I'm watching a Discovery Channel "documentary" on the person and ministry of Jesus. Usually, around this time of year, major magazines and television stations springboard off Easter to delve into Christianity and the person of Christ. Tonight's episode is titled "Who Was Jesus?"
In Mark 8:27, Jesus asked His own followers, "Who do men say that I am?" Jesus wanted to know how the headlines read regarding his controversial, yet growing ministry. His disciples answered that word on the street is that Jesus was John the Baptist back from the dead [John had been executed by Herod; see Mark 6:14-21] or Elijah or one of the prophets. But, the disciples affirmed that Jesus was "the Christ."
The question of Jesus' identity is still vigorously debated today. Some, in religious circles, claim that it doesn't matter. Yet, the unique divinity of Jesus is essential to His mission and credibility. The evidences help me to trust that Jesus was God:
First, Jesus claimed to be God. Some people doubt this assertion stating that Jesus never actually claimed equality with the Father. Yet, Jesus said, "I am the Father are one" [John 10:30]. Similarly, in John 14:7-9, Jesus spoke to Philip, "If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him . . . Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father."
In Mark 14:61, before the Jewish high priest, Jesus was challenged, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Living God?” He replied, “I am and you shall see the son of man sitting on the right hand of God with power." Most significant in this response was that the people accused him of blasphemy--equating Himself with God. So, the evidence is clear that Jesus claimed equality with God.
Second, Jesus believed that He was equal with God. In other words, He lived consistent with what He claimed. For example, in Mark 2, Jesus forgave sins, an authority only given to God. In Matthew 9:18, a ruler comes and kneels before Jesus [the Greek word used suggest paying homage] accepting worship--a privilege reserved for God. Jesus acted with anger in the temple, His "father's house" [Matthew 21], said that all judgement was in His hands [John 5:27] and claimed eternality with God [John 8:58]. Jesus lived what He believed.
Third, Jesus proved His divinity. Specifically, He healed the sick [Matthew 14:36, Mark 6:53-56], raised the dead [John 11] and taught with authority [Matthew 7:28-29]. Moreover, He lived a sinless life [Matthew 4, John 8:46, 2 Cor. 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22]. But, the most convincing proof of Jesus' divinity was His resurrection. Every other major religious leader in history died and remained in the grave. But, Jesus is set apart as God's Son through His defeat over the grave and His rising, never to die again.
Who was Jesus? Just who he said He was. Just who He believed He was. Just who he proved He was. And, those who believe in Jesus have life with Him forever.