Got Questions week 4: The Ultimate Questions: Who is Jesus?
As we wrap up our series “Got Questions” we have to ask the ultimate question “Who is Jesus?”
This question supersedes all other questions; because depending on who he is changes everything.
So let’s get right into it.
Let’s asked the most obvious question;
Jesus: A Historical Person?
Did Jesus actually exist? Was He a historical reality? The reality is that Christianity is not a religion of ideas, it is rooted (its fundamental ideals and constructs) are grounded in it being historical. It is not the idea of Jesus dying for you that is the message of the Gospel but the fact that He actually did.
In fact German historian, Adolf Harnack (1851-1930), declared that Jesus was so imposing that he was “far beyond the power of men to invent” and that those who treat him as a myth are bereft of “the capacity to distinguish between fiction and the documentary evidence”
There are only a small outlying group of sceptics (and of those a tiny group are actually scholars (I.e. they are experts in this particular field of study) that state that Jesus the man did not exist.
Why? Because there is;
The evidence of Scripture itself
The evidence of Jewish sources
The evidence of Roman writings
The evidence of people who were against early Christianity
And the impact of Christianity on the world as an evidence in itself.
Jesus really existed! The evidence is most definitely there.
But this begs the more important question.
Is He who they say He is?
Let’s look at
Who HE Claims To Be;
He states in several places that He is God or equal to (John 10:25-33; John 5:17; John 8:19, 58; John 5:23; John 14:1, 8, 9 Matthew 5:20, 22, 26, 28, 32, 34, 44 to name some places).
Not only that but He accepts worship as God (John 4:20; Acts 8:27 Luke 4:8 Matthew 4:10; Matthew 8:2 etc).
His claim is that He is God is not a simple claim nor one without a response from us.
The reality is that Jesus did not leave us guess what His claims where; He stated them outright; he cannot simply be an influential leader, a good teacher or a nice guy.
He gives us no options to do that; He only gives us the option to believe in Him or disregard Him; there is no middle ground.
Can we substantiate His claims; well yes.
From prophecies that we know definitively were written well before His birth cause we know that the Septuagint was translated from 300BC. we can establish a mathematical statistic of how probable it was that Jesus was who He said He was.
There were over 450 Prophecies written about Jesus that He fulfilled completely.
Now some might have argued that He purposely fulfilled this to confuse/convince people that he was something that he was not.
The problem with this approach is that it neglects the fact that a lot of them were completely out of his control.
A Statistician Peter W. Stoner wrote on the statistical probability of Jesus just fulfilling 8 of the 450 prophecies about His life.
Things like where he would be born and the mode of His birth, the fact that the temple would be there when He was alive etc.
And if Jesus just fulfilled 8 of these prophecies that he had no control of statistically He would have a 1 in 1017 chance of this happening that a 1 in 100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000. 100 quadrillion.
Stoner goes further to say the statistical probability of Jesus fulfilling just 48 of the prophecies about his life we can increase the number to 1 in 10157 that 1 with a hundred and fifty seven zeros behind it.
That number is simply too big for us to even comprehend.
Stoner gives an illustration of this number using electrons. Electrons are very small objects. They're smaller than atoms. It would take 10^15 of them, laid side by side, to make 1 centimetres. Even if we counted 250 of these electrons each minute, and counted day and night, it would still take 19 million years just to count a line of electrons 2 and a half centimetres long.
With this introduction, let's go back to our chance of one in 10^157. Let's suppose that we're taking this number of electrons, marking one, and thoroughly stirring it into the whole mass, then blindfolding a man and letting him try to find the right one. What chance has he of finding the right one? Pretty small, now increase the number to 450 prophecies and you get to a probability that is by all means impossible.
Again Jesus does not leave us without proof of who He is. In fact Stoner concludes and say only a fool would deny that Jesus was actually God.
To add to this Jesus has a deep historical impact that cannot be ignored.
Jesus: A Historical Impact?
His impact that most often surprise people:
Jesus Dynamically changed the way that the world saw and treated children. Children were routinely left to die if they were born with defect or deemed to be the wrong gender. Jesus’ treatment of children and message to His followers was to let the little children come to Him for theirs is the kingdom of God.
A Norwegian scholar named Bakke wrote a study of this impact, simply titled: When Children Became People: the Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity.
Love of learning led to monasteries, which became the cradle of academic guilds. Universities such as Cambridge, Oxford, and Harvard all began as Jesus-inspired efforts to love God with all ones' mind.
The ancient world loved education but tended to reserve it for the elite; the notion that every child bore God's image helped fuel the move for universal literacy.
Jesus had a universal concern for those who suffered that transcended the rules of the ancient world.
His compassion for the poor and the sick led to institutions for lepers, the beginning of modern-day hospitals.
The Council of Nyssa decreed that wherever a cathedral existed, there must be a hospice, a place of caring for the sick and poor.
That's why even today, hospitals have names like "Good Samaritan," "Good Shepherd," or "Saint Anthony." They were the world's first voluntary, charitable institutions.
The ancient word was dynamically different to ours in the way it dealt with how one portrayed oneself to the world.
Humility was seen as weakness and therefore was not sought after as an ideal; however in the Cross of Christ the world saw strength and humility mixed and it forever changed the psyche of the world. No longer was humility a weakness, rather it was now seen as a great virtue to emulate in ones life.
Christ changed this.
Jesus had a way of championing the excluded that was often downright irritating to those in power. His inclusion of women led to a community to which women flocked in disproportionate numbers. Slaves--up to a third of ancient populations--might wander into a church fellowship and have a slave-owner wash their feet rather than beat them.
One ancient text instructed bishops to not interrupt worship to greet a wealthy attender, but to sit on the floor to welcome the poor. The apostle Paul said: "Now there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, male and female, but all are one in Christ Jesus." Thomas Cahill wrote that this was the first statement of egalitarianism in human literature.
Jesus remains History’s most written about character because He has most impacted history. Because He is the centre of History and History is His.
When one weighs up the evidence it is not simply convincing it is overwhelmingly convincing.
Jesus is real, Jesus is God!
Jesus: A Personal Response?
What all this means?
The impact, and reality of Christ is not a belief it is a historical reality; a profound historical reality and if so it means something for us today.
It means that God became man; and if God became man we need to see why God became man.
God became man because according to the Bible man had offended God by disobeying the statutes that God had set.
Therefore man was destined to be judged because of that sin.
The Bible describes the state of man as hopeless. And that is what we are; we are hopelessly bound to sin; hopelessly destined to face the consequences of the choices we have made.
And that is why Jesus had to come; He came to live a life that we could not to die a death we deserved so that through that we could receive the mercy of God.
You see God because He is holy has to always be just, but the heart of God is to be merciful to His creation. One cannot be both merciful and just, one excludes the other. The only way they can co-exist is for God to be fully just with our sins on the person of Jesus Christ. He fully paid for our sins. And then through Christ we receive the mercy of God.
Jesus receives our Sin; we receive His righteousness.
This is grace; this is the hope that Christ came to bring to the world.
You see this is the reality of the world you live in. It is more than belief; it is rooted in history, part of the story that you are living.
Christ really did come and really did come so that you could be reunited with God.
The Christian message is so much more than getting into heaven, the history of Christ is the fact that God so loved you that He gave you His Son who really did die for you so that you could be welcomed back as children of God.
It comes down to the fact that God want’s to be your God.
The question now is what are you going to do about this reality.
No one will miss this because there was lack of evidence; everyone will miss this because they refuse to surrender their lives to Him who gave His life for you.
Reason, evidence and history is not the enemy of faith; the arrogance of the human heart is the only enemy of faith; that and that alone will prevent you from embracing the salvation that Christ won for you on the Cross.
I pray that no one would leave tonight not confronted with that reality. So that you might now fully know where the root of unbelief lies.
May God make you alive to His truth so that you might come alive for the first time in your life.
Because we must remember that Christ said; He has come to give life and life in its abundance.
I pray that you might find that life tonight. Let’s pray