Was Jesus just a good teacher? Was He merely a good moral example? Is it possible to view Jesus as a great man but reject Him as being anything more?
Jesus Himself made some incredible claims. For instance, He claimed to be the Son of God (God in the flesh) sent from Heaven (John 6:38; 8:56-59). Secondly, He claimed to be the only means of the world's salvation (John 3:18; 14:6). Though people often talk about Jesus, many fail to consider the implication of such fantastic claims.
It has been said that those who consider Jesus in light of His claims face a "trilemma". Simply stated, Jesus is either a liar (if He claimed to be the Son of God and was not, He lied), a lunatic (if He really believed He was the Son of God and Savior of the world but was not, then He was insane), or He is Lord (that is, He is what He claimed to be, truly the Son of God and the only Savior of the world).
Jesus Himself does not leave us room to patronize Him with the view that He was a good moral teacher and example but nothing more. If He is not who He claimed to be then He cannot be trusted. On the other hand, if He is who He claimed to be, He must be worshipped!
If Jesus really was who He claimed to be, we should expect some type of proof. After all, anyone can claim to be God in the flesh. The truth is there are numerous proofs that Jesus' claims were legitimate.
Consider the proof of fulfilled prophecy. The Old Testament contains hundreds of prophecies regarding the Messiah (Christ). It has been figured that the probablity of one person fulfilling eight selected prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power (a 1 with 17 zeros behind it!). Yet Jesus did not just fulfill 8 prophecies, He fulfilled hundreds of specific prophecies. Consider the following 3:
To this could be added the proof of the miracles Jesus performed throughout His earthly ministry. These miracles, such as the feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:15-21), walking on water (Matthew 14:25), and healing the sick (Matthew 14:34-36) are well documented by the Gsospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The greatest proof that Jesus was who He claimed to be is His resurrection from the dead. The Bible specifically identifies this as the unique way in which God told the world that Jesus was indeed His Son (Romans 1:1-4). The evidences of the resurrection of Jesus is clear. The risen Jesus was seen by over 500 people and His followers who had been in despair at His death were so convinced by what they saw that they were willing to face death themselves for their testimony.
To fully consider Christ one must consider the purpose for Christ's coming to this earth. Why would the Son of God (God the Son) become a man and live among us? Jesus Himself gives us the reason for His coming. In Matthew 20:28, Jesus said that he was come to give His life "a ransom for many." He also said that He came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).
These statements point out a universal problem for mankind. According to the Bible, God's Word, we are all sinners (Rom. 3:10-12, 23). It is our nature to go our own way and do our own thing (Isaiah 53:6).
God is a just God and must deal with sin. Our sin brings the penalty of God's wrath which is administered after death in a punishment called "the second death" (Revelation 20:11-15). Sinners who face God after death will be cast into a lake of fire where they will be isolated from God and suffer torment forever.
Though this is what we deserve, God loves us and does not want us to have to face His just wrath. The cross is where the justice of God and the love of God meet. While there were human factors that led to Jesus' crucifixion at the hand of the Romans, God tells us that the cross was a part of His plan. In fact, it was the reason Christ came.
While on the cross, God placed the sins of the world on Jesus and unleashed His just wrath against those sins. In His agony on the cross, Christ, the innocent took the place of the guilty (I Peter 3:18). His blood became the perfect payment for our sins and by His death, the wrath of God against our sin was satisfied (Romans 5:6-9). God's justice was served and His love displayed for all the world to see!
Three days after His death on the cross, Jesus was raised from the dead. As the living Lord and only Savior He grants eternal life as a free gift to all who believe on Him (Romans 6:23). Today, He continues to call for sinners to trust Him for their salvation.
It should be understood that Christ does not call men to save themselves. As sinners, we are incapable of doing this. God tells us that no one is saved by his good works or religious efforts (Ephesians 2:8-9). Nor does He call us to put our trust in relgion, church membership, or ceremonies such as communion or baptism. He calls for sinners to put their faith in Him (Romans 10:9-13).
Christ's call is a call to repentant faith; a faith that acknowledges sin, believes that Jesus is the Son of God Who died for our sins and rose from the dead. It is a faith that acknowledges and confesses that He is the Lord and calls upon Him for complete forgiveness and eternal life through His blood sacrifice on the cross.
Has there been a time in your life where you have sensed Christ's call in your own heart? Has there been a time when you have humbly put your faith in Him to be your Savior and called upon Him to pardon and cleanse your sins? If not, it is our sincere desire that you do so today!
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