How Do you answer the Question about Who Jesus is? Is He God? A good man, philosopher, avatar, or legend?
I grew up in church and a Christian home and didn’t have any doubt that Jesus was God. I didn’t appreciate the complexity of all that until I studied theology and found it’s really pretty intricate, but the basic idea of Christianity is: Jesus is God!
Years ago I read the biography of one of my favorite Christian song-writers, Keith Green, You may have heard some of his and his wife, Melody's, songs: There is a Redeemer, Oh Lord You’re Beautiful, and Rushing Wind are just a few. As an adult he gave his life to Jesus Christ, was attending church, writing songs, and doing concerts. One day he was visiting with the head of a mission agency, when this man said something about the deity of Christ. Keith's response was like, “The what?” The Deity of Christ, that Christ is God, the man said. Keith Green was amazed. He said something like “Jesus is God? Really?” And for a good while the mission leader explained it all to him.
Now this story always bothered me because I believe the Deity of Christ is crucial to the gospel, and it is! But here’s Keith Green not knowing about it After he was saved! So I figured he must have been saved without that information! He believed what he knew about Jesus, and when he learned about this, he believed it too!
But anyone who believes the opposite, that Jesus is Not God – is not believing in or talking about the Jesus of the Bible!
How do we answer this question? And how about other questions like, Did Jesus really exist? Does He ever claim to be God? Can a man be a God? (You see there are many potential questions here.)
So, Did Jesus Exist? First let me say, I can’t even prove Abraham Lincoln existed... scientifically! I'm sure you believe he did. We don’t doubt it, right? But if you said to me “Prove it”; how could I? The best I can do is historical evidence!
And let me add, historical evidence can be Pretty Convincing! The evidence that Jesus existed is historical writings. We have ancient texts of people, not Christians, who refer to Jesus. They also refer to Christians worshiping Jesus in the 1st Century, soon after Christ's resurrection. Then there are 4 well-known books by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John! There is no reason to believe these are works of fiction. There is good evidence they all knew Jesus, or in Luke’s case, knew people who knew Jesus. So if anybody is seriously questioning whether Jesus existed, they are not dealing in reality.
First we appeal to Historical evidence! Especially the evidence from scripture. We must ask those who ask this question to consider what scripture says about Him, before they make up their minds.
1. True, the Bible never records Jesus saying “I Am God.” That’d sure clear it up. But it does record him saying, “I Am.”
Now why is that significant? Listen to Jn 8:58 & 59 Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
Why do you suppose they tried to stone him? Listen to Jn 10:24 the Jews gathered around saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you’re the Christ, tell us plainly." 25 Jesus answered, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one." 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, "I’ve shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?" 33 The Jews said, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God."
These aren’t the only times that Jesus told people he was God. But there are other ways He communicated it! Like His Actions!
2. Mark 2:5 Remember when some men brought a paralyzed man to see Jesus? "...when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." 6 Now some of the scribes sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 "Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" 8 And immediately Jesus, per-ceiving in his spirit that they questioned within themselves, said, "Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say…'Your sins are forgiven,' or, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk'? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins —he said to the paralytic—11 "…rise, pick up your bed, and go home." Jesus never disputed that God alone can forgive sins! So what does that say about who He believed He was?
A little farther down in Mark 2 we read, 23 "One Sabbath he was going through the grain fields, and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying, 'Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?' 25 And he said to them, 'Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, … 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?' 27 And he said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.' Who is Lord over the Sabbath? Well first there is God. And then there is the Son of Man. Who are they to conclude the “Son of Man” is, but another name for someone who is God? Especially since they know the Old Testament and what the prophet Daniel had to say about the “Son of Man.” Dan 7:13 "I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, …And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom …shall not be destroyed." So, by his claims and by his actions he left no doubt in the minds of the Jews, He claimed equality with God. And not some lesser God, but “One with the Father.”
I could show you more evidence: How Jesus received worship that was due God, how the apostles declared He was God, but…
Secondly there is another evidence besides the "Historical" kind. This is one is very subjective but no less real. It may not convince you, but it matters to each believer. Jesus has given to me, and everyone who has trusted in Christ for Salvation, two things: repentance and faith. He didn’t help us ‘turn over a new leaf’ or ‘give up drinkin’ and cussin’. That’s not Godly repentance, anyone can do those things. Godly repentance is turning from sin but it’s also turning from our own efforts, our own understanding and our own will, to a life focused on Jesus Christ and His Will for us. And, He gives us faith. The very ability to trust in Jesus Christ’s forgiveness for our sins, the work he did on the cross, and the fact that He rose from the dead. This Faith is the Evidence for everyone who believes! (Heb 11:1 Faith is the evidence of things unseen...)
But there is another Question that should be asked along with “Is Jesus Really God?” And that is – Why Does it Matter?
Why Does it Matter that Jesus was God?
Mainly because no mere man could die for our sins! Why?
Because no mere man could live a life without sin! Why?
Because All Have Sinned and our hearts are deceitfully wicked!
So only the God-man, Jesus Christ could do this.
And don’t think that Jesus is Half-man and half God- that’s not Jesus at all! Jesus is Fully God and Fully man! He isn’t partially God – Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; Col 2:9 For in him [Jesus] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
There are people who call themselves Christians today who do not believe in the Deity of Jesus Christ. But it is His True Godhood that explains all of these things:
His sinless life,
His receiving of worship,
His claims to equality with God,
His forgiving sins,
His proclaiming himself as Son of Man And Son of God,
His ability to heal the blind and raise the dead,
His use of the Divine name “I AM” and
His resurrection from the dead.
If you are going to accept the Bible record of Jesus then you can only conclude Three Things:
If he lied about who he was, he is worse than the devil himself! WHo says they are the God who saves, if they are not? Only a very evil person.
If he is a lunatic, C.S. Lewis said, then he is on the same level "with the man who says he is a poached egg.”
But if He is who He says He is, He is Lord!
Liar, Lunatic or Lord!
Now you might say it’s none of the above and reject the gospel story of Jesus and reject the scriptures. You might say Jesus is just a Legend. But then you might want to explain why so many 1st century followers of "A Legend" would die horrible deaths for a legend. And that brings you back to the evidence of Faith.
These 1st century martyrs had Faith in the Man they knew to be the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world! Have you trusted in the Son of God – Jesus?
Can you give an answer to anyone who asks for the hope and faith you have in you