I’ve been thinking a lot about something lately. This actually originated from an online conversation I’m having with someone I met on a website, spikedhumor. What I’ve been doing for some time now is responding to comments posted to videos online that either misrepresent the Christian world view all together, like the “You are all going to burn…” type thing. Or debate with people coming from an atheistic prospective.
Through this experience I’ve started noticing very interesting trends. First, there are very few people on these sites claiming to be Christian. Secondly many who claim Christianity submit that the bible is wholly metaphorical, written by man for man, etc. The most alarming claim I’m seeing over and over is that Christ was not God and did not rise from the grave. Okay, I understand that many of you reading this right now don’t believe Christ is God, died for our sins on a cross and rose bodily from the grave. So you might be thinking, “So what? Why is this alarming?” Well, firstly most of you aren’t Christian and those claims are central to the Christian faith. You CAN NOT have Christianity without the resurrection, plain and simple. This has been a New Age trend that is catching on. Christians need to understand that if you’re going to claim the faith you MUST claim Jesus! I know this seems awfully narrow-minded or bigoted but it’s true. (I deal with that in a little bit)
In claiming Christianity there are some very central ideologies and doctrines you must also claim. One of the biggest is the life, death and most importantly the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For it’s in the resurrection where we see that Jesus is God. It’s more often than not I see people pushed away from Christ because they have questions and need answers. So often the most dedicated church attendee can’t discuss these issues because they simply don’t know how to defend what they believe. So, in response to honest quarries they lash out in one way or another or come up with very mindless, illogical responses. However, and this needs to be made clear, without the resurrection of Jesus Christ there is no Christianity.
Why is this important? The New Age teachings and thoughts on Jesus misrepresent Christ and in many ways undermine His actions and teachings. Many people have had so many different interpretations of who Jesus is, celebrities, sports stars, politian’s, even other world religions. As a Christian it’s important to get a firm grasp on who he is and make sure that you hold true to that. You see, if someone is claiming Christ I, as a Christians, have to hold that person to God’s standard of His word and when error surfaces that error must be called out. This might seem harsh but it is comes from a place of love and compassion.
Jesus was God! Jesus claimed to be God!! The bible teaches this and the bible is God’s inspired Word which makes a claim to truth. These are key to living a successful Christian life not only here and now but for eternity. Now, it’s what you do with this that really matters! Throughout the bible Jesus tells us that He is God, to say he was only a good man who told good stories is not only contrary to biblical teaching but would be completely inaccurate. C.S. Lewis may have said it best,
“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 a 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 up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
It’s so important to look to what Jesus actually said about himself, who He said he was. I will briefly try to explain and point to places in the bible we can look to for insight.
Jesus claimed to be God and did so unapologetically: Look to John 6:38 and directly there after, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” Why is this significant? This portion of scripture separates Christ and Christianity apart from every other major world religion. All other world religions claim that they went up to heaven, such as Muhammad, for a short time. Christ claims to come down from heaven to be with us while at the same time telling us that He is God! While other religions are about gaining access to heaven; ascending to heaven through good works, karma, morality or spirituality, Christianity is about Jesus descending to live with us as man.
Jesus was more than just a good man: Mark 10:17-18, “As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good except God alone.’” Here we need to but emphasis on “No one is good except God alone.” Because Jesus is telling the man to only call him “good” if he believes Jesus is God. Jesus is revealing that he is not just a good man but is in fact God.
Jesus refers to himself as The Son of Man: We have way to many scriptures to look to (more than 80) for me to list but in order to understand the significance we should look to Daniel 7: 13-14, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” When Jesus refers to himself as the son of man he’s citing Daniel and ultimately claiming to be God and having authority and power of everything. The Jews of the day knew exactly what Jesus was claiming. Hence trying to stone him, a penalty for blasphemy. Hence Jesus’ ultimate crucifixion.
Jesus performed miracles: John 10:36-39, “…what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.” Here we see that Jesus is pointing to the distinctness of his works. He’s making a claim to be God and doing so unashamedly asking them to judge his works and compare them to what is consistent of God. Jesus is reaffirming that he is God. In the processes he is again being accused of blasphemy!!
Jesus flat out said he was God and the only God (This is central to Christianity): First lets look at Mark 14: 61-64, “But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. ”You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” Again, it is so very clear that Jesus is claiming to be God and again he is making reference to Daniel 7 in effect claiming authority and power of all!!
We can also look at John 8: 58-59, ”I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.” In John, Jesus claims to be telling the truth 50 times!! There is no way around it, Jesus claimed to be God and claimed to be telling the truth. He was either in fact God or he was a liar, leading people to their destruction! Jesus also refers to himself as ” I am”. “I am” comes from Moses and the burning bush as a reference to God. Look at Exodus 3:14. The phrase “I am” was also extremely sacred to Jews. No one would make that claim unless they were God. This means Jesus was in fact claiming to be God!!
Let’s also turn to John 10: 30-33, “The Father and I are one.” Once again the people picked up stones to kill him. Jesus said, “At my Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone me?” They replied, “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.” OK, once again we see the Jews wanting to stone Jesus. Why? Because he is claiming to be God. There is NO grey area! He is either God and telling us the truth as he claims or he is a fantastic conman and leading people to hell! This is also interesting because Jesus is making an extremely unique claim, no other world religion has been founded by someone claiming to be God!! NONE!!
Jesus said he was sinless: John 8:46, “Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin?” Jesus is speaking in front of people who knew him, had been following him for years! Don’t you think one person would have been able to call him out were Jesus lying? But no one could. The only sinless being is God. Jesus claiming to be sinless is a claim to be God!! If you look up to John 8:42 you will also see that Jesus is emphatic about truth!
Jesus claimed to forgive sins: This is extremely important!! For the Christian, ultimately all sins are against God so only God can forgive us our sins. Look to Mark 2:5, Jesus speaking, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” In claiming to be sinless and having the authority to forgive sins Jesus was clearly claiming to be God. Again, this is unparalleled among any founder of a world religion. All other religious leaders agree that they are imperfect and sinful.
Jesus told people to pray to him as God: John 14:13-14, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Speaking to Jews, Jesus knew that all prayers should be focused on God!! Only God is all powerful and able to answer prayers! Only God is all knowing and able to hear prayers! Only God is eternal so people past, present and future can pray to Him expecting Him to be there! Jesus is claiming to be God.
Jesus promised to judge all people: Again the Jews believe that only God can judge. John 5: 22-24, “the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, so that everyone will honor the Son, just as the honor the Father, Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him. I tell you the truth…” Basically Jesus is saying that he is better than all who have and will come to live. Because of this he will judge us all!! Again a unique and very bold claim!!
Jesus said that he not only came down from heaven but he is the only way to heaven : John 14:6, “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” By using the word “the” Jesus is being singular and exclusive! It’s not, live a good life or there are many roads!! There is one way to heaven and that is through our God Jesus Christ. It’s abundantly clear what Jesus is saying here! You don’t have to agree, you don’t have to believe him. But you do have to recognize that Jesus is saying he is God and will decide who goes to heaven.
Jesus claimed supremacy and authority over ALL people, ALL political parties, ALL races, ALL genders, ALL cultures, ALL religions, ALL beliefs and ALL sexual orientations! In claiming this Jesus puts himself in a category by himself as the ONLY God! The question is what is your response to the claims of Jesus? Not what is your response to a philosophers thoughts on Jesus, not to your friends thoughts. How are you going to respond to Jesus’ claim to be God. This, in my opinion is the most important question any of us will ever ask!
This claim often leads to the Christian as being narrow-minded as I said at the start of this. It’s not the Christian who is narrow but Christ. Jesus taught us that the road is narrow that leads to his kingdom. He also teaches us that there will be many false interpretations of his words. We have to watch out for this and stay on the narrow path. Pastor Mark Driscoll has been a great resource for me and said it best,
“You can not say that Jesus was a good person because if he isn’t God this is a cruel thing. People who are sick asking Jesus for healing through prayer. Every night parents tucking in their kids and asking for Jesus to guard and protect and give them good dreams. People on their death bed asking, praying for Jesus to take them into His kingdom. If Jesus is just a dead conman, he’s not a good man. He’s a bad man! And if all the billions of people are praying to him and he’s not God, we are wasting our time. We are wasting our breath and wasting our hope. And Jesus pulled the biggest con on the whole world!”
I hope this doesn’t offend anyone and what’s more I hope this causes just one of you to get out a bible and look between it’s covers. Read about Jesus and find out who he claimed he was. From there it’s up to you what you choose to do with that information. You don’t have to turn off your brain to find Him, in fact it is much better to ask Him into your lives through intelligent questioning. Anyway, thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your thoughts.