Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Did Jesus claim to be God?
Jesus Christ is arguably the most famous historical figure in all of the world. We use a reference to him (B.C.- before Christ) in order to track the years of history itself! There are many opinions among different religions and groups of people as to who Jesus was. The Muslims believe he was one of many prophets, the Orthodox Jews believe that he was a good teacher, and most people in the secular world believe that he was simply an important religious leader like any other person who is credited with founding a major world religion. But who did Jesus say He was?
Throughout the New Testament we find multiple places where Jesus testified about Himself. One of the
clearest examples of Jesus claiming to be God is found in John 10:30-33 where Jesus says, "I and the Father are one." And the the passage goes on to elaborate specifically on the meaning of Jesus statement saying, "The Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?" The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God." So here we can see clearly that Jesus, in saying the He and the Father are "One" was claiming absolute divinity, and doing so publicly for all to hear.
Another famous instance in which Jesus claimed to be God can be found in John 8:58 where is says, "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.'" In order to uncover what Jesus was indicating by assigning the "I am" title to Himself, let us go to Exodus 3:14 and take a look at what this title actually signifies, "And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM'; and He said, Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’" So we can see that in order for Jesus to assign the title "I am" to Himself is to actually equate Himself with the exact same God who spoke to Moses through the burning bush. This passage clearly documents a direct claim to divinity by Jesus Himself.
There are at least 18 other places in the New Testament where Jesus' divinity is affirmed. The most important authenticating proof which actually confirms to all people that Jesus is who He claimed to be is his bodily resurrection from the dead. This is an event that over 500 witnesses and 13 apostles testified to under the threat of death during the time of Christ. In fact, many of these people are recorded to have died a martyrs death for this very thing. 12 out of the 13 early church apostles (the thirteenth apostle is Paul) died of martyrdom except for the apostle John. Let's take a look at the Biblical documentation of the witnesses of Christ's resurrection:
1 Corinthians 15:3-8- " For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born."
In any court of law, to have 1 or 2 eye-witnesses is proof enough to convict someone of a crime. In the case of the resurrection of Jesus, we have a total of 513 eye-witnesses. The evidence far exceeds what is needed to have beyond a reasonable doubt regarding the resurrection of Christ. In fact, I would submit that one has no real excuse for rejecting the clear documentation that indicates overwhelmingly that Christ did rise from the dead, thus proving His authenticity as the God and Savior of the world. People will die for what they believe to be true, but nobody in their right mind would die for something they know to be a lie, especially 513 total witnesses. To deny this evidence is to suppress all faculties of reasoning, which shows us that when a person denies the resurrection of Christ in light of it's evidence they do not do so based upon logic or reason but rather based upon a personal bias or some other inclination that is completely without basis or excuse.
Above and beyond the opinions of many different groups and religions we find the testimony of Jesus Himself contradictory to each of them. We find that Jesus unequivocally claimed to be God incarnate. We also find that even a cursory study of the initial evidences pointing to the authenticity of Jesus' claims gives us sufficient proof to believe that Jesus is who He says He is. The Bible tells us that the way we answer the question of "who Jesus is" is the most important thing in our entire life. Through believing in Him and His words we can have eternal life (John 3:16). So how will you answer this question? Will you say yes to Jesus today?
Written by: Kyle Bailey, M.Th.
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