Who was and is Jesus anyway?
I'm grateful to the Butler Eagle and its readership for the inclusion of these articles from faith leaders from the Butler community. It's a great way to be encouraged, learn from others from different faith traditions and allow for diverse viewpoints.
I want to pose a simple question today. Who was and is Jesus Christ?
It's a controversial question because most people have an opinion on who Jesus was. In fact, this was one of the questions he posed to his disciples. “Who do YOU say that I am?” Matthew 16:15-16
Many people outside the Christian faith will admit that Jesus was a very good teacher. Some consider him a prophet. Some would say he was the Son of God. But who did/does he claim to be and why does it matter anyway?
Author C.S. Lewis said that Jesus can only be a liar, a lunatic or Lord. “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 insane … 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 insane or something worse … but let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
If the claims of Jesus are true and He really did rise from the dead, then following Jesus is life-altering.
If they are not true and Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christians are simply wasting their time. In fact, the Apostle Paul would call Christians the most pitiable of all people if Jesus didn't actually rise from the dead. I Cor 15:17-19: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
Almost all historians agree that there was a man named Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified on a Roman cross in the first century. But what happened to the body is a different story altogether. Maybe Jesus wasn't actually dead in the first place. Maybe the disciples, robbers or the authorities stole his body. Maybe it was all one, big conspiracy theory. Or … maybe Jesus Christ actually rose back from the dead!
That truth is something all of us will have weigh the evidence on and decide for ourselves. But Jesus himself leaves no wiggle room. He claims to be the way, the truth, and the life — the only access to the Father. John 14:6
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture … I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:9-10
I used to think that it was extremely arrogant of Jesus and his followers to claim to be the way to get to God. Can't there be multiple ways and isn't sincerity all that really counts?
But to say that there are multiple ways is fraught with contradictions. Sometimes in life there is only one way. If you want to reach me on my cell phone or church email, there is only one set of digits and one correct email that will work.
And though we can be sincere, we can be sincerely wrong. I can sincerely believe that by drinking arsenic I will be cured from the coronavirus, but by doing that I may end up killing myself.
But Jesus is precisely the only one qualified to be the Savior of the world. Because He was fully man he could die, and because he was fully God, his death could count for all who believe in Him.
Christianity may well be the most exclusive religion in the world, but it's also the most inclusive. Jesus claims that it's only through Him that you can experience the abundant and eternal life, but anyone can come, receive and believe.
Jesus has left no room for middle ground. He invites all of us to consider his claims and amazing, unending love while receiving his gift of eternal, abundant life. To all who received him, he gives the right to become children of God. John 1:12
Pastor Brady Randall is the campus pastor of Orchard Hill Church-Butler County.