Summary: Is Jesus really the Son of God?
Any day now Prime Minister Martin will be calling an election. As soon as that happens we will be bombarded with campaign messages from each party wanting to control the government. The thing about campaign speeches is that it’s often hard to pin down the candidates on what exactly it is they stand for. They often speak in generalities regarding taxes, health care, and other issues hoping to appeal to as many voters as possible. That’s frustrating for those of us who are trying to figure out who the best candidates are for office.
Two thousand years ago the enemies of Jesus accused him of not speaking very clearly. One day they surrounded Jesus in the temple and demanded, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24b). People today still debate whether or not Jesus claimed to be God. The thing is Jesus’ testimony about himself is clear. He openly claimed to be God on many occasions. Therefore we should not be debating whether or not Jesus claimed to be God, instead we should figure out whether or not his claims are true. Is Jesus the God-man or was he just another madman? If Jesus was just another madman then we can ignore him. If, on the other hand, he is the God-man, then we’d better pay attention to what he has to say for our attitude towards Jesus will determine where we spend eternity.
If I showed up this morning claiming to be God, you would want some proof wouldn’t you? You would want me to read your mind, heal your bum knee, or pick up this church building and move it to the other side of town and back without breaking a sweat. It’s only fair then that if we are to believe Jesus’ claim to be God that we have proof of his divinity. Jesus couldn’t agree more and that’s why he said to the Jews who were demanding to know whether or not he was God: “The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me” (John 10:25b).
The thing about Jesus’ miracles is that they were not done in secret. They were not acts of power observed only by his disciples. Jesus’ enemies had been in attendance when he performed many of his miracles. They saw him heal a paralytic (Matt. 9), they investigated his healing of a man born blind (John 9), and they would see Jesus raise a dead man (John 11). Jesus even performed miracles for his enemies. Think of how he healed the high priest’s servant’s ear after Peter cut it off in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18).
Many people today, however, say that the disciples could have made all those stories up about Jesus performing miracles. They could have, but if they did, Jesus’ enemies would have refuted them. Had Jesus not raised Lazarus from the dead as John reports, the Jewish leaders would have been sure to correct such a lie. No, Jesus’ enemies never refuted the fact that he did miracles; they only contested the source of his power. Once after driving out demons, Jesus was accused of being able to do so by the power of the devil (Matt. 12:24). The Jewish historian Josephus (first century A.D.) too reports that Jesus did many miraculous wonders but was considered to be a magician by many of the Jewish leaders.
So what are we to deduce from this? We can deduce that Jesus did in fact perform miracles. But now where did he get his power to do these things? If the power came from the devil, how then do you explain why Jesus would tell the people to repent of sin? Doesn’t the devil want us to sin? Was Jesus then perhaps a magician? No magician could have performed the kind of miracles Jesus did – especially the miracle of coming back to life. There can only be one conclusion regarding Jesus’ miracles – he performed them because he was who he said he was: the Son of God.
If Jesus is indeed the Son of God, then we had better listen to all the other claims he makes about himself and the things that he says about us. Let’s first take a look at Jesus claim to be the Christ. The title “Christ” means “appointed one”. Jesus was appointed by God the Father to be the Savior of the world. If the world needs a savior it means that we must all be sinful and in need of saving. We show our sinfulness when we doubt the claims that Jesus makes about himself. Our sinful nature wants us to doubt these claims about Jesus because if they are true, if Jesus is God, then he also has a claim on our lives. We don’t like the thought of that do we? We don’t like to think that someone has a say as to how we should live our life. We don’t like to hear that God demands to be first in our life. But here’s the thing, we shouldn’t think of Christianity as a religion that’s overbearing; it’s a religion of freedom. What kind of things does Jesus free us from? With his promise of forgiveness he frees us from guilt. With his promise to provide for our daily needs he frees us from worry. With his promise of eternal life he frees us from death. Don’t take it from me, listen to how Jesus put it in our text: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:27-30).