IS JESUS GOD? 1
Have you, inyour lifetime, met a man who demands attention anywhere he goes?There are some indefinable, mysterious characteristics that set apartJesus from all the other men. Well, that is how it was over the pasttwo thousand years with Jesus Christ. It was not only His personalitythat was the center of attention to those who heard and witnessed hiswords and actions, they also says that there was something about himthat was unique and different from everyone else. According toCrossan & Watts (1999), Jesus’ credentials were only beinghimself. He never commanded an army, wrote a book, owned property, orheld a political office. Jesus often walked within a hundred milesradius of his home town. He attracted crowds who were surprised andamazed at his stunning deeds and provocative words, yet his greatnesswas obvious to everyone who witnessed and heard him.
While greatpeople fade eventually into history, Jesus, until now, still remainsthe center of attention in media and a thousand books, all talkingabout His controversies. Again, much of the controversy resonatesaround radical claims that Jesus created about Himself, the claimsthat astonished both his adversaries and his followers. Primarily, itwas Jesus’ unparalleled claims that led him to be considered athreat to both the Jewish hierarchy and Roman authorities (Van,2001). Even though Jesus was an outsider, without any politicalpowerbase or credentials, within three years, He had changed theworld completely, and for a long time to come. As much as ourreligious and moral leaders have left an impact, nothing could becompared to, to that of Jesus of Nazareth. But what was is it aboutJesus that people began to think that he was God?
The questionabove tries to figure out who Jesus of Nazareth really was. Somepeople believe that He was merely an advantaged, great moral teacher.Others believed something more. Christians, on the other hand,believed until to date that actually God had visited us in form of ahuman, at the same time, believing that there are evidences thatsupport that claim. However, the paper objects this point of view byarguing that Jesus is not God.
C. S. Lewis, aCambridge professor, after years of carefully study of Jesus’ life,he came to a conclusion that altered completely the direction of hislife. Then, is Jesus really God? The answer is no. Jesus is not Godone of the roles he occupied was that he was a great moral teacher.While the paper attempts to examine this controversial person, itbegins by taking a look on how Jesus was considered just a greatmoral teacher.
Jesusas a Great Moral Teacher
Swinburne(2008) noted that Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian leader, spoke highly andwith respect of Jesus’ profound words and righteous life, eventhough other religions acknowledged that Jesus was just a respectablemoral teacher. At the same time, Joseph Klausner, a Jewish scholar,wrote that “it is admitted universally … that Jesus taught themost sublime and purest … that throws moral maxims and precepts ofwisest antiquity of men into the shade” (Edwards, 2005). The sermonof Jesus on the mount is regarded as the best superlative to theteachings of human ethics that as ever been uttered by any otherperson. What we know today, as a matter of fact, is as a result ofthe teachings of Jesus. One non-Christian historian, Will Durant,claimed that if Jesus struggled and fought for the “equal rights”,in these modern times, he would have been told to move to Siberia.
Many, includingGandhi, should attempt to separate the teachings of Jesus and theclaims about him, by believing that he is just a great man with loftymorally upright principles. It is also the approach of PresidentJefferson, one of the founding fathers of America, who copied asection of the testament that proclaimed Jesus as deity, whileleaving certain sections that showed His moral and ethical teachings.As a matter of fact, some of Jefferson’s words, in regard todeclaration of independence, were deeply rooted in the teachings ofJesus, and that every individual is of equal and immense importanceto God. But there is one thing that Jefferson fails to answer: IfJesus really is God he could not have been a respected moralteacher.
DidJesus Ever Claim to be God?
So whatis it that many scholars are convinced that Jesus is God? John Piper,an author, claims that Jesus assumed powers that belong to God.Jesus’ both friends and enemies were astonished by what he did. Hewould work down the road, just like any other man, then he would turnand exclaimed “Before Abraham, there is I”, and “If anyone hasseen me, he has seen the father”. When he was accused of blasphemyat some point, he would say “The son of man is authorized toforgive all sins on earth” (Thompson, 2000). To the dead, he wouldalso say “come forth” or “rise up”, and they could obey. Whatdid Jesus Christ imply by such commands? There is a high possibilitythat he was just a mere prophet like Elijah, Daniel or even Moses.Some critics may claim that Jesus is someone more than a mere prophetsince no such prophet had made that claim before, in fact, no personor prophet has ever assumed the place of God.
To say thatJesus is God is far-fetched since Jesus never really said that he wasGod, as much as he never claimed he was a man or a prophet. Jesus wasundoubtedly a human being, and his followers regarded him as aprophet, just like Elijah and Moses (Brown, 1968). It is thereforemakes sense to rule out that Jesus is a divine being since he did notsay he was one, the same way it is claimed he was not a prophet. Atthe same time, individual who argues that Jesus is God while basingtheir claim on what Jesus said contradicts the notion that he was notGod?
TheLife of Jesus
There areinstances in the Bible that proves that Jesus is not the supreme Godwe all know, but shows others. There are people in the world thathave argued against Jesus being God. I would also say that I am God,and another person would do the same however, the question remainswhat are the credentials that are brought forward to substantiatethese claims? When it comes to Jesus of Nazareth, it is also notsimple as it is imagined. At some point, he said, “Even if youdon’t believe me, try to believe what the miracles reveal, and thatyou may understand the Father is in Me, and I in the Father” John6:37 (Braaten, 2011) His character backed up his claims. During Hislife on Earth, he was able to confront his enemies by using thequestion, “Could anyone among you prove me guilty?” John 8:46.Those around him went silent.
Jesus was ableto demonstrate power over disease and sickness. He made the dumb tospeak, the blind to see, and the lame to walk. A few of his healingescapades were congenital problems that were not vulnerable topsychosomatic cure. Even the blind could recognize that Jesus was theson of God. For instance, there was a blind man, since birth who wasquestioned on what had been done to him. He declared, “I know onething. I was blind but I can now see!” John 9:25. The blind man wassurprised that those questioning him did not recognize this greathealer to be the Son of God.
The thought ofJesus as God may be backed up by supreme evidence that he resurrectedfrom the dead. In the course of the short time He was on Earth, Jesuswas able to predict clearly on why exact way he was going to bekilled. He also affirmed that after three days, he was going to risefrom the dead. This proved to be a great test. It led to peoplebelieving that He himself was God. Most importantly, he madestatements that proved that He was not God, but His son. Some ofthese statements were quoted in the Bible as “I am the way, truth,and life. No one goes to the Father, but except through me” John14:6 (Morwood, 2011), “For those who believe in my Father, I offerthem eternal life”. From these verses from the Bible, it is easy tonote that Jesus referred to God has “His Father”.
What this meansis that, if Christ rose from the death, as was the case, then it isfor certain that He is not God, and that God exist. According to Keck(2000), the universe handles the purpose and meaning, and it is easyto experience God in this life. It is also true to say that if JesusChrist had not risen from the death, then it could have been hard tosay that Jesus is not God. Again, Christianity would not have had anobjective reality or validity on the same. The evidence during Jesus’resurrection shows that he could have easily avoided the cross, inthe first place, if he was God, but he chooses otherwise to show thatthere was God who would resurrect Him. Before he was arrested, JesusChrist said, “My life is taken away that it may be brought backagain. Nobody apart from the Father takes it away, but of His ownaccord … and with authority” John 10:18 (Morwood, 2011). Again,during His arrest, Peter attempted to defend Him, but Jesus commandedhim when He said, “put down your sword … do not think that I amnot able to appeal to the father, and he will send me at once, twelvelegions”. He knew that he had a father in heaven that He couldappeal to for assistance.
WhatKind of God?
Whilethere are arguments that claim that Jesus is God, such arguments areconsidered revisionist very different from his teachings, beliefs,and also foreign to what His disciples knew of Him. At some point,the Bible says that Jesus thought that He was God, the same way theJews knew how God looked like, and the same way Hebrews’ scripturesportrayed God to be (Braaten, 2011). Neither his disciples nor JesusHimself weaned on the Star Wars, and that when they spoke of who Godwas, they were not referring to what cosmic forces were. According toRausch (2003), there are some people that accept Jesus as a moralteacher, but they find it hard to accept that He is really God.President Jefferson, as a deist, did not find it hard to acceptJesus’ moral and ethical teachings, while denying his deity. As ithas been argued before, Jesus is not God, has he has partly claimedto be. It is, therefore, easy to look at other alternatives.
There areinstances in the Bible that Jesus claimed that He is God. Forexample, all the four gospel writers of the New Testament gaveaccounts of how Jesus showed up after his burial, which means he wasalive. While disciples gathered after the resurrection of Jesus, Heshowed up. Unfortunately, Jesus was not among them. When they toldhim later, he refused to believe it. He adamantly stated, “Unless Iam shown nail marks on his palms and place my fingers on them tofeel, I would not believe it” (Edwards, 2005). Jesus showed up aweek later. He said to Thomas, “Place your hands on my palms and myside, and stop doubting. Believe!” Thomas exclaimed, “My God! MyLord” John 20:27 Jesus said thereafter, “Because you have felt itand believe, blessed are the ones that have not seen, yet believed”(Crossan & Watts, 1999).
Could Jesus havebeen lying? Even with the harshest critics of Jesus, they couldhardly have called him a liar. Labelling Jesus a liar could noteasily fit His high morals and ethical attributes. If Jesus is notwho he claimed to be, in some of the verses in the Bible, then it isobvious that there is God. There is also a high possibility that someof the statements he made as God intentionally led a lot of people.In 1532, Niccolo Machiavelli, in his classics, says that lysing isconsidered to be okay as long as it accomplishes its intendedpurpose. Could Jesus have built his ministry based upon lies to gainpopularity, power, and success? The answer to this, is no. It wouldbe fair to say that Jesus is not God, but he was imposed by Jewishopponents to think that He was God, a liar and a fraud. The Jewishauthorities would barrage Jesus with a lot of questions in an attemptto force Him admit that He was indeed God, yet Jesus remarkedconstantly that he was not God. What could have possibly motivatedJesus to lie, has it is claimed? Thompson (2000) thought that GodHimself was opposed, in the first place, to hypocrisy and lyingtherefore, Jesus would not have lied to make His Father pleased.
A lot ofpeople have lied, at least once, solely for personal gain. As amatter of fact, the motivation behind lying is that it is perceivedto benefit oneself. According to some verses, which Jesus claimed tobe God, one question that is frequently asked is that, what wouldJesus have hoped to achieve by not disclosing his real identity? Themost obvious answer here would be power (Brown, 1968). If people hadbelieved Jesus to be God, he would have been considered to bepowerful. He would also have been tempted to perform all sorts ofthings.
To expound onthe above explanation, Jesus shunned all the attempts that aimed atmoving him towards the direction of absolute power. Instead, hechastised those people who abused such power by living all theirlives pursuing it. Jesus chose instead to reach out to those outcastswithout power, while creating network of people whose influence werezero. Of course, death brings everything into clear focus. As much asmartyrs have in the past died, for the cause they believe in, veryfew have died because of a mere lie. All hopes of victimizing Jesusended in the cross, when he chose to let His Father resurrect him(Swinburne, 2008).
One dauntingfact was that, if Jesus would have simply said that he was the Son ofGod, he would not have been condemned, instead, it was His claim ofbeing God and his inability to recant, which led to His crucifixion.If at all enhancing his historic reputation and credibility wouldmotivate Jesus to lie, then one should explain how the son of acarpenter from a poor village in Judea, be God, while anticipatingevents that could propel him to prominence? (Van, 2001).
From the book ofJohn 3:16, it says, “For God loved the world, he gave his only Son,so that whoever believed in him, must not perish, but achieve eternallife”. From here, it is evident that Jesus is not God since itshows clearly that Jesus was sent into the world by God Himself toact as a savior. Jesus agreed to take all our sin when he wascrucified on the cross so that all our sins in the world would not bea barrier in connecting us with God. Jesus fully paid for our sins,fully, and offered us complete opportunity to repent our sins so thatwith can renew our relationship with God.
In conclusion, Jesus put it in this manner, “But who do you thinkI am?” Mathew 16:15. Simon Peter answered: “You are the Christ,Son of God.” From this, it is evident that argument againstovershadows those for. In Isaiah 43:10-11, it states “I am makingyou my witness,” says the Lord. “And the servant I have chosen,and that you would believe and understand Me. There is no other Godbefore Me. Nor there will be after Me. I am the Lord.” From this,there is no argument that Jesus is not God, but the Son of God.
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