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14 King Herod heard about Jesus, because He was now well known. Some people said, “He (Jesus) is John the Baptist, who has risen from the dead. That is why He can work these miracles.” 15 Others said, “He is Elijah.” Other people said, “Jesus is a prophet, like the prophets who lived long ago.” Mark 6:14-15 (NCV)
King Herod, along with many others of the first century, wondered about Jesus’ true identity. Even today, many people cannot accept and believe Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God (Mark 1:1; John 3:16; John 20:31). During His public ministry on earth, Jesus performed many miraculous acts of compassion (e.g., Matthew 9:35-36; Matthew 14:14; Luke 7:21-23), taught and preached with authority and power (e.g., Mark 1:21-23; Mark 6:2), and expelled all kinds of demonic attacks (e.g., Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). Despite Jesus’ great miracles and extraordinary powers, very few people accepted Jesus as Messiah and the Son of God (see Matthew 16:16; Luke 6:17-19). The Hebrew word “Messiah,” the equivalent of the Greek “Christ,” means “Anointed One.” In the first century, the crowds Jesus attracted wavered between enthusiastic support and outright rejection of Him. Even today, many people are still trying to find alternate explanations for Jesus’ power and authority. People will call Jesus a great prophet, a radical political leader, a teacher, a good man or a self-deceived troublemaker. However, none of these explanations can account for Jesus’ miracles, powers or, especially, His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. In the end, all people of every nation will come to know the truth: Jesus is the true Christ (Messiah) and Son of the living God (Mark 1:1; see also Matthew 16:16; Mark 8:29; Mark 15:39; Luke 1:35; Luke 9:20; John 1:34, 49; Philippians 2:5-11).
7 When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, heard about everything Jesus was doing, he was puzzled. Some were saying that John the Baptist had been raised from the dead. 8 Others thought Jesus was Elijah or one of the other prophets risen from the dead. 9 “I beheaded John,” Herod said, “so who is this Man about whom I hear such stories?” And he kept trying to see Him (Jesus). Luke 9:7-9 (NLT)
During Jesus’ public ministry in the first century, His reputation traveled far and wide, even to the King Herod’s palace (Matthew 14:1-2; Mark 6:14-16; Luke 9:7-9). King Herod was confused and puzzled by the life and ministry of Jesus and wanted to meet Him (Luke 9:7; see also see Luke 23:8). At first, King Herod identified Jesus as John the Baptist, who had risen from the dead (Matthew 14:1-2). Sadly, King Herod had John the Baptist beheaded while in prison (see Matthew 14:1–12; Mark 6:16-29; Luke 9:9). Herod feared John’s resurrection due to the guilt he would felt for killing a righteous and holy man of God (Mark 6:20).
King Herod refers to Herod Antipas (Luke 9:7). Herod Antipas was born 20 B.C., and he was the second son of Herod the Great, who ordered the killing of the babies in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1, 16; Luke 1:5). Officially, Antipas was not a king, but this title for him was popularly used. Antipas’ official title was “tetrarch.” He was a tetrarch — one of four rulers over the four districts of Palestine. Herod Antipas ruled the tetrarchy of Galilee and Perea from 4 B.C. to A.D. 39 (Luke 9:7). The Gospel writers identified Herod as “king.” Herod Antipas heard Jesus’ case before His crucifixion (Luke 23:6-12).
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the Prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Matthew 21:11
Many people in first century Palestine believed that Jesus was the Great Prophet predicted by the Old Testament (e.g., see Deuteronomy 18:15; Matthew 21:11, 46; Mark 6:14-15; Luke 7:16, 39; Luke 24:19; John 4:19; John 7:40; John 9:17 ). The Old Testament had predicted that a Prophet would come like Moses (see Deuteronomy 18:15-18; Deuteronomy 34:10-12; see also John 1:21, 25, 45; John 6:14). Until the arrival of Jesus, no one was superior to Moses (Hebrews 3:1-6; see also Hebrews 1:1-2). Moses was the first major prophet, and he wrote the first five books of the Bible – the Pentateuch. Through the prophet Moses, God spoke His Holy Words and miraculously provided for the people’s needs in the desert. The Jews had long-awaited for a Great Prophet to come that would do more than Moses (John 6:14). Jesus is the fulfillment of the Jew’s expectations of a prophet like Moses (see Acts 3:22-26).
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” 15 Then He asked them, “But who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah (Christ), the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:13-16 (NLT)
As a Prophet, Jesus revealed God to the people, spoke God’s true Word, encouraged holy living, and met the people’s needs (John 1:1-5, 14; John 14:9; Colossians 1:15-19; Hebrews 1:1-2). After Jesus miraculously multiplied the loaves and fishes, the people exclaimed, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” (John 6:14; see also John 7:40). Moreover, when Jesus raised the widow’s son, the people cried out, “A mighty Prophet has risen among us” (Luke 7:16). The disciples on the Emmaus Road identified Jesus as “a Prophet who did powerful miracles, and He was a mighty teacher” (Luke 24:19). After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Apostle Peter identified Jesus not only as the Messiah and the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16), but also the Prophet predicted by Moses (see Acts 3:22-26). Moreover, Stephen unequivocally identified Jesus as the fulfillment of the Great Prophet predicted by the prophet Moses at Deuteronomy 18:15 and Deuteronomy 34:10, 12. Jesus’ revelation as a Prophet confirms that His message comes from God, and His words are the authentic Word of God, which must be heard and obeyed. Thus, Jesus is indeed the Son of God, the Messiah and the Prophet of God!
5 “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. 6 His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. . . .” Malachi 4:5-6 (NLT)
Other people familiar with the Old Testament also thought Jesus was the prophet Elijah (Mark 6:14-15; see also Malachi 4:5-6). The prophet Elijah was the great prophet who did not die but was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:1-11; see also 1 Kings 17 and 18). As a result, many Jews believed that the prophet Elijah would return sometime prior to the Messiah’s coming (see Malachi 4:5–6; Mark 15:35–36). Elijah’s name means “the Lord is my God” and he preached the importance of people turning to the true and living God (see 1 Kings 18:21, 36-39). Nevertheless, the prophet Elijah did make an appearance at Jesus’ Transfiguration along with the prophet Moses (see Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36). Still others believed that Jesus was a teaching prophet in the tradition of Moses, Isaiah, or Jeremiah (see also Matthew 16:14; Luke 9:8). Jesus preached God’s word and performed miracles like those of the great Old Testament prophets (e.g., see Luke 7:16; Luke 24:19; John 6:14). Most important like the Old Testament prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus also preached the necessity of repentance (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:4, 15; Luke 3:3; Luke 13:3; Luke 24:47see also e.g., Hosea 3:4-5; Joel 2:12-17; Amos 5:4-6, 14-15). Repentances mean wholeheartedly turning our hearts and minds away from sins and genuinely seeking God.
30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you will have life by the power of His Name. John 20:30-31 (NLT)
The early Jewish church following Jesus’ compassionate life, sacrificial death and miraculous resurrection did not hesitate to call Jesus the Messiah and the one true Son of God (e.g., see Acts 8:37; Acts 9:20; Romans 1:4; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 4:14). Even after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the faithful followers of Jesus continued to proclaim to the world that Jesus is Messiah and the one true and unique “Son of God” (e.g., see Acts 9:20-22; Romans 1:3-4; Colossians 1:15-20; Colossians 2:9, 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Hebrews 1:1-4; Hebrews 5:5). Prior to Jesus’ birth, the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that her Son would be “great and will be called the Son of the Most High. . . . the Baby to be born will be holy, and He will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:32, 35, NLT). Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection confirmed Him as the Son of God and the true Messiah sent from God the Father (Mark 1:1, 11; Mark 14:61-62; Mark 15:39; Luke 24:45-47). After seeing Jesus, John the Baptist – the prophet God sent to prepare the way for His Son – testified to his disciples “this is the Son of God” (John 1:34, NIV). Jesus’ disciples and faithful followers that witnessed the historical Jesus declared: “Truly, You are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33; see also Matthew 16:16; John 1:14, 18, 34, 49; John 11:27). The Apostle Paul’s first sermon after meeting the resurrected Jesus on the Damascus Road openly acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God (see Acts 9:20). Jesus’ announcement as God's divine Son is the foundation for all we read about Jesus in the New Testament. One day, Jesus will return and reign on as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16).
16 “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son (Jesus), so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. John 3:16-17 (NLT)
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Faithlife Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012).
Life Application Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2005).
NLT Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2008).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary (Victor Books, 1989).
May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace. Numbers 6:24-26
Brothers and sisters . . . Be joyful and happy. Grow to maturity in Christ. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet each other warmly with Christian love. . . . May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2 Corinthians 13:11-12, 14
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