The most fundamental and critical issue in all of Christianity is the identity of Jesus. If He is God, then it means one thing. If he is not, then it means another. Billy Graham, C.S. Lewis, and so many others have reiterated this point throughout history, as did the Bible writers. Do Jesus' claims make him a liar, lunatic, or the Lord?
The question is so important that Jesus uses it as the springboard to building His church. In Matthew 16, He wants to know who people say He is. More specifically, He wants to know who His disciples say He is. There were many answers given, all meaningful when understood in their cultural and historical context. Once Peter acknowledges that Jesus is indeed the Christ, and realizes in essence that He is the God-man, then Jesus affirms his declaration as true and revealed from His Father. So it is time to begin the Church. Thus, the Christian church is born on a correct understanding of who Jesus really is! When that foundation cracks, you no longer have a Christian church.
Jesus' question to His followers back then still resonates with each one of us now - Who do you say I am? With such a life-altering and enormously important question before us, where can we go for the trusted answer? Do we just answer that question from our gut? From what our parents tell us? From what we hear pastors preach? From friends? Scholars? Skeptics? Media? No doubt people all over draw their conclusions about Jesus from all these sources, but there is one that is more certain than all of them. We need to have our view of Jesus shaped by the Bible!
While reading the Bible, I sometimes simply make a list of the facts about Jesus, the Son of God, as I come across them. I just write them as I see them. No interpretation or paraphrasing. Even this simple exercise that any child could do often reminds me of profound truths. At times, I am surprised. Perplexed. Refreshed. Strengthened. Awe-struck. I have many reactions as I allow Scripture to begin painting the portrait of our Savior. And it is worth it every time.