Happy St. Patrick’s Day, you Irish folk!
One of the things that theological and political liberals get wrong in the name of “tolerance” and “diversity” is a total misunderstanding of the claims and teachings of Jesus Christ and how those claims and teachings are to affect our everyday lives.
In their intellectual ignorance of world religions, they hold true the fallacy that “all religions are created equal”. In their intellectual dishonesty, they cling to the equally fallacious notion that religion is something people add to their lives to become better people, but that none of it is truly a necessity. The operative word is here is “add” — to them, religion is something to add on to their existing lives, rather than submitting to the actual teachings of a religion and ordering their lives accordingly. They consider the religious world as a cafeteria of ideas: as they move down the line, they get to pick what concepts — and from what religion those concepts are derived — end up on their trays.
And even those concepts they choose are rarely, if ever, allowed to actually change the course of their lives in any meaningful way — they consider anyone who actually believes that strongly in their particular religion to be “fanatics”, unless that religion presents no threat to their intellectual and physical comfort zones, such as Buddhism and other non-aggressive (in their eyes) belief systems. In other words, it’s all about them and what they want to believe. The idea that a righteous God has reached out them on His terms rather than their own is a scary — if not outright alien — concept to them.
Pastor Tom Mercer of the High Desert Church in California stated in the foreword of his excellent book Oikos that we human beings have been at war with God ever since the Fall of Man and have been trying to make peace with Him from then until now. The sticking point in the negotiations is that He steadfastly refuses to accept our terms for His surrender. Truer words have never been spoken by any human who isn’t Jesus!
Liar, Lunatic, or Lord of All?
To distance themselves from the claims of Jesus on their lives, theological and political liberals tend to blindly mouth one particularly offensive — and again, intellectually dishonest — concept. That concept is that Jesus was merely a “good teacher” or a “great philosopher” or some other equally demeaning and dismissive term.
Unfortunately for them, as C. S. Lewis once taught on this very topic, Jesus forever eliminated our ability to classify Him as a “good teacher” by declaring Himself to be God Almighty in human form on multiple occasions throughout the Gospels. That leaves us with 3 alternatives:
- Jesus said He was God though He wasn’t and He knew He wasn’t — If this was true, that would make Him the biggest and most significant charlatan in history.
- Jesus said He was God though He wasn’t and He didn’t know He wasn’t — If true, this would make Him the biggest and most significant lunatic in history.
- Jesus said He was and is God and this statement is 100% true — If this so, that makes Him worthy of our undivided attention, uninhibited worship, total devotion, and enthusiastic obedience.
So as Lewis put it, Jesus is either liar, lunatic, or Lord of All. “Good teacher” is not an available option!
Some of you have listened to the Discovery and History Channels’ and especially NatGeo’s pathetic attempts to portray Jesus as the first on this list. Dan Brown does much the same thing his book The Da Vinci Code. The interesting thing is that what these folks all conveniently ignore is that the sources of their so-called “facts” about Jesus come from extra-biblical accounts that were rejected as unscriptural by the early church and fly in the face of hundreds of years of expert analysis debunking them. Again, if the liberals can deflect the claims of Jesus by attacking the historical accounts of His life and teachings, they no longer have to deal with His claims on their lives.
The fact of the matter is this: 11 of the original 12 disciples (all of whom were men who had lived with Jesus continuously for just over 3 years) plus the Apostle Paul were executed for their professions that Jesus is indeed God and that He was raised from the dead. According to biblical accounts, over 500 people witnessed the resurrection of Christ and many of them were put to death for their own refusal to recant their testimony of this world-changing historical event. People do not go to their deaths for something they know to be a lie.
Some of you might be contesting the idea itself that Jesus declared Himself to be God. You wouldn’t be the first person of such a mistaken persuasion I have run across and my last encounter with someone who held that opinion caused me to do some serious Bible research to come up with some definitive answers that are truly unassailable biblically and intellectually. So here they are!
In each case, I have listed the Bible passage and then summarized the event described therein. In the section on fulfilled Old Testament prophesies, I have listed both the OT prophesy and the record of its fulfillment in the NT.
Jesus declared His own Godhood
during His life & ministry:
- Matthew 16:15-17 — Jesus asks His disciples who they think He is. Peter responds that Jesus is the Messiah, Son of the Living God. Jesus not only praised Peter for His insight, but pronounces that the same confession would become the foundation of the Church. If Jesus was not God, then His responsibility as a rabbi and prophet was to rebuke a blasphemous declaration, not praise it. The Jews of that day understood that anyone proclaiming himself to be the Son of God would possess the very nature and attributes of God, ergo that he would be God in human form.
- Mark 2:5-12 — A paralytic man is brought to Jesus by his friends for healing. Jesus declares that the paralytic man’s sins are forgiven. Those present immediately took offense at Jesus’ words because “who can forgive sins, but God alone?” Jesus responded and said that to prove He had the authority on earth to forgive sins (ergo He is God), He healed the paralytic man.
- Luke 4:17-30 — Jesus read the passage found in Isaiah 61:1-2, a passage that all His listeners knew was a Messianic prophesy and declared that He was the fulfillment of it, ergo that He is the Messiah. When the listeners questioned this claim because they knew Him as a local resident, He bolstered the claim with barbed comments. The crowd’s response was to try to kill Him for blasphemy.
- John 8:58-59 — Notice the Jewish listeners’ response to Jesus’ words (a desire to stone Him), the standard response to blasphemy according to the Law of Moses. (cross reference with Exodus 3:14)
- John 10:30-33 — Note that the Jewish listeners specifically stated that they clearly understood that Jesus was declaring Himself to be God and their response was to want to stone Him as well.
- John 14:6-10 — In verse 8, Jesus states to His disciples that to have seen Him is to have seen God Himself.
- John 17:5 — Jesus refers to His godhead glory that He gave up when He was incarnated as a man. He knows He is about to die — if He was indeed only a great teacher or prophet and not God, wouldn’t He be humbling Himself before God rather than proclaiming equality with Him?
- John 18:4-6 — Again, Jesus refers to Himself in verses 5 and 8 by the OT name for God, “I AM.” The word “he” is in italics, which means that that word was not in the original Greek manuscript. Note that the members of the temple guard and the mob with them were all thrown to the ground by the power of Jesus’ pronouncement, thus verifying that He was laying down His life, rather than it being taken from Him.
- Matthew 26:63-66 — In Matthew’s eyewitness account of the trial, Jesus is commanded by the high priest in the name of the Living God to answer whether He was the Messiah and indeed God. Jesus had no choice but to answer and, since He could only speak the Truth, He answered with a Jewish phrase that the listeners clearly understood as, “Yes, I am God and Messiah. And I’ll soon be back at My Father’s right hand in heaven and coming back after that to judge you.” We know that the listeners interpreted Jesus’ response in this very manner by the high priest’s reaction (tearing his clothes) and the subsequent death sentence passed by the court upon Jesus.
- Mark 14:61-64 — Peter’s eyewitness account of the trial as dictated to Mark confirms the interpretation of Jesus’ response and the Sanhedrin’s reaction found in Matthew.
- Luke 22:67-71 — Luke’s account of the trial also bears out the same interpretation of Jesus’ response to the high priest’s questioning and the same response by the Sanhedrin.
- John 1:1-5; 10-14 — The Apostle John declares Jesus to be the Word Incarnate — in other words, God.
- John 20:25-29 — John records the words of Thomas as he doubts the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus later appears to the disciples and confronts Thomas with his very own words. Thomas exclaims, “My Lord and my God!” Again, if Jesus is not God, it was Jesus’ clear responsibility as a rabbi to correct Thomas’ confession, but He didn’t — ergo, Thomas was right!
- Colossians 1:15,19 — Paul declares Jesus to be the image (icon) of the invisible God and that it pleased God to place the very fulness of His own being into Jesus.
- Colossians 2:9 — Again, Paul states that there very fulness of the Godhead dwelt in Jesus in bodily form.
- Hebrews 1:1-3 — The writer of Hebrews declares that Jesus pre-existed His appearance on earth as the Agent of creation (the Word again), the brightness of God’s glory, the express image of God (“express image” comes from the Greek word charakter meaning “the exact expression of any person or thing, marked likeness, precise reproduction in every respect”.
- OT PROPHESY: Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7 — God declares that a Son shall be born of a virgin, that He shall be called — among other titles — “God With Us”, “Mighty God”, and “Everlasting Father.”
NT FULFILLMENT: Matthew 1:22-23; Luke 1:30-35: — The angel Gabriel tells the Virgin Mary that her Child will be the Son of God. Since every living thing in the earth reproduces after its own kind, that offspring by definition would have to be both 100% God and 100% man. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Matthew declares His birth to be the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14.
- OT PROPHESY: Isaiah 45:23 — God declares that all will bow to Him.
NT FULFILLMENT: Philippians 2:9-11 — By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul — an OT scholar — cites that passage in Isaiah as applying to Jesus, thus equating Jesus to God.
- OT PROPHESY: Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12 — In these three passages, God declares Himself to be “the First and the Last,” and the only God.
NT FULFILLMENT: Revelation 1:8,11,17; 21:6; 22:13 — In all these verses, Jesus declares Himself to be the “Alpha and Omega” and/or “the First and the Last.” We know this because in Revelation 22:16, the verse starts with the same Person speaking in verse 13 and saying, “I, Jesus…” Also, the same Speaker quoted in Revelation 1:8,11 identifies Himself in verse 18 of the same passage as One Who was once dead and is now alive. When did God ever die and come back to life other than in the Person of Jesus Christ?
- OT PROPHESY: Isaiah 53:4-5 — This chapter of Isaiah is universally recognized by Christian Bible scholars as a Messianic prophesy. The verses referenced here concern the coming Messiah’s deliverance of people from sickness, disease, and pain.
NT FULFILLMENT: Matthew 8:14-17 — By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Matthew declares Jesus’ healing of the sick to be a fulfillment of that prophesy.
Jesus declared His own Godhood during
His trial before the Sanhedrin.
All three accounts bear witness to the fact that Jesus was sentenced to death by the Sanhedrin for sole reason that His declared Himself to be God. No other charges would stick because they were all based upon false accusations.
Jesus’ deity as witnessed to by His apostles
Jesus’ deity as prophesied in the Old Testament & fulfilled in the life of Jesus
So as you can see, there is a wealth of evidence of the Bible clearly stating that Jesus was and is “God in sandals” and leaves no room for any other interpretation of the matter. So we are left with 2 choices:
- Believe all of it and reap the benefits, -OR-
- Believe none of it and reap the consequences!
There is no middle ground!
Thanks for reading!