Summary: In this sermon, we examine the evidence for the historicity of Jesus and the evidence of Jesus' divinity.
A. The story is told of a boy who came home from Sunday School and was asked by his father what he had learned that day in Sunday School.
1. “Well, dad, our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When he got to the Red Sea, he had his engineers build a pontoon bridge, and all the Jewish people walked across safely. Then he used his walkie-talkie to radio headquarters and call in an air strike. They sent in bombers to blow up the bridge to destroy the Egyptian army and keep them away from the Israelites.”
2. His father asked, “Now, Joey, is that really what your teacher taught you?”
3. The little boy answered, “Well, no, dad, but if I told it the way the teacher did, you'd never believe it.”
4. That’s how it is sometimes for people – they have a hard time believing what the Bible really says about many things, and especially what it says about Jesus.
B. According to a commonly circulated account of their meeting, when Napoleon met the German scholar Wieland in 1808, Napoleon asked not about political or military matters, but whether Wieland believed in the historical reality of Jesus.
1. The question of who Jesus really was is a question that haunts every heart and every mind.
2. No one can escape the necessity of reacting to Jesus in some way – each person must decide who they believe he was.
3. To worship him, if he is not divine, is nothing less than idolatry.
4. To fail to worship him, if he is divine, is sacrilege of the highest order.
C. But who was and who is Jesus?
1. Was he just a good man and a good teacher?
2. Or was he and is he God Himself?
3. How can we go about answering that question?
4. Today I would like us to spend some time looking at the evidence that would lead us to the conclusion that Jesus was and is God.
D. The claims of the New Testament evangelists about Jesus are both extraordinary and unequaled.
1. The apostle Peter declared, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16:16).
2. The apostle Peter preached, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
4. The apostle Paul wrote:
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11)
E. We need to realize that these claims about Jesus were not made by fanatically devoted disciples against his will.
1. The claims made by them were an outgrowth of the claims he had previously made for himself.
2. Jesus identified himself with the Lord of the Old Testament patriarchs (Jn. 8:31-59).
3. Jesus claimed the authority to forgive sins, an authority that God alone could have (Mk. 2:5-7).
4. Jesus dared to say, “I and the Father are one” and he was immediately accused of blasphemy for such a statement asserting his deity (Jn. 10:30-33).
5. When Jesus stood face to face with the high priest of the Jewish nation, Caiaphas said, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” To this direct challenge, Jesus replied, “Yes, it is as you say” (Mt. 26:63-64).
F. Claims of such magnitude cannot be ignored.
1. They are either true or false.
2. They must be believed or rejected.
3. Any attempt to be neutral toward Jesus is tantamount to rejecting him.
G. What I would like to do with the rest of our time today, is to explore the historicity of Jesus and then examine the evidence that would lead us to believe that Jesus was and is God.
I. The Historicity of Jesus – Did Jesus Live?
A. Unlike the Greek mythologies or the irrational tales of Eastern religions, the religion of Jesus Christ alleges that its central events occurred in the arena of history and are subject to the same sort of investigation that all other historical events invite.
1. For example, when the apostle Paul made his case for the resurrection of Jesus, he wrote about the various people who had seen Jesus alive after his resurrection.
2. Among those eyewitnesses, Paul wrote that Jesus “appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living…” (1 Cor. 15:6).