There are few questions that have arisen over the course of human history that have caused more controversy than, Who is Jesus? As you well know, there is a wide variety of opinions on this matter, but not for Paul. The gospel he preached has as much to do with who Jesus is as it does with what He did. By the second verse of this letter hes already begun to clarify who this Person is who is his Lord, and theres not a hint of doubt in his tone as he writes. For him, Jesus is the promised Son of David and the divine Son of God, and he spends no time at all trying to explain how He could be both of these things at once. Maybe such unwavering faith came easily for Paul because he actually saw Jesus in His resurrected glory and heard Him say, I am Jesus, the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting (Ac 22:8). Or maybe his unwavering confidence came from his out of body experience (2Co 12:2-4) which I assume took place when he apparently died and was resuscitated after being stoned at Lystra (Ac 14:19, 20). Seeing the glories of heaven with your own eyes must settle many theological questions. Youd think that after an experience like that, one would be inclined to simply believe. But few of us have had experiences like his, yet God still calls us to believe and surrender our lives with unwavering trust like we see in Paul. How can that happen? How can we believe so completely without first seeing the resurrected Jesus with our own eyes? Lets find out.
What does Paul say? (Ro 1:1-5)
The message God has given me is to proclaim that He sent His Son to us. For many centuries He promised He would do this through the prophets. With respect to His flesh His Son would be a descendant of David, but with respect to His spirit, which was perfectly holy, He is the divine Son of God. During Jesus earthly ministry there was nothing about His appearance that revealed His divine origin, but when God raised Him from the dead He showed the world that Jesus is His Son who will come again in power to judge the living and the dead (Ac 10:40, 43; 17:31).
Who did God send us?
1) Son of David (v2)
2 Samuel 7:1-17
Matthew 12:23 All the crowds were amazed and were saying, This man cannot be the Son of David can he?
This title emphasizes that He is the Messiah (anointed one) who fulfills the prophecy to David.
2) Son of God (v4)
This title emphasizes His divine origin and lordship over all the earth.
Matthew 14:33 And those who were in the boat worshipped Him, saying, You are certainly Gods Son
3) Son of Man
Isaiah 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders
Daniel 7:13, 14
Luke 9:26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory
Paul had the advantage of seeing the resurrected Christ with his own eyes, and at some point of actually seeing the glories of heaven, but we dont. So how is it possible for us to believe in Jesus with a faith as confident as his?
1) His conversion: Acts 9:1-9, 17-20
2) His view of the third heaven: 2 Corinthians 12:1-4; Acts 14:19, 20
Some who believed without seeing
Yet the Bible describes people who had extraordinary faith even though they never saw the resurrected Jesus.
1) Bartimaeus (Mk 10:46-52) Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me
2) Man blind from birth (Jn 9:1, 35-41) Do you believe in the Son of Man?
Who is He Lord that I may believe in Him? Jesus said to him, You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking to you. And he said, Lord I believe. And he worshipped Him.
3) Thief on the cross (Lk 23:32-43) Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom
How is it possible he could believe this? The man he spoke to was dying in agony next to him.
Why did one thief believe and the other didnt? They both looked at the same man yet one saw the Messiah while the other saw a fool.
4) Thomas (Jn 20:24-29) Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed
Listen to Johns appeal to us: John 20:30, 31
Why do some see a crucified man and some see the Son of God? Does God give some a special gift of revelation and some not? Thankfully Jesus answers our questions:
1) Matthew 16:13-23 ...flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven
2) Peter, your spirit listened to the Holy Spirit
3) Peter, your spirit listened to the devil
To understand whats going on we must understand how God has constructed us as humans. There are three elements that make up a human being: body, soul and spirit. In the Book of Genesis we watch God put each of these in place.
Genesis 1:26, 27; 2:7
spirit/person/image of God
Our spirit engages the world through our body, like eyes see through glasses
Our spirit includes our intellect, will and emotions, God has these qualities which make Him a Person, and since we are made in His image, we too have them. He is also eternal, and so are we, once we have been conceived.
Our body does influence our spirit, and without the help of the Holy Spirit eventually enslaves it
All of us see and know things by our spirit
God is constantly calling to us by our spirit. We either refuse to acknowledge what our spirit sees (and hears), or we accept it.
The proud and the humble
Jesus says the reason one person can see and another person cannot is because of attitudes that have formed in them. Pride refuses to accept what the heart (spirit) sees, believing only what the natural eyes can see and brain is willing to comprehend. It takes humility to believe what the heart (spirit) sees, especially when the mind doesnt understand it or like it. But to those willing to see, God reveals His Son.
Matthew 11:25-27 You revealed... these things... to infants
In other words, we are the ones who refuse to see with our spiritual eyes or hear with our spiritual ears. We do this on purpose so we wont have to repent and submit to God.
Those who have become spiritually blind and deaf wouldnt have faith in Jesus even if He stood in His resurrection glory in front of them.
Luke 16:27-31 If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.
This means if I am willing to acknowledge what my spirit sees I can behold the resurrected Jesus right now. Like Paul, I too can know for certain that He is Gods glorious Son. I too can have unwavering faith. But if I choose to close my spiritual eyes, not even a Damascus Road experience can force me to see what I dont want to see.
And by the way, this insight tells us a lot about Paul before he was converted. Yes, he violently persecuted the church, but it was because he was deceived, not because he didnt want to submit to God (1Ti 1:12-16). So when he finally saw the truth, he embraced it with his whole heart.
1) Can you describe a time when you knew something your natural senses didnt tell you? What did you know and how did you know it?
2) All of us have things God is trying to tell us that we dont want to hear. Do you have one youre willing to share? Have you caught yourself refusing to hear or see things you didnt like?