What Evidence is There to Support What Christ Said?

We are continuing to meditate on the indirect as well as the direct claims by Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God (Scroll down for yesterday’s thoughts). People make wild claims about themselves all the time, so what is the evidence that what Jesus said about Himself was actually true? Let’s explore some of the evidence:

1) His Teaching. The teaching of Jesus is widely acknowledged to be the greatest teaching that has ever fallen from anyone’s lips. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” “Love your enemies, “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5-7).

Bernard Ramm, an American Professor of theology, said this about the teachings of Jesus:

They are read more, quoted more, loved more, believed more, and translated more because they are the greatest words ever spoken…Their greatness lies in the pure lucid spirituality in dealing clearly, definitively, and authoritatively with the greatest problems that throb in the human breast…No other man’s words have the appeal of Jesus’ words because no other man can answer these fundamental human questions as Jesus answered them. They are the kind of words and the kind of answers we would expect God to give.[1]

Could this teaching really come from a con man or a madman?

2) His Works. Some say that Christianity is boring. It would not be boring being around Jesus. When He went to a party, He changed a huge amount of water into wine (John 2:1-11), and the best wine that the wine taster had tasted.

What about when He went to a funeral? He told them to take the stone away and to loose the bandages off of Lazarus! (John 11).

What about going to a picnic with Jesus when all they had was 5 loaves and 2 fish? (Mark 6:41).

What about going to the hospital with Jesus, when there was a man lying there who had been an invalid for 36 years? He told him to get up. He healed him completely (John 5:5).

What about His death? —laying down His life for His friends (John 15:13).

3) His character.

Bernard Levin wrote of Jesus: “Is not the nature of Christ, in the words of the New Testament, enough to pierce to the soul anyone with a soul to be pierced? He still looms over the world, his message still clear, his pity still infinite, his consolation still effective, his words still full of glory, wisdom and love.”

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham, describes the character of Jesus in his autobiography, The Door Wherein I Went, how the person of Jesus came alive to him when he was in college:

“The first thing we must learn about him is that we should have been absolutely entranced by his company.  Jesus was irresistibly attractive as a man…what they crucified was a young man, vital, full of life and the joy of it, the Lord of life itself, and even more the Lord of laughter, someone so utterly attractive that people followed him for the sheer fun of it…the Twentieth Century needs to recapture the vision of this glorious and happy Man whose mere presence filled his companions with delight. No pale Galilean He, but a veritable Pied Piper of Hamelin who would have the children laughing all round Him and squealing with pleasure and joy as He picked them up.”[2]

Are you convinced as to His deity yet? Keith Thomas

[1] Bernard Ramm, Protestant Christian Evidence (Moody Press).

[2] Lord Hailsham, The Door Wherein I Went, (Fount/Collins, 1975).

Jesus’ Direct Claims to be God

Over the last couple of days, we have been thinking about Jesus’ indirect claims to be God (Scroll down for yesterday’s thoughts). So now we want to look at His direct claims to be the Messiah or Christ:

26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:26-29).

Jesus didn’t say, “Hey, hang on a second; you’ve gone a bit too far there. He basically said, you were a bit slow to get the point, “stop doubting and believe” (Verse 27) At another time, after Christ was arrested and stood before the high priest and elders, Christ clearly told them again who He is:

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62“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.” 63The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64“You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death (Mark 14:61-64).

You might have missed it. When Jesus said the words “I Am” in verse 62 above, this was the Greek form of the Hebrew name that God gave of Himself: And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). If you only had one opportunity to take people to one passage of scripture in order to show them a direct claim to be God by Jesus, it is found in John’s Gospel:

30I and the Father are one.” 31Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” 33“We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10:30-33).

Claims like this need to be tested. All sorts of people make all kinds of claims. The mere fact that somebody claims to be someone does not mean the claim is right. Some people are deluded, thinking they are Napoleon, the Pope, or the Antichrist. So how can we test people’s claims? Jesus claimed to be the unique Son of God; God made flesh. There are three logical possibilities. If the claims were untrue, either He knew they were untrue, in which case He is an imposter, and an evil one at that. That is the first possibility. Or He did know, in which case He was deluded; indeed, He was mad. That is the second possibility. The third possibility is that the claims were true.

The writer C.S. Lewis put it like this:

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic, on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg, or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse…but let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.[1]

Keith Thomas

[1] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, First Published by Geoffrey Bles, 1952.

Jesus said, “I Am the Bread of Life.”

One of the fascinating things about Jesus is that so much of His teaching was centered on Himself. Don’t get me wrong, He was not self-centered. What I am saying is that His teaching was often about what He can do for us. He said to people, in effect, “If you want to have a relationship with God, you need to come to me” (see John 14:6). It’s through a relationship with Him that we encounter God.

In my younger years I was conscious of a missing piece to my life; it was though there was an inner void that was longing to be filled. Perhaps you yourself are aware of an inner dissatisfaction that you try to fill with things. This inner void is acknowledged by some of the leading psychologists of the twentieth century. They have all recognized that there is in the heart of every one of us, a deep void, a missing piece, a deep hunger.

Freud said, “People are hungry for love.”

Jung said, “People are hungry for security.”

Adler said, “People are hungry for significance.”

Jesus said, “I Am the Bread of Life” (John 6:48).

Jesus was saying, in effect, that if you want your hunger satisfied, come to Him. If He had been talking to an Asian person, He might have said, I am the rice of Life. Bread was the staple of life in Israel at the time. The Lord was saying that just as bread sustains the physical body, in the same way, your spiritual life will be sustained in Christ. If you are walking in darkness, He said, “I Am the Light of the World.” If you don’t know where to put your next step, trust the Lord Jesus, He will give light to your path.

I was very scared of death as a teenager, partly because of the dangerous job I was doing; I was a commercial fisherman working on a trawler with my father on the east coast of England. We worked out of a port that had been heavily mined by the Germans in both World Wars. We caught unexploded mines in our nets many times as our trawl net scraped the bottom of the North Sea. Often we had to lay the mine on our deck in order to cut our net around it so that we could winch it off the deck and get it back in the sea. It is very scary to have 1500 pounds of High Explosive rolling around on the deck. There was always the question that would come to me—where would I go if I were to die? That is one of the reasons I began my search for what life holds for us when we die. If you are fearful of death, Jesus said, “I Am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). This is what I mean by Jesus’ teaching being centered on Himself. He pointed to Himself as the answer to the missing piece in life.

Some are addicted to different things, drugs, alcohol, sex—Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). You can be totally set free from that which you are addicted to. Many are burdened with worries, anxieties, fears and guilt. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Have you ever found true rest of soul? Are you searching today for inner peace? Peace is the deliberate adjustment of our lives to the will of God. Only in Christ can there be a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). In another place, Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). He said to receive Him was to receive God (Matthew 10:40), to welcome Him was to welcome God (Mark 9:37), and to have seen Him was to have seen God (John 14:9).

He really is the answer to whatever inner need you have. Keith Thomas

Jesus’ Indirect Claim to be God

We are meditating on the Holy Scriptures saying that Jesus was God in human form, the Son of God. The Lord said a number of things, which, although not direct claims to be God, show that he regarded Himself as being in the same position as God, as we will see in an example from Mark’s Gospel. Let’s look at His indirect claim to be God by first looking at His authority to forgive sins:

3Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:3-12).

This claim to be able to forgive sins is indeed an astonishing claim. C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, puts it well when he writes,

One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to.  I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins.  Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic.  We can all understand how a man forgives offenses against himself.  You tread on my toe and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you.  But what should we make of a man, himself unrobed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money?  Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give his conduct.  Yet, this is what Jesus did.  He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured.  He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the person chiefly offended in all offenses.  This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws were broken and whose love is wounded in every sin.  In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivaled by any other character in history.

His claim to be the Judge of the World.

 Another extraordinary indirect claim is that He would one day judge the world.  He said that He would return and be the judge of all men:

31“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32“All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-32).

All the nations would be gathered before Him. He would pass judgment on them. Some would receive an inheritance prepared for them since the creation of the world and eternal life, but others would suffer the punishment of being separated from Him forever. My hope is that He will be your Savior rather than your judge. May God open your heart in order that you may reach out to Him in faith to be your Savior and Lord. Tomorrow we will look at some of His direct claims to be God. Keith Thomas

I AM WHO I AM

At the burning bush, when God spoke to Moses, telling him that He was sending him to the Israelites in Egypt to deliver them out of bondage, Moses asked God whom he shall say was sending him. God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). In John chapter 8, John describes a scene where Jesus was responding to the Pharisee’s criticisms. They thought they had caught Him out when He told them that He had seen Abraham. Jesus said:

56Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” 57“You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” 58“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds (John 8:56-59).

He didn’t say, “Before Abraham was born, I was”, or “before Abraham was, I already existed.” No, instead He deliberately used the same name translated into Greek, EGO AMI, the name by which God had revealed Himself to the Israelites, the Great I AM. Notice how they responded to this statement. They took up stones to stone Him for blasphemy, because He was claiming to be God. This is an important truth for us to understand because of the statement of Christ just a few verses earlier in John 8:24, where Jesus said: “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am (the one I claim to be), you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24). Notice that in most English translations, the words “the one I claim to be” is in parenthesis. Why did the editors put those words in parenthesis? Because it is not in the original text!  It puts a different emphasis on the passage entirely, doesn’t it? Jesus is clearly saying that redemption comes only as we get a true picture of just who Jesus is—the Divine Son of God, the great I AM. Either way, Jesus’ meaning is clear. Eternal life hinges on an understanding of who He is. If He is only a man, eternal life would depend on the truth He taught. Instead, the greatest truth we must start with is the fact that He is the great “I AM.” He is the way, the truth and the life. Keith Thomas