Jesus is a controversial historical figure, not so much because of what he taught, but who he claimed to be: God in the flesh. Those who knew him best believed him, and risked life and limb to echo that claim. Is Jesus really God? Let’s consider the case for Jesus’ deity.
- Jesus claimed to be Yahweh. “Yahweh” is the name revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14 when God said, “I am who I am.” In revealing himself this way, God is saying several things to us. He is claiming self-existence—to be the eternal, uncreated one. The one who has always existed. He is claiming to be all that we need him to be. Jesus claimed to be this same Yahweh in many other verses: John 8:51-58, Isaiah 42:8 and 41:4, John 17:5, and Revelation 1:17-18, to name a few.
- Jesus claimed the prerogatives of God. For example, in Mark 2:8-12, Jesus said to a paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Jesus claimed that, as God, He was given authority on earth to forgive sins. Another prerogative Jesus claimed for himself which, according to the Old Testament was God’s sole domain, was the power to raise and to judge the dead (John 5:21-23).
III. Jesus received worship as God. The Old Testament forbids the worship of anyone other than God. In fact, two of the ten commandments are concerned with this issue (Exodus 20:1-5). But on several occasions, Jesus gladly received worship. For example, in John chapter 9, Jesus received worship from a man whose sight he had restored. In Matthew 14, Peter and some other disciples worshipped him after seeing him walk on the lake. In neither of these cases did Jesus offer a word of rebuke; instead, he gladly received their worship.
- Jesus’ disciples acknowledged his claim to be God. After Jesus’ resurrection, he appeared to Thomas and other disciples, and they believed He was God (John 20:28). He appeared to the Apostle Paul in a vision, and Paul believed He was God (Titus 2:13). The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews says that Jesus is God (Hebrews 1:3, 1:8). There is no doubt that the early church understood and accepted Jesus’ claims of deity. And in response, they trusted him as Savior and worshipped him as Lord. That is the only logical response. This raises a question: how are you going to respond him? If Jesus is who he claimed to be, and these statements are true, then both our present and eternal happiness are tied to our response to him. He invites us to come to him in faith, to receive an abundant and eternal life.
- Jesus is either Lord, liar or lunatic…You must decide. In a famous quote, C.S. Lewis essentially states that Jesus is either Lord, a liar, or a lunatic. Let’s consider each in turn (see diagram on page 1):
He is a liar. In other words, Jesus claimed to be God, but knew that he wasn’t. In which case he wouldn’t be a good man, he’d be the worst kind of hypocrite, because he taught His disciples that they should always tell the truth, and yet on the most important point, his very identity, he had lied. But if Jesus was a liar, and therefore an evil, foolish man, how can we explain the fact that he left us with the most profound moral instruction and example the world has ever known?
He is a lunatic. If Jesus wasn’t a liar, perhaps he was a lunatic. In other words, he actually thought he was God, but wasn’t. But as you read the gospel accounts, there is no hint of imbalance in his personality. He seemed to be in control of every situation. There is a winsomeness and wisdom in his teachings that you would not expect from a mad man. He had a deep and winning love, and a passionate compassion. He was both tough and tender, and in every situation seemed to know which was demanded.
Add to these qualities the circumstances surrounding his birth, the miracles he performed, and his resurrection from the dead, and the portrait that emerges is neither liar nor lunatic. No, the evidence points to the fact that He is Lord. And he demands a response from each of us (John 11:25-26). What will you do with Jesus? Will you trust him as your savior? Will you worship him as Lord?
Application / Challenge
- If you know that you are not rightly-related to God (or suspect that you are not), place your trust in Jesus Christ. If you would like to know God personally, contact us here. Scroll down to the Ministry Information Request section and mark the first or second checkbox. We look forward to helping!