The question of whether Jesus Christ existed is asked by relatively few people. Every historian and scholar affirms that Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem around 4-6 BCE , during the reign of Herod the Great. The debate about Jesus begins with the discussion of His full identity, not existence. Almost every major religion teaches that Jesus was a prophet or a good teacher or a godly man. But the Bible tells us that Jesus was infinitely more than a prophet, a good teacher, or a godly man.
More Than a Moral Teacher
C. S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity writes the following: “I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. 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 a level with a man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.”
“You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.”
Jesus is God
So, who did Jesus claim to be? Who does the Bible say He is? First, He is God in the flesh. Jesus said in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” At first glance, this might not seem to be a claim to be God. However, look at the Jews’ reaction to His statement. They tried to stone Him “for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10:33). The Jews understood Jesus’ statement as a claim to be God. In the following verses, Jesus never corrects the Jews or attempts to clarify His statement. He never says, “I did not claim to be God.” When Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), He truly was claiming equality with God.
In John 8:58 Jesus claims pre-existence, an attribute of God: “‘Very truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’” In response to this statement, the Jews again took up stones to stone Jesus (John 8:59). In claiming pre-existence, Jesus applied a name for God to Himself—I AM (see Exodus 3:14). The Jews rejected Jesus’ identity as God Incarnate, but they understood exactly what He was saying.
Other biblical clues that Jesus is God in the flesh include John 1:1, which says, “The Word was God,” coupled with John 1:14, which says, “The Word became flesh.” Thomas the disciple declared to Jesus, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28), Jesus does not correct him. The apostle Paul describes Jesus as “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). The apostle Peter says the same, calling Jesus “our God and Savior” (2 Peter 1:1).
God the Father bears witness of Jesus’ identity as well: “But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.’” (Hebrews 1:8; cf. Psalm 45:6). Old Testament prophecies such as Isaiah 9:6 announce the deity of Christ: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”.
Why Does it Matter?
Why is the question of Jesus’ identity so important? Why does it matter whether Jesus is God? Several reasons:
- As C. S. Lewis pointed out, if Jesus is not God, then Jesus is the worst of liars and untrustworthy in every way.
- If Jesus is not God, then the apostles would likewise have been liars.
- Jesus had to be God because the Messiah was promised to be the “Holy One” (Isaiah 49:7). Since no one on earth is righteous before God (Psalm 53:1; 143:2), God Himself had to enter the world as a human.
- If Jesus is not God, His death would have been insufficient to pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). Only God Himself could provide an infinite, eternally valuable sacrifice (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
- God is the only Savior (Hosea 13:4; cf. 1 Timothy 2:3). If Jesus is to be the Savior, then He must be God.
Jesus had to be both God and man. As God, Jesus could satisfy God’s wrath. As a man, Jesus had the capability of dying. As the God-man, Jesus is the perfect Mediator between heaven and earth (1 Timothy 2:5). Salvation is available only through faith in Jesus Christ. As He proclaimed, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Saviour of Humanity
At the core of Christianity lies the belief that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of humanity. All human beings are born with a sinful nature (Romans 3:23), separated from God and incapable of bridging that gap on their own (Romans 4:4-5). However, Jesus, through His sacrificial death and resurrection, offers a solution to this predicament.
The death of Jesus on the cross is the ultimate act of love and redemption. He willingly took upon Himself the punishment that humanity deserved for their sins. Through His death, Jesus paid the price for humanity’s wrongdoing, offering forgiveness and reconciliation with God. This act of atonement allows individuals to be freed from the guilt and consequences of sin, offering them the opportunity to experience God’s grace and eternal life.
Furthermore, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is a pivotal event in Christianity. It signifies His victory over sin and death, demonstrating His power and authority. By conquering death, Jesus offers the hope of resurrection and eternal life to all who trust in Him. This resurrection is a foundational belief in Christianity, providing assurance that believers will also experience eternal life in the presence of God.
Another essential aspect of Jesus’ identity is His role as the perfect mediator between humanity and God in the present. As both fully God and fully man, Jesus understands the human experience intimately (Hebrews 4:14-16). He sympathizes with human weaknesses and advocates on behalf of believers before God. He bridges the gap caused by sin, allowing individuals to approach God with confidence. Through Jesus’ sacrifice and His position as the Son of God, believers can have direct access to God, offering their prayers, seeking forgiveness, and receiving guidance and comfort.
Jesus’ mediation extends beyond representing humanity before God; He also represents God to humanity (John 14:7). Through His life and teachings, Jesus reveals the nature and character of God to humankind. He exemplifies God’s love, compassion, justice, and mercy. Through His ministry, Jesus taught about the kingdom of God and demonstrated God’s desire for a restored relationship with humanity.
The Fulfilment of Prophecy
Throughout the Old Testament of the Bible, there are 456 prophecies and promises regarding the coming of a Messiah who would bring salvation and establish God’s kingdom. The fulfillment of these prophecies serves as a significant validation of Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah. From His birth in Bethlehem to His ministry, teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection, Jesus fulfilled countless prophecies recorded in the Old Testament. These prophecies include specific details about His lineage, birthplace, mission, suffering, and ultimate victory.
The statistical probability of the fulfilment of these prophecies is near impossible. Over 600 professors and students from Westmont College estimated the chance of fulfilling a single prophecy of Jesus’ birthplace (Bethlehem) is about 1 in 300,000. Of course, there is more than one fulfilled prophecy. The chance of Jesus fulfilling 48 prophecies is 1 in 10 to the power of 157 (10 followed by 157 zeros!). The chance of Jesus fulfilling all 456 prophecies is impossible. And yet, He did.
The fulfillment of these prophecies not only confirms Jesus’ identity but also underscores the divine orchestration of human history. It points to God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His promises and His plan of redemption for humanity through Jesus.
Jesus Christ is central to Christianity and holds a unique and exalted position. He is the Saviour of humanity, offering forgiveness, reconciliation, and eternal life through His sacrificial death and resurrection. As the perfect mediator, Jesus bridges the gap between God and humanity, representing both sides and facilitating a restored relationship. Furthermore, Jesus’ fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies solidifies His identity as the long-awaited Messiah, showcasing God’s faithfulness and the divine plan of salvation.
Only through faith in Jesus Christ can one be saved from sin, death, & Hell and receive eternal life in Heaven & right-standing with God. Scripture says “if you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9-11). Making the decision to follow Jesus is the greatest decision you can ever make in your life and for your eternity! We would love to hear from you if you decide to make this decision.