Who are you? Has anyone ever asked you that question? Were they genuinely interested in knowing who you are, or were they challenging you? Did you know how to answer the question? Let’s look at a scene in the Bible, and how this question and answer can help us know who we are, our identity:
Jn 8:12-30 (23-25) And [Yeshua] said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I Am He, you will die in your sins.” Then they said to Him, “Who are You!?” And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning.”
Yeshua was being challenged and threatened by the religious leaders in His day, trying to find a way to justify not accepting Him as Messiah. It is interesting for us, who do know that Jesus IS the Messiah, how His answer to them as to who He is takes them back, I believe, not only to when He began His public ministry, but to “the beginning”, reminding them (and us) of Gen 1:1 (and of Jn 1:1; 1Jn 1:1). We know that Yeshua is YEHOVAH in the flesh-and-blood body, and He has been speaking to His people “from the beginning”. He had been speaking to them, and doing His marvelous works, testifying that He is YEHOVAH, the promised Messiah, the Son of God. YEHOVAH was visiting His people, bringing salvation. Yeshua is the Light of life.
To know who I am in Messiah/Christ – to know my identity as a person and a believer in Yeshua/Jesus – I need to know who Yeshua really is, since my identity is connected with Him and His name. YHVH God has revealed Himself to us in personal ways by telling us His names.
He first reveals Himself by name to Moses, when He tells him that He is “I Am Who I Am”, and that He is the God of our fathers: YEHOVAH, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob. (Ex 3:14-15; Mt 22:32) Being that God Is Who He Is, He has revealed Himself to be, among other things:
El Shaddai – God Almighty (Gen 17:1)
Ehiyeh – I Am (Ex 3:14; Jn 8:24)
YHVH (YEHOVAH) — Eternal, Self-existing One (Ex 6:2-4)
YHVH Jireh – YHVH Will See [and Provide] (Gen 22:14)
YHVH Rophe – YHVH [our] Healer (Ex 15:26)
YHVH Nissi – YHVH my Banner (Ex 17:15)
YHVH M’Kadeshchem – YHVH your Sanctifier (Lev 20:8; 11:44-45; 1Cor 1:2)
YHVH Shalom – YHVH [our] Peace (Jud 6:24; Eph 2:14)
YHVH Tzidkeinu – YHVH our Righteousness (Jer 23:6; 2Cor 5:21)
YHVH Ro’i – YHVH my Shepherd (Ps 23:1)
YHVH Shammah – YHVH is There (Ezek 48:35)
YHVH Tsva’ot – YHVH of Hosts (Is 6:3-5; Jn 12:37-41)
El Elyon – God Most High (Gen 18:19)
El Ro’eh – God who Sees (Gen 16:13)
El Olam – Everlasting God (Gen 21:33)
El Gibor, Pele Yoetz, Sar Shalom, Aviad – Mighty God, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace,
Everlasting Father (Is 9:6)
Tzemach – Plant (‘Branch’) (Is 42; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zech 3:8)
Father – (Ex 4:22; Is 9:6; Mt 6:9)
Netzer – Root branch (Is 11:1; Mt 2:23)
Yeshua – Savior (Mt 1:21)
Immanuel – God with us (Mt 1:23; Is 7:14; Lev 26:12; 2Cor 6:16)
Messiah – Anointed One (Dan 9:25; Mt 1:16; 27:22)
The Son of Man (Dan 7:13-14; Jn 3:13-15; Mt 26:63-64)
The Son of God (Pr 30:4; Mt 16:16)
The Word of God – (Jn 1:1; Rev 19:13)
Some of these names we use for our God in general, but some of them apply also to Messiah Himself, for Jesus is the Son of God; Jesus is YHVH! (Phlp 2:11; Is 6:3-5; Jer 23:6) In His conception, life, works, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus fulfills the essence of these names which describe Who He Is. Just as YHVH placed His name upon the Children of Israel through the priestly blessing (Num 6:24-26), so, too, is the name of Christ upon those who belong to Him in New Covenant relationship. (Acts 11:26; 1Pt 4:12-16; Is 65:15) We are children of God if we are in Christ/Messiah: God has become my Father; we have become His children! (1Jn 3:1-3) We, in Christ, are sons and daughters of the Creator and King of the universe! In Messiah, we are heirs with Him of all things! (Mk 12:7; Lk 12:32; Heb 1:2; 12:28) We all may know believers who have an identity crisis, either for not accepting who they are in the flesh (our natural origin), or else for not identifying themselves in Christ with Him.
I remember growing up as a Jewish boy in a gentile Christian society. In synagogue we learned that we Jews believed in the one true living God. We read in the Bible (only the O.T. for us!) that God spoke to Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, etc. God not only spoke the worlds into existence, but He also spoke with people! When God speaks to someone, His life is forever affected! When God speaks to someone, He is revealing something about Himself, and the one spoken to knows that there are implications from hearing God’s voice.
I heard God’s voice just as I got saved through believing that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lord. This became part of my testimony to my Jewish family: we had learned that Adonai our God was living, and that He spoke to people that we read about in the Tanach. So, He also spoke to me; and He said, “Go to Israel.” As I just said, there are implications when God speaks to you. Jesus made Israel home for me, and for Randi – and now for our children and grandchildren.
After a couple of days from hearing this, God spoke to me again. The Holy Spirit said, “Jesus died for you, and because of you and your sins, and has brought you home to your Father in Heaven.” These two occasions forever changed the whole course of my and my family’s life, and has affected my knowledge of who God is, and who I am – all because I have repented and believed the gospel. God is the Messiah! Jesus is the Messiah; He is the Lord; Jesus is God manifested in the flesh!
Believing the good news, and hearing God’s voice – both audibly and also through reading the Scriptures and hearing others speak or preach – have helped me to know who I am in Christ. When the religious leaders went to John the Baptizer to find out who he was, he answered that he was “a voice of one crying in the desert [to make straight the way of YHVH”. (Jn 1:23; Is 40:3) When I am asked by people in the context of religious identity (which is what Yeshua and John were being asked), I say, “I am a believer in Yeshua/Jesus“.
And among other things:
–I am a male person, a son of Adam.
–I am an Israeli Jew, a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel.
–I am a Christian, since Yeshua is the Messiah/Christ, the netzer root and offspring of David; and I am in Him, belong to Him, and follow Him.
–I am a child/son of God.
–God is my Father.
–I am your brother.
–Jesus is not only the Lord and the Savior, but my Savior and my Lord.
–I am a new creation.
–I am a saint.
–I am a servant of Yeshua, who died for me and gave me hope and a future; He has given me purpose and significance and an everlasting destiny with Him.
–I am a stranger and pilgrim on the Earth (a Hebrew!).
–I am an exhorter, to strengthen and encourage especially other believers to stand in the faith, and to know that the God of Israel is the living God, that Jesus is the truth, and the Word of God is true.
My experience of receiving the Holy Spirit, of God telling me to go to Israel, of my being a sinner who personally needs a Savior – these are all found in the Bible as true from God. (Joel 2:28-29; Ezek 36:22-29; Zech 12:10; Acts 3:17-26) I can verify these experiences as being from the one true God because they are in accordance with His written Word.
To know who we are in Messiah, what do we need to do? What Abraham our father in the faith did; what Saul, who is better known as Paul the apostle, did: they each believed the word which the living God spoke to them, and they obeyed with faith the revelation and vision which they received. (Acts 26:19; Heb 11:8-19) Do not shrink back, and our God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – will confirm and strengthen the call, the election for salvation, and our identity in Messiah, for we are hid with Him in God. (Heb 10:39; Col 3:3)
Let’s close with the Holy Spirit-inspired words to us through the apostle John, our brother in Messiah (1Jn 3:1-3):
“Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew Him not.
Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as he is.
And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as He is pure.”