The heart of Christianity is the deity of Christ, specifically His resurrection. That event truly separates Christianity from Judaism, Islam, and every other world religion. But the resurrection is only one piece of the picture we get from Christ from a study of the New Testament. Why do we believe that Jesus of Nazareth is God’s Son and, therefore, our Savior?
Notice Paul’s words from Philippians 2:5-8: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” That is the character of Jesus. He was in the form of God and He was equal with God.
How can we be sure? By examining the evidence from the New Testament. According to His life recorded in the New Testament, Jesus never thought a wrong thought. He never said the wrong word or went to the wrong place. He never had the wrong emotion at the wrong time and never performed a wrong act. He never made an unsound argument or taught a wrong lesson or drew the wrong conclusion from an Old Testament passage. He never had the wrong attitude toward anyone or anything. He was never in any way disobedient to the will of God, His parents, or the civil or religious leaders (unless, of course, they conflicted with God’s will). We wouldn’t expect anything less of God, would we?
That is exactly what Peter meant when he said Jesus “committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). That’s what Paul meant when he said God made Jesus “to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). That’s what the Hebrews writer meant when he said, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (4:15).
Because Jesus had the character that He did, everything boils down to one question: Was Jesus Who He said He was? There is no doubt that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Savior of mankind. When Jesus made those claims, either He was a liar, a basket-case, or the Savior—Deity. Does the evidence suggest that Jesus was a liar? Did He know He was simply a man and then deceived everyone? How could a liar perform the miracles (like walking on water) Jesus did? Does the evidence suggest that Jesus was a basket-case? Did He simply believe that He was the Messiah but was really mistaken—like David Koresh? Was He simply an ancient and fundamentally deranged lunatic? The evidence doesn’t support that either. There is a world of difference between Jesus of Nazareth and David Koresh!
If Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, knew what He was claiming, performed miracles, and had the character that is revealed in the New Testament, then there is no other conclusion that He was and is the Son of God! That being the case, “the Son of man has power…to forgive sins!” (Matthew 9:6).
Copyright © 2014 by Paul Holland, in Droplets of Living Water, October 1.