WHO IS THIS “JESUS”?
(Adapted from the Alpha Course)
1) How do we know Jesus existed at all?
“Christus…suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus” (Tacitus, 116AD, Annals, book 15, chapter 44)
“Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man—if it’s lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.” (Josephus, 93AD, Jewish Antiquities 18.3.3)
`In the variety and fullness of the evidence on which it rests, the text of the New Testament stands absolutely and unapproachably alone amongst ancient prose writings’ (F J A Hort)
2. Who did Jesus think he was?
(i) Jesus teaching centred on himself.
“I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
“Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
“You can have everything in the world and still be the loneliest man. And that is the most bitter type of loneliness, success has brought me world idolisation and millions of pounds. But it’s prevented me from having the one thing we all need: A loving, ongoing relationship.” (Freddie Mercury)
“ he who receives me receives the one who sent me.” (Matthew 10:40)
” Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9)
ii) Jesus’ indirect claims to be God.
iii) Jesus’ direct claims to be God.
“I and the Father are one.” Again they picked up stones to stone him, then Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We’re not stoning you for any of these,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere human being, claim to be God.” (John 10:30)
- You can dismiss it as the cunning deceptions of a liar.
- Or you can have pity on him, he’s clearly mad.
- Or he’s telling the truth.
`Either this man was and is the Son of God or else insane or something worse. But don’t let us come up with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He hasn’t left that open to us. He didn’t intend to.’ (CS Lewis)
3. What evidence is there for the claim “Jesus is God?”
i) His teaching
ii) Look at what he did!
iii) Jesus’ character
“Love you enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt.5:44)
“Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” (Lk.23:34)
“I’ve got such huge respect for Jesus because his life was so radical, it was so inconvenient. If Jesus had not existed, the church most certainly would not have invented him.” (Matthew Parris)
iv) Old Testament Prophecy
v) Jesus’ conquest of death
I) Jesus’ absence from the tomb
II) his presence with the disciples
“Now Thomas …one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” (John 10:24)
III) the historical impact.
IV) Christian experience down the ages.
Who is this “Jesus”?
Liar? Lunatic? Lord?
“I have come to give you life to the full” (John 10:10)
I want to know more:
- Codex Sinaiticus: http://codexsinaiticus.org/en/
- Has the Bible been changed? www.angelfire.com/nt/theology/theology/05text.html
- To Read: The Case Against Christ, Lee Strobel
- To Read: Who Moved the Stone, Frank Morison
- To Watch: Professor NT Wright, Did the Resurrection Happen? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVhgAiGihoA