One of my elders asked me, “Who do you think you are?” So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
“The Who Principle” is all about identity. A few years ago, the head elder of my church asked me, “Marshall, just who do you think you are?” This is a good question for all of us to ask ourselves. The answer that we give to someone is very revealing. How do we explain who we are? It usually starts with our job, or our family and goes on to include our hobbies, vacations and the activities that we spend most of our time doing. Responding to this question, people typically say, “I’m a school teacher,” “I’m a scuba diver,” “I’m a Pastor,” or “I’m a bank executive.” This is how we identify ourselves. This is how we say who we are.
This is the basis for “The Who Principle.” What we have said and what we have done or have not done is intimately involved in who we are. This is because who we are determines what we will say and do. It is impossible to tell me who you are as an individual, without telling me what you’ve said and done!
When we apply this to Jesus, you can’t tell me who he is without telling me what he said or what he did or didn’t do. This has some important implications. What Jesus said and did reveals to us, who he is. If we deny what Jesus said and did then we are actually denying Him. Thus, if we do not know what He said and did then we do not know Jesus. This brings up more questions. How well do you need to know Jesus to be saved? Do we need to know anything about the prophesies of His coming? Do we need to know that He is God? How much do we need to know to be a true Christian? “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:14-17). The following Bible “Who” stories show that there is a certain amount of information that we need to know for true salvation.
Let’s consider Jesus on the road to Emmaus. His two disciples do not recognize Him, and ask if He is the only stranger to not know what happened to Jesus. (Apparently, everyone in the area knew what happened to Him.) As they walked, Jesus began at Moses (the Pentateuch) and explained all the Scriptures about Himself. Was He wasting His time, or is it important to know who Jesus is? This is “The Who Principle.” The identity of Jesus is very important for salvation! (Luke 24:18-31). You can’t get to the real Heaven with a phony Jesus.
Next, consider when Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi. He asked His disciples,
“Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.” (Matthew 16:13-20)
Those who were not intimate with Jesus did not identify him correctly. Peter symbolizes those who know Jesus and they are able to correctly identify who Jesus really is.
Consider the thief on the cross. He most likely heard of Jesus and his amazing miracles. He died with Jesus. He saw Jesus’ reaction to being nailed on the cross. He analyzed all the information that he had received and concluded that He was innocent. He must have heard about his claims to be the Messiah. He saw them nail a sign above Jesus on his cross, “The King of the Jews.” He must have believed in Jesus as his savior because of his request, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” This certainly implies that he had faith that Jesus was who He said He was. Because of this belief, his request was honored, and he was told that he was going to be with Jesus in His kingdom after death. How much did he know? It is not recorded. However, instead of doubting that Jesus was the Messiah, he had seen and heard enough to decide Jesus was the promised Messiah and asked Him to remember him when he came into his kingdom. (Luke 23:39-43)
Consider John the Baptist. He sent two disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
“And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Luke 7:20-23)
When Jesus came to Jerusalem, the multitudes went before him crying out:
“Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Hosanna in the highest!”
Then, “all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” (Matthew 21:9-10)
Next, let’s consider the Ethiopian Eunuch.
“An angel of the Lord told Philip, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is desert.) So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this:
“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.”
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. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:26-37)
Notice that for all these events a key issue was the identity of Jesus Christ.
Here are a few more verses to consider.
Matthew 1:23: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Mark 2:7: “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Mark 15:29: “And those who passed by blasphemed Him.”
John 8:58: “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’”
John 10:33: “The Jews answered Him, saying, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.’”
The above Scriptures point out that Jesus is God. Christians should know this.
Can we truly be followers of Jesus, if we don’t at least know the basics about who Jesus is? John said,
“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).
Many people believe that all we need to do is just say the right combination of words or pray the Sinner’s Prayer, and we will be saved. They use these as abra-cadabras of the faith. It isn’t some magical combination of words or a prayer that makes us a Christian. We are truly saved when we have proper faith (Ephesians 2:8-10). That faith has an object – the Jesus of the Bible. We need to make Him our lord, giving Him our highest allegiance and trusting Him to save us from a fiery hell (John 5:24).
“The Who Principle” points to our speech and actions to reveal who we really are. The Bible says that we will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20). Who we are determines what we will say and do. Others will know who we are by examining our fruits – what we say and do. When someone inspects our fruit, we will be known as Christians because we preach the whole gospel and the true Jesus. The Bible defines “Who” Jesus is. How can we be believing in Jesus if we don’t know who he is? If we truly are Christians (children of God), we will preach the proper Jesus of the Bible and the method of salvation in the Bible, and become zealous against false or incomplete teachings (Titus 1:9).