When you search for Jesus at Amazon.com, you will find that there are 206,159 books about him. Google his name and you’ll get 393 million results! Jesus is undoubtedly the most prominent individual who ever lived. The historian Philip Schaff writes, “This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without sciences and learning, he shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, he spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times.” As a result of this felt influence, everyone has an opinion about him. Ask people to tell you who they think Jesus is, and you’ll soon find yourself in a sea of diverse opinions. In this deluge of ideas, is it possible to find the real Jesus? That depends on how you answer a more fundamental question before you read further about him: Are you willing to set aside your preconceptions and let the evidence take you wherever it will? Because, what you believe about Jesus, determines your eternal destiny.
Jesus was born into humble circumstances and looked like an ordinary Jew. Like other Jewish boys, he was circumcised. Jesus grew physically, intellectually and socially. He ate, slept, and became tired. He walked and worked like other people did. He became hungry and thirsty too. He even came to be known as “the carpenter, the son of Mary” (Mark 6:3). Yet Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, made audacious claims about himself! Jesus claimed to be the unique Son of God. The Jewish leaders understood clearly that in calling God his own Father, he was “making himself equal with God” (John 5:18). So they tried hard to kill him. In John 8:58, Jesus used the very Name of God to himself when he declared, “before Abraham was born, I am!” To the Jews, this was a blasphemous claim! So “they picked up stones to stone him” (John 8:59). On yet another occasion, Jesus said, “‘I and the Father are one.’ Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God’” (John 10:30-33). Modern day critics, who don’t understand the milieu in which Jesus lived, declare ignorantly that he never claimed to be God! However, the Jewish leaders of his day never missed the import of his words! So they insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God” (John 19:7). Accordingly, it is unquestionably true that Jesus came on the scene with an unprecedented authority, with the claim of the authority to stand in God’s place and speak to us. We need only examine if he validated such a lofty claim!
Are Jesus’ Claims valid?
The extraordinary claims of Jesus about himself become defensible when you understand his person and works. First, Jesus was seen to possess the very attributes of God. He exhibited omniscience when knew the thoughts of his disciples on several occasions (Luke 9:46-47; Matthew 16:7-8). Indeed, “he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person” (John 2:24-25). He demonstrated omnipotence when he “rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm” (Mark 4:39). He also proved that he was omnipresent by promising that he would be with his disciples “always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). Furthermore, Jesus claimed to have the authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:5-7), which the Bible teaches was something that God alone could do (Isaiah 43:25). Second, Jesus led a sinless life. Even the enemies of Jesus found no fault in him. “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any” (Mark 14:55). Third, Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. Twenty nine prophecies from the Old Testament, which speak of the betrayal, trial, death and burial of Jesus (spoken at various times by many different voices during the five centuries from 1000-500 BC), were all literally fulfilled in one twenty-four hour period of time in Jesus’ life. Altogether, he fulfilled more than 300 prophecies of the Old Testament during his lifetime. Fourth, Jesus performed miracles like no one else could. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk, exorcised demons and even raised the dead. In fact, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded” (John 20:30). Finally, the sign which Jesus Himself said would demonstrate that He was the Son of God, was His resurrection. He died on a cross and rose again from the dead! (Matthew 12:38-42, John 21:1).
Who do you, now, think Jesus is?
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
1. Philip Schaff, The Person of Christ (New York: American Tract Society, 1913), 33.
2. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (The MacMillan Company, 1960), 40-41.
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