HOW DO WE ACCOUNT FOR JESUS?
by Wayne S. Walker
One of the Bible doctrines most frequently attacked by modern liberal theologians and religious "scholars" is the deity of Christ. Yet, no doctrine is more widely affirmed or assuredly proven in the scriptures. The Bible expressly teaches the Godhood and unique Sonship of Jesus (see John 1:1-2, Colossians 2:9). Peter made the confession, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). Later, this same apostle told a group of Jews, "That God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). For the Bible believer and the one who impartially reads the gospel record, there can be no other conclusion. However, unbelievers who are enslaved by their own biased opinions have conceived of several other explanations for Jesus’s existence. As we saw in our previous article, almost everyone, even the modernists today, will admit that a man named Jesus lived in first century Palestine and had such an effect on the world that we even number our years by His earthly incarnation. Thus, we must ask, how do we account for this Jesus?
One very common explanation of Christ is that He was a great moralist, philosopher, and teacher, but not a divine being. Those who try to uphold His ethical teaching but deny His divinity say that He really never claimed to be divine, that these claims were made for Him after His death by His followers. However, a quick glance at the first four books of the New Testament will destroy this idea. When asked by the high priest of He were the Christ, the Son of the Blessed, He replied, "I am" (Mark 14:61-64). At least the Jews understood that He claimed to be divine (John 10:30-38). If this were not His claim, He could have saved Himself a lot of trouble by saying so! In addition, when Jesus made his confession of Jesus as God’s Son, Jesus said nothing to the contrary (John 6:68-69). Now, a "great moralist" certainly would not have allowed His followers to believe a lie, would He?
Hence, Jesus indisputably claimed to be the Son of God. If that claim be not true, then we are left with two other alternatives. The first is that He claimed to be the Son of God but knew that He was not. Therefore, He was a charlatan, a trickster, a fraud. However, this is totally incongruous with the fact that He placed a great deal of emphasis on the truth. "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Are these the words of an impostor? Again, He said, "If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is of God, or whether I speak on My own authority" (John 7:17). Would a conscious deceiver continually speak about truth and open Himself up to a full investigation? Charlatans usually try to hide things. Finally, in John 8:46, Jesus asked if anyone could convict Him of sin. One should think that if Jesus were a cheat then someone, somewhere, could produce the evidence to prove it and lay the finger of blame on Him; but no one did, not even His enemies. This Man not only claimed to be the Son of God; He lived the part. Certainly, such a one was not an intentional liar.
This leaves us with the theory that He thought that He was actually the Son of God, but was mistaken. This would make Him a lunatic, a nut. John Clark has often said, citing C. S. Lewis, that if Jesus were a mere man claiming to be divine, it would be just as reasonable for someone to claim to be a poached egg! (They have places for people like that!) Even a casual survey of the life of Jesus refutes any such notion. The character of Christ is not that of an insane man. He was completely rational. Witness the logic of His answer to the Saducees’ question about the resurrection (Matthew 22:23-33). Also notice that every situation was firmly within His control. When He was asked trick questions, never did He lose His composure or temper, nor was He ever at a loss for words (Matthew 22:34-40). Notice also the effect of His reasoning on His listeners. All who heard Him marvelled at His sensibility (Matthew 22:15-22). Surely, no unbalanced person ever behaved in this manner consistently.
We have now exhausted our options. The only other estimate of Jesus, and the one which best fits the facts, is that He is exactly who He claimed to be–the divine Son of God and Savior of the world. Thomas was there, he saw, and he knew what he was talking about when he said to Jesus, "My Lord and my God." We have not been permitted to examine the evidence firsthand as was he, but we have the historical testimony of those who did (John 17:20). And Jesus’s response to Thomas applies to us today when He said, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." The inspired apostle John concludes this scene by adding, "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name" (John 20:30-31). The purpose of the scripture and of all true gospel preaching is to cause people to say with Martha, "Yes, Lord: I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who should come into the world" (John 11:27). Thus may we live eternally with Him, "For if you believe not that I am He, you shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). (—taken from With All Boldness; June, 2000; Vol. 10, No. 6; p. 14; based on an article in Truth Magazine; June 22, 1978; Vol. XXII, No. 25; p. 2).