About this blog: Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star.
COLUMN: Jesus was more than just a man
ONE OF MY favorite aspects of writing a newspaper column is connecting with my readers through their emails. This past week, I received a thought-provoking note. The writer shared that he is currently in a Bible study at his church where they are reading a book that claims that Jesus was not God incarnate.
The author of this book puts forth a sentiment with which many people would agree. It goes something like this, “Jesus was a great teacher and wonderful example of how to live a good life, but he was not divine. He never claimed to be the Son of God. That was something that was made up by his followers years after his death.”
The author of the note went on to ask my opinion on this topic. As I considered my response, I realized that this subject is so important—so fundamental to the Christian faith—that I needed to share my response with you.
Let me begin by saying that I unequivocally believe that Jesus walked this Earth as fully God and fully man. My belief is not based on some dogma created by the early Christians. It is grounded in Jesus’ own words about Himself and the reaction of the Jews in Jesus’ day to those statements.
There are many places throughout the Gospel accounts where Jesus asserts His deity. One of these accounts takes place in John 10. The Jews have come to Jesus and have asked Him to tell them plainly if He is the Messiah. Jesus responds, “I and My Father are one.” The Jews proceeded to take up stones against Him. When Jesus asks them why they are going to stone him, they answer, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because you, being a Man, make Yourself God.”
These first-century Jews realized the claim Jesus was making when He said that He was one with the Father. Jesus was claiming to be God and they were willing to stone Him for it.
In another confrontation with the Jews in John 8, Jesus makes this statement, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
Again, the Jews pick up stones to throw at Jesus because they realized the significance of the last two words of His statement. It was a direct reference to God’s words to Moses in Exodus 3:14: “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”’”
When Jesus was standing before the Sanhedrin after being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, the high priest commands Jesus to tell them if He is the living God, the Christ. Jesus responds, “You have said so.”
The high priest then tore his robes and accused Jesus of uttering blasphemy. It was for those words that Jesus was sentenced to death.
Finally, I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes by C.S. Lewis, one that addresses this centuries-old debate:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. 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 the 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 patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Heather Ablondi is a women’s ministry speaker and author who resides in Fredericksburg. You can contact her through her website, www.heatherablondi.com.