Who Do You Think You Are?
By David Faust
What made the young carpenter from Nazareth think he could get away with saying such things? His critics wondered, Who do you think you are?
They viewed him the way we might see a rookie quarterback comparing himself to Peyton Manning, a Little Leaguer claiming to be better than Babe Ruth, or an aspiring musician claiming to be greater than Beethoven. They shook their heads in disbelief. To the skeptics, this upstart rabbi was making wild boasts—or worse, he was committing blasphemy.
When Jesus announced, “Something greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:42), imagine what his opponents thought. Really? You’re greater than King Solomon? He slept in a palace and ruled from a golden throne. You grew up in a hick town and camp out with your disciples. Solomon raked in tax money, dined with royalty at his banquet table, and collected chariots in his garage. You travel on foot, and your dinner companions have scandalous reputations.
When Jesus said, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me” (John 5:46), the doubters didn’t realize that in Genesis, he is the promised seed of the woman. In Exodus, he is the Passover lamb. In Leviticus, he is the high priest who mediates for the people. In Numbers, he is the bronze snake on a pole that heals the sick. In Deuteronomy, he is the ultimate prophet who would succeed and surpass Moses.
When Jesus asked a Samaritan woman for a drink and offered her “living water,” she asked, “Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us [this] well?” (John 4:12). Another time Jesus said, “Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56), and his adversaries challenged him. “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said, “and you have seen Abraham!” (v. 57). But Jesus didn’t back down. He asserted, “Before Abraham was born, I am!” Recognizing his unmistakable claim to deity, the hostile crowd grabbed stones, wanting to kill him as a blasphemer (vv. 58-59).
If someone claims to be greater than Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Solomon—or even more, he claims to be equal with God—what are the options? Either he is deliberately misleading others (a liar); he is mentally unstable (a lunatic); or he is telling the truth (he is the Lord). Jesus’ accusers told Governor Pilate, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God” (John 19:7). Others, though, investigated Jesus’ sinless life, unparalleled teachings, undeniable miracles, and fulfilled prophecies, and concluded he was (and is) exactly who he claimed to be.
Many wanted to know, “Jesus, who do you think you are?” However, he turned the question around and asked, “Who do you say I am?” Some compared him to prophets like Elijah or Jeremiah, but Peter gave the most logical answer: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15-16).
Ironically, by realizing who he is, we better understand who we are. Jesus says, “Follow me.” Not join a club. Not devote yourself to religious traditions, political platforms, or the latest agendas for social reform. “Follow me.” If you hunger for knowledge, he will feed your mind. If you are exhausted, he will give you rest. And when it’s time to die, he will give you hope.
Who do you think you are? Follow Jesus, and he will let you know: You are a child of the most high God.
Personal Challenge: Write out your answer to this question: Who do I think Jesus is? Then write your answer to this question: Who does Jesus say I am?