“Who do you say that I am?” The question resounds throughout the gospels from Jesus Himself to every disciple and, now, to every reader. This seems to be the question that the Apostle John was bent on answering before he got into anything else. He first writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Similarly, nothing you and I say can have any value at all until we, personally, answer this question correctly. If we answer wrongly, we can be sure that any light we claim to see is nothing but great darkness!
Nathanael’s first words when hearing about Jesus are skeptical at best: “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Our Lord was not offended by the statement. Perhaps Jesus found such transparency refreshing. Sincere uncertainty was far more desirable than the false praise of the scribes and Pharisees, who would call him “Teacher” and “man of integrity” while seeking to trap Him in His words (Mark 12:14). Honest uncertainty was much better than the treacherous kiss of Judas. Those with probing questions are often the ones sincerely searching. Jesus sees Nathanael’s heart and calls him, “an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit” (John 1:47).
Still searching, he asks, “How do you know me?” and Jesus is happy to fulfill the man’s quest. He says, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you” (John 1:48). In an instant, Philip is so certain of Jesus’ identity that he declares Him to be “Son of God” and “King of Israel” (1:49). How? In Jewish culture, it was common to retreat under the shade of a low-lying fig tree in order to pray and meditate on scripture. I have no doubt that this sincere Israelite, while praying under the fig tree, had sensed the presence of God. In God’s presence, we become aware of His care, that He hears our prayers and sees our hearts. Jesus pinpoints a moment of private prayer that no man could know about and says, “I saw you there.”
Beware of the serpent’s subtle attempts to trick you into doubting Jesus’ identity, saying, “Did Jesus really say He was God?” Jesus did. He said, “before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). He said, “I and the Father are one” (10:30). Both times, Jewish leaders tried to stone him to death for blasphemy! But He was telling the truth.
If Jesus were not God, He would be limited. He might have succeeded in dying for some of your sins. He might be able to give you hope for potential salvation or potential resurrection. He might have power over some or even most of the demons. But that is not the case. We serve a Lord whose Name is above every Name, who has all authority and power, who has utterly defeated satan and his demons on the cross, who has completely atoned for all of our sins, who has completely secured eternal redemption for all who believe, and who is 100% alive today to intercede for our souls! Thank Him, rejoice in Him, and worship Him today!
The Rock Church