What He said: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).
What the outsiders said: “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24).
What the insiders said, eventually: “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God!” (John 16:29-30)
Has it has ever occurred to you that the Lord Jesus did not begin His ministry claiming plainly and outspokenly that he was the Messiah? We might have expected Him to walk out of the baptismal waters declaring, “Here I am–I am the Christ! The One you’ve been waiting for!”
Instead, He did the opposite.
He was slow to make pronouncements on HIs identity, but began to work and teach and heal. People were attracted by the works, then they listened to His words. And little by little, they became convinced.
Jesus called Himself “The Son of Man,” and not “The Son of God” as we might have expected.
When the incarcerated John the Baptist sent a delegation to check on Jesus, to see if He really was the long-awaited Savior, instead of giving them a plain statement to take back with them, Jesus said, “Return to John and tell him what you have seen: The blind can see, the lame can walk. Lepers are being cleansed and the deaf can hear. Tell John the dead are being raised to life and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (Matthew 11:2-5).
Jesus expected people to know their Bibles and to think about what they were seeing in Him. Jesus knew that John would put two and two together. John knew Isaiah 61:1ff. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to preach good tiding to the poor, He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord; to comfort all who mourn….”
Jesus knew that simply making claims about His identity would not work, would not convince, and would not last. People had to use their brains and think these things through.
On a related subject, even today when people ask questions about God, we have found that simply answering the question rarely satisfies the person. Instead, if they struggle with the issue, if they search and inquire and think, if they wrestle with these issues, and then come to an answer, the answer is far more satisfying and longer lasting than if they simply looked in the back of the book and found the answer.
Our Lord asked the disciples, “Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” He was wondering whether people were using their brains and thinking about these things. Or, were they being mindless sheep?
“Well,” the disciples said, “Some say you’re John the Baptist back from the dead. Some say you are Elijah as the Old Testament said (Malachi 4:5). Others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
At least people were thinking about it. Give them credit for that. Perhaps in time they’d figure it out.
“How about you?” Jesus said. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Messiah. The Son of the Living God.”
And the Lord said, “Blessed are you, Simon, son of John. Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in Heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-17)
Jesus expected people to think. To use their faith.
When on trial before the religious rulers, His accusers said, “Tell us plainly! Are you the Christ, the Son of God?” (Matthew 26:63) They had no desire to use faith.
Pontius Pilate asked, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (Matthew 27:11)
I’m struck by the opening chapter of the Gospel According to John. There must be 20 names and titles and references to the Lord Jesus in this one chapter alone. In 1:1, He is the Word. In 1:4 He is Life and in 1:7 the Light of men. In 1:10, the world was made by Him. In 1:12 He gave the right to become children of God to all who received him. In 1:14, He is the Word made flesh, reflecting the glory of the Father. In 1:15 He is the One of whom John the Baptist spoke, the One preferred above him. In 1:17 He is Jesus Christ, through whom grace and truth came. In 1:18, Jesus revealed (declared) the Father. In 1:29, He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. In 1:34, He is the Son of God. In 1:36, He is the Lamb of God. In 1:38, He is Rabbi (Teacher). In 1:41, He is the Messiah, which being interpreted means Christ. In 1:45, He is the One of whom Moses and the prophets wrote. In 1:45, He is Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. In 1:49, He is Rabbi, the Son of God, the King of Israel.
The time came. Jesus held nothing back. He “owned up” to His true identity.
Several times in John’s Gospel we see Jesus saying He is “The I Am.” He would say, “Unless you believe that I AM you will die in your sins” and “Before Abraham was, I AM.” (See John 8:24, 28, and 58. Also in John 18:5-6, where Jesus tells the soldiers “I AM” twice. Verse 6 says, “Now when He said to them, I AM, they drew back and fell to the ground.” They understood what He was claiming, even if the translators were hesitant to admit it and inserted “he,” as “I am He.” Jesus was saying He was indeed The Great I AM.
We have the seven “I Am’s” of John’s Gospel. That’s as plain as we should require. And for my money, the best and biggest claims our Lord made can be found in Matthew 11:27 and Luke 10:22. “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and they to whom I reveal Him.” I cannot think of a grander claim than to be the only one who knows God, and the only revealer of God. With so few words, Jesus dismissed all other religions claiming to be a pathway to the Divine.
But now, look at Revelation. All the veils are gone, the mist has dissipated, the light has come. No longer is subtle veiled language used. Jesus Christ is Lord!
We are shown this throughout the book of Revelation, even to the point of blurring the distinction between God the Father and the Son. (For good reason, Bible students decided upon the doctrine of the Trinity ages ago. It’s the only way to account for the Oneness of God–Deuteronomy 6–and the fullness of God as Father, Son, Spirit.)
In Revelation chapter one, Jesus is–
–Him who is and who was and who is to come. vs 4
–The faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth. vs 5
–The one who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood and made us a kingdom of priests. vs. 5-6
–He is coming with clouds, every eye will see Him. vs 7
–He is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End; Who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. Vs. 8
–He is “like” the Son of Man, exalted, lifted up, glorious beyond description. Vs 13-16
–He is the First and the Last. He who lives and was dead and behold, He is alive forevermore. He has the keys of Hades (hell) and of Death.
As has been said, Scripture beggars human language in an attempt to tell us all that Jesus Christ is.
Sweetest note in seraph song, sweetest name on mortal tongue, sweetest carol ever sung: Jesus, blessed Jesus.