The Claims Of Christ

According to the New Testament accounts, Jesus, during His ministry, often predicted that He would be raised from the dead (see John 10:17; Luke 9:22, 11:29,30, 16:31, 18:33; Mark 8:31, 9:9, 9:31, 10:34, 14:28; Matt. 16:4, 16:21, 17:9, 17:23, 20:19, 26:32, 27:63). He offered His future resurrection as validation for His extensive claims concerning Himself. He claimed to have authority to forgive sins (Luke 5:20,21,24), and to be Teacher and Lord (John 13:13). He claimed that apart from Himself, one could do nothing (John 15:5). He said, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live" (John 11:25). He claimed that He would come again at the close of the age (Mark 13:26). He claimed to be the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament (see John 1:49-51 and 4:26). He claimed to be equal with God (John 5:18). This is not surprising since at least seven Old Testament passages equate the coming Messiah with God (Ps. 45:6,7; Isa. 9:6, 7:14; Micah 1:3; Zech. 14;9; Isa. 44:6 compared to Job 19:25, Mal. 3:1). For example, in Isaiah 9:6 we find the following prophecy concerning the Messiah to come: "For to us a child is born, to 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" (italics added).

These claims of Christ concerning Himself are quite shocking. C. S. Lewis has written:

Then comes the real shock. 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. 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.1

C. S. Lewis reminds us that one of the most shocking aspects of Christ's claims is His claim to forgive sins. He writes of this:

Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against Himself. You tread on my toe and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, Himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men's toes and stealing other men's money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history.

Yet (and this is the strange, significant thing) even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is "humble and meek" and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.2

1 C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan Co., 1943), pp. 54-55. 2 Ibid., p. 55.

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