Who Is This Jesus?
As we approach the Easter Season, we will begin a mini sermon series in which we will look at some of the claims Jesus made about Himself. These claims are nothing short of remarkable, some would say (and many of His contemporaries did say) were outlandish claims. We will look at some of these claims beginning this Sunday, March 19th and will continue examining some of His claims until our Good Friday Service.
Throughout history there have been many religious 'leaders,' and 'spiritual' persons who claimed to know a way to experience happpiness or bliss or the gods or God Himself. The claims of Jesus, however, stand head and shoulders above the claims of all other 'religious figures' in history because Jesus (among other things) claimed to be God the Son, the only way to have a right relationship with God. He claimed this and so much more.
When we examine His claims, there are really only so many options:
One: He was a legend or profoundly misquoted and none of these claims were made . The problems with this view are many. First, no credible historian denies Jesus existed. Even atheistic scholars concede He existed and people wrote about Him. Second, the manuscript evidence found throughout the old Roman Empire. Thousands of manuscripts. They are consistent. They do not contradict one another. Third, there is the 'problem' of the sudden explosion of the early church (what caused a small movement to become a massive movement in such a very short time?) not to mention to 'problem' of disciples and followers of Christ willingly embracing martyrdom because they claimed to have seen the Risen Christ, touched Him, preferring death over denying Jesus and having their lives spared. People will not willingly die for what they know is a lie. The legend hypothesis simply holds no water.
Two: He was a Liar. Perhaps Jesus made all sorts of claims about Himself and He knew they were not true. There are virtually no scholars who hold to this view. The sayings of Jesus and His reputation simply are not compatable with Jesus being a liar. And again, if this were the case, the explosive growth of the church and the martyrdom of His disciples would be illogical. No one willingly dies to cover up a lie. Sooner or later someone would 'break' under the pressure of being killed to 'tell the truth,' about Jesus. This option is not viable.
Third: He was a madman, a lunatic. Again, I've not encountered a scholar who holds to the view that Jesus was a deluded man who somehow managed to gather a following of people willing to die for Him and spread His message across an empire. Psychologists have studied Jesus' statements, most notably the Sermon on the Mount, and have concluded that these are some of the most profound words in history, that if everyone lived by these words, the world would be so much better than it is. This theory holds no water either.
So we are left with a final option: Jesus was who He said He was, is who He claimed to be. If this is the case-then we all must respond to Him. If we really understand what Jesus says about Himself (and life and us), then we realize the one thing we cannot do is ignore Him.
Please join us for worship as we walk through some amazing claims Jesus made about Himself, and how they were received then, and how they are relevant to us now. Warning: this is not a 'safe' sermon series. Each of us will respond one way or another to Him during this time, and there are consequences for how we respond. Our responses ultimatley are the differences between life and death, freedom and bondage, darkness and light, reconcilation and alienation.
I hope to see you Sunday!
Grace and Peace,