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Throughout history, many people have claimed to be a god. They lived in cultures that believed in multiple gods who interacted with humans frequently, so these claims were accepted as normal. However, at the time and place of Jesus Christ’s life, the Jewish religion was unique in believing in one, all-powerful God – the creator of the universe.
When Jesus claimed to be the one true God of the universe, many Jews refused to believe him. Nowadays, there are still those who dispute the divinity of Jesus Christ. If we do not believe Jesus is God, then how do we explain his unprecedented claims? Let’s consider five explanations.
Jesus Was Misunderstood
Is it possible Jesus never actually claimed to be God? Centuries before Jesus, God revealed himself to Abraham as the great “I Am.”
Exodus 3:14 God replied to Moses, “I Am who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.”
Later, Jesus drew on this well-known quote when speaking to the Jews. The Jews knew full well he was claiming to be equal with God.
John 8:58 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!”
Jesus also referred to himself as the Son of Man, as found in the book of Daniel. To the Jews of his day, these references to “I Am” and “Son of Man” were clear: Jesus was equating himself with the God of the Old Testament (OT).
Jesus Was a Legend
It has been suggested that in the first few centuries after Jesus lived, his followers invented the idea that he was God and performed miracles. The historical evidence demonstrates that the earliest Christian writers made reference to Jesus as God.
1 Timothy 2:5 For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.
While believing that Jesus was God and that he performed miracles does not prove he did, we cannot claim that this idea was invented centuries after him. His earliest followers wrote about and taught about his miracles and his amazing claims of godhood. These were teachings they were willing to die for.
Jesus Was a Clever Political Strategist
Is it possible that Jesus falsely claimed to be God in order to focus Jewish resistance against Rome? In Jewish culture claiming equality with God was a crime punishable by death. Death would make it difficult to lead a rebellion! Not only did Jesus make it clear he was not a revolutionary, the Roman government officially declared him not guilty at his trial under Pontius Pilate.
The Historical Jesus Never Even Existed
Some claim that Jesus never really existed, but even for many liberal Bible scholars who might say he was not God and was not a miracle-worker, this is a ridiculous claim. Jesus surely existed and there is first and early-second-century evidence showing this. There is also the persistent question of, “If Jesus didn’t exist, where did the Christian church come from?”
In addition to the eyewitness testimony of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, multiple Greek, Roman, and Jewish Historians document the existence of “Jesus, who is called Christ.” There is actually as much documentary evidence of Jesus as there is of Julius Caesar.
Jesus Was Who He Claimed to Be
Unlike the other options, this explanation fits perfectly with the historical evidence. Once we accept that Jesus is who he says he is – the God of the universe, our savior, and redeemer – we come to realize that our life is now his.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
In spite of all the voices around us that may try to discount the reality of Jesus Christ being God in human form, we can trust his words found in the Bible. Jesus Christ is who he said he was. He is our God. He died for our sins that we might live with him forever in heaven. His love for us knows no bounds.
Romans 8: 37-39 (NKJV) Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Who do you say Jesus is?