The skies open up full of glory, the Spirit of God descended like a dove upon Jesus Christ and a voice from the heavens declare in all its majesty, behold “this is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13 NIV) In such a glorious manifestation God, creator of all that exists, exalts Christ as He witnesses the baptism of Jesus proclaiming that indeed He is more than just a prophet but fully God yet fully man, the preeminent Son of God—God incarnate. Still, despite that God Himself acknowledges Jesus as son, the historical Christ finds much more than His identity in question but his divinity in the plight of the most vigorous philosophical debates among His very creation in the centuries that followed. Timeless as it seems, here we are pondering in such mystery, who is Jesus Christ?
Perhaps we should approach the implications of this question from a different perspective. Instead of defining who Christ is, let us first examine who He is not. Is He Lord, a liar or lunatic? Is He simply a great moral teacher in the same company as Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammed, Gautama Buddha and Confucius? C.S. Lewis argues that striping the divinity of Christ while acknowledging His moral greatness is “indefensible.” Is Jesus much more than a great moral teacher? Perhaps He’s merely a prophet or philosopher? Is Christ divine? Is He Messiah—the anointed King, spiritual Savior? Is He God?
Often among the school of intellects Jesus’ divinity is deconstructed to plainly a historical human figure, a great moral teacher. He’s an ordinary Jewish man, who lived in modern Palestine over two thousand years ago; one surely familiar with the teachings of Moses. In fact, I would argue Jesus was very familiar with the Torah, why else would He use God’s private and sacred name, the name no Jew would even fathom to speak or write; the very name that GOD Himself spoke to Moses by the burning bush. When Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13 NAS) God replied, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14 NAS) Yet Jesus unapologetically echoed those very words. In John 8:58 the Jews questioned His identity as they asked if He was greater than Abraham or their prophets. Jesus stunned and even angered the Jews when he proclaimed, “Before Abraham was, I Am?” In essence He speaks of His self-existence, that indeed He is God in flesh.
Blasphemy, the Jews shouted as they attempted to stone Jesus. How could this man claim to be God? What righteousness does He behold to assume the qualities of Ehyeh? Certainly He is not divine. The implication to such claims begs us to question what great moral Jewish teacher would blaspheme against his God and outrage His fellow Jews. How could He irreverently revile the sacred text yet be history’s most prolific social philosopher? Jesus is either telling the truth or a fraud and a liar making Him history’s most momentous imposter.
If not a liar but a man thoroughly convinced that He’s God, perhaps then Jesus is a lunatic. We’ve all have seen videos or have read articles of people claiming such divinity in our age. Often their medical records speak for themselves or the acts that follow after such proclamation. But Jesus on the other hand has miracles after miracles recorded with eyewitnesses in the pages of history. What man has ever silenced the storms with mere words (Matthew 8:23); fed thousands upon thousands with several loafs and a few fish (Matthew 5:32); turned water into wine (John 2:1); healed the blind and the deaf (Mark 10:46, 7:31); raised the dead (Luke 7:11; 8:40, 49; John 11:43); casted out demons (Matthew 8:28; 9:32; 12:22); and not only was he born of a virgin (Luke 1:35) but defeated death when raising from the dead (Matthew 28:5-6).
Definitively Jesus Christ is not a lunatic nor a liar, he’s not only a prophet or great moral teacher but the Son of God (Mark 1:1), Son of Man (Matthew 8:20), Lamb of God (John 1:29), the Christ (Matthew 16:16), the Living Word (John 1:1), Author of Life (Acts 3:15), Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5), King of King and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16) and Savior (John 4:14). Amen.