WHO IS JESUS CHRIST?
Cults, false religions and agnostics have struggled with this question for centuries.
The Bible is, I believe, very clear about Who this Man is. However, what you believe about Him will have eternal consequences for your soul.
In each of the Gospel records, Jesus claimed to be God Almighty (Matt. 4:7), which entitled Him to be called the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28); Son of David (Luke 18:38); Lord and Master (John 13:13); and the I AM of Exodus 3:14 (John 8:58); with the arresting offices and guards - 600 of them - all falling backwards by His supernatural power (John 18:6.)
So we are left with two options. Either He is telling the truth about His deity or He is not. However, for the doubting Jews of Jesus' day, there was absolutely no confusion whatsoever about whether He meant it or not, for they immediately took up stones to throw at Him, with the clear intention of killing Him (John 10:31-33.) This was done to enforce the Mosaic Law of blasphemy (Lev. 24:16), something Jesus would have been guiltily of had He not been God manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16.)
In Matthew's Gospel, we read the following:
"Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" (16:13.)
Peter, with God's prompting, uttered the truth:
"Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
So was Peter incorrect when he put Jesus on par with the Father? Jesus never condemned him for it. Therefore, he must have been speaking the truth.
Such a personal declaration, as the above, speaks multitudes for us today; Christ must be exalted and worshiped as God Almighty (Rom. 9:5.)
Some people have suggested that Jesus never called Himself the Son of God but allowed others to address Him as such.
While it is true that He called Himself the Son of Man [a Messianic title] 82 times, He did, however, address Himself by His eternal name, the Son of God, on at least 10 occasions.
Please see Scriptural proof concerning Jesus' deity:
With the above verses proof enough of Jesus' role as the second Member of the Trinity, we should also highlight certain verses where Jesus claimed to be equal to God the Father: Jehovah (Latin) or Yahweh (Hebrew) Matt. 21:5; Mark 7:6, 7; Luke 20:18; John 4:26; 6:20; 35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12, 18, 24, 28, 58; 9:35-37; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25-26; 13:19; 14:6; 15:1, 5; 18:5,6,8 and 20:28.
One must also appreciate that the Apostles, all eyewitnesses to Jesus' death, burial and resurrection, wrote their Epistles, believing and affirming that Jesus is the Eternal and Mighty God in the flesh (Is. 9:6.)
Paul said that Jesus is our "God our Saviour" (Tit. 2:13.) Peter echoes this, with exactly the same words (2 Pet. 1:1) and so too, does the apostle John:
"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one" (1 John 5:7, 8.)
The Apostle Peter would prohibit people from worshiping him, even though he was an Apostle of the Lord Christ (Acts 10:25); also Paul (Acts 11:14 -15), and John, who after falling at the feet of an Angel (Rev. 1:17; 19:10; 22:8) was rebuked by his Angelic messenger, for worshiping God's creation, rather that the Creator Himself who is blessed for ever. Amen (Rom. 1:25.)
Therefore we return to our original question: who is Jesus Christ?
Paul the Apostle wrote the following:
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as LORD, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9.)
"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: THAT AT THE NAME OF JESUS every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every TONGUE SHOULD CONFESS THAT JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11.)
Please note this verse, taken from the Epistle to the Philippians, is a direct quote from Is. 45:23, and in Isaiah's passage, it is speaking about GOD. How amazing in the New Testament, this glory and worship now belongs to JESUS (Heb. 1:6-13.)
Jesus, as God Almighty, willingly became a man and forfeited His life for the sins of the whole world (Is. 49:6; 1 John 2:2.) No mortal man, a minor god or angel could ever attempt this impossible task, only God Incarnate (John 1:14.)
Jesus is the Way
The Bible clearly promotes the fact that three Members of the one Godhead have existed for all eternity: Gen. 1:1, 2; 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Ps. 2:7; Pro. 30:4; Is. 42:1; 48: 12-16; 49:6-13; 53:3-12; Zech.14: 3-9; Matt. 3:16,17; 28:19; John 1:1,2; 12:28; 17:5; Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 12:3-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Pet. 1:2; Jude 1:20; 1 John 5:7, and that they are all equal in deity and attributes: Ps. 110:5; Is. 9:6; Matt. 4:7; John 5:17-23; 10:30-38; 17:5; 17:22; Acts 2:36; 5:3, 4; Rom. 1:4; Col.1: 15-19; Heb. 1:8 1 John 5:20; and Rev. 1:18; 22:13.
Therefore the Bible is clear that Jesus is the Lord God: Joel 2:32; Romans 10:13; Isaiah 45:22, 23; Philippians 2:9; Psalm 24:7-10; 1 Corinthians 2:8; Isaiah 48:17; Acts 3:14; Isaiah 44:6; 48:12; Revelation 1:17; Isaiah 9:6, 7; John 1:1, 14; Heb 1:8; 1 John 5:20.
If Jesus is not God, then He cannot begin to offer us eternal salvation through belief in His name (John 1:12), which is what Justification means (Rom. 3:24.) Therefore, by His death on the cross, Jesus tasted death for all, so we would never have to stand guilty before a reprimanding God: He has paved the glorious way for all true believers to enter His Father's promised Kingdom. Jesus is the only Saviour of the World (Matt. 1:22), and only Christ's precious blood can save us from our own damning sins (1 Pet. 1:19.)
One much also conclude that if He wasn't who He said He was, then millions upon millions of people have perished and subsequently died in vain (1 Cor. 15:12-19.) He would be the biggest fraud and deceiver the world has ever known! Words could never articulate such tragedy and lose, for so many souls are forever damned!
Yet with overwhelming evidence to refute this catastrophic and exaggerated claim, the reader is left with that same old nagging question: who is Jesus Christ?
The Bible teaches that anyone who does not believe that Jesus is the Messiah/Christ makes God a liar (1 John 2:22.) The Bible states that if anybody rejects that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, the same is antichrist (1 John 4:3,4), and is therefore cursed due to ones wilful rejection and unbelief (Mark 15:16; 2 Thess. 2:10-12.)
The Bible teaches that God has ordained only one-way for all of mankind to be reconciled to Him, and that is solely through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone.
Can Jesus and additional evidence for Christianity be found outside of the New Testament?
The answer is absolutely yes and the amount of material is abundant!
"There is more evidence that Jesus lived, than Caesar crossed the Rubicon" (Dr. Norman Giesler.)
"It is rare for us to have more than one record of any person in the ancient world; to have four biographies [the Gospel's] written by contemporaries or almost contemporaries is unparalleled" (New Bible Commentary, pg. 898.)
It may also interest the reader that with much of antiquity dates for writings vary rather considerably.
Please see some of the following religions:
So let us examine what some of the impartial writers of the first century (all non-believers) had to say about this Carpenter from Nazareth, who arguably changed the world forever, and subsequently would never be the same again:
Josephus, a Jewish historian, writing around 93AD, The Antiquities, 18:63-64:
"About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feasts and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many Greeks. He was the Christ. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvellous things about him. And the tribe of Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared."
Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman historian, wrote in 115AD, Annals, 15:44:
"Nero fastened the guilt and afflicted the most exquisite torture on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the Populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty: then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convinced, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind."
Pliny the Younger, Governor of Northern Turkey, wrote, Letters, 10.96, in 111AD:
"I have asked them if they are Christians, and if they admit it, I repeat the question a second and third time, with a warning of the punishment awaiting them. If they persist, I order them to be lead away for execution; for, whatever the nature of their admission, I am convinced that their stubbornness and unshakable obstinacy ought not to go unpunished. They also declared that the sum total of their guilt or error amounted to no more than this: they had met regularly before dawn on a fixed day to chant verses alternately amongst themselves in honour of Christ as if to a god, and also to bind themselves by oath, not for any criminal purpose, but to abstain from theft, robbery, and adultery this made me decide it was all the more necessary to extract the truth by torture from two slave-women, whom they called deaconesses. I found nothing but a degenerate sort of cult carried to extravagant lengths."
In Lee Strobel's book, The Case For Christ, he quotes Dr. Yamauchi, who was asked what information we have of Jesus, outside of the New Testament, using the above quotes:
"We would know that first, Jesus was a Jewish teacher; second, many people believed that he performed healings and exorcisms; third, some people believed he was the Messiah; fourth, he was rejected by the Jewish leaders; fifth, he was crucified under Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius; sixth, despite this shameful death, his followers, who believed that he was still alive, spread beyond Palestine so that there were multitudes of them in Rome by AD 64; and seventh, all kinds of people from the cities and countryside men and women, slave and free worshiped him as God" (pg. 87.)
Two pages later, Strobel sums up for the reader what information we have, when consulting Josephus, the Roman historians and officials, the Jewish writings, the letters of Paul and of the apostolic fathers and you've got persuasive evidence that corroborates all the essentials found in the biographies of Jesus (pg. 89.)
We should also mention, Julius Africanus from the second century, who quoted the first century historian, Thallus, concerning what was written by him, in regards to the moment when the whole earth, in the afternoon, went pitch black (please see Matt. 27:45):
[It was] "an eclipse of the sun."
Dr. Paul Maier in his book, Pontius Pilate who quotes Greek author Phlegon, from 137AD, also affirms that this supernatural event occurred in the 202nd Olympiad 33AD:
"The greatest eclipse of the sun. It became night in the sixth hour of the day [Matt. 27:45 tells us this was from noon - 3:00 pm] so that the stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake [see Matt. 27:51] in Bithynia, and many things overturned in Nicaea."
We can also turn to another independent writer, Suetonius [Claudius 18], who not only affirms that in 45-46AD, a severe famine gripped beyond the region of Palestine, which is recorded in Acts of the Apostles 11:28, but also confirms what Acts 18:2 tells us, how the Roman Emperor Claudius expelled all the Jews from Rome, probably because of the ongoing and sharp contentions about the Messiahship of Jesus (Life of Claudius, 25:2.)
"We have better historical documentation for Jesus than for the founder of any other ancient religion" (Dr. Edwin Yamauchi.)
"Sources from outside the Bible corroborate that many people believed Jesus performed healings and was the Messiah, that he was crucified, and that despite this shameful death, his followers, who believed he was still alive, worshiped him as God. One expert documented thirty-nine ancient sources that corroborate more than one hundred facts concerning Jesus' life, teachings, crucifixion, and resurrection. Seven secular sources and several early creeds concern the deity of Jesus, a doctrine definitely present in the earliest church, according to scholar Gary Habermas" (Strobel, pg. 260.)
How does Jesus compare with other gods?
It is my genuine belief that when one takes the time to compare the words, life and example of the Lord Jesus Christ with that of other religious leaders, than it is soon apparent that there really is no comparison: Jesus Christ stands truly alone; He is in a league of His own (John 7:46.)
So, may I share with the reader what other religions teach and say about their leaders?
Therefore, it is my conclusion, that as none of the above worldwide religions can claim perfection for their leaders, than Jesus Christ once again stands out as being completely superior to the above, or any other religion in the world for that matter.
Please see the following verses that not only affirm His perfection but also His sinlessness:
May I quote from Erwin Lutzer's book, Christ among other gods, who not only highlights some very interesting secular leaders, and the audacious statements that they made, but also clearly presents the sufficiency and superiority of Christ:
Lenin told the Russian people that there would be bread for every household.
Yet he never had the nerve to say, 'I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he would believes in Me shall never thirst' (John 6:35.)
Hitler believed Germany would experience a thousand year reign, but it only lasted 12 years.
Despite these outlandish claims he never said, 'He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him' (John 3:36.)
Buddha declared enlightenment.
Yet he died seeking more light. He never said, 'I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life' (John 8:12.)
Muhammad believed he was a descendent of Ishmael, Abraham's illegitimate son.
But he did not say, 'Before Abraham was born, I AM' (John 8:58.)
Freud taught that psychotherapy would heal people from emotional and spiritual problems.
But he could not say, 'Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful' (John 14:27.)
New Age gurus teach all with be reincarnated [whether they want to or not.]
Yet not one of them can say: 'I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on Me, thought he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die' (John 11:25.)
So I return to my initial question: Who is Jesus Christ?
And please remember, that as Jesus very clearly believed in absolute truth [that being Himself], is it quite fair and logical to then say that there is absolute falsehood! And with the laws of logic being transcultural, i.e. that all religions of the world can be wrong; they cannot all be right, you are therefore, asked to choose which one to follow and submit to? It may either be a perfect Man who never sinned, or on the other hand, an ordinary man who was just trying to better himself?
Lutzer: "Other religions take good men and try to make them better, but only Christ takes dead men and makes them alive."
So please remember, you are allowed to have your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own private truth.