How many different descriptions of Jesus are in the Bible? (Part 3)


After reviewing seven descriptions of Jesus in the previous two installments, we continue on our journey of looking at more of these.

  • The Son of Man

We saw in the previous section above, that Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13). This is a Name that He used to refer to Himself.

In our Q&A entitled: “Why did Jesus call Himself ‘The Son of Man?’” we quote Wikipedia as follows:

“The expression ‘the Son of man’ occurs 81 times in the Greek text of the four Canonical gospels, and is used only in the sayings of Jesus.  The singular Hebrew expression ‘son of man’ (ben-‘adam) also appears in the Hebrew Bible over a hundred times.”

We go on to say that one commentator on the internet made these observations: “In the gospels, there are more than 80 places where Jesus refers to himself in the third person as the ‘Son of Man’. In most of those places, he is associating it with one of two prophecies concerning himself; either that the Son of Man will suffer and be killed (Matthew 17:12, Mark 8:31, 9:12, Luke 9:22) or that the Son of Man will come again in glory and for final judgement (Matthew 16:27, 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26, 21:27).  Often the two images are linked, and in only a very few places he doesn’t use ‘son of man’ that way.”

We also stated this: “It would appear that, with the use of the phrase “Son of Man”, Jesus wanted to show everyone that when He dwelled among us, He was entirely human and that He was fully man. In the book of Ezekiel, the phrase ‘son of man’ is used many times for the prophet Ezekiel, but he was just a man with no previous supernatural background. On the other hand, with Jesus, previously a supernatural Being from all of eternity, it was somewhat different.  By using this phrase, He showed that He, who had been God, became fully human, but He also showed that He, the Person who had lived in the flesh and who had died for us, would be resurrected and return as a glorified immortal and eternal God being–the King of kings and the Lord of lords–to rule over all mankind.”

  • The Lamb of God

We read in John 1:29 that John the Baptist bore witness of Jesus: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”   And in verses 35-36 we read: “Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’”

Jesus was the perfect and ultimate Sacrifice for sin.   In Isaiah 53, we read about the prophetic sufferings of the Messiah and in verse 7 is a prophecy that Jesus fulfilled: “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.”

When Philip preached to the Ethiopian, he quoted Isaiah 53:7 and showed how this was fulfilled by Jesus, as we read in Acts 8:34-35: “So the eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?’  Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.”

We understand that when the ancient Israelites were preparing to leave Egypt, they were to put the lamb’s blood on the two doorposts and lintel of their house for the protection of their firstborn (Exodus 12:7) so that the death angel would pass over them (verse13).  In Exodus 12:5, we read: “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.”   God had Israel act out, in a physical way, a type of Christ who was the Lamb of God.  Around 1,500 years later, Jesus would shed His blood, giving His perfect sinless life as a Sacrifice to pay the penalty for our transgressions of God’s Law.

The shed blood of lambs applied by the ancient Israelites to the doorposts of their houses protected their firstborn from the plague of death.   Today, we can be protected from eternal death through the blood of Christ – the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for us on the day of the Passover nearly 2,000 years ago.  This perfect Sacrifice was where Jesus gave His life for the world as we read in John 3:16: “ For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

For more information on the tremendous importance of Christ’s Sacrifice, please see our booklet, The Meaning of God’s Spring Holy Days.”

  • The Light of the World

We read in John 8:12: “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’”

Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Concise) observes: “Christ is the Light of the world. God is light, and Christ is the image of the invisible God. One sun enlightens the whole world; so does… Christ… What a dark dungeon would the world be without the sun! So would it be without Jesus, by whom light came into the world. Those who follow Christ shall not walk in darkness. They shall not be left without the truths which are necessary to keep them from destroying error, and the directions in the way of duty, necessary to keep them from condemning sin.”

In John 9:5, Jesus repeated that He was the light of the world and as we are to be like Him we, too, should be the light of the world as He remarked in Matthew 5:14: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Compare also Ephesians 5:8 and Philippians 2:15.

  • The Bread of Life

In John 6, Jesus spoke about the necessity of spiritual food, that which lasts (compare verse 27), and in verses 33-35, He stated that: ‘”For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ Then they said to Him, ‘Lord, give us this bread always.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.’” 

In verse 48, Jesus again says: “I am the bread of life,” and in verse 51, we read: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

Jesus taught that “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6), explaining that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

  • King of the Jews

Jesus is referred to as the King of the Jews in all four gospel accounts. For instance, in Matthew 2:1-2, we read that “wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.””   We see that even as a small child there was the acknowledgement that He was the King of the Jews.

In passing, the “star” went before them and showed them the way to the house where Jesus was staying. This was not an ordinary star, but an angel (compare for instance Revelation 1:20); the wise men did not visit Christ on His birthday, but much later, and by that time, Christ was no longer a baby in the manger, but a “young Child” (compare verses 9-11).

In Matthew 27, we see further evidence of Jesus being given this title of “King of the Jews.” In verse 11, we read:  “Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you say.’”

Pilate was amazed that Jesus wouldn’t answer him further (verse 14).   When the soldiers mocked Jesus just before His crucifixion, they used this description as we see in verse 29: “When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’”  Verse 37 reads: “And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”  We know from John 19:19 that it was Pilate who wrote this title and so Jesus must have made quite an impression on Pilate who was the fifth governor of the Roman province of Judaea. Pilate referred several times to Jesus as the King of the Jews when the crowd demanded His crucifixion (compare Mark 15:9, 12-13).

Zechariah 9:9 is prophetic: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.”  Matthew 21:4-5 shows that this was fulfilment of that prophecy. 

  • King of kings

We read about ten European core nations of the beast power in Revelation 17 who make a move to wage war with the returning Jesus Christ.  “These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14).

In Revelation 19:16 is a prophecy showing Christ’s authority will be worldwide: “And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

These titles imply complete authority and are well placed as Jesus was the One whom the Father used to create all things (compare Colossians 1:16) and, at the time when it will be necessary at the end of the rule of man, such a strong and fair ruler will be vital.   Gone will be the earthly rulers, royalty, prime ministers, presidents and all the other human leaders—leaders from the dawn of civilisation until the present day who have brought us to the brink of extinction.

The return of Jesus Christ as King of kings will accomplish a complete revolution about how things should be, and only He can bring that about and implement it by and through the direction of the Father. Those “who are with Him,” “the called, chosen and faithful” (compare again Revelation 17:14), will rule under Christ as born-again members of the God Family for a thousand years (Revelation 20:6). Christ will be their KING and LORD, but they themselves will be kings and lords as well.  

  • Rabbi

Wikipedia states that “The title ‘Rabbi’ occurs… in the books of Matthew, Mark and John in the New Testament, where it is used in reference to ‘Scribes and Pharisees’ as well as to Jesus.” 

Jesus was referred to by His disciples as “rabbi” in John (1:38, 49, 3:2, 4:31, 6:25), and the term “rabbi” means “teacher” or “master” or “leader” in Arabic. “Rabbi” can also mean “my great one.”

We read in John 3:1-2 that “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’”  This clearly indicates that Nicodemus, a member of the religious establishment at that time, acknowledged that the term, Rabbi, was an appropriate name for Jesus.

But what we read in the gospels also emphasise Jesus’ difference from normal Rabbis. “And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29).

It is fair to say that by the end of His ministry, the disciples would have realised who Jesus really was, which was very much more than just a Rabbi. Rather, He was their Master, teaching them with authority, and Christ had warned them that they should not be called “Rabbi,” “for One is your Teacher (Margin in the New King James Bible: Leader), the Christ, and you are all brethren” (Matthew 23:8).

In our Q&A, ”Please explain Christ’s sayings in Matthew 23:8-10,” we state the following:

“… the word ‘Rabbi’ means, ‘my great one’ (‘The New Bible Commentary–Revised’). Christ emphasized the fact that even though He bestowed on His ministry certain functions and responsibilities toward ‘feeding’ the flock, the ministers are to understand that they are not in any way ‘better’ than others…

“Christ specifically said that ministers are not to exercise ‘lordship’ over the flock [Luke 22:24-26; compare 1 Peter 5:3]; and that they must not accept ‘superior’ religious designations and titles which are reserved for God–including titles such as ‘the Anointed One,’ ‘the Lawgiver,’ ‘the Prophet,’ ‘Doctor of Divinity,’ ‘His Holiness,’ ‘Father’ or even ‘Holy Father.’ The title ‘Reverend’ should not be used by God’s ministers, either, as the Bible uses this word ONLY in reference to God (compare Psalm 111:9, Authorized Version). The same is true for the term, ‘Holy Father,’ which is exclusively used for God (compare John 17:11).”

(To be continued)

Lead Writers: Brian Gale (United Kingdom) and Norbert Link

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