The Life of Jesus Christ.
December 1, 2006 10:24pm CST
His Story Begins It soon became apparent, however, that He was making shocking and startling statements about Himself. He began to identify Himself as far more than a remarkable teacher or prophet. He began to say clearly that He was God. He made His identity the focal point of His teaching. The all-important question He put to those who followed Him was, "Who do you say I am?" When Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:15-16), Jesus was not shocked, nor did He rebuke Peter. On the contrary, He commended him! He made the claim explicitly, and His hearers got the full impact of His words. We are told, "The Jews tried all the harder to kill Him; not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God" (John 5:18). On another occasion he said, "I and My Father are One." Immediately the Jews wanted to stone Him. He asked them for which good work they wanted to kill Him. They replied, "We are not stoning You for any of these but for blasphemy, because You, a mere man, claim to be God" (John 10:33). Jesus clearly claimed attributes which only God has. When a paralyzed man was let down through the roof wanting to be healed by Him, He said, "Son, your sins are forgiven you." This caused a great to-do among the religious leaders, who said in their hearts, "Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"At the critical moment when His life was at stake, the high priest put the question to Him directly: "Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?""I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked. "You have heard the blasphemy" (Mark 14:61-64). So close was His connection with God that He equated a person's attitude to Himself with the person's attitude toward God. Thus, to know Him was to know God (John 8:19; 14:7). To see Him was to see God (12:45; 14:9). To believe in Him was to believe in God (12:44; 14:1). To receive Him was to receive God (Mark 9:37). To hate Him was to hate God (John 15:23). And to honor Him was to honor God (5:23). Jesus Christ - the Son of God?As we face the claims of Christ, there are only four possibilities. He was either a liar, a lunatic, a legend, or the Truth. If we say He is not the Truth, we are automatically affirming one of the other three alternatives, whether we realize it or not. (1) One possibility is that Jesus lied when He said He was God--that He knew He was not God, but deliberately deceived His hearers to lend authority to His teaching. Few, if any, seriously hold this position. Even those who deny His deity affirm that He was a great moral teacher. They fail to realize those two statements are a contradiction. Jesus could hardly be a great moral teacher if, on the most crucial point of His teaching--His identity--He was a deliberate liar. (2) A kinder, though no less shocking possibility, is that He was sincere but self-deceived. We have a name for a person today who thinks he is God. That name is lunatic, and it certainly would apply to Christ if He were deceived on this all-important issue. But as we look at the life of Christ, we see no evidence of the abnormality and imbalance we find in a deranged person. Rather, we find the greatest composure under pressure. (3) The third alternative is that all of the talk about His claiming to be God is a legend--that what actually happened was that His enthusiastic followers, in the third and fourth centuries, put words into His mouth He would have been shocked to hear. Were He to return, He would immediately repudiate them. The legend theory has been significantly refuted by many discoveries of modern archeology. These have conclusively shown that the four biographies of Christ were written within the lifetime of contemporaries of Christ. Some time ago Dr. William F. Albright, world-famous archaeologist now retired from Johns Hopkins University, said that there was no reason to believe that any of the Gospels were written later than A.D. 70. For a mere legend about Christ, in the form of the Gospel, to have gained the circulation and to have had the impact it had, without one shred of basis in fact, is incredible. For this to have happened would be as fantastic as for someone in our own time to write a biography of the late John F. Kennedy and in it say he claimed to be God, to forgive people's sins, and to have risen from the dead. Such a story is so wild it would never get off the ground because there are still too many people around who knew Kennedy. The legend theory does not hold water in the light of the early date of the Gospel manuscripts. (4) The only other alternative is that Jesus spoke the truth. From one point of view, however, claims don't mean much. Talk is cheap. Anyone can make claims. There have been others who have claimed to be God. I could claim to be God, and you could claim to be God, but the question all of us must answer is, "What credentials do we bring to substantiate our claim?" In my case it wouldn't take you five minutes to disprove my claim. It probably wouldn't take too much more to dispose of yours. But when it comes to Jesus of Nazareth, it's not so simple. He had the credentials to back up His claim. He said, "Even though you do not believe Me, believe the evidence of the miracles, that you may learn and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father" (John 10:38). Evidence from the Life of Jesus First, His moral character coincided with His claims. Many asylum inmates claim to be celebrities or deities. But their claims are belied by their characters. Not so with Christ. He is unique--as unique as God. Jesus Christ was sinless. The caliber of His life was such that He was able to challenge His enemies with the question, "Can any of you prove Me guilty of sin?" (John 8:46). He was met by silence, even though He addressed those who would have liked to point out a flaw in His character. We read of the temptations of Jesus, but we never hear of a confession of sin on His part. He never asked for forgiveness, though He told His followers to do so. This lack of any sense of moral failure on Jesus' part is astonishing in view of the fact that it is completely contrary to the experience of the saints and mystics in all ages. The closer men and women draw to God, the more overwhelmed they are with their own failure, corruption, and shortcomings. The closer one is to a shining light, the more he realizes his need of a bath. This is true also, in the moral realm, for ordinary mortals. It is also striking that John, Paul, and Peter, all of whom were trained from earliest childhood to believe in the universality of sin, all spoke of the sinlessness of Christ: "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth" (1 Peter 2:22). Pilate, no friend of Jesus, said, "What evil has He done?" He implicitly recognized Christ's innocence. And the Roman centurion who witnessed the death of Christ said, "Surely He was the Son of God" (Matthew. 27:54). Second, Christ demonstrated a power over natural forces which could belong only to God, the Author of these forces. He stilled a raging storm of wind and waves on the Sea of Galilee. In doing this He provoked from those in the boat the awestruck question, "Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey Him!" (Mark 4:41) He turned water into wine, fed 5,000 people from five loaves and two fish, gave a grieving widow back her only son by raising him from the dead, and brought to life the dead daughter of a shattered father. To an old friend He said, "Lazarus, come forth!" and dramatically raised him from the dead. It is most significant that His enemies did not deny this miracle. Rather, they tried to kill Him. "If we let Him go on like this," they said, "everyone will believe in Him" (John11:48). Third, Jesus demonstrated the Creator's power over sickness and disease. He made the lame to walk, the dumb to speak, and the blind to see. Some of His healings were of congenital problems not susceptible to psychosomatic cure. The most outstanding was that of the blind man whose case is recorded in John 9. Though the man couldn't answer his speculative questioners, his experience was enough to convince him. "One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" he declared. He was astounded that his friends didn't recognize this Healer as the Son of God. "Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind," he said (John 9:25, 32). To him the evidence was obvious. Fourth, Jesus' supreme credential to authenticate His claim to deity was His resurrection from the dead. Five times in the course of His life He predicted He would die. He also predicted how He would die and that three days later He would rise from the dead and appear to His disciples. Surely this was the great test. It was a claim that was easy to verify. It either happened or it didn't. Both friends and enemies of the Christian faith have recognized the resurrection of Christ to be the foundation stone of the faith. Paul, the great apostle, wrote, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith" (1 Corinthians 15:14). Paul rested his whole case on the bodily resurrection of Christ. Either He did or He didn't rise from the dead. If He did, it was the most sensational event in all of history. If Jesus is the Son of God... If Christ rose, we know with certainty that God exists, what He is like, and how we may know Him in personal experience. The universe takes on meaning and purpose, and it is possible to experience the living God in contemporary life. On the other hand, if Christ did not rise from the dead, Christianity is an interesting museum piece--nothing more. It has no objective validity or reality. Though it is a nice wishful tho
2 Dec 06
your post is impressive,though you didn't actually comment on it with your own words,maybe i mistake now and you actually wrote it ..anyways,my point is another..people believe what they choose to believe,but that doesn't give them the right to attack those who built their lifes aupon their religion..i am a christian and i choose to believe in jesus..he did no harm,and even if he deliberately lied about his origins,we all use small lies sometimes to make ourselves heard..he only tried to make people understand that only by kindness and forgivness,they will live a happy life...he tried to prevent greed and envy...what is wrong in that?why don't we acuse so much those who started wars and we acuse the only person that chose to be sacrificed and even then his words were'father,forgive them,as they don't know what they are doing'...as for his claiming to be the son of god,aren't we all sons of god?..