It is impossible to know for certain that God exists and what He is like unless He takes the initiative and reveals Himself to us. A clear clue is found in the stable in Bethlehem. The paranoid Herod had all male children age two and younger murdered; the slaughter of the innocents (Matthew 2:1-18). We see Jesus at age twelve in the temple, “My Father’s house” (Luke 2:49). He lived in obscurity for about thirty years until He started His public ministry. Common people heard Him and they marveled at His words spoken with authority (Matthew 7:29).
Jesus said He was the Son of God:
He had many shocking statements that began to identity Him more than just a remarkable teacher or prophet; He clearly claimed deity. The question for Peter and all of us, “Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:16-17). What was the impact of His words? The Jews sought to kill Him, no mistake of what Jesus was claiming (John 5:18, 10:33). Not only did He claim deity in His words, but also in His actions. He healed and forgave the paralytic’s sins (Mark 2:5-7).
The title of Son of Man asserted His deity. The High Priest asked Him if He was the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One, and Jesus answer, “I am.” (Mark 14:61-64). John Stott puts it this way,
- to know Him was to know God (John 8:19, 14:7);
- to see Him was to see God (John 12:45, 14:9);
- to believe in Him was to believe in God (John 12:44, 14:1);
- to receive Him was to receive God (Mark 9:37);
- to hate Him was to hate God (John 15:23);
- to honor Him was to honor God (John 5:23).
Only four possibilities:
- Liar – He claimed to be God and He knew that it was false. If this is the case, there is no way that He could be revered as a good moral teacher.
- Lunatic – He claimed to be God and He did not know that it was false. If He is deceived in the area of His identity, He cannot be trusted with much else. But there is no evidence of an emotional imbalance we find in a deranged person.
- Legend – He was a man who had enthusiastic followers who centuries later put words into the mouth of Jesus. Evidence shows that four individual biographies were written within the lifetime of the contemporaries of Jesus; no later than AD 70. If the claims of deity were not true, people in the day would have repudiated the claim. The story would never have gotten off the ground. Besides, there are simply not enough generations to elevate these claims to the status of legend. The documents have an early dating.
- Lord – Claims don’t mean much, talk is cheap. What credentials do we bring to substantiate the claim? Miraculous signs backed up what He claimed (John 10:38).
What were Jesus’ credentials?
- His character – He was unique in that He was sinless (John 8:46). We read of His temptation but no prayers of forgiveness (what He told His followers to do). This lack of moral failure is in contrast to the history of those called saints. As people are drawn to God, they are overwhelmed by their sinfulness. John, Peter and Paul mentions the sinlessness of Jesus (1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5 and 2 Corinthians 5:21). Pilate found no fault in Him (John 18:38), and the Roman centurion recognized the uniqueness of Jesus (Matthew 27:54).
- His power – He could calm a raging storm and the question arises, “Who is this?” (Mark 4:41).
- He turned water into wine (John 2:9-11)
- He fed 5000 men with five loaves and two fish (John 6:10-13)
- He raised people from the dead (Matthew 11:4-6, Mark 5:40-42, John 12:1)
- He healed people of disabilities and diseases (John 9:25, 32) – lame walk, blind see, mute speak.
- His resurrection from the dead – He predicted that He would rise from the dead, and did it to prove He was right (Matthew 12:40, 26:61, Mark 8:31, 9:31, John 2:19).
Our own Christian experience combined with historical evidence give us a solid conviction that Jesus is exactly who He said He was. He changed the world, the calendar and the lives of people for centuries.
- In what ways did Jesus claim to be the Son of God?
- What are the four possibilities in evaluating these claims?
- What is the evidence for and against the theory that Jesus was a lunatic?
- What evidence do you remember that the gospels account for an actual person rather than a legend?
- How do you answer a person that says Jesus was just a good moral teacher and not God?
- How did Jesus prove His claim to be God?