Before we examine Jesus’ own testimony about himself, two leading points must be established. In the first place, he desired no other belief in his person and no other attachment to it than is contained in the keeping of his commandments. Even in the fourth Gospel, in which Jesus’ person often seems to be raised above the contents of the Gospel, the idea is still clearly formulated: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” He must himself have found, during his labours, that some people honoured, nay, even trusted him, without troubling themselves about the contents of his message. It was to them that he addressed the reprimand: “Not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father.” To lay down any “doctrine” about his person and his dignity independently of the Gospel was, then, quite outside his sphere of ideas. In the second place, he described the Lord of heaven and earth as his God and his Father; as the Greater, and as Him who is alone good. He is certain that everything which he has and everything which he is to accomplish comes from this Father. He prays to Him; he subjects himself to His will; he struggles hard to find out what it is and to fulfil it. Aim, strength, understanding, the issue, and the hard must, all come from the Father. This is what the Gospels say, and it cannot be turned and twisted. This feeling, praying, working, struggling and suffering individual is a man who in the face of his God also associates himself with other men.
These two facts mark out, as it were, the boundaries of the ground covered by Jesus’ testimony of himself. They do not, it is true, give us any positive information as to what he said; but we shall understand what he really meant by his testimony if we look closely at the two descriptions which he gave of himself: the Son of God and the Messiah (the Son of David, the Son of Man).