Perception, they say, defines reality; and in spite of how things really are; how we see things or how we choose to see things, usually becomes our experience. Suggesting that public or general beliefs notwithstanding, personal understanding usually sharpens personal realities.
Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.
1 Corinthians 8:1-2
There is usually a temptation of moving on with the general knowledge, because it is usually the most accessible form of knowledge; and often , the most acceptable and rewarding. However, the crowd is not always right; and general knowledge is not usually beneficial even when not very wrong. Therefore, it becomes necessary for each person to evaluate and re-evaluate his or her body of knowledge on every matter; to ascertain and validate their correctness. Really, the multitudes are not always wrong, but when they are not right, what happens to lives and destinies that have been moulded and are being moulded after their claims and common thoughts (knowledge)? I would implore that all issues raised in this write up are kept closely at heart; while we follow the Holy Spirit as He leads us into all truth – revealing the true identity of Jesus to us. It will not be out of place for you to want to skip this article, believing that you know this Jesus too much to invest a few more minutes of your time (life) to the evaluation of your current knowledge. Nevertheless, wait a little and be open – perhaps, you might need to update yourself about Jesus!
What Do People Say About Jesus?
I could have been tempted to begin with contemporary presentations of Jesus by men and women and even religions across the world; but the Spirit of God would have us begin with the time of Jesus Himself – while He was living in human body (confined by the natural body and location) in the country called Israel. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: "Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'* Hosanna in the highest!" And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, "Who is this?" So the multitudes said, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee."
“Who is this?....This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” If you could permit the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the reality of this particular scene – quite a scene! The whole city wondered and marvelled about the excitements, joy, ovation, praise and accolades in the air – all towards a personality they have not really known; and all of them asked, “Who is this man who has moved this whole city (capital city) mightily like this?”, “Who is this man, to whom all flesh is gathered?”, “Who is this man, to whom everyone gravitates?”, “Who could this man be?” I am sure they were too shocked and overwhelmed – perhaps, they have never seen it in that fashion and magnitude before! They must have wondered, “Who could this be, that pulls the entire nation unto Himself like Caesar the Emperor?” Then, the multitudes answered the city crowd – “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” Although, that appear in surface to have been a knowledgeable and thoughtful answer about the Nationalist that was moving their city. However, if we look closely, it was not a correct answer: For at no time did Jesus ever call Himself a prophet or the prophet. And as we have noted, what people know, usually shapes what they believe and their belief colours their lives and destinies. In a little while, the whole city began to see Jesus as what the multitudes described Him to be. Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking to them. But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.
Looking at the Oxford Advanced Dictionary, I found that the phrase – “take something or somebody for something or somebody” is usually used to consider somebody or something to be somebody or something, especially when one is wrong. Hence, the phrase “because they took Him for a prophet” was a wrong general thinking about who Jesus was and is - and truly, no one can relate with me or receive from me, more than their perception or understanding of me. This is because, if you take me for an ATM machine, you expect me to release money repeatedly; if you take me for a doctor, you expect me to prescribe drugs and give you Medical advice; and if you take me for a book, you will open me page by page and read me. Indeed, we use or deploy or enjoy things and people to the degree of our perception of them. If you perceive that your leader is corrupt and exploiting, you relate with him or her with the same perception. Hence, there is a great need for us to have right perceptions of things and people around us per time.
How Did His Brethren Perceive Him?
His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” For even His brothers did not believe in Him.
A subtle advice from the brothers of Jesus! Although their words appear innocent on the surface; but its motive and undertone was not. Apparently, they knew that they were not following Jesus – because they did not believe in Him; they faulted His identity and they said, “…that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing.” If you may ask, why did the brothers of Jesus disbelief Him? Of course, they loved Him, they wanted the best for Him; however, they found it extravagant on His part (who was just a Carpenter’s son as they also were) to call Himself the Son of God.
Was Jesus Known In Nazareth?
Remember, the multitudes referred to Jesus as the prophet from Nazareth; and one would have thought that the people of Nazareth would know Him like the multitudes, if not more. But the situation was different: Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there. When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, "Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,* Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?" So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house." Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Truly, knowledge determines belief, while belief determines experience. I am sure the Nazarenes felt they knew Jesus completely; but their multitude of knowledge only exposed their high level ignorance of Jesus, the Man who had spent over 30 years with them. And because of their “knowledgeable ignorance” they did not experience God’s power among them.
How Did His Disciples Perceive Him?
Long after that incidence, Jesus called His disciples together, in order for Him to evaluate their knowledge of Him; and He asked: So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
What a revelation! If you noticed the general knowledge of people about Jesus as observed by His disciples, you would sense that people seem to be comfortable with the fact that Jesus is a prophet or the prophet; and so, He belongs to that class. I am of the persuasion that people seems to be telling Jesus that we do have a place for You in our hearts; but it is a seat among the prophets. Hence, as far as we are concerned, we see You as a VERY great Prophet. Honestly, if an average person of our generation is perceived by multitudes as being a very great prophet and in fact; such a person is the greatest prophet of all time. I seem to believe that such a man or woman will be most fulfilled and comfortable in the aura of such public perception. But that is not so with Jesus, He marched on to know if anyone still remains with discernment of times and seasons, who could speak forth God’s counsel among men. And so, He asked, “But what do you say that I am? Note that word – “But” – because, it is important for us in this age to know the heart pain of God across generations. For Jesus told some men who wanted to know the works of God and to do it in their own time, He said, “…This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent. (John 6:29). Hence, I see God sharing His heartbeat (work with us again in our time; that we must believe in Him whom He sent. But since believe is and must be built on knowledge; God would have us also at this time to evaluate and re-evaluate our knowledge of Jesus – the One sent from God! After Jesus asked the question, it became dawn on His disciples that they also do not have any different knowledge of Jesus, as they have been swept off by the popular or general notion of the identity of Jesus. Honestly, it is easy to know what everyone knows and to believe what everyone believes; however, when life begins to ask questions, we will also be speaking what everyone speaks and see (experience) what everyone sees or experiences.
Knowing – Believing – Speaking – Seeing
However, the Spirit of God spoke through Peter and he said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” If this is all that you and I know about Jesus; I am bold to say that we are good! Truly, you may find yourself contradicting the public sayings; but do not worry, your life will also be different from theirs. Jesus is not a prophet; neither was He. And He is not the all time greatest prophet; rather, He is the Christ – and if you desire to know who Christ is, then I will conclude that Christ is the Son of the living God. Note, the Islam world believed and believes in Jesus; but like the multitudes in the time of Jesus in Jerusalem, they know Him to be a prophet - and perhaps the greatest of the prophets. But before I comment on that, let us see what happened before the birth of Islam.
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us* make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!"
Before we got carried away by the effects of the Scripture, let us keep some keywords close in our heart. When Peter saw “things”, he got comfortable in excitements and said something, which we later discovered that he did not process before saying, because of fear. However, he wanted to build three similar edifices for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Elijah and Moses were perceived to be prophets sent by God; and so, he wanted Jesus to be known across generations as one of the notable prophets of all time. He was equating Jesus with other prophets, just after the Holy Spirit spoke to them through his mouth that Jesus is not another big prophet, but the Son of the living God. But since he would not get it, God spoke again, this time, not through his mouth, but a loud audible voice from heaven – “”This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And so, Jesus is not another prophet, whom you and I can be quoting His words just with words of Elijah, Moses or Mohammed or Budha or Hindu or another great freedom fighter like Nelson Mandella or Marthin Lurther king (Jr.). Rather, He is the beloved Son of the living God – the Possessor of heaven and earth, One whom all ears must be drawn to. To answer this bog question of this article – “Who is this Jesus?” – I have the honour and privilege under the Spirit of God to announce to you and every other fact-finder that this Jesus is not the prophet or another prophet, but the Son of the living God – the Maker and Creator of all things – visible and invisible – in heaven and on the earth. And if you know this truth and believe it, by confessing it with your mouth from your heart, you will live a free man or woman from today – your current nationality, location, political and economic experience notwithstanding.