This semester I am signed up for two seminary courses: Hermeneutics (how to study scripture) and Apologetics (discipline to provide a rational justification for the truth claims of the Christian faith). I must admit, I’m slightly overwhelmed, especially after last week – anyone else in a state of syllabus shock? But I know these classes will be pivotal for my spiritual growth.
When sharing my faith, one of the questions I’m frequently asked is, “How do you know Jesus is who He says He is?” It’s not a new question, either. People have been asking that question for thousands of years.
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Matthew 16:13-14 (NIV)
That can be a hard question to answer for someone who’s been a Christian nearly all my life. It’s a question that I really don’t even think about. When asked this question, I find myself wanting to answer, “He just is” (this was also the moment I realized I needed to suck it up and take Apologetics because clearly, my knowledge to defend my faith is weak). As you can imagine, this answer leaves unbelievers feeling unsure.
I started thinking through the different arguments for who Jesus could be if He wasn’t who He said He is (my husband helped greatly in this endeavor). I realized that there are really only four possibilities for who God (Jesus) could be:
Some could argue that Jesus is just a legend, a story made up by wise old men years ago. But here is the problem with that: There is far too much evidence of His existence. Archaeologists have found thousands of copies of the Bible, ancient ruins and artifacts that prove the legend theory inaccurate.
Most people agree that Jesus was a good and moral man – a man who lived an exemplary life like we all should. But sometimes people have a hard time believing he was the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus could have been a liar. He could have made it all up. Everything he said and did could have been fabricated. The Bible could be an interesting piece of fictional myths that simply serves as a moral compass. But here the problem lies: This excludes Jesus being a good and moral teacher. You can’t be a moral man but lie through your teeth. Not only that, but people are not usually willing to die for a lie. Jesus went through torture, betrayal and immense pain to stand up for what He knew was right. Even most of His disciples, the people who were closest to Him, were willing to die for Him (and did). Peter confessed Jesus all the way to his grave. Here is Peter’s response to Jesus’ question, following the passage quoted above:
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV)
I admit there are people out there who believe crazy things. They have themselves convinced that kangaroos can fly, cows should be worshipped or even that 7-month old babies in the womb are not real human beings (when it comes to abortion, I’m throwing political correctness out the window). I suppose it could be true, in theory, that Jesus was certifiably insane. He wouldn’t be considered a liar because that would mean that He truly believed what He was saying and doing was true. But here’s the error in that line of thinking: Jesus had 12 disciples that followed Him and were willing to die for Him. Crazy people don’t have followers. Group hallucination is not a logical argument.
The only reasonable explanation left is that Jesus is really who He says He is: The Son of God, our Lord and Savior and He must be worshipped as such. Jesus lived a perfect life on earth, died on the cross for our sins, and rose again on the third day. He is the way, the truth and the life – He is the way to our Father in heaven (John 14:6).
Jesus is called the “Son of Man” 88 times in the New Testament. After doing a little research, I’m even more convinced now that Jesus is our Lord and Savior than I was before. I pray you can say the same.
CITATIONS: C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell.