More books have been written about Jesus than about any other person in history. More songs have been written about Jesus, and more art has been created about Jesus, than about anyone else who has ever lived. There is no question that Jesus Christ looms as one of the largest figures in the history of the human race. But who is Jesus?
The major religions of the world all have their own opinions about Jesus. Here are some examples: The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus is Michael the archangel, created by God. Mormons teach that Jesus was created like the rest of us and was born as the “spirit brother” of Lucifer. Unitarian Universalists teach that Jesus was merely a man who was a good teacher. Buddhism teaches that rather than being God, Jesus was enlightened much like the Buddha. Islam teaches that Jesus was just a man who was a prophet, although inferior to Mohammad. Hindu leader Mahatma Gandhi said, “I cannot ascribe exclusive divinity to Jesus. He is as divine as Krishna or Rama or Mohammed or Zoroaster.”
These confusing and contradictory ideas don’t tell us who Jesus is. Many people say that He was primarily a good person and a great teacher. Those statements are kind of strange when you think about it because no one has ever endured more criticism or hatred than Jesus. After helping hundreds of people, He was executed. Since then, millions of people have been persecuted and/or put to death just because they were followers of that same Jesus.
Let’s take a minute and discover what Jesus said about Himself to see if it holds any weight.
Jesus made some amazingly bold claims. For example, Jesus said in John 8:56-58 that He had existed long before Abraham (who lived almost 2,000 years earlier). Jesus also said that seeing Him was the same thing as seeing God (see John 12:44-46 and John 14:6-9).
Not only that, but Jesus claimed to be the Judge of the world (John 5:21-23). He also said that He has the power to forgive sin and raise the dead (John 8:23-24; John 11:25). Jesus even said He is the very source of life itself: “I am the bread of life….” (John 6:35); and the only way to eternal life “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). He also promised to accompany His followers forever “… I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
I could go on, but I think the point is clear. Jesus made many amazing claims.
In his famous book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis put it this way, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg—or He would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His [just] being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”
Bible teacher R.C. Sproul points out that believing what Jesus said about Himself is the only way our deepest needs can be met: “We need Christ—the real Christ. A Christ born of empty speculation or created to squeeze into the philosopher’s pattern simply won’t do. A recycled Christ, a Christ of compromise, can redeem no one. A Christ watered down, stripped of power, debased of glory, reduced to a symbol, or made impotent by scholarly surgery is not Christ, but Antichrist.”
This is a sober, but important truth. One day we will all stand before an eternally holy God. Jesus is the only religious leader in the history of the world who even claims to be able to forgive sin and protect us from God’s wrath against sin with His own perfect righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:20-21).
We have looked at what other religions believe about Jesus. We have looked at what Jesus said about Himself. Now, it’s your turn. What do you believe about Jesus? To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or He is Lord.
My heart’s desire is that you will put your trust in the God who became one of us and who willingly paid our sin debt for us.
If you contact me, I’ll send you a 56-page book by Billy Graham called “The Key to Personal Peace.” It would be my gift to you. I hope you will reach out. Jesus is the way to personal peace, and we all need His peace especially during these difficult times.