Saturday, January 30, 2010

Who is Jesus? The Centrality of the Person and Work of Christ

I. Introduction – Jesus as the Center of Christianity
John 8:48-59 contains a fascinating exchange between Jesus and “the Jews” (the teachers and Pharisees).

The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”
“I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”
At this the Jews exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets! Who do you think you are?”
Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
“You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

Why do the Jews try to stone Jesus at the end of that passage? Because Jesus claims to be God. “Before Abraham was born, I AM.” Jesus is not just saying that he has been around since before Abraham (a claim which would be kooky enough in its own right); he is taking upon himself the divine name – the name by which the Lord revealed himself to Moses (Exodus 3:14). I AM THAT I AM. I AM – Yahweh. “Before Abraham was born, I AM.” Jesus is claiming to be God in the flesh – the claim is not explicit, but it is obvious enough that the Jews respond violently. You can hear the exasperation and disbelief in their voices—Jesus, who do you think you are?!?! This is the question that I want us to consider today. Jesus – who do you think you are?

William Lane Craig rightly argues: “The Christian religion stands or falls with the person of Jesus Christ. Judaism could survive without Moses, Buddhism without Buddha, Islam without Mohammed; but Christianity could not survive without Christ. This is because unlike most other world religions, Christianity is belief in a person, a genuine historical individual—but at the same time a special individual, whom the church regards as not only human, but divine. At the center of any Christian apologetic therefore stand the person of Christ; and very important for the doctrine of Christ’s person are the personal claims of the historical Jesus. Did he claim to be divine? Or did he regard himself as a prophet? Or was he the exemplification of some highest human quality such as love or faith? Who did Jesus of Nazareth claim to be?”

The person and work of Jesus Christ sets Christianity entirely apart from every other religion and philosophy. What we believe about Jesus is unique and determinative.

a) Jesus is God incarnate – Jesus is not just a prophet, not just a teacher, not just a good moral example. He is God in the flesh, dwelling amongst man.
b) Jesus died as an atonement for sin – Jesus was crucified and died, but His death was not a martyr’s death. His death purchased our salvation, our eternal life.
c) Jesus rose from the dead – Jesus’ death was not the end of His story. He rose from the dead, and lives on in a glorified body.
d) Jesus determines our eternal destiny – Jesus will come back to judge the living and the dead. Where we go after we die is determined by our relationship to Jesus Christ.

That’s a core set of Christian beliefs about Jesus—not exhaustive, but it expresses the heart of our faith. But an important question needs to be asked—are these beliefs about Jesus true? Is Jesus who we Christians believe Him to be? Is Jesus truly the divine Son of God who died for our sins, rose again on the third day, and will determine our eternal destiny?

Three years ago, the blockbuster movie The DaVinci Code made some striking claims about Jesus of Nazareth. The movie’s authoritative teacher, Sir Leigh Teabing, declares:

Jesus Christ was a historical figure of staggering influence, perhaps the most enigmatic and inspirational leader the world has ever seen. … The Council of Nicaea … debated and voted upon … the divinity of Jesus. … Until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet – a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal. … Many scholars claim that the early Church literally stole Jesus from His original followers, hijacking His human message, shrouding it in an impenetrable cloak of divinity, and using it to expand their own power. … The vast majority of educated Christians know the history of their faith. Jesus was indeed a great and powerful man. Constantine’s underhanded political maneuvers don’t diminish the majesty of Christ’s life. Nobody is saying Christ was a fraud, or denying that He walked the earth and inspired millions to better lives. But he wasn’t God, and he never claimed to be.

While most people are smart enough not to take their theological education from a summer movie, the views espoused in The DaVinci Code have actually found a wide following amongst North Americans, even many Christians. The popular belief is that Jesus was a great man, a prophet, a revolutionary world-changer, but not God in the flesh. Jesus was a lot of wonderful things, and made a huge difference, but He is most certainly not who the Christian Church historically has claimed Him to be.

As Christians, we need to respond to such mistaken notions about Jesus of Nazareth, and point people towards who Jesus truly was and is. An essential task of Christian apologetics is demonstrating that Jesus Christ believed Himself to be God in the flesh, and demonstrated His Divine identity through His life, ministry, death, and resurrection. My prayer is for you to know that Jesus Christ demonstrated, through His Words and through His deeds, that He believed Himself to be (and in fact was) God in the flesh. In pursuit of that goal, we are going to look at words and deeds of Jesus that are accepted by almost all biblical scholars – including non-Christian scholars who absolutely reject the conclusions that I will draw. That is, the biblical evidence that we will survey together does not require you to believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. I believe the Bible is both of those things – but the passages we will look at are generally accepted as authentic and historical even by scholars who reject the inspiration of Scripture.

Why, you might ask, would I want to limit us to passages that are accepted as authentically historical by radical atheistic scholars? Two reasons. First, because we can do so and still establish very powerfully and persuasively that Jesus Christ believed He was God incarnate. Second, because not everybody that we talk to accepts the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. I certainly do, and I know that most of you do as well. But I also have numerous friends and family members who do not. But even atheistic biblical scholars who think Jesus was just a radical dude acknowledge that much that is contained within the Gospels is literal history—an accurate record of Jesus’s words and deeds. And on the basis of such passages, we can show that Jesus believed He was God in the flesh. Even people who reject the authority of the Bible still have to deal with the person and work of Jesus Christ.
So – with that in mind, let’s look at the Jesus of the Gospels—who did Jesus think He was?

II. Who Did Jesus Think He Was?How do we determine who Jesus thought He was? There are two primary vehicles through which people demonstrate their assessment of themselves – their words and their deeds. So let’s look at what Jesus said about Himself, and then what He did to demonstrate who He was.

1. Jesus’ Words
How did Jesus understand and refer to Himself? What were the terms and titles that He used about Himself? There are three titles commonly used of Jesus in the Gospels.

a) Messiah
The first title used of Jesus, and the one most familiar to us, is the Hebrew “Messiah,” (or meschiach) whose Greek equivalent is “Christ,” (or Christos).
The title “Messiah” or “Christ” is not an explicitly divine title; rather, it is the acknowledgment of a divine anointing. King David was the “meshiach,” the anointed of the Lord. Others in the Old Testament shared that title. However, as Jewish history progressed, “Messiah” became a technical designation for the anointed of the Lord who was expected to come to redeem or rescue Israel from oppression and bondage. Very early on, “Christ” became the most popular title for Jesus, such that from Paul’s New Testament letters through to the modern church, it serves as a “surname” for Jesus. This title for Jesus is affirmed throughout the Gospels in many ways.

First, we find explicit affirmation that Jesus believed Himself to be the Messiah, the anointed Savior of Israel. Matthew 16:13-18 reads: When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

Second, Jesus implicitly affirms His Messianic identity. In Luke 7, John the Baptist begins to wonder whether Jesus is who John had thought Him to be (namely, the Messiah). So we see John send his own disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” In Luke 7:21-23, we find Jesus’ reply. At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

Jesus’ reply, calling attention to the deeds He has been performing, hearken back to Is. 35:5-6 and Is. 61:1, which faithful Jews regarded as Messianic promises. In the first passage, Isaiah promises that in the time of the Messiah, Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Isaiah 61:1, another Messianic promise, reads: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. The words from Isaiah’s Messianic prophecies are echoed in the words that Jesus uses to reply to John’s disciples. “Yes, I am the Messiah – see how my ministry fulfills what was promised through the prophet Isaiah?” Jesus doesn’t have to come right out and say it; the allusions to Isaiah are sufficient implicit affirmation of His Messianic identity.

Finally, Jesus’ Messianic self-understanding is confirmed at His crucifixion. What did Pilate write on the placard on Jesus’ cross? Mark 15:26 reads: The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. This was the title given by Jews to the expected Messiah. As J. D. G. Dunn points out, Jesus was executed “on the charge of being a messianic pretender.” That is, Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, the coming redeemer of Israel – bringing a charge of treason, punishable by death. So explicitly and implicitly, Jesus claimed to be the Messiah.

b) Son of God
The second title used of Jesus in the Gospels is “Son of God.” Today, Son of God is understood as being an explicit claim to Godhood, but this was actually not the case in the 1st century. That is, claiming to be the Son of God did not automatically mean that Jesus was claiming to be God in the flesh. That does not mean, however, that the term is empty or meaningless—far from it! The title “Son of God” claims a unique intimate relationship and connection with God.

Jesus explicitly claims to be the Son. Let’s look at Matthew 11:25-27. At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Strong words, identifying Jesus as having a unique family relationship with God.
Also, note the intimate claims to Sonhood contained in Jesus’ prayers. Mark 14:35-36: Going a little farther, Jesus fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” In all His prayers, Jesus refers to God as “Father.” This becomes more evident throughout the Gospel of John. Look through John 15-17 and notice how many times Jesus refers to “my Father,” “my Father in heaven,” and “the Father.” The intimate sonship that Jesus experienced and expressed was unheard of in Jewish religion. God was Lord, Yahweh, sovereign of the universe. But no self-respecting Jew would take it upon himself to call God “Father.” They would call Abraham “Father,” or Jacob, or even Moses. But to call God “Father” was to demonstrate spiritual arrogance and pride. Jesus, however, was comfortable praying to His “Father” in heaven, and even encouraged His followers to do the same.

c) Son of Man
While Messiah or Christ is the most popular title for Jesus today, and while Son of God carries (to our ears) the strongest claims to deity, the most important Gospel term used for Jesus is actually “Son of Man.” First it was Jesus’ favorite self-designation. This is what Jesus preferred to call Himself. For example, in Matthew 16:13, which we looked at earlier, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” Jesus uses the term 83 times for Himself in the Gospels. Second, Son of Man, although it sounds somewhat innocent to our post-modern ears, carried very explicit divine connotations in 1st century Palestine.

The self-designation invokes Daniel 7:13-14, which recounts a heavenly vision granted to the prophet Daniel. In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. Daniel’s Son of Man is a human-looking figure, but is endowed with divine attributes: dominion, everlasting kingdom, clouds of heaven. While the figure of the Son of Man was not highly visible in the Hebrew Old Testament, it became more so in the intertestamental period, in the Jewish apocryphal literature. The Son of Man was a figure of exaltation and vindication – the vindication both of the Son of Man and, through him, of the people of Israel as a whole. The Son of Man was the figure used by God to bring a final end to the exile of Israel – her oppression under foreign rulers. So, the title which Jesus chooses to use of Himself most frequently is this somewhat obscure, but very pregnant term which carries heavily divine overtones.

d) Mark 14:60-64 – the coup de grace
During Jesus’ trial with the Jewish Sanhedrin, we see this fascinating and crucial exchange.
Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”

What is the high priest asking Jesus? The question is basically – Jesus, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!?! “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”
“I am,” said Jesus, “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death.

In this central confrontation, Jesus conflates all three self-designations into one. Are you the Christ? Yes. Are you the Son of the Blessed One? Yes. Not only that, I am the Son of Man. For good measure, Jesus adds that He will be “sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” To top it all off, he begins, once again, by invoking the divine name for himself – “I AM.” Folks, in 1st-century Judaism, it doesn’t get any more explicit than that. Yes, I am the Messiah, the anointed one. Yes, I am the Son of God; I have a unique, familiar relationship with God Almighty. I am the Son of Man, the divine deliverer of Daniel 7. And I will sit at the right hand of God the Father. I am God!

Did Jesus understand Himself to be divine, to be God incarnate? Yes – and the futile struggles of skeptical scholars (and the DaVinci Code) to argue otherwise ultimately shipwreck on passages like Mark 14. Jesus was crucified for being a blasphemer, a Messianic pretender. Jesus made radical claims for Himself, claims to be God in the flesh.

2. Jesus’ Deeds
But we do not just have Jesus’ self-understanding and self-designations to go on. Jesus also assumed divine authority and status through His works, His actions. Indeed, His actions speak louder than His words in many cases.

a) Authority to Forgive Sin

First, He takes upon Himself the right to forgive sin. Mark 2:1-12 relates a powerful story:

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Who has the right to forgive sins? Only God, and according to the teachers of the law, only through the sacrificial system. The teachers of the law are asking – “Who does this Jesus fellow think he is?!” Jesus is claiming for Himself the divine authority to bypass the temple altogether and forgive sins Himself, in His own name. The passage continues:

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins …” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

b) Authority to Determine Eternal Destiny
Jesus claims authority to forgive sin, but even more astounding, he claims the authority and right to determine people’s eternal destiny. Let’s illustrate this with a few passages. In Luke 12:8-9, Jesus says, “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.” In John 10:24-28, we read: Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” In other words, “Jesus – who do you think you are? Who are you?!”

Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”

Again, this is merely a taste of the divine authority that Jesus assumes – to determine people’s eternal destiny. There are many more passages in the Gospels that we could go to, but those suffice to prove the point.

c) Authority to Teach Divine Truth

Perhaps even more astounding, at least to the Jews of the 1st century, Jesus also took upon Himself the authority to teach divine truth in His own name. The best demonstration of this is found in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapters 5-7. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus insists: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.

In other words, Jesus claims to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament. Then, beginning in verse 21, we find a series of six teachings. Each time, he begins: You have heard that it was said; and continues by claiming, But I tell you. Jesus takes either an Old Testament law, or else a rabbinical interpretation of an Old Testament law, and turns it upside down. He deepens the teachings and challenges the authority of the Pharisees and the scribes as interpreters. And He does it on His own authority! Thus, at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, we read (7:28-29): When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Jesus takes upon Himself the teaching and guiding authority of God Almighty. In the same way, Jesus uses the formula “amen, amen,” or “I tell you the truth” (NIV) or “Truly, truly I say to you” (NAS) to introduce His divine teaching authority. This formula is used twenty-five times in John’s Gospel (e.g. John 3:3 and 3:5), and shows that Jesus is not merely speaking for God, but is speaking as God. As Ben Witherington says, “Here was someone who thought he possessed not only divine inspiration … but also divine authority and the power of direct divine utterance.”

d) Authority to Heal & Exorcise Demons

Throughout the Gospels, we also see Jesus assuming the authority to perform miraculous healings and exorcisms. In Mark 9:14-28, we see a lengthy exorcism described and narrated. Amongst others, we see miraculous healings of leprosy (Luke 5:12-14), distance healings (Luke 7:1-10), healing the blind (John 9:1-12), and raising the dead (John 11:1-44). New Testament scholars are increasingly coming to the conclusion that miraculous faith healings were an integral part of Jesus’ ministry. Many of those scholars refuse to believe that they actually happened, at least in any kind of miraculous sense; but they admit that you cannot explain them out of the Gospels. They are a key historical piece of Jesus’ life and ministry.

e) Jesus’ Cumulative Authority in Matthew 8-9
Matthew 8-9 contain a beautiful cumulative description of the all-inclusive authority of Jesus.
(i) Lord of Sickness & Disease (8:1-4, 5-13, 14-17)
(ii) Lord of Nature (8:23-27)
(iii) Lord of Spirits (8:28-34)
(iv) Lord of Sin (9:1-8)
(v) Lord of the Traditions of the Elders (9:14-17)
(vi) Lord of Death (9:18-26)

When you put together what Jesus says about Himself and what He does, you are left with the unmistakeable impression that He thought He possessed divine authority. Years ago, C. S. Lewis posed his famous trilemma about the person of Jesus Christ. “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 the 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 with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

When we examine the historical evidence to answer the question “Who Does Jesus Think He Is?” the answer which echoes back is: “God.”

Bono, lead singer of the band U2, was asked about his Christian faith. The interviewer asked, “We all know Jesus was a great teacher and moral example. But all that Christian stuff about him being God, isn’t that a little far-fetched?” Bono had this to say in response. “Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: He was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says, No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: ‘I’m the Messiah.’ I’m saying: ‘I am God incarnate.’ … So what you’re left with is either Christ was who He said He was—the Messiah—or a complete nutcase. … [and] the idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me that’s far-fetched.”

Skeptics will often refuse to embrace the terms of C. S. Lewis’ trilemma. Instead, they will respond by saying: “There’s a fourth option. I acknowledge that the Jesus presented in the Gospels claims to be divine. But I don’t think that account is an accurate record of what Jesus said and did. The Jesus of the Gospels is legend.” Thus, the skeptic tries to make the trilemma into a quadrilemma – Jesus is either liar, lunatic, lord, or legend. And they choose legend.

That is why I began this apologetics series not with the self-understanding of Jesus, but rather with the question of the historical reliability of the Gospels, followed by their textual integrity. The discussion of the previous two weeks demonstrates why legend is not a legitimate option. The Gospels are historically reliable. They were written very close to the time of the events that they narrate. They claim to contain eyewitness testimony, and that claim is confirmed both by the internal evidence within the Gospels (the presence of numerous incidental details) and the external evidence supplied by archaeology and other ancient literature. The Gospels were written and began circulating at a time when there were still numerous living eyewitnesses, both friends and foes, who could have countered any details that were incorrect. But we do not find that. Rather, both friends and foes accept the historical accuracy of the Gospels. Friends (Christians) proclaim it as Gospel truth, and worship the Savior and Lord contained therein. Foes (Jews and Romans) denounce the miracle-working Jesus as a sorcerer, a tool of the devil. All alike acknowledge the astounding claims that Jesus makes for Himself (indeed, the Jews have him crucified for those claims!), and the incredible miracles that He performs. The Gospels are historically reliable. Furthermore, the text of the Gospels is intact – it reflects what was originally written. Textual criticism has established with strong certainty the faithfulness of our current Greek text to the original autographs. Given the historical reliability and textual integrity of the New Testament Gospels, one cannot claim that the Jesus contained therein is a legend. It is simply not an option. Lewis’ trilemma stands – you can reject him as a liar, lock him up as a lunatic, or worship him as Lord and God. But you must make your choice!

The refusal of some scholars and skeptics to accept the logical conclusions of the Gospel record is due not to lack of historical evidence but to their personal prejudices—the logic of their atheistic or naturalistic worldview. In other words, people refuse to grant the conclusion that Jesus believed He was incarnate God simply because they are unwilling to accept that Jesus was incarnate God! Yet this is who the historical record in the Gospels clearly, consistently, and authoritatively present to us: Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, the Son of Man. Jesus, who has the authority to forgive sin, who will determine men’s eternal destinies, who has the authority to teach divine truths in His own name, who has the ability to heal sickness in his own name. The Jesus presented by the historical record is a Jesus who talks and acts like one who believes he is, and is in fact, God in the flesh. Jesus shows himself to be the Christ, the divine Son of God who dies on a cross in order to save His people from their sins, the one who rose again on the third day, the one who now sits at the right hand of God the Father, and who will come again. So, having answered the question, “Who do you think you are?”, and identifying who Jesus is, the question now becomes turned toward us: “What are you going to do with this Jesus?” The options, ultimately, are few in number. You can ignore him, at your own peril; you can reject Him, to your own loss; or you can accept and worship Him as Savior and Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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