Who Is Jesus, Really?
Is Jesus the Son of God? Is he the way to God? Did he die for me? Is he alive?
If you find yourself asking questions, you are in good company. It is okay to have doubts. God isn’t afraid of your questions. He welcomes your search for truth. When John the Baptist asked if Jesus was the Messiah and when “Doubting” Thomas was skeptical about Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus gave them evidence and proof, not just a response that required blind faith.
Evidence – a lot of evidence – exists for Christ. You don’t have to leave your mind behind to have faith in Jesus. Many scientists, lawyers, professors, engineers, philosophers, and intellectuals believe in Jesus. This online booklet provides just a start in your exploration of separating what is true from what is false.
“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.” – Oxfordand Cambridge Professor, C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 56
Jesus is the Son of God – true or false?
Have you ever heard from family, friends, or professors that Jesus never claimed to be God? They say He was just a good moral teacher. Some say His followers created a myth that Jesus claimed He was the Son of God. What is true and what is false?
Before the crucifixion, Jesus is on trial and the chief priest asks Jesus to answer – under oath – if He is the Son of God. You can read this scene in the Bible: The high priest said to Him, ‘I charge you under oath by the living God:‘Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.’ ‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied.” (Matthew 26:63-64).
It is true that Jesus claimed divinity. This is just one example of many in the Bible. This was the reason they put Him on trial and put Him to death. They didn’t do it because He was going around saying, “Be nice to each other.” That doesn’t get you a death sentence.
But, just because Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, doesn’t necessarily make it true. If someone you knew claimed to be the Son of God, would you think it was true? No, you would probably think that person had a serious mental problem. But when Jesus claims it, hardly anyone laughs.
Why is Jesus believable?
There are many reasons. Here are three:
- His life – People believed Jesus’ claim to be God because He was so absolutely trustworthy. He lived a perfect life – He was sinless. And He had more insight into life and people than anyone. It would be inconsistent that He wouldn’t know His own identity.
- His prophesies – Hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth, many predictions were given about the identity of the Messiah. Jesus matched every prediction. It was like one-of-a-kind divine DNA. (Read Isaiah 53:3-12 for just one example.)
- His miracles – Jesus referred to His miracles as signs. These signs pointed to Jesus’ divinity. Of the hundreds of miracles, one was especially important – He rose from the dead, never to die again.
How can Jesus’ life be explained unless He is the Son of God?
Jesus is the only way to God? true or false?
Don’t all the major religions basically say the same thing? The truth is they do ask similar questions: Who is God? Why is the world such a mess? How do we solve this problem? The fallacy is that they all come up with the same answers.
Of the world’s major religions, Jesus is the only leader who claimed to be God in the flesh. Moses didn’t. Mohammed didn’t. Buddha didn’t. But Jesus made another claim many people find even more controversial. Jesus claimed that He was the only way to God: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ “ (John 14:6).
In the Garden of Gethsemane before Jesus is betrayed and arrested, Jesus fervently prays in agony, because he knows what is going to happen to him. He must suffer for the sins of humankind. Jesus is praying that God reveal another way for people to be reconciled to Him. He prays, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (Matthew 26:42).
God’s answer was there is no other way. In fact if there were another way to God, Jesus’ death would have been unnecessary.
There could be many solutions or ways to God if the world’s problem was ignorance, or desire or just being bad. But God’s diagnosis was different, and it had just one solution. Our problem is our sin that separates us from God, and Jesus’ death is our only cure.
How good do you have to be to go to heaven?
The common wisdom is that if you are 51% good or obey most of the commandments, then you’ve made the grade for getting into heaven. That is a false belief.
The truth is we all make mistakes; we know we need to be forgiven. Do you live up to your own expectations? If you don’t even live up to your own, how do you think you live up to God’s?
The problem isn’t that we are bad and that the cure is to be better. Rather, Jesus diagnosed that our sin is a symptom of a diseased and dead heart, and what we need is a new heart from a donor.
Think of it this way. Imagine God said to you, “I want to give you the gift of healing. You can heal anybody of any fatal disease.” Would you take this gift? Now, what if God said, “There’s just one catch. Whoever you heal, you will get what they had.” Now would you accept this gift? You might for someone you loved more than yourself. This is the deal Jesus was offered – and He accepted.
The Bible says it like this: “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
In the movie there is a scene where Jesus reveals that He knows the meaning of His death. During the crucifixion there is a flashback to a meal He had with His disciples. He takes bread and breaks it. He gives it to his disciples and says,
‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’ (Matthew 26:26-28).
For Jesus, dying was His reason for the living. He died for you so that you might live forgiven.
“If Socrates lived and died like a philosopher, Jesus lived and died like a god.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, French philosopher (1712 – 1778
Jesus is alive – true or false?
Jesus dies on the cross. But it isn’t over yet. Jesus appears to many after – resurrected, flawless, glorious.
Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Is this just a Hollywood ending or is it history? There is good evidence to show that it is the most amazing fact in history. Here are four arguments:
- Jesus predicted it. The resurrection wasn’t a myth made up after His death. Jesus predicted He would rise from the dead. (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19; 26:32)
- Eyewitnesses saw it. Jesus was seen alive over a 40-day period after His crucifixion by men, women, skeptics, believers, individuals and simultaneously by a group of over 500 people. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)
- History supports it. Within a generation of Jesus’ life, documents were written about His death and resurrection. If treated without prejudice, the historical records are as plentiful and as reliable as any ancient event we know of.
- Other theories are feeble. Not only is the evidence for the resurrection strong, the evidence for alternative explanations (e.g. some-one else was crucified; they forgot where His tomb was; He simply survived the crucifixion) are flimsy. They are weak attempts to avoid the facts.
Why does if matter that Jesus rose from the dead, never to die again? Jesus’ resurrection sets Him apart from all other religious leaders and everyone else who ever lived. All other religious leaders were powerless over death, proving their humanity. Jesus had power over death, proving His divinity.
The resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith. All of what Jesus said and did falls if the resurrection is false. All of what Jesus said and did stands if the resurrection is fact.
You don’t have to have all your questions answered and all your doubts cleared to make a thoughtful decision and claim that you believe in Jesus.
Where do you stand right now? Do you think it makes more sense to believe or not believe in Jesus? Are you ready to respond to Jesus? If so, everyone – including intellectuals – comes to God the same way. Begin here in your journey with Jesus.
Pray. “God, thank you for what You have done for me. I believe You sent Jesus to die for my sins instead of me. I believe Jesus rose again to give me a new and clean heart. I invite You into my life. Teach me to do everything You want me to do and to follow You all the days of my life. I pray this believing in what Jesus did for me. Amen.”
Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? If it does, pray this prayer right now, and Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.