Is Jesus the Son of God?
One way to look at that is to ask if the Bible ever makes the claim that Jesus is the Son of God.
Consider the following:
Mark says it at the outset of his gospel, (Mark1:1)
The angel told Mary her child would be the Son of God, (Luke 1:35)
John the Baptist said the same thing, (John 1:34)
Nathanael said it, (John 1:49)
Martha believed it, (John 11:27)
The centurion said so, (Matthew 27:54)
Jesus claimed that He said so, (John 10:36)
Jesus clearly implies it (John 11:4)
The demons called Jesus the Son of God, (Matthew 8:29; Luke 4:41; Mark 3:11)
The charge against Jesus was that He claimed to be the Son of God (Matthew 27:43; John 19:7), a claim He never denied, and virtually admitted to be true, (Luke 22:70)
The Gospel of John was written to convince the reader that Jesus was the Son of God, (John 20:31)
Why, you might ask, does Jesus not say so plainly? I think the answer is found in Matthew 16:15-17:
He said to them, “And who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven!” (Matthew 16:15-17).
Jesus did not want Peter and His disciples to believe He was the Son of God just because He said so. He wanted God to bring them to this conclusion, based upon the overwhelming evidence of Scripture and our Lord’s life and teaching.
Not with the words, “I am God,” but with words that communicated to his audience in a way that was clear and compelling. In the following passage, Jesus is confronted by the religious leadership in response to what appears to be a simple teaching:
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
The response of the religious leaders indicates the claim that Jesus made:
“We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” John 10:27-33 (NIV, emphasis mine)
You will need to respond to the claims of Jesus Christ.
The claim to be God is simply too significant to ignore or dismiss.
Consider the following from C.S. Lewis:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone 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 either be 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 your 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 his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”
Mere Christianity, p54-56
It is sometimes suggested that Christians are narrow-minded and intolerant when, in a world full of religions, they tell people that Jesus is the only way to God. There is another way to look at this entire issue. Let’s frame the question this way:
Does Jesus have the qualifications to declare the way to God?
This is not just about how people get into heaven; it relates to the authority of Jesus. Does Jesus have the authority to tell us the way to God? Yes. The authority of Jesus is simply this:
- He came from God
- He entered the experience of death
- He came back from the dead
- He offers to take us to be with Him in the presence of God
Years ago, a tragedy occurred in California. A semi-religious group known as Heaven’s Gate committed mass suicide. The people followed the leader who said they could pass from this life to a better one. Essentially, he claimed to know away.
Jesus’ claim to be the way has much, much, much greater integrity. Jesus is able to say, in essence, I came from there and I am going there and then I will come back and take you to be with me. As the way, Jesus goes first.
We can take this a step further. Not only does Jesus have the authority to give life, He has the power to give life as well. Staying within the gospel of John, here are seven signs – miracles – that are recorded as evidence of the inherent power of Jesus:
- Changing water into wine at Cana in John 2:1-11
- Healing the royal official’s son in Capernaum in John 4:46-54
- Healing the paralytic at Bethesda in John 5:1-15
- Feeding the 5000 in John 6:5-14
- Jesus walking on water in John 6:16-24
- Healing the man blind from birth in John 9:1-7
- The raising of Lazarus in John 11:1-45
Jesus has both the power and the authority to promise and deliver eternal life to those who come to Him. All other competitors should be asked if they have better qualifications than Jesus.
Fortunately for the skeptic, Jesus made claims that were emphatic and extreme. These claims give us a chance to evaluate Jesus simply and clearly. Even though Jesus lived over 2000 years ago, His credibility can still be examined today by giving consideration to His claims.
For instance, let’s consider these two claims made by Jesus:
These claims are both emphatic and extreme. They are emphatic in that they point to only to Jesus. They are extreme in that they can only be totally true or totally false. These claims cannot be partially true and partially false. It’s either all or nothing.
Jesus did not say that He can ask God for life.
Jesus did not say that He knows the way to life.
Jesus did say, “I AM the life, John 14:6. Then He also said, “I AM the resurrection and the life.”
Jesus claimed to have resurrection power. “I am the resurrection.” That’s a huge claim but then Jesus surpasses that with another claim. “I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus claimed to be BOTH, the resurrection AND the life.
Jesus did NOT say that He will bring about the resurrection or that He will cause the resurrection. Jesus claimed to BE the resurrection. In making this claim, Jesus clearly point to Himself as the one who gives resurrection power to those who believe in Him:
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies. (John 11:25)
Not…believe anything you want. Not…doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. Believe in me. Jesus eliminated all other options for the recipients of His resurrection power.
This is what’s so great about Jesus. He could look at people and know – some of you are going to hate me; some of you are going to crucify me; some of you are going to believe me – but for all of you, I am going to tell you the truth.
A simple application of logic can help you to evaluate these claims:
If Jesus made these claims and they were NOT true and He knew they were not true, He was a deceiver.
If Jesus made these claims and they were NOT true without knowing they weren’t true, He was deceived.
If Jesus made these claims and He was accurate, He is deity.
What you cannot do is hold to the position that Jesus was a good religious teacher.
Jesus is not a good religious teacher if He was a deceiver. That would make Him liar.
Jesus is not a good religious teacher if He was deceived about His identity. That would make Him a lunatic. It’s simply not logical to say He’s a good man.
Jesus is only good if He is exactly who He claimed to be.
With the ability of resurrection and life, Jesus would have to be deity. That would make Him Lord.
When examining the claims of Christ, your only options are Liar, Lunatic, Lord.