Without a doubt, Jesus is the most important figure in world history. More has been written of Him, spoken of Him, and considered of Him than of any other major character in all of recorded human history. It has been said, in fact, that history is His story. Although He wrote no books nor traveled more than ninety miles from the place of His birth, one of the world's great religions is founded upon the life, teachings, and personal claims of this humble son of a carpenter. To many, the life of Jesus is an enigma cloaked in a veiled mystery, for the nobility of His personality seemingly defies His humble birth and shameful death. This is certainly evident, for some two thousand years after Jesus' crucifixion; He remains the most controversial of history's notable characters. His beatitudes, as an example, rank among the most beloved and most widely quoted sayings uttered by any teacher or philosopher, yet the One who preached love and mercy is reviled by a long list of critics ranging from the humanist philosopher Voltaire to the father of communism Karl Marx to pop music idol John Lennon to cable television pioneer Ted Turner. It is obvious that Jesus has a long list of enemies, past and present, yet one hundred million followers in China alone call Him Savior and it is well worth remembering that China is a communist nation in which the wife of the former Communist Party Chairman Mao Tse Tung erroneously proclaimed that the Bible would eventually be relegated to the musty halls of a museum. Ironically, it is Mao's so-called little red book that has become a curiosity among museum relics while Christianity flourishes.
Who is Jesus? Who is this man who stands at the apex of human history? According to many, Jesus was a great man, a distinguished moral teacher, a wise human philosopher, and even a prophet. Followers of New Age thinking teach that Jesus was an avatar, that is, a divine messenger among many other divine messengers. Followers of Islam believe Jesus to be a prophet, though a prophet inferior in status to their religion's founder Muhammad. Mormons claim that Jesus is the spirit brother of Lucifer. Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Jesus is a created angel. Practitioners of Christian Science believe that Jesus was a divine idea. During a recent election campaign, I saw a bumper sticker that read Jesus was a liberal. We may assume, then, that there are those who believe Jesus was a Democrat, though this is scarcely odd considering that many Republicans try drafting Jesus into their ranks, too.
Again, Jesus is the most important person in human history and He is the most controversial person of all times, too; there are legions of critics who oppose Jesus and His teachings. It is a rare thing, indeed, to find a television program or a Hollywood movie that portrays Christianity in a positive light. Not long ago, I read of a survey that revealed only a slight fraction of actors, producers, writers, and directors in the entertainment industry have any kind of religious affiliation. It is hardly surprising, then, that Hollywood stands as one of Jesus' most severe and outspoken critics.
And so, again, we must ask, "Who is Jesus?" While there are other writings of antiquity that tell of Jesus, the most definitive sources of information about Him come from both Testaments of the Bible. In over one hundred prophetic passages, the Old Testament writers foretold His birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection with uncanny accuracy while the New Testament writers wrote of Him from either first-hand experience (Matthew, Mark, John, Peter, and Paul among others) or from interviews with actual eye-witnesses as is found in Luke's highly detailed and historically accurate gospel account. Since many of Jesus' contemporaries wrote of Him, we may reasonably assume that information given to us by those who knew Him personally would be more accurate than the writings of, say, Mormon founder Joseph Smith or Watchtower founder Charles Taze Russell who each lived some eighteen hundred years after the fact. The same, too, can be said of Islam's Koran that was penned by Muhammad some seven hundred years after Christianity was founded. Based upon the lateness of the writings of Smith, Russell, and even the self-proclaimed prophet Muhammad, we shall dismiss these sources as being spurious and unreliable.
And so a better question might be, "Who is Jesus according to Scripture?" The Bible, our ultimate authority proven by two thousand years of exacting scrutiny, portrays Jesus as a wholly unique individual, a Person of dual natures, both fully God and fully man. He is no less than God who came to earth clothed in human flesh (John 1: 1, 14), to deny either His humanity or His deity is to deny Him. Quite simply, Jesus is the God-man.
There are those who shake their heads saying, "I can accept Jesus as being a great teacher, a brilliant philosopher, and, perhaps, even a holy prophet of God, but I cannot believe Jesus was Himself God. Jesus was a great man, maybe the greatest man to have ever lived, but I cannot believe He was God!" Such an opinion, common as it is, is fraught with logical and problematic difficulties, for Jesus claimed to be God (John 8: 58) and He accepted worship as God (John 20: 28). How is it possible, then, for a good man to go about pretending to be God when He is not? How is it possible that a brilliant teacher and gifted moral philosopher would make such claims while knowing them to be untrue? How can any man of sound mind and good character proclaim Himself as God unless, of course, He really is God? The great Christian writer C.S. Lewis said Jesus must be who He claimed Himself to be or else He was a liar or a lunatic, for mere mortals do not boast of divinity unless they are either deceivers or delusional. Let there be no mistaking in this matter logical reasoning and Scriptural integrity give us no middle ground. Jesus is either who He claimed to be or else He is a fraud. We must, therefore, accept Jesus as Lord God of all creation or else we must write Him off as the prince of phonies.
If Jesus is God, He speaks in an authoritative voice that rises far above the voices of other religious leaders. Muhammad never claimed to be God. Confucius, likewise, made no claims to deity, either. As to the founders of modern day pseudo-Christian cults, Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, and Mary Baker Eddy, all stand accused by their own writings of being false prophets who denied the Lord Jesus Christ. The implication of His deity is quite simple: There can be no other Name by which a lost sinner may be reconciled with God. We find grace, mercy, and salvation in Jesus our Savior and in Him alone.
There is another startling implication to Christ Jesus' dual natures; as man, He truly understands the problems of life and the difficulties and hardships we face in this world. Jesus knows about the sorrows each of us experience from the sorrowful, first-hand experiences of His own. As a fellow human being, He was well acquainted with physical pain. As a man, He knew grief and sadness. As One like us, He felt the sharp pangs of hunger. He suffered betrayal and rejection. He was abandoned by His closest friends. He was unjustly accused of wrong doings and, in the end, He was cruelly tortured in the most unspeakably methods of protracted death devised by those mocking and barbaric Roman executioners. Yes, Jesus set aside His glory in Heaven for a life of pain and suffering on earth! There is nothing we shall ever face in this life that was not likewise experienced by our Lord Jesus Christ. We may be comforted, then, in knowing we serve a God who truly understands our troubles. We may be even more comforted in knowing that He has promised to never leave us as orphans. Jesus is faithful. Jesus is faithful until the end. And Jesus is faithful even when we are unfaithful!
The importance of a higher standard of morality, proper conduct, personal duty, and selflessness of nature are taught by most of the world's many varying religions, but as no one can achieve God's exacting standard of righteousness through mere human effort, those who would seek reconciliation with their Creator shall find forgiveness in Christ Jesus the Savior. And so this, the most vital of any question ever asked of the disciple Peter, is posed by Jesus for our consideration, too: Who do men say that I am? Our answer is no trifling matter, for the way in which we answer this question determines how we shall live the remaining days of this life and, ultimately, where we shall spend never-ending ages of eternity.
John 1: 1: In the beginning was Jesus. He Himself has no beginning. No matter how far back in time we might travel, there is the Ancient of Days coming to meet us! Our Savior is, will be, and has always been! There was never a time when there was no Jesus for He exists beyond the limits of time!
John 1: 14: God became man and, figuratively speaking, pitched His tent among humanity. He left the hallowed halls of Heaven to dwell among His creation God became one of us! We may take a measure of comfort in the realization that He knows our feelings, our temptations, our troubles, and our sorrows from firsthand experience.
John 20: 28: Upon seeing the resurrected Jesus, the disciple Thomas worshiped Jesus by exclaiming, "You are the Lord of me and You are the God of me!" If Thomas were to make this same declaration in a Kingdom Hall, the Jehovah's Witness elders would usher him out the door! The Watchtower denies the deity of Christ and also teaches that He is unworthy of our worship.
Isaiah 9: 6: In this remarkable prophecy penned by Isaiah, we learn of the many attributes of Jesus including His eternal nature! Yes, Jesus is the Father of Eternity who knows of no beginning and shall never see an end. Again, our Lord's earthly ministry took place in Bethlehem some two thousand years ago, but His supernatural existence cannot be measured by any human calendar. How wonderful it is in knowing we serve a Savior who stands beyond the reaches of time!
Micah 5: 2: The prophet Micah foretold our Lord's birth some seven hundred years before the manger scene took place that in itself is a remarkable prophecy, yet we learn that the One born of a virgin in a crude manger is He whose activities have been going on from the days of eternity!
Colossians 1: 15-17: Jesus is the firstborn of creation, that is, He is preeminent and in first position of all things made. Does the term firstborn indicate, as some religious cults teach, that Jesus was created? No. He is Creator of all things, therefore, He is preeminent over His creation. The term firstborn implies supreme authority and position. Jesus is head of all that He created. The entire universe, therefore, is under the authority of our Lord Jesus. Let us be confident knowing we serve a Savior who is unbound by time and who holds all of creation in His able hands!
Hebrews 1: 1-3: In this marvelous passage of Scripture, we read that Jesus is our ultimate revelation of God. To those who would want to know God, let them learn of Him from Jesus, for Jesus is God. It is worth noting that if Jesus is God's ultimate revelation of Himself, then we certainly do not need other so-called revelations such as the Book of Mormon. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) claim their Book of Mormon to be another testament of Jesus, but the writer of Hebrews clearly states that Jesus is that ultimate revelation of God, therefore, any other supposed revelation from God must be fraudulent. (Jude 3 also declares the canon of Scripture to be complete, so we may be confident that any other "revelation" is unworthy of our time and attention.)
Philippians 2: 5-8: Jesus, though He was God and equal with God the Father, did not cling to all of the prerogatives and privileges of deity, rather, He humbled Himself by coming to earth in the form of a man and not as an exalted man, either, but as a servant. We see both the humanity of Jesus and the deity of Jesus in this passage written by the Apostle Paul.
Jehovah's Witnesses employ a counterfeit Bible so as to bolster their counterfeit Jesus and their counterfeit gospel. Besides their sham teachings about Jesus, the Watchtower is notorious for their false prophecies. read more ...
We should learn everything there is to know about the real Jesus, so that when a Jehovah's Witness or a Mormon comes along peddling a false Christ, we immediately recognize the phoniness of their product! read more ...