The person of Jesus

Quick revise
Jesus Christ / Messiah / Son of David
The Gospels are about Jesus, the great founder of Christianity, with nearly two billion followers worldwide. Jesus is the Christ, from the Greek word Christos meaning ‘Messiah’ or ‘anointed one’.
  • Jesus is anointed by the woman at Bethany who pours nard (a type of oil) on his head (Mark 14:3–9; Matt. 26:6–13). Jews had long been awaiting a Messiah, which had been prophesied in the Old Testament, but they had fixed ideas about what the Messiah would be like. Some expected a prophet like Moses.
  • Some Jews were expecting the Messiah to be a war-like leader who would free them from the Romans.
  • Jesus is called the Christ at Caesarea Philippi (Mark 8:27).
  • Blind Bartimaeus calls Jesus ‘Son of David’ (Mark 10:46–52).
  • The crowd acclaims Jesus, ‘Blessed is the coming of our Father David’ when he rides into Jerusalem on a donkey (Mark 11:1).
  • The title ‘Son of David’ also indicates that Jesus was expected to be a King. He is referred to by Mark as ‘King’ during his crucifixion.
  • Jesus’ resurrection showed he was to be the King of Heaven.

KEY POINT - The Messianic Secret - The fact that Jesus is the Messiah is revealed slowly, and much of the time Jesus asks for it to be kept secret. Hence the term ‘Son of David’ is most frequently used. 

Suffering servant / Son of Man
There are indications in the Gospel that Jesus saw himself more as the ‘suffering servant’, prophesied in Isaiah (Is. 35:4; 53:2–12)
The reference to the Son of Man is also found in:
  • Psalm 8:1 where he is ‘an ordinary human being’
  • Ezekiel 2:1 where he is one representative of God
  • Daniel 7:14 where he is a mysterious heavenly being who will bring a Kingdom

Jesus seems to take the role of the Son of Man given by Daniel, coupled with the Isaiah idea of the suffering servant.

  • He often told his disciples that the Son of Man would suffer and die. He put great emphasis on the need to put self last and be servant of all.
  • Understanding Jesus as Son of Man helps readers to understand that he had the same emotions and feelings as all humanity; he felt both pain and joy.

Episodes where Jesus is called ‘Son of Man’

  • The healing of the paralytic (Mark 2:1–11). Jesus heals the man by telling him his sins are forgiven. He tells the watchers that, ‘the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’.
  • When Jesus predicts his death (Mark 8:31–33), he says, ‘the Son of Man’ must suffer many things.
  • James and John ask if they will sit with Jesus after his death and he tells them they know nothing about what the Son of Man will suffer. They have not understood the nature of his Messiahship.
Son of God
Jesus is not called Son of God by any human being until after his death.
  • The term was thought to be blasphemous by Jews.
  • Evil spirits recognise Jesus as Son of God and when he exorcises them he shows his power over evil.
  • Mark begins by stating in the kerygma (Proclamation of Faith 1:1) that Jesus is
  • the Son of God.


  • Baptism (Mark 1:9–11). Readers are told the voice of God is heard saying, ‘You are my Son…’
  • Transfiguration (Mark 9:2–8). A voice is heard again: ‘This is my Son, whom I love…’
  • The trial before the High Priest (Mark 14:53–65). Caiaphas asks Jesus if he is the Messiah, the Son of the most high God, and Jesus replies ‘I am’.
Jesus / Saviour
Jesus calms the storm (Mark 4:35–41). Jesus calms the storm with the words, ‘Be still’. This shows that Jesus has God’s authority and may represent for the persecuted Christians a means of escape from the Romans.
The feeding of the five thousand (Mark 6:30–44). Jesus gives the people bread as Moses did. He is their saviour then and later when he gives his gift of himself in bread at the Last Supper. He offers a means of redemption (being saved) for all forever. He saves in a human and divine way.
The Syro-Phoenician woman’s daughter (Mark 7:24–30). Jesus has authority to heal from a distance and although he comes first for the Jews, he will also offer redemption to the Gentiles.