Summary: What claims have been made about Jesus? Is Jesus really the Son of God?
CSI: Easter 2 of 5 in series
Who is Jesus of Nazareth?
Last week we examined the evidence surrounding Easter. We looked at 1. Biblical Evidence 2. Historical Evidence and 3. Medical Evidence. We considered the different "theories" concerning Jesus’ death and resurrection 1. The Stolen Body Theory 2. The Swoon Theory and 3. The Vision Hypothesis. We also heard from some of the witnesses to the resurrection.
Today in our on going investigation regarding the validity of the resurrection we are going to try to learn more about the object of our investigation. Who was this man Jesus of Nazareth? What claims have been made about Jesus? Is Jesus really the Son of God?
I. Man’s Claims about Jesus.
A. "Jesus never claimed to be God" he was just a Good Moral Teacher
1. Gandhi’s The Message of Jesus Christ
2. It was more than I could believe that Jesus was the only incarnate son of God, and that only he who believed in him would have everlasting life. If God could have sons, all of us were his sons. If Jesus was like God, or God Himself, then all men were like God and could be God Himself. . . I could accept Jesus as a martyr, an embodiment of sacrifice, and a divine teacher, but not as the most perfect man ever born. His death on the cross was a great example to the world, but that there was anything like a mysterious or miraculous virtue in it, my heart could not accept (p. 12)
B. "Jesus is a Myth"
1. Some claim Jesus never actually existed in History.
(a) Not many accept this theory today, not even atheistic historians.
(b) "It would require much exotic calculation to deny that the single most powerful figure—not merely in these two millenniums but in all of human history—has been Jesus of Nazareth… A serious argument can be made that no one else’s life has proved remotely as powerful and enduring as that of Jesus." (Man of the Millennium. Time Magazine, Dec. 6, 1999).
2. Others claim Jesus did exist but his followers made him out to be more than he actually was.
(a) Jesus was good but His followers created the myth that he was God.
(b) Jesus’ teaching was good but his disciples said he was God.
(c) Jesus did good things but his disciples said he did miracles.
(d) Jesus died but his disciples said he rose from the dead.
(e) Jesus wasn’t a liar, Lord or lunatic – He was a legend.
II. Bible Claims about Jesus
A. The New Testament makes Bold claims about Jesus
1. Matthew 16:13—17
2. John 1:1—3, 14
B. Jesus’ Claims about Himself
1. Matthew 26:59—64
2. John 6:35—40
C. The number of references in the New Testament that point to Jesus as the Son of God are numerous.
1. Under the category of Jesus, Son of God there are 140 references.
2. All these verses are either Jesus or someone else proclaiming him as the Son of God.
III. Scrutinizing the Evidence
A. The claim of Jesus as just a Good Moral Teacher fails under scrutiny.
1. A man cannot be a good moral teacher and a liar at the same time.
2. "I am trying to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be either a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make a 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 him being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 55—56)