We live in a world awash with outrageous claims and inflammatory statements. Faced with the daunting challenge of distilling fact from fiction, we may be tempted to believe everything or nothing. But among all the outrageous claims, what if there is life giving truth? What if there is truth we cannot live without?
No man made more outrageous claims that Jesus Christ. He shocked the men of his hometown, by claiming to be the Messiah. He challenged the religious leaders to point out a single one of his sins. He pushed the limits with his disciples, commanding them to love enemies and offer unlimited forgiveness to offensive brothers.
Jesus’ own disciples struggled to understand who he was and what he came to do. From time to time, glimpses shone through their own preconceived notions of Him. In a poignant moment, as they were crossing the Sea of Galilee, a furious squall sprang up and threatened to sink their small fishing boat. Half of Jesus’ disciples grew up on these tempestuous waters, fishing with their families from their childhood, yet even they were convinced that they would not survive the trip. They woke Jesus, who was asleep in the back of the boat.
They did not ask him to save them – for what miracle working teacher was a match for a force-ten gale? They only asked, “don’t you care that we are about to die?” Jesus stood up in the boat and with a word, brought the waters from tempest to mirror. These seasoned seamen were almost speechless. The only thing they could say of Jesus was, “who is this?” They perceived that there was much more to Jesus than even their imaginations could anticipate.
What about you? When someone mentions Jesus, what comes to mind? Religious revolutionary? Social justice warrior? Ethical teacher? Failed Zionist leader? Founder of a yet another world religion? Who is this Jesus? For many it is a caricature, influenced by pictures you have seen or by clichés which permeate our cultural ideas of “the historical Jesus.” Or perhaps you remember him from a collection of anecdotes or parables you heard as a child in some Sunday School. Just who is Jesus?
No claim of Jesus was more outrageous than his claim that “I and the Father are one. He who has seen me has seen the Father.” Jesus did not claim merely to be God’s servant, or God’s prophet. He did not claim to be “a son of God,” but “The Son of God.” Despite the best efforts of Arian heretics to erase Jesus’ claims to divinity, the Scriptures claim pervasively and decisively that Jesus is fully God and fully man. Men who seek some value in Jesus as a mere man and moral example, but disbelieve his outrageous claim to deity must face C. S. Lewis’ scathing critique.
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either 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 patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.
Jesus did not come to point out the way, the truth, or the life, but to be the way, the truth and the life. This demands that he be fully human and fully divine.
Who is Jesus? Our seasonal displays of a baby Jesus in a lowly cattle stall have led us astray, thinking only of his humanity. But in the opening chapter of his gospel, John, the beloved disciple, pulls back the curtain to reveal “the rest of the story.” You think you know who Jesus is? Come and find out as we examine John 1:1-5, 9-14 and grapple with what our forefathers expressed in the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
Q21: Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 21
A21: The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continueth to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever.
We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube.