Defending Your Faith 101: Why Jesus?

“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 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.”  -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

 Who is Jesus?

This is the most important question asked by Jesus. How would we respond?

Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”   Mark 8:27-30

Is Jesus part of the Trinity?

Moses tells us:

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

Notice the Trinity: God in Hebrew = Elohim. The noun is plural, but when used with bara (created) it becomes a singular verb (God is one in being; God is three in person)

  1. God = the Father/Creator
  2. God = the Spirit/hovered over the waters
  3. God = the Word/spoke things into existence

Is Jesus the Word?

The Apostle John tells us:

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 (Logos) had significant meaning in the Greek language 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.

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. 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 1:10-14

Is Jesus God? 

The Apostle Paul tells us:

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. Colossians 2:9

Jesus was worshiped as God by those who knew Him:

  1. Matthew 2:10-12: The wise men worshiped Him at His birth
  2. Matthew 8:2: The leper worshiped Him at his healing
  3. Matthew 9:18-19: The synagogue ruler worshiped Him
  4. Matthew 14:32-33: The disciples worshiped Him in the boat
  5. Matthew 20:20-21: The mother of James and John worshiped Him
  6. John 9:35-38: The blind man worshiped Him at his healing
  7. Matthew 28:8-10: The women worshiped Him at the empty tomb

Listen to J. Warner Wallace, on the One Minute Apologist, explain the evidence:

What did Jesus claim? 

“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’?”  John 14:7-9

Note: John 14:28 is a passage often used by those who deny the Trinity or Jesus’ claim to be God: Here 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, Jesus is speaking of their roles in the Godhead. Just like we might say, “the President of the United States is greater than I am,” does not mean that the President is humanly greater but only greater in role or job duties. (Nabeel Qureshi uses this example in the presentation below)

Jesus demonstrated that He has the Nature of God:

  1. His Omniscience: (John 4:16-30) He is “all-knowing”
  2. His Omnipresence: (Matthew 28:20) He is “everywhere present”
  3. His Omnipotence: (John 11:38-44, Mark 6:48) He is “all-powerful”

Jesus willingly submitted Himself to the Father and took on humanness, this is called…

Kenosis:  The renunciation of the divine nature, at least in part, by Christ in the Incarnation. (Greek: κένωσις, kénōsis, lit. emptiness) the ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11 

Nabeel Quereshi gives a powerful presentation as to why we should believe that Jesus is God:

Importance of the term: “Son of Man”

Dr. 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.”

Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!”  Matthew 26:64-66

Jesus’ answer was a direct reference to the prophet Daniel:

“I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.  Daniel 7:13-14

Jesus’ life, words, and actions evidence His Deity throughout the Gospels:

  1. Mark 1:2-3: Messenger is preparing the way for “God” (also see Malachi 3:1)
  2. Mark 2:1-10: Forgives sins (only God can do that)
  3. Mark 2:27-28: Authority over the Sabbath (only God can have that)
  4. Mark 6:45-52: Authority over the creative order and the laws of nature as He walks on water (only the Creator-God can do that)
  5. Mark 14:60-62: Jesus’ use of I AM and His quote of Daniel 7:13 for Himself (This is what He was crucified for = blasphemy/claiming to be God)
  6. Matthew 5:18: Jesus prefaced many of His statements with authority as God would. (This resonated with the Jewish audience who knew the Old Testament Scriptures well and would recognize what Jesus was saying, not only as the Messiah but as God Himself)
  7. John 10:25-29: Jesus says that He and God are one (Claim to Deity and second person in the Trinity)
  8. John 11:1-46: Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead (Only God has power over life and death)

Example: The Healing of the Paralytic, Read Mark 2:1-12 (story also found in Matthew and Luke):

Jesus performed this very specific miracle that gave evidence of His Deity in two ways:

  1. Authority over the physical world by healing a paralyzed person
  2. Authority over the Spiritual world by forgiving sins

The point in this example: Only God could forgive sins and in order to prove that “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” Jesus heals the paralytic. Theologians and scholars 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.

One of the most convincing accounts of Jesus’ claim to Deity is found in the Gospel of John:

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, YHWH the great “I AM”!

Only God incarnate could make the kinds of claims Jesus did, do the kinds of miracles Jesus did, and only God’s Son could sit at the right hand of the Father as Jesus does.

Why is Jesus the only way? Because Jesus is only one who solved the problem of sin. This is the core issue: How do we deal with sin? Other religions don’t give the right answer. None of the leaders of any other religions—Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna, not any of them—died for your sins. They had sins of their own to pay for. Death is evidence of our sin. After all these years, with all our technology, the death rate is still 100%. But Jesus defeated death by rising from the dead. Death couldn’t hold Him in the grave. –Greg Koukl

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them was written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25

For a deeper treatment of this topic, watch Mike Licona, New Testament Scholar, Author, Apologist, and Professor at Huston Baptist, speak at the (Un)apologetic Conference in Texas:


Reflection:

  1. Many people today would claim, with pride, easy access into Heaven, Jesus’ home, based on their own good deeds. How would you respond to that statement?
  2. In your own words answer the question: Who is Jesus?
  3. Answer the skeptic who says: Jesus never claimed to be God.
  4. Prayer focus: Jesus

Join us next week as we begin to examine the evidence for the existence of God as the Creator of this great Universe!

Please continue to pray for God’s peace and comfort that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:4-7) for Nabeel Qureshi’s family, and the continued ministry of his wife Michelle. In God’s will and Jesus’ Name always we pray, Amen.

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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.

Teri Dugan

TeriDugan@truthfaithandreason.com

1 Peter 3:15

One Response to Defending Your Faith 101: Why Jesus?

  1. God humbles Himself to look upon the earth.
    Then He took our form to rescue us from darkness by His Light. He opened the door to redemption that only He could. Now He is our Shepherd to guide us along the path to eternity. We were made to know Him. The Holy Father draws us to His Son. The Son brings us to His Father. The proof of His work is His Peace that indwells us and the love that grows from our new hearts. Thank you.

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