Jesus: Who Do You Say He is and Why It Matters

The Big XII

Prince of Peace. Messiah. The Word of God. King of Kings. All different facets of Jesus' character and divine nature. During this worship service we celebrate many of these aspects through song, examine Messianic prophesy, and see what Jesus said of Himself in His own words. But the question remains: Who do you say Jesus is?

To view the video "Jesus Rant" by The Veracity Project, visit

Todd WagnerNov 1, 2009John 1:1-4,14,18; Isaiah 53:1-12; Matthew 16:13-17; Ephesians 1:3-14

I think the very first concert I ever went to was either The Doobie Brothers or Earth, Wind and Fire. I can't remember, but The Doobie Brothers, back in the day, and that song is "Jesus Is Just Alright." We think he is more than just all right. We are in the middle of a little series called The Big XII. If you have not been here, what we are doing is we are talking about 12 essential truths. If you in any way compromise the full expression of this truth in your life the implications and consequences of that are immense.

Now I'll tell you what we are going to do today. Everything we have talked about these first five weeks crescendos in today, and everything we will talk about the next seven weeks really flows out of today. What we are talking about is if you don't get the God question right, that's a big deal, but the fullest expression of the God question is…Who is the visible image of the invisible God? It is Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, "I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life. No one comes to the Father except by him." If you get this question wrong (Who is Jesus?), the implications for you are not just eternally significant, but they are already significant in your life. Certainly, all death is is an eternally fixed beginning, so those who are already outside of Christ are experiencing a fraction of the hell in the dysfunction and in the lack of fullness God intends for life to be.

For those who know Christ, this is as bad as it's ever going to get. For those who don't know Christ, this is your heaven, so drink deeply, my friends, or better still tune in today. What we decided to do today is, rather than talk a lot about Jesus, because everything builds to him and everything flows out of him, is we are going to focus on him, and we are going to preach him through song and through scripture, so brace yourselves for about 75 minutes of exalting Christ.

If you are here as a guest, we don't expect that you would want to exalt him, but we know that you want to know him. I'm going to hold my friends that are in that slip right now, we are going to watch this video, and then we invite you to be seated. Here we go…


Welcome! Please be seated. For those of you who are just coming here, what we are in the middle of today is we are declaring who Christ is, not through our normal focus just on speaking and illustrating through communicating through normal human speech, but we are going to celebrate who Christ is by using human speech to communicate God's word and then to use human vocal chords to celebrate God's Son, so we are glad you are here.

Again, I want to just acknowledge not everyone who is here on any given Sunday has figured out that Jesus is Messiah. Jesus is the Christ. Those are the same words just in two different languages, one Hebrew, the other Aramaic. They mean the Anointed One. Jesus is the long-anticipated Messiah.

He was with God in the very beginning, and I want to read to you from John 1, just a few verses, the first four and then verse 14 and verse 18. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him, nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men."

It says the Word that we talked about there in John 1:1… It says, "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." Verse 18 says, "No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him."

What I want you all to know is who Christ is is the visible image of the invisible God, and if you want to know what God is like, you have got to look at Jesus. That little word right there in verse 18… It says, "He has explained Him." It's a word that folks who go and train to be pastors are exposed to early on as a methodology to teach the Scriptures. It's called exegesis. It's a word that just basically means to take out from the knowledge that is already there.

It's as opposed to eisegesis, which is a technique where you know what you want something to say, and you find a place to make it say it. Exegesis is you look at what it says, and you take from it what is already there, so in verse 18 when it says, "No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him," it means that Jesus is the one who takes out of who the very nature of God is and because he is very God of very God, explains him.

Do you want to know what God is like? You look at Jesus. Now, the people in the first century when Christ was here had a hard time with him. Because he didn't look like what they thought the coming King would look like, and I don't blame them. Because he was born into a family of really no significant class distinction. He was born in a scandalous way. He didn't come as a king came.

He came humbly, and there's a reason for that, and the prophets have long told us the reason for that. This conquering King first came to conquer something much more impressive than Caesar: the political oppression of the time. God said, "The circumstances around are just an illustration of the circumstances within.

There is death and slavery without, because the world is not as it should be, just like there is death and slavery within, because you are not as you should be. You have left me and so this world that you live in is not my world, it's a broken world and you're broken people, and all of physical creation has fallen and so has the politics of man and so has the heart of man."

Isaiah 53 talks then about what this King came to do, which is to set us free from bondage to ourselves. Now if I am one who is suffering externally, I don't typically look inside to be delivered from there first, but if I read my Scriptures and I was a student of what God said the coming King was going to do, I would have recognized him, though I would have wanted him to change my circumstance and not my heart.

You will find a little expression again and again in the writings of the new testament where Paul says, "Don't worry about external circumcision, circumcise your heart." In other words, don't cut away dead flesh that you can see on the outside. Cut away the deadness of your heart and find purity and life there. This is Isaiah 53. It says,

"Who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He [this Messiah] has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face he was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed." I insert here, the only way we can be restored to a perfect God that we have completely offended is if there is a perfect sacrifice, which is something that none of us can ever offer, and so by his scourging, we are healed.

"All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors." He is a beautiful Lord.


Well in Matthew, chapter 16, Jesus basically called the question. It's the one that was called in the video at the very beginning of the service, and it was just not, "What do others say that I am?" but, "Who do you say that I am?"

This is what it says in Matthew 16. It says, "Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?' And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.' He said to them…""Let me ask you the real question." "'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ [the Messiah] , the Son of the living God.' And Jesus said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.'"

See when you understand who Christ is, when the hardness of your heart falls away that so desperately wants to be enthroned in your own life as king, as the one thing that's worthy of worship and following, and when you say, "I am not king. God is King, and Jesus is the visible image of that invisible God," blessed are you, because for the first time in your life you will stop following your flesh and your impulses, you will stop following self, and you will start following the one whose name is life, the one who is the author and giver of life, the one who is the forgiver and reconciler of sinful men, and the one who leads you to peace, not as the world gives will they lead you to that kind of peace, but a peace that is beyond your circumstances.

Throughout history, men have talked about who Jesus is, and I have often, as I have shared with you before, been places where I have been asked to teach on leadership, and whenever I am asked to teach on leadership, I always talk about the greatest leader to have ever lived.

One time I was speaking in the Central African region, I was speaking before Muslims, I was speaking before Christians, I was speaking before folks who followed basically the syncretistic and paganistic worldview of that culture, and I kept talking to them about this great leader, and finally somebody stood up and said, "We think you teach us too much about this Jesus."

And I said, "You're government officials asked us to come and talk to you about leaders, and you're right I have talked exclusively almost about Jesus, and I have shared about other leaders and how they have learned to imitate him and why they have been useful to you. I will make a deal with you.

After our next break, I will not talk about Jesus anymore if you can bring to me a leader that is greater than Jesus because I am here to serve you, not to push upon you my ideas, and so I welcome you to suggest to me that there is a better leader. I saw the imams., You want to put forth Muhammad? Let's have a conversation."

If you want to put before a great leader from this country, this great continent, bring him to me and we will discuss, but let me just tell you before you come, your leader must not be impressive and stately in appearance. Your leader must not be rich and extravagant in his ability to provide for himself and his immediate family.

The leader you present to me must be somebody who, though he was rich, for your sake became poor. This leader you're going to bring to me is not somebody who has a lot of servants or a great army, but this leader you're going to bring to me must be one that himself came to serve and served in such a way that he gave his life for his people, and in giving his life he led them to a life they otherwise could not have. If you can bring me a leader who has done that, I will teach to you of him.

I want just to share with you from a guy by the name of Napoleon, who some of you may know, others may not, but Napoleon, himself, was a great conqueror, and before we break I want to read you a quote from Napoleon about Jesus, and I read it to you now, 'Well then,' Napoleon said, 'I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus, alone, founded His empire upon love, and to this very day, millions will die for him…

I think I understand something of human nature; and I tell you, all these were men, and I am a man: none else is like Him. Jesus Christ was more than man. […] I have inspired multitudes with such an enthusiastic devotion that they would have died for me…but to do this it was necessary that I should be visibly present with the electric influence of my looks, my words, and my voice.' Spoken like a true Frenchman.

'When I saw men and spoke to them, I lighted up the flame of self-devotion in their hearts… Christ alone, though, has succeeded in so raising the mind of man toward the unseen, that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space. Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years, Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy; He asks for that which a philosopher may seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother.

He asks for the human heart; he will have it entirely to Himself. He demands it unconditionally; and forthwith, it says, His demand is granted. Wonderful! In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, becomes an annexation to the empire of Christ. All who sincerely believe in Him, experience that remarkable, supernatural love toward Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man's creative powers.

Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. This is it, which strikes me most; I have often thought of it. This it is which proves to me quite convincingly the Divinity of Jesus Christ.' Do you want to follow another leader? Follow him, but that's my King."


Well, I had a friend come to me about a week ago, and he said, "Todd, I have got a confession to make to you." I said, "What's that?" He said, "I raised my hands for the very first time in worship." I said, "All right. Well, great." He goes, "Well, I want to confess to you where." I go, "Okay where?" He goes, "At the U2 concert when Bono sang 'Amazing Grace' out there at that new Jerry Dome."

He said, "It was packed. I had just been there, and I was with my kids. I took them to show them my favorite band, and then this guy just took and started singing about my favorite thing, Jesus and grace. I felt so free. There were people there who I don't think understood the song, but all of us just raised our hands, and we felt free to do it. I just want to confess. I have felt that same thing before on a Sunday morning, and I just have not had the courage to lead."

I said, "That says a couple of things. First, you have already confessed what that says about you, but secondly, that says a lot about the culture that we're not creating here. Look. We're just a prideful people. You know I am always thinking, 'Okay, I don't want to do stuff that is going to distract anybody else, but I also don't want to be concerned if it's the right thing to just go, "Man, Lord. You are the King of Kings, and I want to praise you, to lift my hands."'"

Now here's the deal. I have been around some people that the very first time they have a feeling in their heart. It hits them, and up they go. Then what's tragic is they walk out of here, and because the feeling is not there they don't lift their hands to serve their neighbor. They don't lift their hands to work ethically for their employer, and they don't lift their hands in love.

You need to understand this. The reason we lift our hands here is to remind ourselves of who the great King is there, but the idea is to remind us so that we lift our hands continually in worship throughout the week. I guess I want to say this… I don't like our culture here and how inhibited we are sometimes.

I will tell you what really concerns me is that if we are inhibited to lift our hands here, chances are really good, the world that doesn't like us when we lift our hands to serve our King out there, is going to also keep us from living radically to lift our hands in much, much more meaningful ways out there, and that culture needs us to lift our hands for him. It doesn't need to see us come and get involved in static physical worship in here. It does need to see us be faithful worshipers.

See, all of creation, that song says, lifts its hands and sings, and the beauty of God is revealed continually through creation. This next song talks about that, about the beauty of God revealed in creation, but what is the most full revelation of God? He wasn't created, he was with God from the very beginning, he was very God of very God.

His name is Jesus, and he is fair still. I'm going to let you sit. I'm going to let you listen to Sasha lead us, and then there is going to be a chance for you to jump back in and worship him with me, and I hope you feel as free here as you do with Bono. Let's worship.


All right. Well, please be seated again. I want to read to you some more about this great Jesus, and we are going to sing songs now about what he alone has accomplished for us. This is what I'm saying. Everything that I have been talking about has been building towards this moment, because everything in Scripture builds toward God revealing his very character, nature, and glory, so we can respond to his very nature, care, and glory, and in the grace that he has accomplished for us.

I'm going to read to you extensively from Ephesians 1:3-14 and then Ephesians 2:1-7. It's an answer to a trivia question, but the trivia is not near as important as the truth. The trivia is…What is the longest continuous sentence in your Bible? It is when Paul started talking about what Jesus has done. He could not put a period. He would get an F in English, but an A in Exaltation. He could not shut up, and so should you be. Ephesians 1:3:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him." Period. Not in Paul's writing. "In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise…" Week 7. "…who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory."

You ought to be exhausted when you get done reading that, it ought to take your breath away. Why? That is a truth that you could just soak in. When I taught that, when I taught through Ephesians, that was three weeks right there. One sentence. I'm spending the rest of my life trying to respond to that sentence, and I am just, as I have said many times, in a very slow thaw to the heat of that truth transforming my life. Sometimes painfully slow, but it's on its way, because I know from whence I have come.

"I like you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus [alone] ."

Father, as we get ready to sing a hymn that flows out of the truth of those passages, I pray that we would not be the simple who would just come to services and sing but that you would put, in fact, a new song in our heart and it would change us, and we would not walk formerly as we walked as men trusting in themselves, as women dependent upon the things of the world to find worth, beauty, and meaning, but that we would follow you, our King, knowing that all good that flows in us and from us is due to Christ alone. May we sing of him now, may we delight in the debt that he paid, but may we sing of you as we walk out together. May this service spur us on to worship Christ alone.


This Lamb of God, who came to die for our sins is the lion of Judah, and you are about to see my favorite text in scripture for Jesus. Do you want to read it with me? I mean, this is great. This is what's coming. Okay! I don't know if I'll be trailing behind him in a procession with the saints, or if some of us as members of his church will still be here. I don't know, but I want to be ready either way, so watch this. Here we go. Let's just read. This is great. This is Revelation 19:

"And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, 'KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. '"

This is the Jesus that the Jews were looking for, and it's the one we're looking for. It's the one that alone is worth your magnificent obsession. Sit, sing, stand, listen to us declare the right response to that truth.


Well, there you have it. That is a big deal. That is what everything is built too, this truth, and where everything coming out of this week will flow from. It's as it should be with your life, you should leave and forsake everything when you come to Christ, and you should cleave to him, having been married to him by faith.

If you are here and you don't know for certain that you are right with God through Jesus Christ, will you come? If you are a worshipper and call him Lord, will you go with him? You don't leave him now to serve him. You take him with you and lean not on your own understanding so Christ alone might be glorified. That is worship. Go lift your hands for the King, and come ye sinners. Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.

About 'The Big XII'

"This series will cover twelve truths that if you don?t get exactly right, the ramifications and the impact on your life will be enormous. They matter today and eternally. If you want to call yourself an orthodox follower of Christ, these are truths that you cannot miss. These are twelve central, non-negotiable principles of theology and we will discuss what it means to embrace them, the alternatives to them, as well as the application of them. In other words, what it should look like when devoted, orthodox followers of Christ live them out." Todd Wagner