The Bible shows that only the innocent can make up for guilty peoples’ wrongs, and since God alone is perfect, the only way for anyone to be forgiven is if God became human and bore their sins (see https://clay.at-tps.org/2021/10/11/jesus-the-only-way/). This is exactly what Jesus claimed to have come to do (Mark 10:45). Thus, the question of staggering importance is this: is Jesus really God, humanity’s only hope?
Jesus himself claimed to be God. In John 10:30, he proclaimed, “I and the Father are one,” (English Standard Version). Upon hearing this, some Jews prepared to stone Christ for claiming to be God (10:33, ESV). Jesus did not back down, but explained that if he was “doing the works of my Father,” his claim was validated (John 10:37-38, ESV). Jesus forgave the sins of people he had never met before. In claiming to forgive these people, Christ was asserting they had sinned against him. God alone is wronged by all sins. So Jesus, by forgiving those who had never met him, claimed to be God. Perhaps this is why the scribes silently accused Jesus of blasphemy when he forgave a paralytic (Mark 2:5-7). When Jesus was on trial, “the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven,’” (Mark 14:61-62, ESV). This claim corresponds to Daniel’s vision of the Messiah who “with the clouds of heaven… came one like a son of man,” who would reign forever (Daniel 7:13-14, ESV). Josh McDowell explains the significance of this reference by saying, “Jesus was claiming to be a divine, heavenly figure who would sit at God’s right hand, exercising supreme authority over all people for eternity,” (21-22). No one but God could have that authority. Accurately recognizing Jesus claim of deity, the high priest said that Jesus had condemned himself with his own blasphemy (Mark 14:64). After Jesus resurrected, Thomas believed in him, calling Jesus “my Lord and my God,” (John 20:28, ESV). Jesus responds, “‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,’” (John 20:29). Clearly, Jesus claimed to be God, and wanted people to believe him.
The only remaining question, is whether or not Jesus was being truthful. In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis argues that we have only three choices in how to label Jesus. He was either a liar, a lunatic, or he was exactly who he claimed to be- God. If he was a lunatic, his claims have no consequence for anyone. If he was a liar, he was a very evil one for giving so many people false hope; Lewis says, “he would be the Devil of Hell,” (McDowell 30; Lewis 52) Yet if he was God, humanity has hope for restoration with God and salvation from his just wrath (John 14:6; Romans 5:9). Given that Jesus
“always returned the wisest answer to tempting questions, … calmly and deliberately predicted his death on the cross, his resurrection on the third day, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the founding of his Church- – predictions have been literally fulfilled,”
his being insane seems out of the question (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, qtd. in McDowell 31-32). The fact that his prophecies came true proves his legitimacy. The Gospels are full of stories of Jesus performing miracles, and that power had to come from a supernatural power. Since Jesus cast out demons, it is impossible that his power came from a demonic source (Matthew 12: 25-28). Interestingly, Jesus told people that if he wasn’t “doing the works of my Father,” not to believe him (John 10:37, ESV). The Bible, which is historically reliable, gives accounts of Jesus raising people from the dead, and healing the sick and blind (see https://clay.at-tps.org/2021/09/13/can-the-bible-be-trusted/). Nicodemus recognized, “ ‘no one can do these signs unless God is with him,’”(John 3:2, ESV). Jesus’ power was from God. Hence, he must have been God, for God, to whom “lying lips are an abomination” would not have given Jesus such power if he was a liar (Proverbs 12:22, ESV).
In the end, it seems impossible for Jesus to have been a lunatic. His divine power vouches for his honesty. We must take Jesus at his word. He said he came “to give his life as a ransom for many,” (Mark 10:45, ESV). “All have sinned” and “the wages of sin is death,” but Jesus, as a perfect man, could take on people’s death wages for them (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23, ESV). That way, even though a believer of Jesus may die physically, their soul will live on with God (John 11:25-26, ESV). As God, Jesus could suffer the punishment of our sins and bring us peace with God (Isaiah 53:5). “For in him the all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things… making peace by the blood of his cross,” (Colossians 1:19, ESV).
The Bible. English Standard Version, 2011 ed., Crossway, 2001.
Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. HarperCollins, 1952.
McDowell, Josh and Sean. More Than a Carpenter. Tyndale, 1977.
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