This sacrifice Jesus made has to mean something doesn’t it, or did He do it for nothing because many people today would pridefully claim easy access into Heaven, His home, for their own good deeds? All you have to do is be a “good person” they will say. Or, did He do it for those of us that know we will always fall short of really being “good people” in light of the perfection of a Holy Creator God?
We can’t have it both ways. Either we make sure we live this life as a “good person,” (never making any mistakes) to get into His eternal home, or knowing that we are hopeless sinners we throw ourselves on His mercy and accept the free gift of grace through His sacrifice. If you stand on the first choice my questions to you are these: How good is good enough, where is the line? How many good deeds do we need to out do our bad ones? If we can get to Heaven just being a “good person” then what did Jesus’ death mean?
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. -Ephesian 2:4-10
If Jesus is who He claimed to be and came to earth with a sole purpose of dying in our place for the wrongs we will do in our life then we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to investigate this. Last week we looked at three ways the four Gospel narratives about Jesus are distinct eyewitness accounts. This week we will look at some of the Biblical evidence from these historical narratives and what Jesus said about Himself.
If you truly study the Old Testament in its context you will find that in every book, in every story, and in every event there is a promise being worked out by God. There is a foreshadowing of what Jesus would ultimately do, and there are prophecies like no other faith that come true in only Him. So what do we do with that?
The Jewish faith knew this was true but they missed it and are still waiting for Him. The early disciples of Jesus knew it was true because they saw the evidence and worshipped Him as YHWY, God. And, the Christian Church for two-thousand years has known it was true and they still preach it.
Let’s look at what the Bible teaches and what Jesus said about himself in these historical documents (and if you still don’t believe that the New Testament Gospels are historical documents then stay tuned to upcoming posts):
The Biblical Evidence:
Who is Jesus?
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Genesis 1:1-3
God in the Hebrew here = Elohim. The noun is plural; the verb is singular. Here we see the Trinity from the very beginning:
God = the Father/Creator
God = the Spirit/hovered over the waters
God = the Word/spoke things into existence
Is Jesus the Word?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John 1:1-5
In John’s Gospel the Word or Logos had significant meaning in the Greek and for the culture at the time. When applied to the universe it meant the rational principle that governs all things and the means for all things that were created. John made it a point for them to know that Jesus was the Word.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Is Jesus God?
Skeptics will say that Jesus never claimed to be God, or that Jesus said that God was greater than he. Often they will cite the passage in John 14:28 where Jesus says, “You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” But if we look at the context of the whole passage Jesus is speaking of their roles in the Godhead. Just like the way we might say, “My boss is greater than I am,” does not mean that your boss is humanly greater but only greater in role or job duties. Nabeel Qureshi does an excellent job of explaining this (watch his presentation below).
Both John and Paul write to let us know exactly who Jesus is as God incarnate, second person in the Trinity:
He was in the world and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believe his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:10-13
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. Colossians 2:9
What did Jesus claim?
In all of the Gospels we find the writers giving evidence from Jesus Himself doing things that only God could do. This evidence includes purposeful fufillment of Old Testament prophecy; healing many individuals from obvious diseases and deformities; forgiveness of sins; demonstration of power over nature and the laws of science; and power over death.
Jesus often referred to himself as “the Son of Man.” What does that title really mean? William Lane Craig, Philosopher and New Testament Scholar explains, “’Son of Man’ is often thought to indicate the humanity of Jesus, just as the reflex expression ‘Son of God’ indicates his divinity. In fact, just the opposite is true. The Son of Man was a divine figure in the Old Testament book of Daniel who would come at the end of the world to judge mankind and rule forever. Thus, the claim to be the Son of Man would be in effect a claim to divinity.” (See Daniel 7:13-14)
In John 14:6-9 Jesus answers his skeptical disciples by saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
Jesus slowly reveals His identity throughout His ministry and John reports on some specific miracles that only the God of the Universe could have the power to do:
1. Jesus turns water into wine—power over the chemistry of nature
2. Numerous physical healings—power over the nature of disease
3. Walking on water and multiplying the food supply to feed thousands—power over the laws of nature
4. Forgiving of sins—power only God has
5. Casting out demons—power over principalities in the spiritual world
6. Raising people who had died: Jairus’ daughter, Widow’s son at Nain, and Lazarus who had been in the grave four days—power over physical death
7. Dying and resurrecting himself—power over the permanency of death and spiritual death resulting in a glorified body fit for life eternal, this includes the crushing of Satan’s power attained at the Fall.
Theologians have said that Jesus’ distinguishing characteristic is how he did miracles on his own authority and not in the name of someone else as others did. He also tells his disciples to do the same, and to do it in his name. He does not have to ask permission for what he does, and for that there is just no comparison.
Finally, the Apostle John in his Gospel provides evidence that Jesus claimed to be God by revealing a series of “I AM” statements. The “I AM” statements refer to God’s identity, YHWH, as given to Moses and would resonate with Jews who knew their history. Each “I AM” can be cross-referenced in the Old Testament with significance to the identity of Messiah, God incarnate:
- “I am the bread of life” (chapter 6)
- “I am the light of the world” (chapter 8-9)
- “I am the door” (chapter 10)
- “I am the good shepherd” (chapter 10)
- “I am the resurrection and the life” (chapter 11)
- “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (chapter 14)
- “I am the true vine” (chapter 15)
The most convincing account of Jesus’ claim is found in John chapter 8: Jesus said to them: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” (8:58). This is what the Jewish Sanhedrin convicted Jesus on: Blasphemy—Jesus claimed to be God.
Who is Jesus? Jesus is God, and He proved it through His Word and His Deeds! He is my Savior and the owner of my eternal home!
For further reading I highly recommend: “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis.
Watch Nabeel Qureshi, Christian Apologist and former Muslim, answer this all important question:
Join us next week as we further explore the Bible and A Case for Christ.
You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in! Join us as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.
Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologists along with some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential in your Christian growth.
Please let me know what you think: Give feedback, ask questions or send concerns in the comment section of the blog.
1 Peter 3:15