Jesus, His Identity
We understand that the Bible presents Jesus both prophetically and historically (cp. Isa. 53; Acts 1: 1-3). However, the Fourth Gospel is absolutely indispensable to a complete study of the identity of Jesus. The design of John is succinctly stated in John 20: 30, 31. John recorded many things regarding Jesus that the other gospel writers did not. John dwells more fully on the divine character of Jesus. The celebrated commentator Albert Barnes wrote thus about John's Gospel and Jesus:
"It contains more about Christ, his person, design, and work, than any of the other Gospels. The other evangelists were employed more in recording the miracles, and giving external evidence of the divine mission of Jesus. John is employed chiefly in telling us what he was, and what was his peculiar doctrine .The other evangelists record his parables, his miracles, his debates with the scribes and Pharisees; John records chiefly his discourses about himself" (Barnes Notes on the New Testament, Introduction to John, pg. 171).
Let us now consider how John introduces Jesus to mankind (John often reveals facts about Jesus by recording particular statements made relative to Jesus).
John presents Jesus as the Word. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," wrote John (Jn. 1: 1, see addendum). John wrote the Word (oh logos) was with (pros) God. "The preposition is difficult to translate," writes the Pulpit Commentary, "it is equivalent to 'was in relation with God'" (Vol. 17, pg. 6). Commentator William Hendriksen wrote, "And the Word was face to face with God. The meaning is that the Word existed in the closest possible fellowship with the Father, and that he took supreme delight in this communion" (New Testament Commentary, Vol. 4, pg. 70). Beloved, pros ("with") suggests Jesus' equality with the Father in his pre-incarnate state (cp. 10: 30, 14: 6, 7-9). John said "and the Word was God" (kai theos en ho logos, see Jn. 10: 33, 30, 32). Why the "title" Word? A word gives expression to the inner thought, even if none are present to hear or to read and it reveals this thought to others. Jesus revealed the Father and his will (Jn. 14: 8-14).
The Word was in the beginning. John's opening words are, "In the beginning was the Word " (Jn. 1: 1). John then re-emphasizes by affirming, "The same was in the beginning with God" (vs. 2). Jesus mentioned his pre-incarnate state in his prayer to the Father. Hear him: "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (Jn. 17: 5). The Jews sought to stone Jesus (Jn. 8: 59). The cause for the stoning was alleged blaspheming. Jesus had said, " Before Abraham was, I am" (vs. 58).
Jesus is the Creator. John not only introduces Jesus as being the Word, with the Father, and in the beginning, but he presents Jesus as being the actual Creator of all things created. "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" (Jn. 1: 3). John subsequently wrote, " and the world was made by him " (vs. 10). Paul affirmed Jesus did the actual creating (Col. 1: 16).
Jesus is the true light. Light is symbolic of knowledge, goodness, and purity. "In him," John wrote, "was life and the life was the light of men" (vs. 4). John later wrote that Jesus not only is the source of light, but also is himself light. Hear him, "That was the true Light (referring to Jesus, the Word, dm), which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (vs. 9).
Jesus, the King of Israel. The modernist attempts to strip Jesus of his deity and the Premillennialist endeavors to divest Jesus of his regal authority and Kingship. Nathanael said thus to Jesus, " thou are the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel" (Jn. 1: 49). Jesus accepted Nathanael's designation as accurate. Jesus is the King in his Kingdom. The Kingdom was in existence in the First Century (Col. 1: 13, cp. Acts 2: 30-35).
Jesus is the Lamb of God. John the Baptist had this to say about Jesus' identity, "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (Jn. 1: 29). Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God because of his docility and submission (Isa. 53: 7). Also, Jesus was the sacrificial offering for the sins of the world (Heb. 9: 27, Matt. 26: 28).
Jesus, according to John, is the Christ. John describes the joy Andrew experienced at finding Jesus. "We have found the Messias," said Andrew, "which is, being interpreted, the Christ" (Jn. 1: 41). Jesus claimed Messiahship. In conversation with the Samaritan woman who mentioned the coming Messiah, Jesus said "I that speak unto thee am he" (Jn. 4: 25, 26). John explained that Jesus' miracles were recorded for the purpose of attesting to the Messiahship of Jesus. "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (Jn. 20: 30, 31).
John portrays Jesus as the Son of God. Nathanael knew that Jesus was the Son of God (Jn. 1: 49). The Jews highly esteemed John the Baptist and knew he was of God (Matt. 21: 26). Therefore, it was highly significant when John the Baptist said of Jesus, "And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God" (Jn. 1: 34). Jesus claimed to be the Son of God (Jn. 10: 29). The Jews knew such an assertion meant equality with the Father. Jesus removed any doubt when he exclaimed, "I and my Father are one" (Jn. 10: 30). Jesus so perfectly represented the Father in purpose and nature that Jesus said, " he that hath seen me hath seen the Father " (Jn. 14: 9). In addition, John presents Jesus as the bread from heaven, the true vine, door to the sheep, Good Shepherd, the resurrection and life, and the way, the truth and the life (Jn. 6: 35; 15: 1, 5; 10: 7; 11; 11: 25; 14: 6).
In closing, the apostle Paul warned about any preaching "another Jesus, whom we have not preached " (2 Cor. 11: 4). The Jesus John introduced to the world is truly the "only begotten of the Father" ("only begotten" is from the Greek monogenes, which means unique and one of a kind, click on "Only Begotten" to read more; also, "The Historicity of Jesus").
Addendum: "'The Personal Word,' a title of the Son of God; this identification is substantiated by the statements of doctrine in John 1:1-18, declaring in verses John 1:1,2 (1) His distinct and superfinite Personality, (2) His relation in the Godhead (pros, 'with,' not mere company, but the most intimate communion), (3) His deity; in John 1:3 His creative power; in John 1:14 His incarnation ('became flesh,' expressing His voluntary act; not as AV, 'was made'), the reality and totality of His human nature, and His glory 'as of the only begotten from the Father,' RV (marg., 'an only begotten from a father'), the absence of the article in each place lending stress to the nature and character of the relationship; His was the shekinah glory in open manifestation; John 1:18 consummates the identification: "the only-begotten Son (RV marg., many ancient authorities read 'God only begotten,'), which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him,' thus fulfilling the significance of the title 'Logos,' the 'Word,' the personal manifestation, not of a part of the Divine nature, but of the whole Deity (see IMAGE)." (Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.)