Who is Jesus?
That is the question isn't it? Was this man who walked the earth 2000 years ago just a man or was he more? If he was a man, why does he continue as history's most controversial figure? If he was both God and man, then how do we respond? Who is he and what does it mean to me? Is he God or just a man? Did he claim to be God? Can we really believe the reports about him?
Jesus: God or Just a Man?
Let's start by addressing one of the most common arguments against Jesus' divinity: “He never said he was God.” True, the Gospels do not record Jesus saying, “I am God.”, but he clearly claimed to be God, on an equal footing with God the Father.
In John 10:30 Jesus states, “I and the Father are One.” The Jews picked up stones to stone him for blasphemy, “....because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” (John 10:33). Clearly Jesus was claiming to be One with God; to be God, the Eternal, Everlasting One and this was clear to the Jews who wanted to stone him for that claim.
Also in the Gospel of John Jesus says, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58). Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him because they understood that he was claiming to be God by repeating God's words to Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 3:14). In saying “I AM” Jesus was saying, “I AM the One who is self-sustaining; I AM the One who spoke to Moses on the mountaintop; I AM the Creator God".
Josh McDowell writes,
“Buddha did not claim to be God; Moses never said that he was Yahweh; Mohammed did not identify himself as Allah; and nowhere will you find Zoroaster claiming to be Ahura Mazda. Yet Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, said that he who has seen Him (Jesus) has seen the Father (John 14:9).
The claims of Christ are many and varied. He said that He existed before Abraham (John 8:58), and that He was equal with the Father (John 5:17-18). Jesus claimed the ability to forgive sins (Mark 2:5–7), which the Bible teaches was something that God alone could do (Isaiah 43:25).
The New Testament equated Jesus as the creator of the universe (John 1:3), and that He is the one who holds everything together (Colossians 1:17). The apostle Paul says that God was manifest in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16, KJV), and John the evangelist says that “the Word was God” (John 1:1). The united testimony of Jesus and the writers of the New Testament is that He was more than mere man; He was/is God.”
In Matthew 16:15 Jesus asks, “...who do you say that I am?” This is the question that all of us will have to answer some day. Our response will determine our eternal destiny. Peter responded to this question by acclaiming, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew16:16). In the next verse Jesus calls Peter blessed because the God the Father has revealed this to him. Notice that Jesus did not correct Peter's acclamation, but rather reinforced it and by affirming Peter's statement declares his divinity.
Other religions emphasize teachings or a set of rules to follow to obtain perfection or to find truth, however, Jesus did more than say he knew the truth he said the he was the truth (John 14:6).
Jesus' claims to be God forces us to make a decision. Do we believe him or not? How do we respond?
C.S. Lewis addresses this question very well:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him[Jesus]: 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.”
Think about it: anyone who claims to be God is either crazy, evil, or who he says he is. Clearly Jesus teachings show us that he was not a madman and that he was not evil, so what are we left with? Jesus is who he said he is: God Almighty.
Evidence for Jesus' Divinity
Even if we believe Jesus' claim to be God, what proof do we have? Is there evidence that he was who he claimed to be? The Old Testament has over over 300 prophesies regarding the Messiah, of which Jesus fulfilled every one.
The odds of any one man in all of history fulfilling even only eight of the 60 major prophecies (and 270 ramifications) fulfilled by the life of Christ are astronomical. The probability that Jesus of Nazareth could have fulfilled even eight such prophecies would be only 1 in 1017. That's 1 in 100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000.
That many silver dollars would be enough to cover the face of the entire state of Texas two feet deep. The odds of 1 man fulfilling all only 8 of these prophesies would be like a blindfolded man able on his very first attempt, to pick up one specifically marked silver dollar out of 100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000.
And Jesus did many other things to confirm his claim to divinity.
Jesus' miracles and his fulfilled prophecy, are intended to convince us that he is the one whom he said he was (John 20:30- 31). The most conclusive evidence that Jesus gave for being the Son of God was his resurrection from the dead. No one, not Mohamed, Buddha or any other person has ever done done that. The ability to come back from the dead is the sign that validates his claim to be God himself and separates him from all other religious leaders and also from anyone else who has ever lived.
The evidence is overwhelming that Jesus did rise from the grave, and it is this fact that proves Jesus to be God.
The Bible is clear that Jesus was completely and totally both God and man. In Colossians 1:19-20 we read, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” and in the next chapter it reads, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, (Colossians 2:9). Clearly the Bible teaches that Jesus was both God and man.
Jesus is, was and always will be God.
Jesus, the Only Way to Heaven
Often Christians are criticized for their claim that Jesus is the only way to obtain salvation, but his words in the Bible were clear, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
If there were many ways to heaven Jesus' death on the cross was meaningless. There would be no reason for him to endure all that he endured for us because there would be “other ways”. If everyone went to heaven and all sins were forgiven, then his sacrificial death would have been nothing but an act of sadism on the part of God the Father.
If there were other ways to heaven Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was unanswered. Jesus cried out to the Father, “If there is any other way...” (if there is any other way for mankind to be redeemed) and the Father replied that there was not. Jesus submitted to the will of his Father by dying on the cross to reconcile you and I because of his great love for us. Jesus knew the Father's will was for him to die to reconcile us to God the Father and that was the only way.
If there were another way to heaven then Jesus death on the cross was unnecessary. Why send Jesus to suffer an agonizing death on the cross to pay for our sins if everyone automatically goes to heaven or if only really bad people go to hell? Claiming that there are other ways to heaven invalidates Jesus' perfect work on the cross on our behalf.
So if as the Bible says, Jesus was and is God, how do we respond? Answering this question is the most important decision you will ever make. If Jesus is God then we have a choice; believe him, accept his claim and follow him, acknowledging him as our Creator and Savior or reject the evidence, and deny him. I urge you, in the strongest possible manner; don't wait. Give him your heart right now. Say this prayer:
Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God and that you died so that I might be made right with God. I ask forgiveness of the sins I have committed against you and I turn away from my old life and turn to you. Jesus, be the Lord of my life. Rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to fill me so that I may live a life pleasing to you. In your Name I pray, Amen.