Who Is Jesus? The question has been asked and debated for generations. Some call him Lord. Some say he was a good man, a prophet, or a teacher. Still others call him a lunatic or liar. History, culture, and Scripture agree that all of life centers on your answer to this one question Who Is Jesus?
In this five-week video Bible study (DVD/downloads sold separately), Pastor Louie Giglio invites us to meet God in both our intellect and our hearts by uncovering what history and Scripture have to say about Jesus. Throughout the study, we’ll witness how Jesus appeared and shaped the landscape of history, just as he shapes the landscape of our lives for eternity.
For those just beginning to ask questions about him, and those who have known him for a long time, Who Is Jesus? is a journey toward discovering the truth about history’s most monumental figure and humanity’s opportunity to know him personally.
- Good or God?
- Friend or Foe?
- King or Pawn?
- A Way or the Way?
- The Lion or the Lamb?
Designed for use with the Who Is Jesus? Video Study (9780310094579) sold separately.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
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About the Author
Louie Giglio is pastor of Passion City Church and founder of the Passion Movement, which exists to call a generation to leverage their lives for the fame of Jesus.
Since 1997, Passion has gathered collegiate-aged young people at events across the US and around the world, uniting millions of students in worship, prayer, and justice.
In addition to the collegiate gatherings of Passion Conferences, Louie and his wife, Shelley, lead the teams at Passion City Church, sixstepsrecords, and the Passion Global Institute.
Louie is the author of The Comeback, The Air I Breathe, I Am Not But I Know I Am, Goliath Must Fall, and Indescribable.
Louie and Shelley make their home in Atlanta, Georgia.
Read an Excerpt
GOOD OR GOD?
Is Jesus really who he says he is? Is he really the most important person in history? Someone who deserves our respect and admiration – or is he more than that? Is he someone who deserves our worship? Who is Jesus?
There was a time when identity theft was something to worry about only if you had your purse or wallet stolen. Now, in our online world, it's a constant threat as hackers devise new ways of stealing vital details about our lives. It could be someone next door or on the other side of the world accessing information about our home, work, or financial accounts. As a result, we rely on trustworthy servers, established websites, and well-known online merchants, hoping their encryption defenses can prevent thieves from using our information for illegal gain. We want to be in control of all the pieces that form the basis of who we are, what we do, and how much we're worth.
Our personal identities are even more complex — the result of countless variables reflecting biology and genetics as well as our temperaments and experiences. Even when we think we have a handle on who we are, it becomes more challenging to know the true identity of the people around us. It doesn't take long for us to learn we can't judge a book by its cover. But at the same time, we often find that people are exactly whom they appear to be. Loved ones we've known all our lives can still surprise us, while new acquaintances prove the accuracy of our first impressions.
Trying to understand the identity of a person from the past can prove even more difficult. Filtered through the perceptions, memories, and written accounts of others over centuries of time, it can be tough for us to find a focused portrait. We're left to wonder what great historical figures such as Joan of Arc, Napoleon, Queen Victoria, and even Elvis Presley were really like. With Jesus, it's even more complicated. His presence emerges in history, literature, theology — every major area of thought and human endeavor. But who is Jesus, really? Even during his life on earth, people couldn't agree on who they thought he was. And we're still wrestling with this question today, aren't we? WHO IS JESUS?
During the course of our lives, each of us makes certain assumptions and reaches specific conclusions about who we think Jesus is. We listen to what others say, peruse passages in the Bible, consider our own personal encounters, and synthesize various pieces of information and experiences. Then we formulate our opinion, usually as a work in progress.
Right now, today, who do you consider Jesus to be? Who is Jesus? What's the basis for your answer?
If you or any of your group members are just getting to know one another, take a few minutes to introduce yourselves. Then, to get things started, discuss one of the following questions:
What are some of the common questions you have heard people ask about Jesus?
What are some of your expectations for this study? What do you want to better understand about Jesus during the next five weeks?
Have someone read aloud Matthew 16:13–20. As you listen to this exchange Jesus had with his disciples, try to imagine you're right there as part of their conversation.
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
What stands out to you from this dialogue Jesus had with his disciples? Why?
Why do you think Jesus asked his disciples what other people were saying about him?
Why would Jesus then order his disciples not to tell anyone yet that he was the Messiah?
Play the video segment for session one. As you watch, use the following outline to record any key points that stand out to you.
Jesus' exchange with his disciples in Matthew 16:13–20 reveals the central question all people must answer for themselves: "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
We have to begin by asking this question from a historical point of view: Was Jesus a real person, or was he just a fable created by people?
A survey of some of the commentators in Jesus' day can help us answer this question. History gives us the testimony of:
Tacitus, a Roman senator (c. AD 56–120)
Suetonius, overseer of the libraries of Rome (c. AD 69–122)
Pliny the Younger, a Roman legate (c. AD 61–113)
Flavius Josephus, best-known Jewish historian in the time of Christ (c. AD 37–100)
Jesus was clearly a real historical person. This brings us to a second question: Was Jesus who he claimed to be? For this question, we turn to eyewitnesses recorded primarily in the Gospels.
Jesus clearly claimed to be God. In John 10:28–33, a group of Jews were eager to charge Jesus with blasphemy, the sin of a mortal claiming to be God, and to stone him to death.
Jesus' assertion that he is the Son of God leaves us with three directions for assessing this claim: he was either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.
These options do not allow for the claim that Jesus was just a "great moral teacher." Jesus consistently claimed to be sent by his Father ... even up to his death.
We each have to wrestle with Jesus' claims — for he left us no other choice. We can't assume a simple, regurgitated, my-grandmother-told-me-so answer: we must each formulate our own response.
Take a few minutes within your group to discuss what you just watched and explore these concepts in Scripture.
1. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being rarely and 10 being daily, how often do you wrestle with the question at the center of this study: Who is Jesus?
2. How important is this question to your ability to trust God along with the credibility and relevancy of the Bible?
3. How do you feel about the amount of historical evidence for the life and death of Jesus by noted historians? How does this affect your personal faith?
4. Do you agree that Jesus' claims leave us with only three conclusions about his identity — liar, lunatic, or Lord? Do you think Jesus can be good without being God? Explain. WHO IS JESUS? 18
5. Prior to this group, how much personal time have you invested in studying the identity of Jesus? What evidence have you found most influential or persuasive?
6. How would you respond if a friend asked you, "Who do you really think Jesus is?" Why would you answer this way?
Close out today's session by briefly reviewing the outline for the video teaching and any notes you took. In the space below, write down the most significant point you took away from this session. GO Or GO ? 19
End the gathering by partnering with one or two people from your group and praying for one another. Feel free to write down specific requests in the space below so you can remember to continue praying throughout the week.
We hope this week's group study was helpful and encouraging to you. But really, it's just the start, and we want you to keep digging into who Jesus is both together and personally. With this in mind, we've created Connect and Reflect sections as a guide for your personal study time and ongoing discussion with your group.
Check in with your group members during the upcoming week and continue the discussion you had with them at your last gathering. Grab coffee or dinner, or reach out by text and share what's going on in your heart. You can use the following questions to help guide your conversation about who Jesus is and how you're experiencing him in your life right now.
What aspect of Jesus' identity intrigues you the most? Why?
What's the biggest misperception you think most people have about Jesus? How can you help them see him more accurately?
How can you encourage one another in the group to grow closer to Jesus throughout this study?
Make a list of all the names you can think of that refer to Jesus (such as Messiah, Lord, Savior, or Prince of Peace). If none come to mind or you can't think of more than a couple, look in your Bible or online. After you're satisfied with your list, choose one of these attributes of Jesus to focus on as you answer these questions.
Why is this aspect of Jesus' identity significant to you right now? What draws you to knowing him based on this part of who he is?
How can you experience more of this attribute or aspect of Jesus in your life? Do any habits or patterns in your life need to change in order to know Jesus more fully? If so, which ones?
How would you describe the difference between a role someone plays (such as a friend or spouse) and a core dimension of his or her identity (such as compassionate or loving)? Reviewing your entire list, which attributes of Jesus reflect the role that he plays in your life, and which describe who he is? Or are they one and the same? Explain.
Although the psalms in the Bible were written centuries before the birth of Jesus, scholars have noted how they contain numerous descriptions and references to Christ. Today, reflect on the following passage from Psalm 1. As you read, underline words or phrases that make you think about who Jesus is.
1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither — whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
This psalm tells us about the two paths we can take: the path that leads to righteousness and life, or the path that leads to wickedness and destruction. Even more, this psalm tells us about the character of Jesus — "the one who does not walk in step with the wicked" (verse 1). Jesus was not just a good teacher who instructed people how to be righteous, but he also showed how much God loved them and how they could respond to his love. In the space below, write down what the words of this psalm mean to you personally and how Jesus has shown you what it means to delight in the Lord and experience his goodness.
In Philippians 2:8, Paul writes that Jesus, "being found in appearance as a man ... humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!" Jesus, though he was God, chose to come to this earth and lead a sinless life so he could pay the penalty for our sins. Write out a prayer to God in response as you reflect on Jesus' sacrifice for you.
The Word of God
From the very beginning of creation, God has been making himself known to people by his revealed word. In Genesis 1 we read the account of God speaking the world into existence, then speaking relationally to Adam (see 1:27–30). In Exodus 3, God spoke to Moses from a burning bush, calling him to be his agent to liberate Israel from slavery in Egypt. Throughout the Torah (the first five books of the Bible), God gave instructions to his chosen people so that they would know the glories of his righteousness and wonders of his love.
God taught his people how to worship through the words of the psalmists, and he reminded them of their coming hope through the words of the prophets. But God gave his greatest revelation when Jesus, the Son and the very "Word" of God, came to earth. The author of Hebrews explains this well (see Hebrews 1:1–3).
From the beginning, Jesus, the Word, was with God and was God (see John 1:1). In this verse, John is making a very important Trinitarian statement: Jesus is not just like God; rather, Jesus actually is God. But Jesus is also with God, meaning that Jesus is separate from God. This mystery is explained through the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. This biblical doctrine explains that God exists in three persons, being of one substance, power, and eternity. This doctrine is clear in Scripture, and without it, the message of the gospel falls apart. For example, in delivering the Great Commission, Jesus commands his church to baptize his disciples "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19), the three members of the Trinity. This doctrine has been affirmed throughout church history.
Jesus is the eternal "Word of the Father." Therefore, we understand his powerful role in creation, for "through him all things were made" (John 1:3). But the great mystery of the gospel is that Jesus came to live with us; he left his position as creator and ruler of the universe to become human and endure all of the miseries of this life. He came to earth to completely identify with us in order that we might in turn identify with him and receive him as our Savior and Lord. And to those who receive him, he gives the amazing promise that they will be the very children of God (see verse 12), not simply permitted into the presence of God as servants or guests. Rather, they are eternally welcomed into the house of God as his own sons and daughters, heirs of all of God's promised blessings (see Galatians 4:4–7).
— Excerpted from The Jesus Bible, commentary on John 1:1–5CHAPTER 2
FRIEND OR FOE?
When we consider who Jesus is, we wonder how he will view us. Is he going to be for us or against us? Is he going to be mad at us or merciful toward us? Is he going to welcome us or condemn us? Is he going to love us, or is he going to hate us? Is Jesus our friend or our foe?
Sometimes, first impressions can be important. If you are going on a job interview, you want your prospective employer to see you as warm, professional, and talented. If you move into a new neighborhood and get invited to a neighbor's dinner party, you want them to see you as friendly, kind, and sociable. If you are visiting a new church, you want to put your best foot forward. In these situations, you want others to like you and, perhaps in time, to respect you. You want to connect with others. You want to belong.
At other times, however, you don't care as much about first impressions — or any impressions that people have of you, for that matter. When the airline loses your checked bag and the associate gives you attitude because you're naturally being upset, you might feel justified for speaking your mind. When you comment on social media about a proposed city ordinance that will be detrimental to your property value, you don't care if others think you're too freely speaking your mind. When you see someone bullying a friend, you're not worried if that person will think less of you if you stand up for your friend. In these situations, standing up for what you believe is more important than trying to win everyone's approval.
You've probably experienced situations in which you're aware that others are playing the same game. They're trying to impress you and win your friendship. Or they clearly want to intimidate you in order to impress others in your office. Sometimes people who appear to be your foe turn out to be your friend. Other times, you may feel the sting of betrayal when circumstances strip away the veneer from someone you assumed liked you. As a result, you can start to wonder when to trust your first impressions and when to give someone a second chance to reveal who he or she really is as a person.
Jesus faced the same kind of scrutiny from others during his time on earth. He was not what many expected the He wasn't wealthy, or from a powerful family, or even religious like the Pharisees and Sadducees of his day. He wasn't a military general whose ambition was to overthrow the Roman government and make Judea an independent state. In fact, he had no political aspirations at all.
Yet Jesus still seemed to attract the attention of everyone around him. Those who met him wondered the same question we still ask today. Is Jesus our friend? Or is he our foe?(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Who Is Jesus?"
Copyright © 2018 Louie Giglio.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
How to Use This Guide, 9,
SESSION 1: Good or God?, 11,
SESSION 2: Friend or Foe?, 29,
SESSION 3: King or Pawn?, 47,
SESSION 4: A Way or the Way?, 65,
SESSION 5: The Lion or the Lamb?, 83,
Leader's Guide, 101,