Few reputable historians doubt that Jesus actually existed. In fact, almost every major religion in the world concedes that Jesus was a great teacher. Even secularists who reject Christianity readily admit that no one has surpassed the morality of Jesus.
But the problem with believing that Jesus was only a great moral teacher like others who preceded and succeeded Him is that He claimed to be much more than that. In fact, no other philosopher or religious leader before or since Jesus has ever made the claims that Jesus made.
1. Jesus claimed to be God.
Although many religious leaders and philosophers have attempted to point people toward God, none of them has ever claimed to be God. Mohammed, Moses, Confucius, Buddha, and Joseph Smith never portrayed themselves to be anything more than sinful men. However, Jesus claimed to be equal to God Himself. In John 10:30, Jesus declared, “I and the Father are one.”
2. Jesus claimed to forgive sins.
No other religious leader or philosopher ever claimed the ability to forgive people of their sins and grant them eternal life. Buddha even said, “…in reality there are no living beings to whom the Lord Buddha can bring salvation.” Yet, Jesus believed that He had the authority to forgive people of their sins (Mark 2:5).
Jesus consistently taught that His primary purpose in leaving Heaven and coming into the world was not just to point people to the path of forgiveness from God but through His death to be the means by which people can be forgiven by God (Luke 19:10).
3. Jesus claimed to conquer death.
Jesus repeatedly prophesied that He would be killed by His enemies and then rise from the dead three days later (Matthew 16:21). Jesus’ prophesy and actual resurrection differentiates Him from any other religious leader or philosopher.
No other religious leader or philosopher died in public, was buried in a guarded tomb, and rose again from the dead. No religious leader or philosopher even claimed he could conquer death, again demonstrating Jesus Christ’s uniqueness.
4. Jesus claimed He would return to judge the world.
Jesus taught His followers that He would one day return to the earth to reward the righteous and judge the unrighteous. No other religious leader or philosopher made such a grandiose claim. But Jesus did, frequently (Matthew 25:31-34). Some other faiths teach that a person’s eternal destination is determined by worshipping the founder’s god or obeying the founder’s edicts. But Jesus taught that peoples’ eternal destiny depended upon their acceptance or rejection of Jesus Himself as the Son of God (John 3:17-18).
Given that Jesus claimed to be God, according to C.S. Lewis He must fall into one of three categories. Jesus was a lunatic (thinking he was God when he wasn’t), a liar (claiming to be God when he knew he wasn’t), or the only other alternative is that He is Lord – He is who He claimed to be.
Christianity provides an exclusive answer to man’s greatest dilemma expressed by Job when he asked, “How can a man be in the right before God?” (Job 9:2)
Every other religion answers that question with “work.” Only Christianity answers “grace.”
Jesus was everything He claimed to be and more. Invite your friends and family, and join us this Easter Sunday at 9:15 or 10:50am to worship our risen Lord. Dr. Jeffress will teach on “3 Reasons the Resurrection Matters.”