeds testified that He was the Messiah sent from God.
When the disciples shared the opinion of the people about Jesus, then Peter testified as follows:
„Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."”
Those who tried to get to know Jesus with their hearts or eyes did not get the full picture. There were those who saw Him as evil or in better cases, a prophet. But Peter told the reality, and this is how Jesus explained Peter’s testimony:
„And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”
Not flesh and blood, not eyes, thoughts or hearts. They believed in His speech, it created true faith in them. Jesus said that the Father revealed it to Peter:
„No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
I promised to come back here. Jesus, that is, the word of God, goes to those whom the Father attracts. We pay attention? To the word of God! It is made alive, the word creates faith, that is, the word of God creates faith in people who truly desire to know Him.
The Father attracts to His speech (His word) those, who truly desire to know Him. This is why many people read the scriptures but do not understand or completely misinterpret it because they want to shape it for themselves, even though they have to do it the other way; the word of God must shape man. Even if we see ourselves as deformed, let us walk toward the Lord while it lasts today!
„Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”
We can see from Paul’s life that after he learned the truth, he grabbed it in such a way that nothing could deter him from it.
In the word we can see that signs and wonders served the noblest purpose in each case: to bear witness to the word of God. This is why we see in the prayers of the disciples that they asked the Lord for signs and wonders, but not for their health or glory, but as a seal for the word of God.
„And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus."”
But even from this word we can be sure of the meaning of signs and wonders:
„And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.”
Indeed, this is why Jesus asked the multitude to believe at least in miracles and signs, because they also testified of the word of the Lord, that is, Jesus. But we have a story from Jesus:
„"There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house-- for I have five brothers--so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'"”
So they are not even convinced if someone is resurrected from the dead. Abraham said the only option:
„They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.”
And this is because eternal life is in Jesus alone, in knowing Him. I have already mentioned that Jesus can be known through His speech, that is, through the Word. Jesus does not have a magic wand in his hand to save people. We don’t believe in fairies. Jesus shows the way that leads to the Father, and this way everyone has to go one by one. So the knowledge of God is eternal life:
„When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
This is the key to our eternal life! But so many say they know the Lord. Who is right then? We have already talked about this, to whom the Father testifies his speech, that is, his Son, Jesus. In whom does the word of God come alive and bear fruit? What does the parable of the sower say?
„Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
It becomes alive and fruitful in those who completely surrender their lives to be shaped by God. Who can give up everything.
I also promised a return to the state of the heart: Even today we experience exactly the same as in the age of Jesus, they are misunderstood Him because they are judge according to their own hearts. I’ve heard more than once, “Oh, Jesus himself is love, he will save even Satan” – and similar blasphemies like this.
We must understand that Jesus does not want to invite Himself into our hearts, but He asks our hearts from us to completely reshape it.
Who do you say Jesus is?
Author: Antal Farkas