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Jesus;
Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?

I and the father are one - Jesus in John 10:30

CONTEXT

 

Real estate may be all about location, location, location - the Bible is all about context, context, context.

 

Jesus wasn't speaking to atheists, Western postmodernists, or Eastern mystics - He was speaking to Jews. This doesn't mean His message wasn't for us, but it does mean His words need to be interpreted through the lens of Judaism. And in that context - He most certainly and undeniably claimed His divinity. It's the very reason the religious leaders handed Him over to the romans to be crucified. They didn't demand His death because He was feeding the poor or healing the sick, nor because He claimed to be a great spiritual teacher. No, He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter because He invoked the divine title 'Son of Man', because He claimed the authority to forgive people's sins, allowed Himself to be worshipped (to the Jews, worship was reserved for the Most High God - Yahweh), and referred to Himself as the 'I AM' - the eternal One (God revealed to Moses that His name is YHWH or - I Am That I Am). Everyone He was speaking to, understood that He claimed to be God. 

 

In their language and custom, He literally - not figuratively or esoterically - claimed Godhood.

I and the Father are one

'I and the Father are on' Jesus proclaimed in John 10:30.

 

Now, if Jesus had said this to a group of Eastern mystics - He probably would not have evoked the reaction that it did. If one believes that everything is God, or that we are all God - we just forgot, like in Eastern religion/philosophy, and appropriated in modern new age culture, someone claiming to be God or one with God is nothing to get worked up over. 

 

But Jesus, being a monotheistic Jew (meaning He believed in a Creator God distinct and separate from His creation), knew very well who He was making this statement to and how it would be received. Jesus didn't say He was one with God - and you can be too. No, He claimed an absolute and special position, that of Deity. The Jews all too well understood the gravity of His statement, and it is for this reason they immediately wanted to kill Him, and eventually did.

 

"We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” - John 10:33

Before Abraham was - I AM

"Jesus is intentional with his words. He is deliberately invoking the name of God and applying it to himself. In calling himself “I Am” Jesus is radically proclaiming his divine identity. 

 

Israel regarded the name of God as holy, thus it was not to be found on people’s lips. This is why the Pharisees attempt to stone him. Not only does Jesus speak the name that is to be unspoken, but he applies the name of God to himself. John records that “they picked up stones to stone Jesus, but he hid himself, slipping away from temple grounds” (John 8:59). If Jesus was simply suggesting that he pre-existed Abraham, then it is puzzling why the Pharisees sought his death. This would not have been a stonable offence. Jesus would have been considered mad, or potentially demon possessed, but not a person worthy of execution. The ire of the Pharisees is only understandable if Jesus equates himself with the divine name."

Jesus lets Himself be worshipped 

While in todays western, secular culture it is normalized to worship just about anything and everything, this was not so in Jesus' culture, where worship was reserved for the living and Most High God. Yet, Jesus allowed Himself to be worshipped (yet another indicator that He did not mean we are 'all God', but that He alone is to be exalted, which is what worship is).

 

"Luke 19:28–40 recounts Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem the week before He was crucified. Jesus rode into town on the back of a donkey, and there were crowds praising Him, laying their cloaks in the road before Him, saying "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (verse 38). The Pharisees in the crowd who heard the people worshiping Jesus admonished Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples" (verse 39). The Pharisees believed it was blasphemous for the people to be worshipping Jesus because they did not recognize His deity. 

Jesus replied to them by saying, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out" (Luke 19:40). Did Jesus mean that the stones would literally cry out His praise? Not necessarily. Saying the stones or rocks will cry out is a more proverbial way of saying that Jesus is worthy of all praise. As the King of Kings, He will get the praise He is worthy of—and if people won't praise Him, the rocks will. 

With this statement, Jesus let the Pharisees know that the people should be encouraged to praise Him, not condemned for praising Him. If the people wouldn't praise Him, the rest of His creation would be able to fill in the void of their lack of praise. All creation, even inanimate objects like rocks, was made for the glory of God (Colossians 1:6). His creation as a whole declares His praise. Humans are made in God's image and are therefore especially equipped to bring glory to Him (Genesis 1:27). "

Prophecy revealing His identity 

The Jews had been waiting on, hoping for, and praying towards the coming of their Messiah - the anointed one who would liberate them. Jesus fulfilled all messianic prophecies, such as being born in Betlehem (Micah 5:2), being pierced (crucified) (Isaiah 53:5), and betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:13). Jesus fulfilling all Messianic prophecies prove that He is the one foretold and send and 'anointed' by God.

 

But these very same prophecies reveal that Jesus is not only send by God, but also that He is God.

 

'For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.' (Isaiah 9:6)

'Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.' (Isaiah 7:14)

Immanuel is Hebrew for 'God with us'.

Demonstrated He was God

When Jesus walked the earth, He did more than claim to be God;

He demonstrated it.

Jesus didn't perform random miracles, each and every single one was a 'sign' pointing towards His true identity.

And observed all together, His ministry as a whole is a preview of the coming Kingdom of Heaven coming to earth. More than any other miracle, He healed the blind, the deaf, the lame, and even the dead. What makes Jesus' healings stand out from that of doctors or 'energy healers'? Jesus' healings were complete and total; they marked a reversal of the effects of sin. Wherever Jesus went, the effects of living in a sinful world were reversed, redeemed, restored; a beautiful sign pointing towards the future Kingdom where sin, darkness, and death will be no more.

(did you know these miracles were confirmed by non-christian sources?)

Son of Man

When Jesus referred to Himself as Son of Man (Mark 14:61-62), He invoked the prophecy of Daniel;

 

"Perhaps no claim is more direct than Jesus’ response to Caiaphas’s pointblank interrogation:

“Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”

“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death (Mark 14:61-64).

Notice that Jesus responded to the direct question with a direct answer: “I am.” Referring to himself as the “Son of Man,” Jesus then added that he would be coming back on the clouds of heaven. Caiaphas and his onlookers knew the implication. This was a reference to the vision the Old Testament prophet Daniel had of the end times: the Messiah—the Son of Man—will come to earth to judge the world on the authority given to him by God the Father (“the Ancient of Days”), and all the world’s people will worship him (Dan. 7:13). Of course, no one is to be worshiped but God himself. Yet here was Christ claiming that he would be the one to judge the world and receive worship from its people. He was claiming to be God, and everyone knew it.” 

- From the book 'I don't have enough faith to be an atheist'

Now let’s put all of this into perspective.

No one did that better than C. S. Lewis, who wrote:

"Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world Who had made it and was “infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

Imagine your neighbor making these kinds of claims: “I am the first and the last—the self-existing One. Do you need your sins forgiven? I can do it. Do you want to know how to live? I am the light of the world—whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. Do you want to know whom you can trust? All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Do you have any worries or requests? Pray in my name. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. Do you need access to God the Father? No one comes to the Father except through me. The Father and I are one. What would you think about your neighbor if he seriously said those things? You certainly wouldn’t say, “Gee, I think he’s a great moral teacher!” No, you’d say this guy is nuts, because he’s definitely claiming to be God.

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish things that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would rather be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Lewis is absolutely right. Since Jesus clearly claimed to be God, he couldn’t be just a great moral teacher. Great moral teachers don’t deceive people by falsely claiming to be God. Since Jesus claimed to be God, one of only three possibilities could be true: he was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord God.

Jesus is God - whether you like it or not.

But, will He be your Lord and Savior?

Will He remain some esoteric, far-off figure..

or will He become your shepherd?

Can we read 2 or 3 verses of the 31.000 (!) verses in the Bible and form the conclusion that Jesus was merely a great moral leader or enlightened spiritual teacher telling us that we can reach Christ consciousness? Yes.

 

But this would become impossible if we read from Genesis to Revelation. The Scriptures point towards a savior: God coming in the flesh to die for our sins (Isaiah 53:5). There is no way to reconcile these things; we will have to decide which Jesus we are going to follow; the one that the Scriptures as a whole are pointing towards, or the one we are trying to make Him out to be by picking and choosing a handful of verses taken out of its original context.

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