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by Bethany Reise

The author of Hebrews writes that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb 13:8). This beautiful statement is true and always will be, for Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35). However, this does not mean that the Jesus who is being preached in hundreds of thousands of churches across the globe today is the same Jesus who walked the face of this earth some two thousand years ago. In fact, in many churches, there is a different Jesus being preached. This “Jesus” is God in the flesh; he is one person with two natures: the human and the divine1. He is the second member of the Trinity, co-eternal and co-equal with the Father and the Spirit. He is the preexistent Son of God who left heaven, “became human without ceasing to be God,” and died for the sins of mankind2. This “Jesus” is not the Jesus of the Bible and certainly not the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. The real Jesus is exactly who he claimed to be, exactly who his closest followers understood him to be, and exactly who the Scriptures declared him to be: the human Messiah, the Son of living God (John 20:31).

In order to understand who Jesus is, it is of first importance to understand what the Scriptures foretell about the promised Messiah and his role in the plan of God. Greg S. Deuble sums up the narrative and the plan quite simply, he writes: “The Bible tells the story of two men. The first man Adam ruined everything. The second man Jesus Christ came to put it all back together again.”3 In the beginning, God created mankind to rule over the earth as His representatives and to live in fellowship with Him. Unfortunately His creation rebelled against Him and thus “sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men” (Rom 5:12). God set in motion a plan of redemption for mankind, and announced that one day the “seed” of a woman would rise up to destroy the works of the devil and ultimately restore in its fullness the kingdom of God on the earth.

Over the many centuries leading up to the birth of the Messiah, God revealed many identifying characteristics of this promised “seed.” Perhaps one of the most crucial characteristics of the Christ is his humanity. In Deuteronomy, Moses predicts that “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, and you shall listen to him” (Deut 18:15) It is important to note from this passage that this prophet will be like Moses and his fellow brethren; in other words the Messiah will be a man of Jewish descent. Moses goes on to say that this prophet will speak the very words of God to the people (Deut 18:18). This is in accordance with Israel’s request for a mediator on Mount Horeb, for they could not bear to hear the voice of God directly (Deut 18:16). Thus as Deuble notes, “to say that the Messiah is God Himself is to contradict the whole point of this prophecy. For it announces that the ultimate spokesman for God is expressly not God but a human being”4 From this passage in Deuteronomy, the Jews understood that their coming Messiah was to be a man; a prophecy which Peter and Stephen both confirmed as fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth in the book of Acts (Acts 3:23; 7:37).

Jesus’ closest disciples understood Jesus to be the long awaited Messiah, the human Son of God, in accordance with the Scriptures. After the baptism of Jesus, John’s disciples understood that Jesus was the man of whom John testified, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” and the Son of God (John 1:29). For this reason, they followed Jesus and excitedly brought others to him saying, “We have found the Messiah,” the one “whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:41, 45). Later on in his ministry, when Jesus asked his disciples who they thought that he was, Peter readily answered “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mat 16:16 KJV). Years later after his crucifixion, the beloved disciple John echoed this same belief in the purpose statement of his gospel, which he wrote specifically so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). All throughout his ministry and even afterwards, the disciples held a consistent view of the identity of Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, an identity which was founded on the descriptions presented in the Law and the Prophets.

Jesus himself had a thoroughly Hebraic understanding of his role as the Messiah, which he demonstrated through the claims he made about himself. His testimony about himself is true for the words he spoke are the Father’s, in accordance with Deuteronomy 18. Jesus affirms this in John 12:49 when he says, “For I do not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it” (John 12:49)). Therefore, based on Jesus own words, one can trust that Jesus knew that he was a man appointed by God as the Messiah, and not the Almighty God. Joel Hemphill, author of To God Be the Glory, notes that Jesus “never once used the terms “God,” “eternal Son,” or “God the Son” in speaking of himself.”5 In fact, even when the Jews accused Jesus of claiming to be equal with God in John 10:33, Jesus expressly denies this accusation. Instead he clarifies his identity, calling himself the Son of God, which is “a recognized synonym for Messiah.”6 He goes on to compare himself to the Old Testament judges whom the Scriptures refer to as “gods;” men acting as representatives or agents on the behalf of God.7 It is in this light that Jesus’ claim to be one with the Father must be understood: Jesus is one with the Father or “god” in the sense that he perfectly represents the Father in fellowship and purpose.8 Thus Jesus by his own words, which are the very words of the Father, denies any claims to deity while confirming his humanity and appointment as Messiah.

In addition to his verbal attestations, the works that Jesus performed also served as a testimony to who he was. During his ministry, Jesus performed incredible miracles such as healing the sick, raising the dead, and casting out demons. These are commonly cited as proof of Jesus’ deity; however they prove just the opposite! They prove that Jesus is who he said he was, the Messiah. When John’s disciples come and ask Jesus if he is the “Expected One,” Jesus quotes a Messianic prophesy from Isaiah, saying, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM” (Luke 7:22). In this way, Jesus attests that the works he does demonstrate that he is the human Messiah, not God.

As the Messiah, Jesus was both anointed and appointed by God and given all authority in heaven and on earth (Acts 10:38; Heb 3:2; Mat 28:18). It is for this reason that he was able to perform miracles and forgive sins. In Matthew, when he pronounces a crippled man both forgiven and healed, the Pharisees are quick to accuse him of blasphemy for claiming to be God. Rather than agreeing to the veracity of their accusation, Jesus instead claims “authority.”9 The crowd surrounding him understood this as well, for when they saw that the lame man could walk again, “they marveled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men” (Mat 9:8 KJV). Gregory S. Deuble notes that this power and authority from the Father was also given to the disciples by Jesus, who said “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins will be forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained”10 (Mat 9:8 KJV). He goes on to say, “If only God can forgive sins, then Jesus and the apostles are all God! Besides, there is no teaching anywhere in the Bible that says only God can forgive.”11 Clearly, the occurrence of miracles and forgiveness of sin do not imply the deity of an individual, but rather an authority that has been given by God.

It is absolutely essential to know the real Jesus of the Bible, for as the apostle John writes, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3 KJV). To go beyond the claims of Jesus is to venture into blasphemy and idolatry. In one of his later letters, John cautions his readers and writes that “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God” (2 John 9). Jesus never hinted about his identity and his claims about himself are clear and true. Jesus affirmed throughout his ministry that he was a man, the anointed and exalted Messiah and Son of God, and the appointed agent of salvation for all those who would believe in his name and obey his word.

Unless otherwise indicated all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB), 1995 Update.

1Slick, Matt. “Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry.” Jesus’ Two Natures: God and Man. http://carm.org/jesus-two-natures

2Laurie, Greg. “Fully God and Fully Man.” Crosswalk.com: The Intersection of Faith and Life. http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/harvestdaily/greg-laurie-daily-devotion-feb-8-2011-11645346.html

3Deuble, Greg S. They Never Told Me THIS in Church!: A Call to Read the Bible with New Eyes. Restoration Fellowship, 2006, p 151.

4ibid., p 154.

5Hemphill, Joel W. To God Be the Glory: Examining the Bible View of God. Joelton, TN: Trumpet Call Books, 2006.

6Buzzard, Anthony. Who Is Jesus?: A Plea for a Return to Belief in Jesus, the Messiah. Restoration Fellowship, p 12.

7Deuble, p 181.

8Buzzard, p 12.

9Deuble, p 225.



by Bethany Reise

8 Responses to “Jesus in Disguise: Discovering the Real Jesus”

  1. on 23 Nov 2012 at 3:03 pmWolfgang


    in the intro to the above articles, the author mentions the passage from Heb 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”

    What does this statement mean? To what does it refer? How is Jesus “THE SAME” today as he was yesterday (before, in the past)? Did not some rather drastic change happen with him with the resurrection from the dead? Thus, to what is the writer of Hebrews making reference with “the same” in regards to Jesus?

  2. on 23 Nov 2012 at 7:06 pmSarah

    Hi Wolfgang,

    I wondered that myself a while ago. After some research I concluded Hebrews 13:8 is talking about the *message* of Jesus Christ preached by the apostles, not Jesus Christ himself. Here are some parallel passages that illustrate this:

    But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
    (2 Cor 11:3-4)

    If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,
    and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
    (1 Tim 6:3-5)

    Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
    Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
    (Heb 13:8-9)

  3. on 23 Nov 2012 at 8:03 pmtimothy


    Hi there. I was starting a study about the qualities of a church leader written to Timothy by Paul.

    Found the word striker=*plektes*=contentious, striker, argumentativeness and quarrelsome.

    (A leader should be: not addicted to contention and not quarrelsome.)

    Your quote of 1 Timothy 6:3-5 describs a *plektes* type of guy?

    Just saying.

    Timothy 🙂

  4. on 23 Nov 2012 at 11:19 pmSarah

    Hey Timothy,

    Couldn’t agree more with you that a leader should not be quarrelsome.

    As for Hebrews 13:8-9, based on the context and other parallel passages, I think you might paraphrase it something like this:

    “The gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t change. Therefore, don’t be decieved by false teachings that preach a different Jesus…”

  5. on 24 Nov 2012 at 2:00 amWolfgang


    thanks for your note … I also understand “Jesus” in the verse in Hebrews to be used by figure of speech to refer to “the message concerning Jesus”, which remains the same … this is further emphasized by the figure polysyndeton (many ands) in the “yesterday AND today AND forever (“unto the ages”)”

  6. on 24 Nov 2012 at 11:54 amRay

    Sometimes our understanding of what is said about Jesus isn’t of him at all.

  7. on 24 Nov 2012 at 5:06 pmSarah

    Thanks for this article describing the differences between the real Jesus of scripture and the “different Jesus” that has been promoted for so many centuries. I especially liked this quote about Deut 18: “to say that the Messiah is God is to contradict the whole point of this prophecy”.

    However, I would take issue with one small thing. When the Jews accused him of making himself equal with God, I don’t believe they thought he was claiming the literal identity of God. They were well aware of the Messianic prophecies and the authority that God would delegate to his Messiah. They just didn’t think Jesus was that Messiah. There is a verse that gets overlooked, but I think it’s telling because it only makes sense if they thought Jesus was claiming Messianic *authority* rather than literal deity: “We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” (Jn 9:29)

    The courtroom scene with Caiaphas is another good example. He says to Jesus, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God”. Here the chief priest clearly distinguished God from the person he thought Jesus claimed to be. And when Jesus answered by saying he would be at the right hand of power (messianic authority), it provoked the charge of blasphemy.

    Caiaphas of course was a Sadducee, and so did not even accept the office of the Messiah as legitimate. I would guess he thought Jesus was falsely claiming a representational authority on par with Moses, as well as usurping Caiphas’ priestly authority when Jesus was not even of a priestly line.

  8. on 25 Nov 2012 at 5:33 amWolfgang


    indeed … the trinity folks completely misunderstand the Jews’ point of view and point of argument! Trinity theologians propagate the idea that the Jews believed Jesus was God, and – for whatever strange reason – trinity adherents agree with such supposed “Jewish belief” as being the truth, and yet they then turn around and disagree with the very same “Jews’ belief” when they read that the Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy.

    The Jews never once thought that Jesus was God … anyone making such a claim would have been regarded as “lunatic / insane / etc.” and would not have been charged with blasphemy.

    Throughout the gospels records we read that the Jewish religious leadership believed in a coming human being of the line of Abraham and David as Messiah as prophesied in the Scriptures … but when Jesus arrived on the scene, they rejected and refuted him to be that Messiah, and thus they then accused him of falsely claiming to be the Messiah, and such “false claim” (as they thought) was reason for their charge of blasphemy and eventually having Jesus killed.


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