Who is the Real Jesus?
[Part I] [Part II]
By Dallas M. Roark, Ph.D.
The most important question in all religious questions is: who is Jesus? Secularist believe he was a misguided man, Muslims believe he was a prophet, Hindus have respect for him as a wise man, orthodox Christians believe Him to be the Son of God. Who was He really? The only real answer to this question can be found in the Bible since there are few references to Him in pagan and Jewish literature. There is only one repeated answer in the Bible: He is the Son of God in a unique sense, God Incarnate. One can only reject this claim by rejecting God’s intervention in history, rejecting miracles, rejecting the greatest miracle of the resurrection of Jesus, or rejecting God. If you reject all of these you can only conclude that he was a person who was self-deluded, who is not worthy to be followed, neither worthy to be an influence in our lives. Let us begin at the beginning of all beginnings.
First, we have to begin the story with the most basic question. Philosophers have asked the question: "why is there something and not nothing?" Why is there something at all? Physicists and Astronomers talk about the Big Bang of the Universe. The big bang relates to the beginning of space, time and matter. How did it come about? Absolute Nothing does not produce something! Anything that begins has a cause of its beginning. The world in which we live is designed with such intricacy that we are only now beginning to know something of its inner working.
If we accept the fact that there is an eternal Creator, we can ask the question of why he did this great work. He did not have to prove his power to anybody since no one existed at the time. The real motivation for this great work of Creation is Love. This love is expressed through the Bible culminating in the story of Jesus.
Love is creative. Love bestows value and worth on others. Love is expansive. Love delights in giving of itself. Love expresses itself in acts of kindness, deeds that bring joy to the beloved. So the answer to the question of why the universe exists is that the Creator loves.
Who is this Creator, this person of Love? His name is given in the book of Exodus to Moses, the man of God, as Yahweh. That is His personal name. The term God is not his name but refers to a Being who has the name of Yahweh. This Being is personal, creative, and expressed his love in Creation. This love is expressed in the very location and placement of the earth in the universe.
There are many harsh places where life cannot be sustained in the cosmos. Our planet is in what has been called the Galactic Habitable Zone of the Cosmos. We are away from areas where there are black holes, gamma rays, X-rays, particle radiation, and other massive threats to human life.
God’s love is expressed in His providing for all the needs of human life from the basic grains we eat to succulent fruits. Before man appeared on the scene, the Creator had prepared the planet for our existence. The very act of creating the beginning of the human race is an act of His love. He bestowed on Adam and Eve the gift of life and on all subsequent humans. Even when the first couple sinned against the Creator and were removed from the Garden of Eden, His love and patience were still operating. He could have destroyed them. But even in the midst of this great disappointment in his creatures, he made a promise which has come to be regarded as the first promise of the future Messiah. After Adam and Eve had fallen into Satan’s temptation to disobey God, the Lord says to Satan,
“You and this woman will hate each other; your descendants and hers will always be enemies. One of hers will strike you on the head, and you will strike him on the heel.” (Gen. 3:15)
The love of the Creator was displayed in his patience with human sinfulness. Noah preached for 120 years before judgment brought the flood. Noah himself was not a warrior, but a spokesman for righteousness.
Yahweh’s love was directed in a different way when he chose Abram to be the father of a chosen people who would bless everyone on earth.
“The LORD (Yahweh) said to Abram: Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you. I will bless you and make your descendants into a great nation. You will become famous and be a blessing to others. I will bless anyone who blesses you, but I will put a curse on anyone who puts a curse on you. Everyone on earth will be blessed because of you.” (Gen 12:1-3)
As God’s chosen people there was work to be done and training to take place. The many books of the Old Testament relate to the disobedience of the descendants of Abraham and God’s patience with them. Even His discipline or judgment of them was done for their good to draw them back to Himself in love. The training involved the laws given to Moses to help the people see that God was holy. God’s holiness is against sin. God was against idolatry because idols cannot create, rescue, or heal. False gods cannot hear, see, or respond in help, they are silent. False gods consume the person by futile practices of prayers, sacrifices, pilgrimages, and costly offerings. Idolatry has involved disgusting practices of child sacrifice, temple prostitution, and other false and sinful ideas. God’s love called for wholesomeness, goodness, and the choosing of life, not death.
Moses was given a loving experience by God. He asked about the name of God so that the people of Israel would know. God revealed his name as Yahweh. This is his sacred name, not a descriptive term about Him. Knowing the name of a person is one of the important steps in knowing the person.
God, in his love, followed up on the Messianic promises. Moses talked about a coming prophet but the later prophets give many descriptions of that person. What kind of being was the Messiah to be? The prophets give an answer to this question.
Isaiah spoke God’s promised Messiah to Israel,
“A child has been born for us. We have been given a son who will be our ruler. His names will be Wonderful Advisor and Mighty God, Eternal Father and Prince of Peace. His power will never end; peace will last forever. He will rule David's kingdom and make it grow strong. He will always rule with honesty and justice. The LORD All-Powerful will make certain that all of this is done.” (Isa. 9:6-7)
These are strong words concerning the Messiah who is the Mighty God, the Father of eternity, and the prince of peace. These words find their fulfillment in the Gospel story.
In the 11th chapter of Isaiah God declares,
“Like a branch that sprouts from a stump, someone from David's family will someday be king. The Spirit of the LORD will be with him to give him understanding, wisdom, and insight. He will be powerful, and he will know and honor the LORD.” (Isa. 11:1-2)
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him and we will see this when we look at the Gospels ahead of us.
The birthplace of the Messiah is listed in Micah 5:2
“Bethlehem Ephrath, you are one of the smallest towns in the nation of Judah. But the LORD will choose one of your people to rule the nation – someone whose family goes back to ancient times."
The Messiah to be born was one whose life was from everlasting, eternal, and who entered into the life of Israel as Savior.
God declares through Jeremiah that a New Covenant will be made in which He will put His Spirit within people, he will forgive their sins, and they shall be His people. (Jer. 31:31-33)
Jesus made a new covenant at the last supper before his crucifixion.
The details of the messianic expectation can be seen in the many passages concerning the coming of the Messiah. Not only are there words to indicate the quality of person that would come, but his death is also described in Isaiah.
“Has anyone believed us or seen the mighty power of the LORD in action? Like a young plant or a root that sprouts in dry ground, the servant grew up obeying the LORD. He wasn't some handsome king. Nothing about the way he looked made him attractive to us. He was hated and rejected; his life was filled with sorrow and terrible suffering. No one wanted to look at him. We despised him and said, ‘He is a nobody!’ He suffered and endured great pain for us, but we thought his suffering was punishment from God. He was wounded and crushed because of our sins; by taking our punishment, he made us completely well. All of us were like sheep that had wandered off. We had each gone our own way, but the LORD gave him the punishment we deserved. He was painfully abused, but he did not complain. He was silent like a lamb being led to the butcher, as quiet as a sheep having its wool cut off. He was condemned to death without a fair trial. Who could have imagined what would happen to him? His life was taken away because of the sinful things my people had done. He wasn't dishonest or violent, but he was buried in a tomb of cruel and rich people. The LORD decided his servant would suffer as a sacrifice to take away the sin and guilt of others. Now the servant will live to see his own descendants. He did everything the LORD had planned. By suffering, the servant will learn the true meaning of obeying the LORD. Although he is innocent, he will take the punishment for the sins of others, so that many of them will no longer be guilty. The LORD will reward him with honor and power for sacrificing his life. Others thought he was a sinner, but he suffered for our sins and asked God to forgive us.” (Isa. 53:1-12)
If these prophecies are to have meaning, one would expect that the Messiah would be more than the average teacher in Israel. These descriptions lead to a very high view of the person of Jesus. He is described as mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, everlasting in his nature, dying because of the sin of mankind, and bringing forgiveness in a new covenant.
(Moreover, if one reads the entire chapter it is impossible that the passage could refer to Mohammed as some Muslim apologists have suggested.)
God’s love is expressed in using a common person, Abraham, and his descendants to be the medium though whom the Messiah would come. God chose to use the humble, not the powerful and arrogant. The Messiah was born in Bethlehem during the reign of Herod the Great. Jesus declared that he had come to seek and save the lost. God’s love was expressed in the most unusual way – He has come Himself in the human form of Jesus. Prophets were not enough. God came!!!
How does this play out in Scripture? It begins slowly to show in many ways that Jesus is God Incarnate. God seemed so distant to the Jews that it seemed incomprehensible that God should come "down."
The historical story of the Messiah’s entry into Israel’s life begins with Gabriel’s announcement to Mary:
“One month later God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth in Galilee with a message for a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph from the family of King David. The angel greeted Mary and said, "You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you." Mary was confused by the angel's words and wondered what they meant. Then the angel told Mary, "Don't be afraid! God is pleased with you, and you will have a son. His name will be Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of God Most High. The Lord God will make him king, as his ancestor David was. He will rule the people of Israel forever, and his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:26-33)
Before Jesus was born, Gabriel introduced the words, "Son of God Most High." His rule will never end, and his kingdom shall last forever. This was to be an extraordinary person. No other person will rule forever and no other kingdom will last forever.
A short time later Mary hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea. The greeting of Elizabeth was inspired by the Holy Spirit in asking the question: "Why should the Mother of My Lord come to me?" Even before Jesus was born there was the recognition that He was Lord.
“She went into Zechariah's home, where she greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, her baby moved within her. The Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth. Then in a loud voice she said to Mary: God has blessed you more than any other woman! He has also blessed the child you will have. Why should the mother of my Lord come to me?” (Luke 1:40-43)
When Joseph, the husband to be, found that Mary was pregnant, he decided to divorce her. But an angel of the Lord appeared to him,
“While Joseph was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, "Joseph, the baby that Mary will have is from the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and marry her. Then after her baby is born, name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. So the Lord's promise came true, just as the prophet had said, "A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel," which means "God is with us." After Joseph woke up, he and Mary were soon married, just as the Lord's angel had told him to do. But they did not sleep together before her baby was born. Then Joseph named him Jesus.” (Matt. 1:20-25)
The angel proclaimed the truth that Immanuel means God is with us. Only such a being could bring meaning to the phrase, "he will save his people from their sins." The prophecy of Isaiah 9:6-7 indicated that the Messiah would be "God with us", and the message of the angel confirmed that Jesus was to be Immanuel – God with us. Jesus alone – without comparison – is said to be able to save people from their sins. He alone makes forgiveness possible. What kind of being is able to save people from their sins? Only God can forgive sins. Only God can save. The announcement of the angel and the declaration of Jesus himself affirm the claim to forgive sins because He is God with us, Immanuel.
At the birth of Jesus shepherds were in the fields with their sheep and an angel appeared to them. The angel’s announcement was "He is Christ the Lord." This announcement is not about someone later in life, but at the very birth the angel’s word was "Christ the Lord." He is not merely a prophet, a rabbi, or sage, but Lord!
“All at once an angel came down to them from the Lord, and the brightness of the Lord's glory flashed around them. The shepherds were frightened. But the angel said, "Don't be afraid! I have good news for you, which will make everyone happy. This very day in King David's hometown a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:9-11)
Not only angels were aware of who Jesus was, but visitors from afar came to his birth to worship Him. Wise men still worship Him.
“When Jesus was born in the village of Bethlehem in Judea, Herod was king. During this time some wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and said, "Where is the child born to be king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Matt. 2:1-2)
They left for Bethlehem to find the child and brought him gifts fit for a King.
“When the men went into the house and saw the child with Mary, his mother, they knelt down and worshiped him. They took out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh and gave them to him". (Matt. 2:11)
Very little is told of the early life of Jesus. At the age of 12 he visited the temple in Jerusalem. He did not join the family in going home. They returned to Jerusalem to find him. The account of this is in Luke.
“Three days later they found Jesus sitting in the temple, listening to the teachers and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was surprised at how much he knew and at the answers he gave. When his parents found him, they were amazed. His mother said, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been very worried, and we have been searching for you!" Jesus answered, "Why did you have to look for me? Didn't you know that I would be in my Father's house?” (Luke 2:46-49)
Very early the relation to the Father is declared and it will be more widely explained as his life unfolds.
When his public ministry began, John the Baptist declared concerning Jesus,
“I baptize you with water so that you will give up your sins. But someone more powerful is going to come, and I am not good enough even to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Matt. 3:11)
One of the early public events in Jesus life was his baptism by John. At that time we are told that "Jesus was baptized. And as soon as he came out of the water, the sky opened, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down on him like a dove. Then a voice from heaven said, "This is my own dear Son, and I am pleased with him.” (Matt. 3:16-17)
John declared the result of this experience after baptizing Jesus.
“The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said: Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I told you about when I said, "Someone else will come. He is greater than I am, because he was alive before I was born." I didn't know who he was. But I came to baptize you with water, so that everyone in Israel would see him. I was there and saw the Spirit come down on him like a dove from heaven. And the Spirit stayed on him. Before this I didn't know who he was. But the one who sent me to baptize with water had told me, "You will see the Spirit come down and stay on someone. Then you will know that he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit." I saw this happen, and I tell you that he is the Son of God.” (John 1:30-34)
Jesus began to call some disciples to his following. We read the following in the Gospel of John,
“Philip then found Nathanael and said, "We have found the one that Moses and the Prophets wrote about. He is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth." Nathanael asked, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Philip answered, "Come and see." When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said, "Here is a true descendant of our ancestor Israel. And he isn't deceitful." "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree." Nathanael said, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God and the King of Israel!" Jesus answered, "Did you believe me just because I said that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see something even greater. I tell you for certain that you will see heaven open and God's angels going up and coming down on the Son of Man.” (John 1:45-51)
Jesus’ comment that He saw Nathanael before Philip called him indicates his knowledge beyond mere human seeing. Moreover, being able to see into the human heart is something only God can do.
Jesus did his first of many miracles at Cana in Galilee at a wedding feast.
(A full listing of His miracles is at the end of this document.)
“Jesus told the servants to fill them to the top with water. Then after the jars had been filled, he said, "Now take some water and give it to the man in charge of the feast." The servants did as Jesus told them, and the man in charge drank some of the water that had now turned into wine. He did not know where the wine had come from, but the servants did. He called the bridegroom over and said, "The best wine is always served first. Then after the guests have had plenty, the other wine is served. But you have kept the best until last!" This was Jesus' first miracle, and he did it in the village of Cana in Galilee. There Jesus showed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” (John 2:7-11)
This passage is important for several reasons. First, no human can change water into wine. This calls for a miracle and miracles only come by God’s power. Second, the Gnostic books claiming miracles on the part of Jesus as a boy contradict the Gospels which were written by eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life and claim that the first miracle was done at Cana when Jesus began his ministry as an adult. This causes the Christians to question the Qur’an’s dependence on the Gnostic stories. Third, how does one do a miracle? No human can do this. No human can change water into wine, heal the blind, the leper, the lame, the sick, or raise the dead.
These are not magical tricks, but real events that people observed. Even the enemies of Jesus knew something awesome had taken place, but attributed it to the power of the devil.
His respect for the Temple of God is indicated in his throwing the temple merchants out of the place of worship. This event also shows his claim of a special relation with the Father.
“So he took some rope and made a whip. Then he chased everyone out of the temple, together with their sheep and cattle. He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and scattered their coins. Jesus said to the people who had been selling doves, ‘Get those doves out of here! Don't make my Father's house a marketplace.’” (John 2:15-16)
The claim of identity with God grows as we see in the conversation with Nicodemus.
“Jesus replied: How can you be a teacher of Israel and not know these things? I tell you for certain that we know what we are talking about because we have seen it ourselves. But none of you will accept what we say. If you don't believe when I talk to you about things on earth, how can you possibly believe if I talk to you about things in heaven? No one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from there. And the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as that metal snake was lifted up by Moses in the desert. Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life.” (John 3:10-15)
John, the apostle, commented concerning the growing influence of Jesus:
“God's Son comes from heaven and is above all others. Everyone who comes from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all others. He speaks about what he has seen and heard, and yet no one believes him. But everyone who does believe him has shown that God is truthful. The Son was sent to speak God's message, and he has been given the full power of God's Spirit. The Father loves the Son and has given him everything. Everyone who has faith in the Son has eternal life. But no one who rejects him will ever share in that life, and God will be angry with them forever.” (John 3:31-36)
The encounter with the woman at Jacob’s well indicates the profound ability to give eternal life. Who else but God could do this?
“Jesus answered, "You don't know what God wants to give you, and you don't know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would ask me for the water that gives life." "Sir," the woman said, "you don't even have a bucket, and the well is deep. Where are you going to get this life-giving water? Our ancestor Jacob dug this well for us, and his family and animals got water from it. Are you greater than Jacob?" Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life."” (John 4:10-14)
The woman knew something of a coming Messiah and said,
“I know that the Messiah will come. He is the one we call Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." "I am that one," Jesus told her, "and I am speaking to you now.” (John 4:25-26)
Later many people believed in Jesus because of the words of the woman,
“A lot of Samaritans in that town put their faith in Jesus because the woman had said, "This man told me everything I have ever done.” (John 4:39)
Who could have a knowledge of the inner being of a human? Only God knows our inner thoughts and motives.
Jesus did his second miracle in Cana also. A nobleman’s son was ill and he feared that the boy would die.
“Jesus told the official, "You won't have faith unless you see miracles and wonders!" The man replied, "Lord, please come before my son dies!" Jesus then said, "Your son will live. Go on home to him." The man believed Jesus and started back home. Some of the official's servants met him along the road and told him, "Your son is better!" He asked them when the boy got better, and they answered, "The fever left him yesterday at one o'clock." The boy's father realized that at one o'clock the day before, Jesus had told him, "Your son will live!" So the man and everyone in his family put their faith in Jesus.” (John 4:48-53)
Not everyone greeted Jesus with a warm welcome. When he preached against their unbelief they wanted to kill him.
“When the people in the meeting place heard Jesus say this, they became so angry that they got up and threw him out of town. They dragged him to the edge of the cliff on which the town was built, because they wanted to throw him down from there. But Jesus slipped through the crowd and got away.” (Luke 4:28-30)
This may be compared to the appearance of Jesus after the resurrection when he appeared in the room when all the doors were locked. (John 20:19)
Not only was there angelic statements made concerning who Jesus was, but he was also recognized by the demonic beings. They knew about God’s nature.
“In Capernaum, Jesus taught in the synagogue where a man with an evil spirit possessed him. He taught the people on the Sabbath. His teaching amazed them because he spoke with power. There in the Jewish meeting place was a man with an evil spirit. He yelled out, "Hey, Jesus of Nazareth, what do you want with us? Are you here to get rid of us? I know who you are! You are God's Holy One.” (Luke 4:31-34)
“Jesus left the meeting place and went to Simon's home. When Jesus got there, he was told that Simon's mother-in-law was sick with a high fever. So Jesus went over to her and ordered the fever to go away. Right then she was able to get up and serve them a meal. After the sun had set, people with all kinds of diseases were brought to Jesus. He put his hands on each one of them and healed them. Demons went out of many people and shouted, "You are the Son of God!" But Jesus ordered the demons not to speak because they knew he was the Messiah.” (Luke 4:38-41)
Miracles were not acts without real meaning for who he was. This is reflected in the following experience,
“Jesus went back to Capernaum, and a few days later people heard that he was at home. Then so many of them came to the house that there wasn't even standing room left in front of the door. Jesus was still teaching when four people came up, carrying a crippled man on a mat. But because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So they made a hole in the roof above him and let the man down in front of everyone. When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the crippled man, "My friend, your sins are forgiven." Some of the teachers of the Law of Moses were sitting there. They started wondering, "Why would he say such a thing? He must think he is God! Only God can forgive sins." Right away, Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he said, "Why are you thinking such things? Is it easier for me to tell this crippled man that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and pick up his mat and go on home? I will show you that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth." So Jesus said to the man, "Get up! Pick up your mat and go on home." The man got right up. He picked up his mat and went out while everyone watched in amazement. They praised God and said, "We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-12)
Who can forgive sins but God? If Jesus is not who He claimed to be, he is a huge fraud.
But his words were backed up with the change of the man’s condition. He got up and walked.
The things that Jesus did were not appreciated by the Pharisees and this can be seen in the following scriptures where Jesus’ comments are clearly understood and they charged him with blasphemy. The man was healed on a Sabbath. Jesus described his relation to the Father as consequential. Honoring the Son means honoring the Father. Dishonoring the Son dishonors the Father. This is seen in the passages to follow.
“They started making a lot of trouble for Jesus because he did things like this on the Sabbath. But Jesus said, "My Father has never stopped working, and that is why I keep on working." Now the leaders wanted to kill Jesus for two reasons. First, he had broken the law of the Sabbath. But even worse, he had said that God was his Father, which made him equal with God. Jesus told the people: I tell you for certain that the Son cannot do anything on his own. He can do only what he sees the Father doing, and he does exactly what he sees the Father do. The Father loves the Son and has shown him everything he does. The Father will show him even greater things, and you will be amazed. Just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants to. The Father doesn't judge anyone, but he has made his Son the judge of everyone. The Father wants all people to honor the Son as much as they honor him. When anyone refuses to honor the Son, that is the same as refusing to honor the Father who sent him. I tell you for certain that everyone who hears my message and has faith in the one who sent me has eternal life and will never be condemned. They have already gone from death to life. I tell you for certain that the time will come, and it is already here, when all of the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen to it will live! The Father has the power to give life, and he has given that same power to the Son. And he has given his Son the right to judge everyone, because he is the Son of Man. Don't be surprised! The time will come when all of the dead will hear the voice of the Son of Man, and they will come out of their graves. Everyone who has done good things will rise to life, but everyone who has done evil things will rise and be condemned. I cannot do anything on my own. The Father sent me, and he is the one who told me how to judge. I judge with fairness, because I obey him, and I don't just try to please myself.” (John 5:16-30)
“John was a lamp that gave a lot of light, and you were glad to enjoy his light for a while. But something more important than John speaks for me. I mean the things that the Father has given me to do! All of these speak for me and prove that the Father sent me. The Father who sent me also speaks for me, but you have never heard his voice or seen him face to face. You have not believed his message, because you refused to have faith in the one he sent. You search the Scriptures, because you think you will find eternal life in them. The Scriptures tell about me, but you refuse to come to me for eternal life. I don't care about human praise, but I do know that none of you love God. I have come with my Father's authority, and you have not welcomed me. But you will welcome people who come on their own. How could you possibly believe? You like to have your friends praise you, and you don't care about praise that the only God can give! Don't think that I will be the one to accuse you to the Father. You have put your hope in Moses, yet he is the very one who will accuse you. Moses wrote about me, and if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me. But if you don't believe what Moses wrote, how can you believe what I say?” (John 5:35-47)
Three references are made here: 1) the works he did, 2) the Scripture refers to him, and 3) the testimony of the Father, "This is my beloved son." Eternal life hangs in the balance of coming to Jesus or not coming to Him.
In his teachings Jesus broke through the legalistic views of the Scribes and Pharisees and got to the inner meaning of the Law.
“Don't suppose that I came to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to do away with them, but to give them their full meaning. Heaven and earth may disappear. But I promise you that not even a period or comma will ever disappear from the Law. Everything written in it must happen. If you reject even the least important command in the Law and teach others to do the same, you will be the least important person in the kingdom of heaven. But if you obey and teach others its commands, you will have an important place in the kingdom. You must obey God's commands better than the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law obey them. If you don't, I promise you that you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:17-20)
The sermon on the mount goes to the real meaning of the laws.
Not only should you not kill, you should not hate, or be angry. No only should you not commit adultery, you should not lust after women. Not only should you not seek revenge, but you should turn the cheek also. Praying for your enemies is commanded. But embedded in the Sermon are the phrases, "you have heard it said," "But I say unto you." Jesus claims authority to bring the deeper meaning of the law to his hearers. He is the Second Lawgiver superceding Moses.
Jesus claims to know what the Father will do in terms of prayer.
“Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. Everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And the door will be opened for everyone who knocks. Would any of you give your hungry child a stone, if the child asked for some bread? Would you give your child a snake if the child asked for a fish? As bad as you are, you still know how to give good gifts to your children. But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give good things to people who ask. Treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the Law and the Prophets are all about.” (Matt. 7:7-12)
Jesus also warned about false prophets who would lead people astray.
“Watch out for false prophets! They dress up like sheep, but inside they are wolves who have come to attack you. You can tell what they are by what they do. No one picks grapes or figs from thorn bushes. A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. Every tree that produces bad fruit will be chopped down and burned. You can tell who the false prophets are by their deeds". (Matt. 7:15-20)
False prophets reject the words of Jesus. False prophets claim rules that are self-serving, fulfilling their own lusts for women, money, and power. False prophets claim to have a message from God but are only deceiving people. Many false prophets since Jesus’ time have instituted polygamy fulfilling their own lusts.
Jesus has authority concerning who is going to the kingdom of heaven.
“Not everyone who calls me their Lord will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only the ones who obey my Father in heaven will get in. On the day of judgment many will call me their Lord. They will say, "We preached in your name, and in your name we forced out demons and worked many miracles." But I will tell them, "I will have nothing to do with you! Get out of my sight, you evil people!” (Matt. 7:21-23)
For life right now, the words of Jesus must be accepted or the alternative is destruction. This is not what God will do to me, but what I will do to myself in turning away from the only source of life. If I reject Life, what else is there but isolation from God?
“Anyone who hears and obeys these teachings of mine is like a wise person who built a house on solid rock. Rain poured down, rivers flooded, and winds beat against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on solid rock. Anyone who hears my teachings and doesn't obey them is like a foolish person who built a house on sand. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded, and the winds blew and beat against that house. Finally, it fell with a crash. When Jesus finished speaking, the crowds were surprised at his teaching. He taught them like someone with authority, and not like their teachers of the Law of Moses.” (Matt. 7:24-29)
People recognized that Jesus was extraordinary.
“When Jesus was going into the town of Capernaum, an army officer came up to him and said, "Lord, my servant is at home in such terrible pain that he can't even move." "I will go and heal him," Jesus replied. But the officer said, "Lord, I'm not good enough for you to come into my house. Just give the order, and my servant will get well.” (Matt. 8:5-8)
To prove His claim to be the promised Messiah Jesus showed how his life, especially his miracles, were, even at that very time, fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies of what the Messiah would be like and what he would do. When the disciples of John the Baptist were sent to Jesus by John to ask Him if he was truly the Messiah, "Jesus was at that very time healing many people who were sick or in pain or were troubled by evil spirits, and he was giving sight to a lot of blind people." And so he replied to John’s messengers by quoting from Isaiah 29:18-19; 35:5-6; 61;1 identifying Himself as the Messiah in Isaiah’s prophecy.
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard. Blind people are now able to see, and the lame can walk. People who have leprosy are being healed, and the deaf can now hear. The dead are raised to life, and the poor are hearing the good news. God will bless everyone who doesn't reject me because of what I do.” (Luke 7:21-23)
As time went on Jesus disclosed more of Himself to the disciples.
“At that moment Jesus said: My Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I am grateful that you hid all this from wise and educated people and showed it to ordinary people.
Yes, Father, that is what pleased you. My Father has given me everything, and he is the only one who knows the Son. The only one who truly knows the Father is the Son. But the Son wants to tell others about the Father, so that they can know him too. If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.” (Matt. 11:25-30)
Another occasion in which He declared forgiveness was to a women who had a bad reputation and had come to Simon’s house. Jesus said concerning her,
“He turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Have you noticed this woman? When I came into your home, you didn't give me any water so I could wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You didn't greet me with a kiss, but from the time I came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You didn't even pour olive oil on my head, but she has poured expensive perfume on my feet. So I tell you that all her sins are forgiven, and that is why she has shown great love. But anyone who has been forgiven for only a little will show only a little love." Then Jesus said to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven." Some other guests started saying to one another, "Who is this who dares to forgive sins?" But Jesus told the woman, "Because of your faith, you are now saved. May God give you peace!” (Luke 7:44-50)
Again the issue is stressed: only God can forgive sins. Was Jesus wrong? Or Was He really God in the flesh? The answer of the Gospels is that He is truly the Son of God.
Jesus talked about sin and the problem of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
He told the Pharisees,
“But when I force out demons by the power of God's Spirit, it proves that God's kingdom has already come to you. How can anyone break into a strong man's house and steal his things, unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can take everything. If you are not on my side, you are against me. If you don't gather in the harvest with me, you scatter it. I tell you that any sinful thing you do or say can be forgiven. Even if you speak against the Son of Man, you can be forgiven. But if you speak against the Holy Spirit, you can never be forgiven, either in this life or in the life to come.” (Matt. 12:28-31)
Speaking against the Holy Spirit is a grave sin and is unforgivable. Passages like this brought people to conclude for a Trinitarian view of the nature of God. We have the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not the angel Gabriel as some have believed falsely.
As time went on Jesus explained the Kingdom of heaven in parables.
“After Jesus left the crowd and went inside, his disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the story about the weeds in the wheat field." Jesus answered: The one who scattered the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seeds are the people who belong to the kingdom. The weed seeds are those who belong to the evil one, and the one who scattered them is the devil. The harvest is the end of time, and angels are the ones who bring in the harvest. Weeds are gathered and burned. That's how it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everyone who does wrong or causes others to sin. Then he will throw them into a flaming furnace, where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain. But everyone who has done right will shine like the sun in their Father's kingdom. If you have ears, pay attention!” (Matt 13:36-43)
Here Jesus is saying that He is the person who will send his angels to bring judgment. He has the authority to judge, the authority to forgive sins, and his words bring everlasting life.
Jesus did many miracles, healing the sick, blind, lame, dumb, and casting out demons who possessed people, and in addition displayed his power over the natural world. This is seen in the following story in which Jesus was asleep in the boat crossing the lake and a storm arose.
“... so the disciples went over to him and woke him up. They said, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" But Jesus replied, "Why are you so afraid? You surely don't have much faith." Then he got up and ordered the wind and the waves to calm down. And everything was calm. The men in the boat were amazed and said, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him." After Jesus had crossed the lake, he came to shore near the town of Gadara and started down the road. Two men with demons in them came to him from the tombs. They were so fierce that no one could travel that way. Suddenly they shouted, "Jesus, Son of God, what do you want with us? Have you come to punish us before our time?” (Matt. 8:25-29)
“As Jesus was walking along, two blind men began following him and shouting, "Son of David, have pity on us!" After Jesus had gone indoors, the two blind men came up to him. He asked them, "Do you believe I can make you well?" "Yes, Lord," they answered. Jesus touched their eyes and said, "Because of your faith, you will be healed." They were able to see, and Jesus strictly warned them not to tell anyone about him. But they left and talked about him to everyone in that part of the country. As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, some people brought to him a man who could not talk because a demon was in him. After Jesus had forced the demon out, the man started talking. The crowds were so amazed that they began saying, "Nothing like this has ever happened in Israel!” (Matt. 9:27-33)
Jesus is the way to everlasting life. If we reject Him, we reject God.
“If you tell others that you belong to me, I will tell my Father in heaven that you are my followers. But if you reject me, I will tell my Father in heaven that you don't belong to me.” (Matt. 10:32-33)
The experience of seeing Jesus walk on the water led his disciples to affirm his true nature.
“Peter replied, "Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you on the water." "Come on!" Jesus said. Peter then got out of the boat and started walking on the water toward him. But when Peter saw how strong the wind was, he was afraid and started sinking. "Save me, Lord!" he shouted. Right away, Jesus reached out his hand. He helped Peter up and said, "You surely don't have much faith. Why do you doubt?" When Jesus and Peter got into the boat, the wind died down. The men in the boat worshiped Jesus and said, "You really are the Son of God!” (Matt. 14:28-33)
After the miraculous feeding of the 5000 men plus women and children, Jesus spoke about the event.
“Jesus answered, "I tell you for certain that you are not looking for me because you saw the miracles, but because you ate all the food you wanted. Don't work for food that spoils. Work for food that gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give you this food, because God the Father has given him the right to do so." "What exactly does God want us to do?" the people asked. Jesus answered, "God wants you to have faith in the one he sent.” (John 6:26-29)
“"And the bread that God gives is the one who came down from heaven to give life to the world." The people said, "Lord, give us this bread and don't ever stop!" Jesus replied: I am the bread that gives life! No one who comes to me will ever be hungry. No one who has faith in me will ever be thirsty. I have told you already that you have seen me and still do not have faith in me. Everything and everyone that the Father has given me will come to me, and I won't turn any of them away. I didn't come from heaven to do what I want! I came to do what the Father wants me to do. He sent me, and he wants to make certain that none of the ones he has given me will be lost. Instead, he wants me to raise them to life on the last day. My Father wants everyone who sees the Son to have faith in him and to have eternal life. Then I will raise them to life on the last day. The people started grumbling because Jesus had said he was the bread that had come down from heaven.” (John 6:33-41)
“The only one who has seen the Father is the one who has come from him. No one else has ever seen the Father. I tell you for certain that everyone who has faith in me has eternal life. I am the bread that gives life! Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, and later they died. But the bread from heaven has come down, so that no one who eats it will ever die. I am that bread from heaven! Everyone who eats it will live forever. My flesh is the life-giving bread that I give to the people of this world.” (John 6:46-51)
Jesus declared that his references to eating his flesh were spiritual, not literal.
“It is the Spirit that makes alive, the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63)
“Some people were offended by Jesus’ claim to be the Bread of Heaven and left Him. He turned to the disciples and asked, "will you turn back?" Simon Peter answered, "Lord, there is no one else that we can go to! Your words give eternal life. We have faith in you, and we are sure that you are God's Holy One."” (John 6:68-69)
Faith in Jesus brought results. This is seen in the unusual story when Jesus left and went to the territory near the cities of Tyre and Sidon. As the Messiah he came to the people of Israel and the command to go to all nations had not been given yet. As a non-Jew the woman had no claim on the Messiah. In spite of this she had a tremendous faith that Jesus could heal her daughter and persisted in her appeal because of her faith.
“Suddenly a Canaanite woman from there came out shouting, "Lord and Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is full of demons." Jesus did not say a word. But the woman kept following along and shouting, so his disciples came up and asked him to send her away. Jesus said, "I was sent only to the people of Israel! They are like a flock of lost sheep." The woman came closer. Then she knelt down and begged, "Please help me, Lord!" Jesus replied, "It isn't right to take food away from children and feed it to dogs." "Lord, that's true," the woman said, "but even dogs get the crumbs that fall from their owner's table." Jesus answered, "Dear woman, you really do have a lot of faith, and you will be given what you want." At that moment her daughter was healed.” (Matt 15:22-28)
The process of learning on the part of the disciples as Jesus revealed Himself to them led to a remarkable confession./p>
“When Jesus and his disciples were near the town of Caesarea Philippi, he asked them, "What do people say about the Son of Man?" The disciples answered, "Some people say you are John the Baptist or maybe Elijah or Jeremiah or some other prophet." Then Jesus asked them, "But who do you say I am?" Simon Peter spoke up, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus told him: Simon, son of Jonah, you are blessed! You didn't discover this on your own. It was shown to you by my Father in heaven."” (Matt.16:13-17)
This not only asserts that Peter confesses Jesus as the Son of the living God, but also show Jesus Himself confirmed this confession as brought about by His Father in heaven. Moreover, it gives the disciples the awesome responsibility of proclaiming this good news. The Messiah has come in the person of Jesus, the Son of God. Because of the importance of the work the disciples were given of spreading the good news of salvation through Christ to all the world they were given a very special revelation.
“Six days later Jesus took Peter and the brothers James and John with him. They went up on a very high mountain where they could be alone. There in front of the disciples, Jesus was completely changed. His face was shining like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. All at once Moses and Elijah were there talking with Jesus. So Peter said to him, "Lord, it is good for us to be here! Let us make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While Peter was still speaking, the shadow of a bright cloud passed over them. From the cloud a voice said, "This is my own dear Son, and I am pleased with him. Listen to what he says!"” (Matt. 17:1-5)
Jesus told his disciples that real life was to be found in Him.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find it. What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?” (Matt.16:24-26)
With their faith established in Him, Jesus began to tell them of the coming events of his death on the cross. The event of the crucifixion is most basic to the entire message of the New Testament. This passage saying that Jesus would be killed and rise three days later is therefore central to all the other teachings of the entire New Testament.
I am very aware of the Muslim teaching that someone else was crucified in the place of Jesus. This teaching denies all the statements of Jesus Himself and the teaching of the apostles who were eyewitnesses and appointed by Jesus to tell the truth of what they had learned from Him and witnessed of Him to all the world. It is impossible for the Christian to understand how the Muslims can claim Jesus as a mighty and true prophet and not believe all that He taught about Himself and the obvious purpose of his whole life at the same time.
“Jesus left with his disciples and started through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know about it, because he was teaching the disciples that the Son of Man would be handed over to people who would kill him. But three days later he would rise to life. The disciples did not understand what Jesus meant, and they were afraid to ask.” (Mark 9:30-32)
In preparation for his departure after the resurrection, Jesus taught his followers some basic ideas, the first is about prayer. Not only did he teach them the model prayer in the Sermon on the Mount, but he gave this additional comfort in prayer.
“I promise that when any two of you on earth agree about something you are praying for, my Father in heaven will do it for you. Whenever two or three of you come together in my name, I am there with you.” (Matt 18:19-20)
As hostility mounted toward Jesus he defended His teaching in various ways:
1. "When the festival was about half over, Jesus went into the temple and started teaching. The leaders were surprised and said, "How does this man know so much? He has never been taught!" Jesus replied: I am not teaching something that I thought up. What I teach comes from the one who sent me. If you really want to obey God, you will know if what I teach comes from God or from me. If I wanted to bring honor to myself, I would speak for myself. But I want to honor the one who sent me. That is why I tell the truth and not a lie.” (John 7:14-18)
2. "As Jesus was teaching in the temple, he shouted, "Do you really think you know me and where I came from? I didn't come on my own! The one who sent me is truthful, and you don't know him. But I know the one who sent me, because I came from him."” (John 7:28-29)
3. "On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and shouted, "If you are thirsty, come to me and drink! Have faith in me, and you will have life-giving water flowing from deep inside you, just as the Scriptures say." Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, who would be given to everyone that had faith in him. The Spirit had not yet been given to anyone, since Jesus had not yet been given his full glory.” (John 7:37-39)
Jesus’ words give us insight into the relationship of the Father and the Son. In a number of passages that follow Jesus talks about his relationship with the Father. If you know the Son you know the Father also. You cannot know the Father without knowing the Son.
“If I did judge, I would judge fairly, because I would not be doing it alone. The Father who sent me is here with me. Your Law requires two witnesses to prove that something is true. I am one of my witnesses, and the Father who sent me is the other one. "Where is your Father?" they asked. "You don't know me or my Father!" Jesus answered. "If you knew me, you would know my Father.” (John 8:16-19)
“Jesus answered, "You are from below, but I am from above. You belong to this world, but I don't. That is why I said you will die with your sins unforgiven. If you don't have faith in me for who I am, you will die, and your sins will not be forgiven."” (John 8:23-24)
“No one understood that Jesus was talking to them about the Father. Jesus went on to say, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, you will know who I am. You will also know that I don't do anything on my own. I say only what my Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. I always do what pleases him, and he will never leave me.” (John 8:27-28)
“Jesus told the people who had faith in him, "If you keep on obeying what I have said, you truly are my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
“Jesus answered: If God were your Father, you would love me, because I came from God and only from him. He sent me. I did not come on my own.” (John 8:42)
“I don't want honor for myself. But there is one who wants me to be honored, and he is also the one who judges.” (John 8:50)
In honoring the Son we honor the Father. If we do not honor the Son we dishonor the Father.
“Jesus replied, "If I honored myself, it would mean nothing. My Father is the one who honors me. You claim that he is your God, even though you don't really know him. If I said I didn't know him, I would be a liar, just like all of you. But I know him, and I do what he says. Your father Abraham was really glad to see me." "You are not even fifty years old!" they said. "How could you have seen Abraham?" Jesus answered, "I tell you for certain that even before Abraham was, I was, and I am." (John 8:54-58)
Jesus claimed his existence with the Father before the Incarnation. The words "I am" are also related to the name of God in Exodus 3, the name of Yahweh, translated often as "I am that I am." Because He claimed existence before Abraham, claiming the relation to the Father, they picked up stones to kill him, but he walked through the midst of them and passed by.
“As long as it is day, we must do what the one who sent me wants me to do. When night comes, no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light for the world.” (John 9:4-5)
Jesus as the Light of the world may be compared to the Sun in our perspective. One cannot look at the sun, but by means of it we can see everything else. Jesus as the Son gives us a perspective on reality that cannot be found apart from Him.
The man healed of blindness asks the Pharisees,
“"How strange!" the man replied. "He healed my eyes, and yet you don't know where he comes from. We know that God listens only to people who love and obey him. God doesn't listen to sinners. And this is the first time in history that anyone has ever given sight to someone born blind. Jesus could not do anything unless he came from God."” (John 9:30-33)
When the healed blind man later encountered Jesus,
“When Jesus heard what had happened, he went and found the man. Then Jesus asked, "Do you have faith in the Son of Man?" He replied, "Sir, if you will tell me who he is, I will put my faith in him." "You have already seen him," Jesus answered, "and right now he is talking with you." The man said, "Lord, I put my faith in you!" Then he worshiped Jesus.” (John 9:35-38)
Being a devout Jew he would not have worshipped a mere man. But learning that He was the Son of God, he fell down and worshipped Him.
“Jesus told him, "I came to judge the people of this world. I am here to give sight to the blind and to make blind everyone who can see.” (John 9:39)
Jesus’ first mission was to seek and save the lost. The blind man found the Messiah and was welcomed into the kingdom of God. The flip side of the coin is that those who claimed to be able to see were really blind.
Jesus talked about being the good shepherd,
“Jesus said: I tell you for certain that I am the gate for the sheep. Everyone who came before me was a thief or a robber, and the sheep did not listen to any of them. I am the gate. All who come in through me will be saved. Through me they will come and go and find pasture. A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest. I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep. Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don't own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. Hired workers run away because they don't care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me. Just as the Father knows me, I know the Father, and I give up my life for my sheep".” (John 10:8-15)
It was the purpose of the Father from beginning that the Son should come and give his life for the sheep. Over and over again Jesus tells his disciples that he has come to give his life for us.
“The Father loves me, because I give up my life, so that I may receive it back again. No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as my Father commanded me to do.” (John 19:17-18)
It is no surprise to Jesus that his life is to be taken by crucifixion. Before he was crucified he claimed that he could prevent it by calling down angels on his behalf. But that was not his purpose in coming to earth.
“One day he was walking in that part of the temple known as Solomon's Porch, and the people gathered all around him. They said, "How long are you going to keep us guessing? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly!" Jesus answered: I have told you, and you refused to believe me. The things I do by my Father's authority show who I am. But since you are not my sheep, you don't believe me. My sheep know my voice, and I know them. They follow me, and I give them eternal life, so that they will never be lost. No one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father gave them to me, and he is greater than all others. No one can snatch them from his hands, and I am one with the Father. Once again the Jewish leaders picked up stones in order to kill Jesus. But he said, "I have shown you many good things that my Father sent me to do. Which one are you going to stone me for?" They answered, "We are not stoning you because of any good thing you did. We are stoning you because you did a terrible thing. You are just a man, and here you are claiming to be God!” (John 10:28-33)
The works that Jesus did show who he was. The power to heal the blind, the lame, and the leper as well as raise people from the dead show who Jesus really is. The phrase that he is one with the Father is repeated a number of times in the Gospels.
“If I don't do as my Father does, you should not believe me. But if I do what my Father does, you should believe because of that, even if you don't have faith in me. Then you will know for certain that the Father is one with me, and I am one with the Father.” (John 10:37-38)
The works that Jesus did were deeds of compassion. These were the deeds prophesied about the Messiah in the Old Testament prophets. They were not deeds designed to bring about evil powers for evil people. These were the deeds that Jesus reminded the followers of John the Baptist that the Messiah would do.
“At that same time, Jesus felt the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit, and he said: My Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I am grateful that you hid all this from wise and educated people and showed it to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that is what pleased you. My Father has given me everything, and he is the only one who knows the Son. The only one who really knows the Father is the Son. But the Son wants to tell others about the Father, so that they can know him too. Jesus then turned to his disciples and said to them in private, "You are really blessed to see what you see!” (Luke 10:21-23)
The Infinite God is so vast, so immense, so above our understanding that we will never fully understand God even in eternity. We will always know the Father through the Son who has come to us in a form that we can grasp. The wonderful news is that the Son wants to tell us about the Father. We are truly blessed by the Incarnation.
“As bad as you are, you still know how to give good gifts to your children. But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks.” (Luke 11:13)
Here is another reference that brought believers to think in terms of the Triune nature of God.
“If you tell others that you belong to me, the Son of Man will tell God's angels that you are my followers. But if you reject me, you will be rejected in front of them.” (Luke 12:8-9)
The many references to Jesus judging re-affirm the importance of commitment to Him as the Son of God, one with the Father.
The Raising of Lazarus.
“A man by the name of Lazarus was sick in the village of Bethany. He had two sisters, Mary and Martha. This was the same Mary who later poured perfume on the Lord's head and wiped his feet with her hair. The sisters sent a message to the Lord and told him that his good friend Lazarus was sick. When Jesus heard this, he said, "His sickness won't end in death. It will bring glory to God and his Son.” (John 11:1-4)
It was thorough the death of Lazarus that Jesus re-affirmed his mission as Messiah so that the raising of Lazarus would show Him to be the Son of God with power.
“Jesus told her, "Your brother will live again!" Martha answered, "I know that he will be raised to life on the last day, when all the dead are raised." Jesus then said, "I am the one who raises the dead to life! Everyone who has faith in me will live, even if they die. And everyone who lives because of faith in me will never really die. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord!" she replied. "I believe that you are Christ, the Son of God. You are the one we hoped would come into the world.” (John 11:23-27)
The claim of Jesus to be the resurrection and the life is bold and far-reaching. Why would he claim such if He could not fulfill the claim? Martha believed that he was the Messiah, the Son of God, and Lazarus was raised to life. How much better to rise to everlasting life!
There is warning about the coming of the Son of Man at the end of the age.
“So always be ready! You don't know when the Son of Man will come” (Luke 12:40)
This is a stark warning to everyone that no one knows when Jesus will return. People who have set dates, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others, have paid no attention to these words to their own shame.
“Jesus said to his disciples: The time will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not. When people say to you, "Look there," or "Look here," don't go looking for him. The day of the Son of Man will be like lightning flashing across the sky. But first he must suffer terribly and be rejected by the people of today” (Luke 17:22-25)
The return of Jesus will be as lightening flashing from one side of the heavens to the other. All eyes shall be able to see Him. The fact that He will return is a bold claim made by no other person. Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, etc. are dead. There is no possibility of their coming in the way that Jesus declares concerning Himself. But before he was to leave, he would suffer many things such as the crucifixion and rejection.
“The same will happen on the day when the Son of Man appears. At that time no one on a roof top should go down into the house to get anything. No one in a field should go back to the house for anything.” (Luke 17:30-31)
When Jesus returns there will be no need to go about ordinary duties, all things will be new.
“Peter replied, "Remember, we have left everything to be your followers! What will we get?" Jesus answered: Yes, all of you have become my followers. And so in the future world, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, I promise that you will sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. All who have given up home or brothers and sisters or father and mother or children or land for me will be given a hundred times as much. They will also have eternal life.” (Matt. 19:27-29)
This paragraph affirms that Jesus will return and forsaking all for Him is better than keeping everything without Him. The blessing of the presence of Christ far outshines the ‘stuff’ we frequently pursue. The real reward is the gift of everlasting life.
Announcement of his death and resurrection.
“The disciples were confused as Jesus led them toward Jerusalem, and his other followers were afraid. Once again, Jesus took the twelve disciples aside and told them what was going to happen to him. He said: We are now on our way to Jerusalem where the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses. They will sentence him to death and hand him over to foreigners, who will make fun of him and spit on him. They will beat him and kill him. But three days later he will rise to life.” (Mark 10:32-34)
Jesus plainly tells the disciples what is going to happen to Him. He will be condemned to death, scourged, mocked, and then killed on a cross outside Jerusalem. But the good news is that in three days he shall rise again. Easter is a day of celebration after a black Friday.
“If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. And if you want to be first, you must be everyone's slave. The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people.” (Mark 10:43-45)
The first coming of the Messiah was a lowly role of servant and model. This theme began with the birth of Jesus in the angelic declaration that He shall save His people from their sins. He gave His life for mankind. This is also seen in the following story of Zacchaeus.
“Later that day Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "I will give half of my property to the poor. And I will now pay back four times as much to everyone I have ever cheated." Jesus said to Zacchaeus, "Today you and your family have been saved, because you are a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man came to look for and to save people who are lost.” (Luke 19:8-10)
The mission of Jesus is expressed in seeking and saving the lost. Jesus did something that no other religious leader can claim. Buddha did nothing but teach, Confucius did nothing but teach an ethic, Mohammed did nothing but teach and coerce people into believing in his religion, Hinduism does nothing for anyone but teach a way of life. The phrase, "Jesus saves" really refers to something He did in dying on the cross and rising from the grave. By faith in Him He gives eternal life. The last supper before Jesus’ crucifixion gives the basis of a new covenant guaranteeing forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
“Jesus said: The time has come for the Son of Man to be given his glory. I tell you for certain that a grain of wheat that falls on the ground will never be more than one grain unless it dies. But if it dies, it will produce lots of wheat. If you love your life, you will lose it. If you give it up in this world, you will be given eternal life. If you serve me, you must go with me. My servants will be with me wherever I am. If you serve me, my Father will honor you. Now I am deeply troubled, and I don't know what to say. But I must not ask my Father to keep me from this time of suffering. In fact, I came into the world to suffer. So Father, bring glory to yourself. A voice from heaven then said, "I have already brought glory to myself, and I will do it again!” (John 12:23-28)
Jesus used an example of his dying comparing it to the necessity for the grain of whether to fall into the earth and die. If it did not die it would not bear fruit. His death is a meaningful death. He bore fruit. His death established the New Covenant giving to us the gift of the Holy Spirit and forgiveness along with the gift of everlasting life.
“When the crowd heard the voice, some of them thought it was thunder. Others thought an angel had spoken to Jesus. Then Jesus told the crowd, "That voice spoke to help you, not me. This world's people are now being judged, and the ruler of this world is already being thrown out! If I am lifted up above the earth, I will make everyone want to come to me." Jesus was talking about the way he would be put to death.” (John 12:29-33)
The death of Jesus fulfills the Genesis prophecy about the judgment on Satan. His death seals the ultimate doom of Satan.
The Union of the Father and the Son.
“In a loud voice Jesus said: Everyone who has faith in me also has faith in the one who sent me. And everyone who has seen me has seen the one who sent me. I am the light that has come into the world. No one who has faith in me will stay in the dark. I am not the one who will judge those who refuse to obey my teachings. I came to save the people of this world, not to be their judge. But everyone who rejects me and my teachings will be judged on the last day by what I have said. I don't speak on my own. I say only what the Father who sent me has told me to say. I know that his commands will bring eternal life. That is why I tell you exactly what the Father has told me.” (John 12:44-50)
Again, the union of the Father and the Son is declared in this paragraph. If we know Jesus we know the Father. Jesus came to save not to judge, but he will come again as judge. Jesus spoke the Message His Father wanted us to hear.
“Jesus then told them this story: A farmer once planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it and dug a pit to crush the grapes in. He also built a lookout tower. Then he rented out his vineyard and left the country. When it was harvest time, he sent a servant to get his share of the grapes. The renters grabbed the servant. They beat him up and sent him away without a thing. The owner sent another servant, but the renters beat him on the head and insulted him terribly. Then the man sent another servant, and they killed him. He kept sending servant after servant. They beat some of them and killed others. The owner had a son he loved very much. Finally, he sent his son to the renters because he thought they would respect him. But they said to themselves, "Someday he will own this vineyard. Let's kill him! That way we can have it all for ourselves." So they grabbed the owner's son and killed him. Then they threw his body out of the vineyard. Jesus asked, "What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? He will come and kill those renters and let someone else have his vineyard. You surely know that the Scriptures say, 'The stone that the builders tossed aside is now the most important stone of all. This is something the Lord has done, and it is amazing to us.' " The leaders knew that Jesus was really talking about them, and they wanted to arrest him. But because they were afraid of the crowd, they let him alone and left.” (Mark 12:1-12)
The parable speaks of God creating, choosing the Hebrews as his leaseholders and when the prophets who came to collect the rent were killed, God sent his Son to collect the rent and they killed Him.
Who is the Christ?
“While the Pharisees were still there, Jesus asked them, "What do you think about the Messiah? Whose family will he come from?" They answered, "He will be a son of King David." Jesus replied, "How then could the Spirit lead David to call the Messiah his Lord? David said, 'The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right side until I make your enemies into a footstool for you.' If David called the Messiah his Lord, how can the Messiah be a son of King David?" No one was able to give Jesus an answer, and from that day on, no one dared ask him any more questions.” (Matt. 22:41-46)
In the human sense, the Messiah was David’s son, but in the divine sense the Messiah was David’s Lord. The first "Lord" refers to the Father and the second "Lord" refers to the Messiah.
“But none of you should be called a teacher. You have only one teacher, and all of you are like brothers and sisters. Don't call anyone on earth your father. All of you have the same Father in heaven. None of you should be called the leader. The Messiah is your only leader. Whoever is the greatest should be the servant of the others.” (Matt. 23:8-11)
This is in considerable contrast to Mohammed who was served by his people, receiving 20 percent of all booty taken in conquests, the choice women he wanted, and the privilege of power.
Jesus talked about the time of his return and warned about false prophets.
“Someone may say, "Here is the Messiah!" or "There he is!" But don't believe it. False messiahs and false prophets will come and work great miracles and signs. They will even try to fool God's chosen ones. But I have warned you ahead of time. If you are told that the Messiah is out in the desert, don't go there! And if you are told that he is in some secret place, don't believe it! The coming of the Son of Man will be like lightning that can be seen from east to west.” (Matt. 24:23-27)
“Then a sign will appear in the sky. And there will be the Son of Man. All nations on earth will weep when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. At the sound of a loud trumpet, he will send his angels to bring his chosen ones together from all over the earth.” (Matt. 24:30-31)
“Always be ready! You don't know when the Son of Man will come. Who are faithful and wise servants? Who are the ones the master will put in charge of giving the other servants their food supplies at the proper time? Servants are fortunate if their master comes and finds them doing their job.” (Matt. 24:44-46)
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all of his angels, he will sit on his royal throne. The people of all nations will be brought before him, and he will separate them, as shepherds separate their sheep from their goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, "My father has blessed you! Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created.” (Matt. 25:31-34)
The passages referring to the return of Jesus is set over against the humble first coming.
He came as a servant, he will return as King and judge. He came with little fanfare, He will return with the sound of a trumpet and power and great glory. He came as proclaimer of the Kingdom of God where people can experience forgiveness, he will return as judge against people who rejected forgiveness, mercy, and grace.
More warnings about his coming crucifixion and death.
“When Jesus had finished teaching, he told his disciples, "You know that two days from now will be Passover. That is when the Son of Man will be handed over to his enemies and nailed to a cross.” (Matt. 26:1-2)
This is one more statement from Jesus that he would be crucified, not somebody else as the Qur’an claims. All of non-Muslim history is against the Muslim claim that somebody other than Jesus was crucified. Roman, Jewish, and Christian documents support the fact of Jesus’ crucifixion. These are documents close to the time of Jesus, not 500 years later.
“Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he said: Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing for me. You will always have the poor with you, but you won't always have me. She has poured perfume on my body to prepare it for burial. You may be sure that wherever the good news is told all over the world, people will remember what she has done. And they will tell others.” (Matt. 26:10-13)
The humility of Jesus is described by his actions as well as words.
“Who do people think is the greatest, a person who is served or one who serves? Isn't it the one who is served? But I have been with you as a servant. You have stayed with me in all my troubles. So I will give you the right to rule as kings, just as my Father has given me the right to rule as a king. You will eat and drink with me in my kingdom, and you will each sit on a throne to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:27-30)
“After Jesus had washed his disciples' feet and had put his outer garment back on, he sat down again. Then he said: Do you understand what I have done? You call me your teacher and Lord, and you should, because that is who I am. And if your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other. I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you. I tell you for certain that servants are not greater than their master, and messengers are not greater than the one who sent them.” (John 13:12-16)
This passage illustrates the graciousness of God who comes in humility in the Incarnation. It is a lesson for the disciples as well as all followers since that time.
“I am not talking about all of you. I know the ones I have chosen. But what the Scriptures say must come true. And they say, "The man who ate with me has turned against me!" I am telling you this before it all happens. Then when it does happen, you will believe who I am. I tell you for certain that anyone who welcomes my messengers also welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” (John 13:18-20)
Another reference to Jesus’ prediction about his death!
“He answered, "One of you men who has eaten with me from this dish will betray me. The Son of Man will die, as the Scriptures say. But it's going to be terrible for the one who betrays me! That man would be better off if he had never been born." Judas said, "Teacher, you surely don't mean me!" "That's what you say!" Jesus replied. But later, Judas did betray him.” (Matt. 26:23-25)
“After Judas had gone, Jesus said: Now the Son of Man will be given glory, and he will bring glory to God. Then, after God is given glory because of him, God will bring glory to him, and God will do it very soon.” (John 13:31-32)
The words of Jesus concerning his death appear frequently so that no misunderstanding would take place. At first they did not understand but he not only tells them repeatedly that He will die but he also confirms the prophecies that he will die. His dying was an important feature of his coming to earth.
Establishing the New Covenant, the last Supper.
“During the meal Jesus took some bread in his hands. He blessed the bread and broke it. Then he gave it to his disciples and said, "Take this and eat it. This is my body. Jesus picked up a cup of wine and gave thanks to God. He then gave it to his disciples and said, "Take this and drink it. This is my blood, and with it God makes his agreement with you. It will be poured out, so that many people will have their sins forgiven. From now on I am not going to drink any wine, until I drink new wine with you in my Father's kingdom.” (Matt. 26:26-29)
The Last Supper was given to us by Jesus while he was here. Since that time it has been observed in the first generation of Christians remembering his death. Through the centuries the Last Supper has been a continual reminder of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
“Jesus said to his disciples, "Don't be worried! Have faith in God and have faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father's house. I wouldn't tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for each of you. After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together.” (John 14:1-3)
Only the Son of God could make and fulfill a promise of this magnitude.
Exclusive claims about getting to Heaven.
“Thomas said, "Lord, we don't even know where you are going! How can we know the way?" "I am the way, the truth, and the life!" Jesus answered. "Without me, no one can go to the Father. If you had known me, you would have known the Father. But from now on, you do know him, and you have seen him." Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need." Jesus replied: Philip, I have been with you for a long time. Don't you know who I am? If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. How can you ask me to show you the Father?
Don't you believe that I am one with the Father and that the Father is one with me? What I say isn't said on my own. The Father who lives in me does these things.” (John 14:5-10)
The words of Jesus are still true and we cannot change them. Nor would we want to since we have found in them the way to the Father, the truth about God, and the promise of everlasting life in His presence. They are very exclusive words. No other way exists to get into the presence of God. At the same time that Jesus declares that he is The Way, He affirms the knowledge they have of Him being at one with the Father.
“Don't you believe that I am one with the Father and that the Father is one with me? What I say isn't said on my own. The Father who lives in me does these things.” (John 14:11)
While the Trinity is a mystery because of finite human understanding, we have the statement that the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father. We cannot divide up the Trinity for our understanding, but we can believe it because of His works that He did.
Some people including Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses like to argue mathematically about the Trinity. As an example, they say, 1+1+1=3. Therefore Christians are accused of tri-theism. However, you can do math differently, 1x1x1=1. In this sense the unity of God is stressed as well as the tri-personal relations in the Trinity. However, attempting to reduce God to a numeral explanation is so demeaning to God in his self-revelation. Reducing the Infinite God to a math formula is like trying to put the ocean in a coke bottle.
“Jesus said to his disciples: If you love me, you will do as I command. Then I will ask the Father to send you the Holy Spirit who will help you and always be with you. The Spirit will show you what is true. The people of this world cannot accept the Spirit, because they don't see or know him. But you know the Spirit, who is with you and will keep on living in you. I won't leave you like orphans. I will come back to you. In a little while the people of this world won't be able to see me, but you will see me. And because I live, you will live.” (John 14: 15-19)
Muslims like to claim that this reference of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, is Mohammed. Such a claim absolutely ignores the details of the passages. The word of promise was to the disciples immediately. Mohammed would have meant nothing to them. This Comforter would be with them forever, not waiting 500 years until Mohammed was born.
The Comforter would be with them forever; Mohammed is dead. The world could not see the Comforter, but the citizens of Mecca and Medina saw Mohammed. The Comforter abides in the believers, Mohammed was just a person who claimed to be a warner. Even if one claimed that Mohammed’s teaching abided in a person, that is not the same as the Holy Spirit abiding in believers. John the Baptist talked about Jesus as one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.
“Then you will know that I am one with the Father. You will know that you are one with me, and I am one with you. If you love me, you will do what I have said, and my Father will love you. I will also love you and show you what I am like.” (John 14:20-21)
That day probably refers to Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon all the believers. Now an additional relationship is advanced. Not only is there the union of the Father with the Son, but there is the union of the Holy Spirit with the believer. Before Pentecost the Spirit moved upon the prophets, but now the Spirit indwells all who love Christ.
“Jesus replied: If anyone loves me, they will obey me. Then my Father will love them, and we will come to them and live in them. But anyone who doesn't love me, won't obey me. What they have heard me say doesn't really come from me, but from the Father who sent me. I have told you these things while I am still with you. But the Holy Spirit will come and help you, because the Father will send the Spirit to take my place. The Spirit will teach you everything and will remind you of what I said while I was with you. I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn't like the peace that this world can give. So don't be worried or afraid.” (John 14:23-27)
This is another passage used by Muslims to claim a reference in the New Testament to Mohammed. The details of the passage refute such a claim. Do you love Jesus? Do you keep his word? Only then "we will come to him and make our abode with him." The Comforter, the Holy Spirit shall teach you all things, and bring to remembrance all that I have said." What is there in the teaching of the Qur’an that talks about the words of Jesus? Mohammed rejected the words of Jesus, he rejected his claim to be the Son of God, he rejected his claim to dying for mankind, and his resurrection from death. Moreover, he rejected the Holy Spirit.
“Jesus said to his disciples: I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts away every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit. But he trims clean every branch that does produce fruit, so that it will produce even more fruit. You are already clean because of what I have said to you. Stay joined to me, and I will stay joined to you. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit unless it stays joined to the vine, you cannot produce fruit unless you stay joined to me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me. If you don't stay joined to me, you will be thrown away. You will be like dry branches that are gathered up and burned in a fire.” (John 15:1-6)
We have here in this passage deep references to the possibility of relationships. Being in union with Christ is possible in a way that is not possible in any other religion. Christ is living and we have a relationship with him. The gift of the Holy Spirit as the down payment of our redemption is part of the promise.
“Now I tell you to love each other, as I have loved you. The greatest way to show love for friends is to die for them. And you are my friends, if you obey me. Servants don't know what their master is doing, and so I don't speak to you as my servants. I speak to you as my friends, and I have told you everything that my Father has told me.” (John 15:12-15)
Jesus gave his life for us. There is no greater gift!
“Everyone who hates me also hates my Father. I have done things that no one else has ever done. If they had not seen me do these things, they would not be guilty. But they did see me do these things, and they still hate me and my Father too. That is why the Scriptures are true when they say, "People hated me for no reason." I will send you the Spirit who comes from the Father and shows what is true. The Spirit will help you and will tell you about me.” (John 15:23-26)
The immediate reference to the Comforter is to the disciples, not somebody 500 years later. Mohammed certainly did not proceed from the Father, the Creator, nor did Jesus send him. The Spirit bears witness to the words of Jesus and confirms them in our hearts.
“I am telling you this to keep you from being afraid. You will be chased out of the Jewish meeting places. And the time will come when people will kill you and think they are doing God a favor. They will do these things because they don't know either the Father or me.” (John 16:1-3)
This is a commentary on all evil deeds done in the name of God. But his judgment is that they do not know the Father nor Jesus Himself. Whatever the case, jihad, hate crimes, terrorism, they do not come from the Father nor Jesus.
“But I tell you that I am going to do what is best for you. That is why I am going away. The Holy Spirit cannot come to help you until I leave. But after I am gone, I will send the Spirit to you. The Spirit will come and show the people of this world the truth about sin and God's justice and the judgment. The Spirit will show them that they are wrong about sin, because they didn't have faith in me. They are wrong about God's justice, because I am going to the Father, and you won't see me again. And they are wrong about the judgment, because God has already judged the ruler of this world. I have much more to say to you, but right now it would be more than you could understand. The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth. The Spirit doesn't speak on his own. He will tell you only what he has heard from me, and he will let you know what is going to happen. The Spirit will bring glory to me by taking my message and telling it to you.” (John 16:7-14)
The Comforter, or helper, came at Pentecost. The disciples were empowered to preach the good news of the resurrection, the forgiveness of sins, and they did many miracles made possible by the Spirit. Their goal was to serve Christ and declare the good news concerning Him.
“Everything that the Father has is mine. That is why I have said that the Spirit takes my message and tells it to you. Jesus told his disciples, "For a little while you won't see me, but after a while you will see me.” (John 16:15-16)
Jesus claimed equality with the Father in that there is an interchange between His power, authority, and the Fathers. A little while probably refers to the three days of his being in the grave, and then the resurrection.
“I tell you for certain that you will cry and be sad, but the world will be happy. You will be sad, but later you will be happy. When a woman is about to give birth, she is in great pain. But after it is all over, she forgets the pain and is happy, because she has brought a child into the world. You are now very sad. But later I will see you, and you will be so happy that no one will be able to change the way you feel.” (John 16:20-22)
Words of preparation to the disciples about his coming crucifixion. Sadness is followed by the awesome joy of the resurrection. The conviction that Jesus was alive rejoiced the hearts of the disciples and turned them from being afraid into bold messengers of the Good News.
“When that time comes, you won't have to ask me about anything. I tell you for certain that the Father will give you whatever you ask for in my name. You have not asked for
anything in this way before, but now you must ask in my name. Then it will be given to you, so that you will be completely happy. I have used examples to explain to you what I have been talking about. But the time will come when I will speak to you plainly about the Father and will no longer use examples like these. You will ask the Father in my name, and I won't have to ask him for you. God the Father loves you because you love me, and you believe that I have come from him. I came from the Father into the world, but I am leaving the world and returning to the Father.” (John 16:23-28)
The sense of union expressed in these words is profound and deep. One may have some sense of analogy when someone has done a good deed to my son I have a sense of appreciation for that person. Here we have the Father loving us because we love the Son.
“The time will come and is already here when all of you will be scattered. Each of you will go back home and leave me by myself. But the Father will be with me, and I won't be alone. I have told you this, so that you might have peace in your hearts because of me. While you are in the world, you will have to suffer. But cheer up! I have defeated the world.” (John 16:32-33)
Because the Father is with Him He endured the cross alone. The disciples had fled and He endured the suffering, the humiliation, the scourging alone. But in the process He has overcome the world. His kingdom will be forever.
“One of Jesus' followers pulled out a sword. He struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. But Jesus told him, "Put your sword away. Anyone who lives by fighting will die by fighting. Don't you know that I could ask my Father, and right away he would send me more than twelve armies of angels? But then, how could the words of the Scriptures come true, which say that this must happen?” (Matt. 26:51-54)
There have been many things done in the name of Christ, but there is no command of Christ to use the sword for coercing people into belief. The Crusades have no basis in the words of Jesus. Moreover, the concept of Jihad, convert, submit, or die, is absolutely alien to the teachings of Jesus.
Events leading to the Crucifixion and resurrection.
It was no surprise to Jesus that he would be crucified. The Scriptures prophesied it centuries before. The details of Isaiah 53 show the terrible event.
“But Jesus did not answer. So the high priest said, "With the living God looking on, you must tell the truth. Tell us, are you the Messiah, the Son of God?" "That is what you say!" Jesus answered. "But I tell all of you, 'Soon you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right side of God All-Powerful and coming on the clouds of heaven.' " The high priest then tore his robe and said, "This man claims to be God! We don't need any more witnesses! You have heard what he said. What do you think?" They answered, "He is guilty and deserves to die!” (Matt. 26:53-66)
If Jesus was not who He claimed to be, this would be a stupid thing to do. Simply deny any claims to being the Son of God and go free. Jesus could not do that because it was a contradiction to his very Being.
“Pilate then went back inside. He called Jesus over and asked, "Are you the king of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Are you asking this on your own or did someone tell you about me?" "You know I'm not a Jew!" Pilate said. "Your own people and the chief priests brought you to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom doesn't belong to this world. If it did, my followers would have fought to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. No, my kingdom doesn't belong to this world." "So you are a king," Pilate replied. "You are saying that I am a king," Jesus told him. "I was born into this world to tell about the truth. And everyone who belongs to the truth knows my voice.” (John 18:33-37)
Jesus fulfills the promises to King David that a descendent of David would sit on his throne forever. Only an eternal Being could do this.
“When the chief priests and the temple police saw him, they yelled, "Nail him to a cross! Nail him to a cross!" Pilate told them, "You take him and nail him to a cross! I don't find him guilty of anything." The crowd replied, "He claimed to be the Son of God! Our Jewish Law says that he must be put to death." When Pilate heard this, he was terrified.” (John 19:6-8)
The enemies of Jesus knew the claims that He made. They knew the threat of his position. His miracles were known. There was a fickleness of the crowd that it could welcome him into Jerusalem one week and crucify him the following week.
“Two criminals were led out to be put to death with Jesus. When the soldiers came to the place called "The Skull," they nailed Jesus to a cross. They also nailed the two criminals to crosses, one on each side of Jesus. Jesus said, "Father, forgive these people! They don't know what they're doing.” (Luke 23:32-34)
“But the other criminal told the first one off, "Don't you fear God? Aren't you getting the same punishment as this man? We got what was coming to us, but he didn't do anything wrong." Then he said to Jesus, "Remember me when you come into power!" Jesus replied, "I promise that today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:40-43)
Only the Son of God could make a promise like this. Only the Son of God would pray for their forgiveness in that crucial situation. Through his own death Jesus brought the repentant thief to life everlasting.
The Resurrection story gives further evidence of the crucifixion and death of Jesus.
“The women went into the tomb, and on the right side they saw a young man in a white robe sitting there. They were alarmed. The man said, "Don't be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus from Nazareth, who was nailed to a cross. God has raised him to life, and he isn't here. You can see the place where they put his body. Now go and tell his disciples, and especially Peter, that he will go ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” (Mark 16:5-7)
The angels knew who had been crucified, and it was not some stranger, or duplicitous event. Moreover, the resurrection took place and Jesus appeared to them in Galilee. There are a number of appearances of Jesus over a period of 40 days and He was seen by up to 500 people at one time as well as appearing to the eleven disciples, to the women, to the two on the road to Emmaus.
“Then Jesus asked the two disciples, "Why can't you understand? How can you be so slow to believe all that the prophets said? Didn't you know that the Messiah would have to suffer before he was given his glory?" Jesus then explained everything written about himself in the Scriptures, beginning with the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets.” (Luke 24:25-27)
Even after the resurrection some were slow to believe. Jesus affirms again the prophetic word that the Messiah would suffer all those things before entering into glory.
“While Jesus' disciples were talking about what had happened, Jesus appeared and greeted them. They were frightened and terrified because they thought they were seeing a ghost. But Jesus said, "Why are you so frightened? Why do you doubt? Look at my hands and my feet and see who I am! Touch me and find out for yourselves. Ghosts don't have flesh and bones as you see I have." After Jesus said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. The disciples were so glad and amazed that they could not believe it. Jesus then asked them, "Do you have something to eat?" They gave him a piece of baked fish. He took it and ate it as they watched.” (Luke 24:36-43)
How would you react if you saw a person you believed to be dead? They reacted accordingly. But ghosts don’t have hands and feet to feel, and do not request food to eat. He gave them evidence of his realness by their touch and by the food.
“Jesus said to them, "While I was still with you, I told you that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Books of the Prophets, and in the Psalms had to happen." Then he helped them understand the Scriptures. He told them: The Scriptures say that the Messiah must suffer, then three days later he will rise from death. They also say that all people of every nation must be told in my name to turn to God, in order to be forgiven. So beginning in Jerusalem, you must tell everything that has happened. I will send you the one my Father has promised, but you must stay in the city until you are given power from heaven.” (Luke 24:44-49)
This is the closing of the gospel of Luke and it is very similar to Matthew in that the commission is given to the disciples to preach the gospel of the resurrection and forgiveness.
It is good news about being a new creature in Christ, about living in union with Him.
“So they told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But Thomas said, "First, I must see the nail scars in his hands and touch them with my finger. I must put my hand where the spear went into his side. I won't believe unless I do this!" A week later the disciples were together again. This time, Thomas was with them. Jesus came in while the doors were still locked and stood in the middle of the group. He greeted his disciples and said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and look at my hands! Put your hand into my side. Stop doubting and have faith!" Thomas replied, "You are my Lord and my God!" Jesus said, "Thomas, do you have faith because you have seen me? The people who have faith in me without seeing me are the ones who are really blessed!" Jesus worked many other miracles for his disciples, and not all of them are written in this book. But these are written so that you will put your faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. If you have faith in him, you will have true life.” (John 20:25-31)
Thomas will always be remembered as the skeptic and will be appreciated for it. His experience of wanting evidence was honored. In response, he confessed Jesus as Lord and God.
That is the basic theme of the Gospel that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God, or God in the flesh.
We have quoted the words of Jesus, the disciples, the angels, his enemies, and they
all affirm the same message, Jesus is Lord. We can close with the words of the prologue to the Gospel of John:
“In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. From the very beginning the Word was with God…" "The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us…" "No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is truly God and is closest to the Father, has shown us what God is like.” (John 1:1-2; 1:14; 1:18)
The evidence of the Gospels alone tell the story of a person who was more than a prophet.
The miracles in his ministry could not be done by human suggestion. It is only by adopting a purely philosophic naturalism that one can claim that miracles did not happen. Naturalism will not allow even God to exist. People influenced by naturalism may want to believe in God, but not the miracles of Jesus. In so doing, they are denying the basic fabric of the Gospels.
Such a view locks God out of the Creation. Such a view logically rejects the Creation story as well as the Big Bang theory of physics. Atheists have a difficult time since the acceptance of the Big Bang theory of the universe since it requires a point in which the universe began. It is not eternal as atheists used to believe. So how did it come to be? Nothing produces nothing...! It is reasonable to think of an eternal Creator who brought the marvelous universe into existence. Miracles are only possible if God exists. Jesus could do miracles because He was God in the flesh. From the beginning the early Christians believed in the deity of Christ. This was expressed also in the letters of the New Testament as well as the early church fathers who quoted the Gospels and epistles. See www.biblequery.org under Early Christian Doctrines for what the early Christians believed.
The Muslim propaganda that the Scriptures have been corrupted arose later than the Qur’an. We have Greek manuscripts dating long before the time of the Qur’an and they give evidence that the early Christians DID NOT corrupt the text. One can well raise the question that if God did not keep the Old Testament and the New Testament from corruption what assurance is there that the Quran has not been corrupted.
Continue with Part II.
 All Scripture quotations are taken from the Contemporary English Version. Throughout this article, bold emphasis in Scripture quotations is editorial in nature and not part of the original text.
Appendix: Miracles of Jesus
Water made into wine. John 2:1-11
Heals the nobleman's son, John 4:46-54
Draught of fishes, Luke 5:1-11
Heals the Demoniac, Mark 1:23-26, Luke 4:33-36
Heals Peter's Mother-in-law, Matt. 8:14, Mar 1:29, Luke 4:38
Cleanses the leper, Matt. 8:1-4, Mar. 1:40, Luke 5:12
Heals the Paralytic, Mt. 9:1-8, Mar 2:1-12; luke 5:17-26
Restores the centurion's servant, Mt.8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10
Raises the widow's son to life, Luke 7:11-16
Heals a demoniac, Mt. 12:22-37, Mar. 3:11, Luke 11:14-15
Stills the tempest, Mt. 8:23-27; Mar. 4:35, Luke 8:22
Casts devils out of two men of Gadara, Mt. 8:28, Luke 8:26
Raises from the dead the daughter of Jairus, Mt. 9:18-26, Mar. 5:22-24,35-43; Luke 8:41-42, 49-56.
Cures the woman with the issues of blood. Mt. 9:20, Mark 5:25, Luke 8:43
Restores two blind men to sight. Mt. 9:27-31
Heals a demoniac, Mt. 9:32-33
Feeds five thousand people, Mt. 14:15-21; Mar 6:35-44, Luke 9:12-17, John 6:5-14
Walks on the sea, Mt. 14:22-33; Mar 6:45-52; John 6:16
Heals the daughter of the Syrophenician woman, Mt. 15:21-28, Mar 7:24
Feeds four thousand people. Mt. 15:32; Mark 8:1-9
Restores one deaf and dumb.. Mar 7:31-37
Restores a blind man, Mark 8:22
Restores a lunatic child, Matt. 17:14; Mark 9:14; Luke 9:27
Tribute money obtained from a fish's mouth. Mt. 17:24-27
Restores ten lepers, Luke 17:11-19
Opens the eyes of a man born blind, John 9
Raises Lazarus from the dead, John 11:1-46
Heals the woman with the spirit of informity, Luke 13:10-17
Cures a man with dropsy Luke 14:1-6
Restores two blind men near Jericho, Mt. 20:29-34; Mar 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43
Curses a fig tree, Mt. 21:17-22; Mar.11:12-14; Markk 11:20-24
Heals the ear of Malchus, Luke 22:49-51
Second draught of fishes, John 21:6
The greatest of miracles is his resurrection from the dead. He foretold his death and his resurrection. Easter is the remembrance of this great event.