Who is Jesus?
It is a question people asked throughout His life as they witnessed Him preach, heal the sick and work other wonders. It is a question people have asked through the centuries as they studied the gospels and tried to pattern their lives on His example of self-giving love. Today, it is a question we must ask, especially during this Year of Faith, if we are to follow Him more closely and pass on the good news of salvation to the next generation of believers.
Who is Jesus Christ?
Today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord and, in particular, the beautiful reading from the gospel of Saint Luke teach us that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and the Word of God.
First, Jesus is the Messiah. The words “Messiah” and “Christ” both mean “Anointed One”. Throughout their history, the people of Israel longed for their Messiah. He would be the one anointed by God to lead them to freedom. This anointing meant that the Messiah would save them not by His own power, but by the power of God.
In today’s gospel, we read that the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove. Before all those who were gathered at the banks of the Jordan River, the Heavenly Father was anointing Jesus with His power to be able to preach His word, to give sight to the blind, to open the ears of the deaf, and to bring freedom to captives. Jesus received His anointing by the Holy Spirit to make it clear to all those who witnessed it - and to us today - that He is the Messiah.
What does that mean for us today? It means that we have no other Saviour than Jesus Christ. If we are to find true and lasting freedom, it is only through Him. If we as a nation are to experience true and lasting justice and peace it can only be through Jesus Christ. As Saint Peter declares on Pentecost Day in the Acts of the Apostles, “No other name is given to us in heaven or on earth by which we are to be saved.” This means that in everything we do, whether as individuals, as a Church or as a nation, we must look to Jesus if we are to find the justice, truth, freedom and peace our hearts yearn for.
Secondly, Jesus is the Son of God. After the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus, God’s voice from heaven is heard, “You are my beloved Son.”
When we call Jesus, “Son of God”, we are not saying that He is like God, or that He is very close to God. Rather, we are saying that Jesus IS God. As we say in the Creed, He is God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God. Whatever we can say about God, we can say about Jesus. He is eternal; that is, He has always existed from all eternity. He is All-Powerful. There is nothing He cannot do. And He is All-Knowing. He knows the future and knows our hearts. There is no limit to His power.
For this reason, we do not only revere Jesus as a great man but we worship Him as our God. We bow our heads when we hear His name. We get down on our knees when He appears before us in His sacramental presence in the Eucharist. We pray to Him, entrust our needs to Him and praise Him.
Finally, Jesus is the Word of God. Though Saint Luke does not include this in his version of Jesus’ baptism, we know that after God proclaims Jesus to be His beloved Son, He tells us “Listen to Him”. The Heavenly Father sent His Son to earth and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit to teach us the will of God. He came to teach us how we are to live so as to please God in this life and to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Because Jesus is the Son of God, whoever hears Jesus hears God Himself. So we can say that everything Jesus said, God said.
In Jesus, God has revealed to us everything we need to be saved. Though Jesus has risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, we can still hear His voice through the Bible. By reading the Bible, we hear God speaking to us. Also, we continue to hear Jesus speak to us through the Church. Jesus told the apostles that, “Whoever hears you, hears me.” and “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Jesus left us the Church so that we could continue to hear His voice through the centuries. The Church helps us to understand what God wants of us especially in the instances when the Bible is silent as is the case with abortion and nuclear war. Jesus made it very clear that when we are obedient to the Church we are being obedient to Him and when we are being disobedient to the Church we are being disobedient to Him.
Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God and the Word of God. We look to Him to save us, we worship Him as Almighty God and we listen to Him as the Word Made Flesh. Just as John the Baptist pointed to Him, so we are to always point Him out to others as the only Saviour of the World. Just as John the Baptist lead others to Him, we are to lead our family and friends to recognize Him as the Messiah our hearts long for. Just as God from heaven declared that He is the beloved Son, so we are to declare to others that Jesus is the God we should follow and obey.