This man who left His mark on human history. How do you view Him? He claimed to be the Son of God and long-awaited Messiah--"The Anointed One." What a claim! Heís either "Lord" or "liar." Which?
On one occasion as He spoke with a woman from Samaria, He openly claimed to be the promised Messiah. His conversation with her is recorded in John 4:25-26: The woman said, "I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When He comes, He will explain everything to us." Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am He."
Thereís the claim. "I am He!" If He lied, reject Him. Renounce Him as a fraud. But... what if He told the truth? What if? You must decide what you will do with Jesus. Letís examine the Biblical record in an effort to understand some of the unique claims that are made to Him.
Jesus and Old Testament Prophecies
Throughout the ages, God found ways to tell the human race that help was on the way. A Savior was coming! At the right time, God would send His Son to rescue fallen humans and lead them back to God. Note a few of the predictions and prophecies in the Old Testament that pointed to the coming of the Christ.
1. Satan's head was to be crushed
After the fall in the Garden of Eden, God said to Satan, "I will put enmity [hatred] between you and the woman [Eve], and between your offspring and hers; He [the woman's offspring] will crush your head, and you will strike His heel." (Genesis 3:15)
In this passage, "the woman's offspring" is a prophetic reference to Christ. The New Testament helps us to understand that this is the case. Jesus was "born of woman" (Matthew 1:16; Galatians 4:4). The virgin, Mary. Enmity between Jesus and the offspring of Satan has always existed. Warfare--the struggle between the forces of good and evil. This hostility reached its climax when Jesus was crucified. In the great battle for the souls of human beings, Satan "struck Jesus' heel" by temporarily silencing Him for three days. Yet, in the struggle, Jesus "crushed Satan's head" by permanently defeating him as the ruler of darkness and death! (Colossians 2:13-15) Satan's ultimate doom has been sealed and settled, yet like a mortally wounded animal, he still has power to hurt people. Thankfully, Jesus has crushed his head in fulfillment of prophecy.
2. The promise to Abraham
To Abraham, God said, "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you... and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:1-3) In fulfillment of this prophecy, Jesus Christ was born of the seed of Abraham (Matthew 1:1) so that He could bless all people. When Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia, he said, "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise!" (Galatians 3:29) Only as a follower of Christ can you become a spiritual heir of Abraham, and receive the promised blessing.
3. Moses pointed to Jesus
Centuries before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Moses prophesied regarding the authority that He was to have on earth. Speaking of Jesus in Deuteronomy 18:15, he said, "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to Him." We know that Moses' words referred to Jesus because of Peter's testimony in Acts 3:20-23. Read this passage. Note the strong command and warning that was embodied in it. Moses said, "You must listen to everything He [Jesus] tells you. Anyone who does not listen to Him will be completely cut off from among His people. " Strong language! Jesus is God's "ultimate prophet," and we are to listen to Him and respond with obedience.
4. The predictions of Isaiah
Hundreds of years before Jesus entered the world as a human being, Isaiah predicted that the Savior would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:22-23), and that He, as a sacrificial lamb, would lay down His life as a substitute sin-offering for transgressors. (Isaiah 53:4-6; Romans 5:6-8) These prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus.
5. The prophesies of Jeremiah
Jeremiah predicted that a descendant of David (Jesus; see Romans 1:1-3) would be "God's righteous branch" and rule as King. (Jeremiah 33:14-26) "His name," the prophet said, would be "The Lord our righteousness." (See 1 Corinthians 1:30) Everything points to Jesus. Clearly, the message of the Old Testament is..."Look who's coming!"
6. Many other prophesies
Still, there are other Old Testament prophesies. Daniel, Ezekiel, Micah, and others point to the One who would come to bring hope and salvation! So numerous were Christ-centered prophecies that Luke wrote, "Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days." (Acts 3:24) The voice of Old Testament prophecy rings with the clear message--"Jesus is the promised Messiah--the Son of God! Hear Him!"
Jesus as Messiah in New Testament
1. His miraculous birth
The Biblical claim is that Jesus of Nazareth was born of a virgin! A miracle! Fantasy or fact? Take time to carefully read Matthew 1:18-25. It's the fascinating account of His birth! The record says, "... before they came together [no sexual relationship], she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit." God--not man--caused the pregnancy of Mary. Thus, in a literal way, Jesus is "the Son of God!" If true, we must submit to Him. If false, the Bible is unreliable and He cannot be the Messiah. Which will it be?
2. The "I am" statements of Jesus
Consider some of the astounding claims that Jesus made for Himself. Was He a lunatic or is He Lord? You must decide! He stood before men and openly declared--
- "I am the [Messiah]!" (John 4:25-2)
- "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty." (John 6.35)
- "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)
- "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)
- "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)
- "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15.5)
We cannot lightly dismiss such claims. If they are true, we must submit to Him. If they are false, He must be identified as an impostor and a fake.
3. The resurrection of Christ
The bodily resurrection of Christ is the pivotal issue on which the Christian faith stands or falls. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." During the events of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2, the Apostle Peter stood before a large gathering of people who, approximately two months earlier, had crucified Jesus. In his message, Peter boldly declared the resurrection of Christ as a reality that was inevitable because of who Jesus was--a Divine being.
Hear Peter's words! "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, BECAUSE IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE FOR DEATH TO KEEP ITS HOLD ON HIM." (Acts 2 22-24) The graves of all other famous religious prophets and leaders still contain bodily remains. Only the grave of Jesus is empty! Jesus was dead, but He is alive again! The resurrection confirms the fact that Jesus is the Son of God!
4. The "claim of all claims"
All other claims for Jesus are rooted in this one. One central claim undergirds all the rest. What? THE BIBLE CLAIMS THAT JESUS IS...GOD! Jesus is...God? Someone actually claims that He is..."God?" Too much? Consider! At the time of His birth in Bethlehem, He was called "Immanuel" which means..."God with us!" (Matthew 1:23) On this earth, Jesus was "God with us." The Creator God (Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:1-2) was willing to be born as a baby in the person of Jesus. This is another reason why Christianity is unique and unequaled by any other religion in the world. The God of the Bible was willing to become one of us. He is able to understand the human struggle. (Hebrews 4:15) The Scriptures say, "Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who has the power of death--that is, the devil." (Hebrews 2:14)
As God [deity], Jesus had no beginning and has no end. He is eternal in nature. The Bible teaches that the One we call Jesus existed even before His birth in Bethlehem. The birth experience was merely the point in time when He became a human being. Prior to His physical birth, He existed with deity in the unseen realms of heaven. Amazing! Check it out in the Scriptures!
Speaking of Jesus in John 1 as "the Word," the inspired writer says, "...and the Word [Jesus] was God." (John 1:1-3, 14) Clearly, Jesus is referred to as...God. Abraham lived centuries before Jesus arrived on this earth, yet Jesus said in John 8:58, "I tell you the truth; before Abraham was born, I am." Amazing! If this is true, we must submit to Him as Lord!
In a prayer to His Father just before being taken captive and crucified, Jesus uttered these words: "And now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with the glory I had with You before the world began." (John 17.5) Jesus claims to have been with His Father even before the world began.
How are We to View This Unique Person?
Was He a man?
Yes! Fully man. (Philippians 2:5-11)
Was He God?
Yes ! Fully God. (Colossians 1:19; 2:9)
He was a... "God-Man."
Son of God! Son of Man! (Romans 1:3-4)
How will we respond? We cannot remain neutral. We must honor Him as Lord, or reject Him as a liar. We cannot ignore these claims that the Bible makes for Him. Is He Lord? Messiah? Savior? Creator? God? Be certain of your choice. What will we do with Him? What we do with Him will determine, in the end, what He will do with us!
Let us respond as did Simon Peter in John 6:66-69. From this time many of His Disciples turned back and no longer followed Him. "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. WE BELIEVE AND KNOW THAT YOU ARE THE HOLY ONE OF GOD."
This Jesus--the Holy One of God--came to this earth to rescue sinners. Are you aware that His name means "Savior?"
In the next lesson of "The Seeker" series, we will be guided by Scripture into a better understanding of the dangerous and deadly problem that affects every responsible human being. Itís a problem that can only be solved by Jesus!
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