Letting Jesus Speak
Letting Jesus Speak
Years ago I was preaching a funeral and someone in the audience piped up and said they believed in the real Jesus, inferring that the Jesus in the Bible was not the real Jesus. Jesus just might be the most loved and the most hated figure of human history. Even in the First Century the opinions of Jesus among His contemporaries ranged from being the Son of God (Matthew 16:16), to being demon-possessed (John 10:21). To this day the world remains very divided on who Jesus is:
What the Demons Said
While some of Jesus’ enemies claimed that He was demon-possessed, I think it very interesting that when Jesus encountered demon-possessed individuals that they never claimed that He was on their side, crazy or simply a mere or good man:
- “Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; and shouting with a loud voice, he said, ‘What business do we have with each other, Jesus Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me’” (Mark 5:6-7).
It is interesting to observe that the demons had some of the highest views of Jesus recorded in the New Testament, though they do not love Him or serve Him, at the same time they definitely believe that He is indeed the Son of God (James 2:19), and has the power to cast them into the abyss. They don’t find Jesus intriguing, rather they find Him terrifying. In contrast to such a high view of Jesus,
- Many believe Jesus was a very good man, yet not God. This is a very comfortable position, in which you say nice things about Him, but you don’t feel that you have to obey Him.
- Others say He is Michael the archangel, a created being.
- To some He was one of many prophets that have existed on the earth.
Added to that I find that many people try to make Jesus conform to their own earthly interests, goals and preconceived ideas. Mikhail Gorbachev said that Jesus was the first socialist. Malcolm X said that Jesus was black, Mormonism teaches that Jesus was a polygamist, and some Muslims contend that if Jesus were on the earth today, He would be a Muslim. Yet instead of letting others tell us what they think about Jesus, I believe it is much better to let Jesus speak for Himself.
He Said He Came Down From Heaven
- “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man” (John 3:13).
- “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38).
Now and then people will claim that they have been taken to heaven through something like a near-death experience. The Muslim “prophet” Muhammad claimed that on one occasion he was taken from heaven to the earth. However, Jesus claimed something far more amazing than this. He claimed that He had come from heaven, that heaven had been His home from eternity (John 17:5; John 1:1).
He Said that He Is God
- “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Such could only be true if Jesus is of the same nature as the Father. Another passage expresses it this way, “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3).
- “So that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father” (John 5:23).
If Jesus is to be honored on the same level as the Father is honored, then He must be equal with the Father. When people objected that He was claiming equality with God, Jesus never stopped and argued that they had misunderstood Him. For example, when Jesus said, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working” (John 5:17), the audience clearly understood that He was claiming to be equal with the Father (5:18). Yet Jesus never sought to correct this understanding, even though He corrected people when they were wrong (Matthew 16:8).
There are a number of titles that were used in reference to God in the Old Testament, titles that Jesus, without reservation, applies to Himself in the New Testament, for example, the term “Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1; John 10:14), or the phrase “I AM” (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58).
He Claimed to Be Able to Forgive Sin
- “Seeing their faith, He said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you. The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, ‘Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?’” (Luke 5:20-21).
First observe the definition of blasphemy given in the verse. Blasphemy is when you are claiming to be God or you are claiming that you can do something that only God can do. Repeatedly as Jesus’ enemies hear Him teach, they claim that He is guilty of blasphemy (Matthew 26:64-65; “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God’” (John 10:33). Once again, when the enemies of Jesus draw the conclusion from Jesus’ words that He is claiming to be God, Jesus never stops and says, “Oh no, you’ve misunderstood what I said”.
“While many of the resources of our world are spent on dealing with the effects of sin (e.g., war, illness, death, depression, crime, poverty), there is still no way for people to have their sins forgiven. At best, some religions try to teach their adherents what they can do to work hard at paying God back through such things as good works and reincarnation; they still lack any concept of forgiveness” (Vintage Jesus, Driscoll and Breshears, p. 25). Let us pause for a moment and really reflect on the fact that one cannot buy forgiveness. Neither is forgiveness available in any substance or earthly experience. In addition, no human being can guarantee to you that you actually are forgiven. Only God can offer forgiveness. “But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared” (Psalm 130:4).
He is the Only Way to Heaven
- “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one come to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6)
- “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
- “The word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48).
- “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man” (Matthew 7:24).
- “You are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:40).
“Not only did Jesus declare that He came down from heaven, but He also taught that He alone is the only way for anyone else to enter into heaven. While there are many religious and spiritual teachers who claim that they can point you to the path to heaven, they do not claim to be that path themselves… Jesus’ words further prove that He was and is God. Because heaven belongs to God, it is God alone who determines who is granted access to it and who will live with Him forever there. Some will protest that other religions provide additional paths to heaven, but Jesus debunked those myths by declaring that He alone is the sole, narrow path to eternal life” (Vintage Jesus, p. 26). In fact, any claim that additional paths to heaven exist is extremely insulting and dishonoring to Jesus, for such assertions are claiming that Jesus’ sacrifice was not really necessary for mankind to be saved, and that one can be saved through other and lesser means.
He is Sinless
“Even those religious leaders who are widely commended as the most devout and morally upright, have admitted that they are indeed sinners… Tragically, some people do not believe that Jesus is sinless and therefore morally superior to everyone else. Fully 41 percent of adults believe that Jesus sinned when He was on the earth… Even 40 percent of teenagers who claim to be born again… wrongly believe that Jesus committed sins like other people while on the earth” (Vintage Jesus, p. 24).
- While we read of Jesus being tempted (Matthew 4), there is no record of Him ever sinning. Jesus even challenged people to find sin in His life (John 8:46).
- We often find Jesus praying and telling others to repent, but we never find Him confessing, repenting or praying for the forgiveness of His own sins.
- His closest acquaintances professed that He never sinned (Acts 3:14; 1 Peter 1:19; 2:22; 3:18).
- The apostle John wrote that anyone who claims to be without sin is a liar (1 John 1:8), yet then writes that Jesus did not sin (1 John 3:5).
Thus, the perfect and sinless life of Jesus makes Him admittedly far more worthy of our time and devotion than anyone who has ever lived.
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017