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  Site F Graceland Estate, Chima Bus stop, Off Alakija Road, Satellite town, Lagos.

WHAT WE BELIEVE

JESUS OF NAZARETH IS THE SON OF GOD


INTRODUCTION

Jesus of Nazareth is neither the product of the imagination of men, nor a religious myth but a real man that walked on the sands of Galilee and Jerusalem at a particular time in human history. He was a perfectly moral man and He did the supernatural things that left many around him wondering “what manner of Man is this?” This question acknowledges His humanity nonetheless, also recognizes that He was different from the rest of us – regular men. Some people in His day concluded that He was the Son of God. This conviction is rather weighty because it makes Jesus equal with God according to Jewish customs and beliefs (See John 5:18).

To be the Son of God as a man is to be a full and complete representation of God in the human body. It will amount to making a man equal with God. This is the contention that some people have with the gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ and rightly so because in our day we have seen impostors who have called themselves God and we have ridiculed them. Is Jesus of Nazareth truly the Son of God? This is what we seek to uncover in this study.

 THE CLAIMS OF JESUS OF NAZARETH

Jesus is indeed an unusual man and there has been testimonies of His identity by people who either have had a relationship with Him, interacted with Him or had a revelation of Him (See Matthew 16: 13-16; 17: 1-5; 27: 19; Mark 15: 37-39; Luke 4: 33, 34; 23: 4, 14, 32, 44-47; 27:19; John 1: 29-34; 1 Peter 2:22). But what was Jesus’ testimony about Himself while He walked on this earth?

ark 2: 23 – 28, Luke 6: 1 – 5

In Capernaum, Jesus with His disciples went through the grain fields on the second Sabbath. His disciples then began to pluck the heads of the grains to eat them (Mark 2: 23; Luke 6: 1). Appalled by the actions of the disciples and the passiveness of their Rabbi to correct them, the Pharisees confronted Jesus and His disciples concerning their unlawful act (Mark 2:24; Luke 6:2). Jesus responded by citing the example of David who entered the house of God during the time of Abiathar as High Priest, to eat the show bread that was exclusively for the consumption of priests. He however, concluded His point by declaring Himself as the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2: 25 – 28; Luke 6: 3 – 5).

 

John 3:1 – 13; 6:22 – 38; 41 -58

Nicodemus, a Pharisee, ruler of the Jews and a teacher came to speak with Jesus at night. In the course of their dialogue, Jesus said “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of man who is in heaven” – John 3:13. Jesus claimed that He, the Son of Man, came down from heaven. He made similar proclamation in the synagogue located at Capernaum, when He was speaking to the Jews who partook of the five loaves and two of the five thousand over the Sea of Galilee (see John 6:22 – 26, 38). In addition to this claim in Capernaum, He declared that:

  • He was the bread of life, the living bread – John 6:35, 41, 48, 51
  • Whoever sees and believes in Him, the Son, will have everlasting life and will be raised at the last day – John 6:40.
  • Whoever feeds on Him will live forever – John 6:50 – 58

 

John 4:1-26

En-route to Galilee from Judea, Jesus had to pass through Samaria. Exhausted from His journey He sat by Jacob’s well at Sychar in Samaria (near the plot of land that Jacob gave to his son, Joseph) while His disciples went into the city to buy food. A Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well at about noon. At that moment, Jesus started a conversion with her by asking for some water to drink (John 4:1 – 8). This discussion suddenly progressed to the matters of:

  • The ethnic prejudice between the Jews and Samaritans (see John 4:9)
  • The gift of God i.e. the living water that springs into everlasting life in whoever drinks it (see John 4:10 – 14)
  • The woman’s personal life (see John 4:16 – 18) and then
  • The true worshippers of God (see John 4:20 – 24)

The Samaritan woman, unaware of Jesus’ identity, said “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things” – John 4:25. At that point, Jesus affirmed to be the Messiah the Jews were expecting (see John 4:26).

 

John 5:16 – 47

In Jerusalem, the Jews came to harass Jesus for healing a man who had an infirmity for thirty – eight years on the Sabbath day. His response to them was “My Father has been working until now and I have been working” – John 5:16 – 17. Jesus’ reply implied equality with God because He called God His Father (see John 5:18). Then Jesus, without mincing words, asserted His equality with God – in ability, position and nature claiming that He could do whatever the Father could do which includes raising the dead and giving life to them (see John 5:19, 21); the honour due to the father should be given to Him, the Son because all judgement has been committed into His hands (see John 5:22 – 23); and He had life in Himself just as the Father has life in Himself (see John 5:26). He also claimed that He could do nothing without the Father as He hears the Father, He judges (John 5:5:19, 30); all authority has been given to Him to execute judgement being the Son of Man (John 5:27); and the scripture, the Jews search, thinking in them they have eternal life, testifies of Him (John 5:39).


John 8: 1 – 58; 9: 1 – 5; 12: 12 – 46

Early in the morning, Jesus was in the temple teaching the people that came to Him. Then, the Scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman who was caught in the act of adultery in order to know His verdict on the issue with the intent to indict Him. Being convicted by their conscience as a result of Jesus’ response to their persistent inquiry as regards His judgement on the matter at hand, the Scribes and Pharisees were forced, at that moment, to abandon their civic duty according to the Law of Moses and their plot to find an accusation against Him, leaving the accused alone with Jesus. After sending the woman on her way with a charge to sin no more, Jesus declared to the Pharisees and the people in the temple that He was the light of the world (John 8: 1 – 12)
Parallel declarations were proclaimed by Jesus in His reply to His disciples’ question concerning the man that was born blind whom He was about to heal (John 9: 1 – 5) and In Jerusalem, after His triumphal entry into the city as prophesied by the prophet Zechariah (see John 12 : 12 – 16 , 46).
However, Jesus’ self – declaration sparked a dialogue with the Pharisees which eventually caused many to believe in Him (John 8 : 13 – 30). Thereafter, Jesus began a conversation with the Jews that believed in Him and ended it with a claim that He existed before Abraham – The progenitor of the Hebrew race (John 8: 31, 58)

 

Matthew 16: 13 – 19, 26:62 – 64; 27:11; John 9: 1 – 37

When Jesus heard about the ex-communication of the man He healed of a visual impairment incurred from birth, He sought after him. This man was anathematized from the synagogue on account of his testimony of Jesus being a Prophet and a Man from God (John 9: 17, 33.) When Jesus found him, He asked the healed man if He believed in the Son of God. The healed man replied Jesus by asking who the Son of God was that He may believe in Him. Jesus, thereafter, declared Himself to be the Son of God. (John 9: 35 – 37).
In Matthew’s account, Jesus affirmed that He is the Son of God when Peter, by the revelation from the Father in heaven, responded to His inquisition of His identity (Matthew 16:13 – 19) He made similar affirmation in His response to the High priest’s interrogation during His trial (see Matthew 26 : 62 – 64); He also confirmed His position as King of the Jews, the title which would be placed over His Head as an accusation against Him (see Matthew 27:37), when He was asked by the governor, Pontius Pilate (see Matthew 27:11)

 

John 10:11-30; 12: 44-50; 14: 8-11

In Jesus’ discourse with the Pharisees, He described Himself as the good shepherd who was willing to lay down His life for His sheep. This indicates that He had been put in charge of souls which were likened to as “sheep” (John 10:11, 14-16). He further proclaimed that His Father’s love for Him was as a result of His willingness to lay down His life for the sheep; this life that He was laying down was by no means under the control or authority of man but His and He has the power to take it up again (John 10: 17-18).

In the same discourse with the Pharisees, Jesus proclaimed His oneness with the Father (John 10: 30). This pronouncement was expatiated by Jesus when He was speaking to the people at Bethany. He professed His union with the Father (John 12: 44-50).

Jesus, after supper with His disciple, was asked by Philip (one of His disciples) to reveal the Father. Jesus’ reply to this request was a categorical statement that, the Father was in Him and He was in the Father. Consequently, seeing Him (Jesus) was seeing the Father who sent Him. He also declared that the words He spoke and the works He did were by virtue of the indwelling of the Father of all creation (John 14: 8-11).

 

John 17: 5

Afore the betrayal of Jesus by the hand of Judas Iscariot at a garden in Gethsemane which was over the Brook Kidron, Jesus prayed for Himself, His disciples and all those who will eventually believe in Him through the words of His disciples.
In His prayer for Himself, Jesus asked the Father to glorify Him with the glory He once had with Him (The Father) before the world existed. It follows that Jesus, in His supplication to the Father, claimed He had glory with God the father before the world was.

Speaking on the claims that Jesus made about Himself, Josh McDowell in his book titled “A Ready Defence” says anyone that speaks of Himself as Jesus did is either “a liar, a lunatic or Lord”. Was Jesus any of these? This question we are going to resolve as we proceed in our search.

 

 

WAS JESUS OF NAZARETH A LIAR?

A liar as described in the Microsoft Encarta Dictionary as a teller of lies. What, then, is a lie? To lie is to deliberately say something untrue or to consciously say something that isn’t true in order to deceive somebody. Did Jesus’ actions or life fit into any of the above descriptions? This is what we seek to uncover as we continue to study this Man, Christ Jesus.

As a leader, Jesus was sincere with His disciples, He revealed everything about Himself to them; He was also transparent in all His dealings (See John 15:15). This is aberrant of a liar. A liar is not forthright and would likewise hide the truth about his identity and activities from those who follow him.

Jesus spoke clearly about the sufferings and the death that was to befall Him. In the same vein, He told His disciples about the tribulations (troubles) that they would have to endure in this world (See Matthew 16:21; John 16:33). Jesus did not give His disciples false hope, which is the major hallmark of a liar. He told them the truth even though it was unpleasant.

Peter, a man who walked closely with Jesus, in his first epistle to the Christians in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia described Jesus as a man “…who committed no sin nor in whose mouth there was no deceit” (See 1 Peter 2:21-23). Peter’s description of Jesus is the exact opposite of who a liar is. This shows that Jesus was not a liar.

Jesus’ handling of the case regarding the adulterous woman exposed the actions of the Scribes and the Pharisees to be rather disingenuous (See John 8:1-11). Jesus’ stance on the matter disclosed His proclivity to truth irrespective of its unpopularity. This is quite unlike a liar.

When Jesus claimed to be the light of the world, the Pharisees accused Him of bearing false witness about Himself. Nevertheless He declared that His testimony was true even though He testified of Himself, because He spoke from His knowledge of His identity; something that was beyond the capacity of His critics to verify. Jesus told the Pharisees that they judged according to the flesh, but that He was not alone in His judgment. He asserted that His judgment and that of the Father were one. Furthermore, He pointed out to them what was written in the law which was: the witness of at least two persons was true (See John 8:12-19). In this response, Jesus proved to His accusers that He was a man of truth which is another way of establishing that He is not a liar.

Jesus told the Jews “… you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”, He also told them that the reason they could not receive His word was because they were in bondage to sin. The Jews denied this bondage by claiming their ancestry to Abraham. Although Jesus acknowledged their claim, He told them that their works speak rather of them being offspring of the devil. Their plot to murder Him was the very proof that indeed they were progenies of the devil (See John 8:31-47). Jesus told the Jews the truth at the risk of being killed; a liar is incapable of taking such action. Jesus indicated to the Jews that His testimony about His identity from the beginning had remained unchanged; this highlights Jesus’ consistency as regards His identity. A liar is not consistent. Jesus told them that the truth would set them free. Liars are of the opinion that speaking the truth is overrated because of the price they might have to pay.

Typical of a liar is the act of hiding truths from the public for personal interest. In contrast to this, Jesus neither hid the truth from His disciples nor the public at large. He was a straightforward person who presented issues without compromising the facts. He stood for the truth inspite of the threats for His life and He never offered hope on the premise of falsehood. These attributes that characterize the life of Jesus, are clear dissimilarities to that of a liar as given in the definition above; hence, Jesus cannot be tagged as a liar.

 

 

WAS JESUS A LUNATIC?

According to the Dictionary.com, a lunatic is: an insane person; a person whose actions and manners are marked by extreme eccentricity or recklessness; a person legally declared to be of unsound mind and who therefore is not held capable or responsible before the law.
The Thesaurus Dictionary defines the word lunatic as a person who is crazy or mad; and gives one of its synonyms as demonic.
Does the scripture describe for us who a lunatic is?

We were told of a certain man that Jesus met at Gadarenes who: had an unclean spirit which was the source of his lunacy; had his dwelling among the tombs (graveyard); and was in the mountains and tombs crying and cutting himself with stones.

This shows that: He was not at peace with himself; He had internal conflicts; and He had the tendency of being violent.

We can therefore deduce from the scripture that a lunatic is one who is not in his right mind.
The World Health Organization (WHO) gives the standard for mental health as we being a mere absence of mental illness but the ability to respond to the many varied experiences of life with flexibility and a sense of purpose.

The following are attributes of a mentally healthy person:

  • He is free from internal conflicts. That is, he is not at war with himself.
  • He is well adjusted. That is, he is able to get along well with others. He accepts criticism and is not easily upset.
  • He searches for identity
  • He has a strong sense of self esteem
  • Knows himself, his needs, problems and goals (that is self actualization)
  • He has good self-control in his utterances, rationality and emotionality
  • He faces problems and tries to solve them intelligently that is, coping with stress and anxiety.
  • We will therefore, within these parameters, screen the mental health of Jesus.

 

He was free from internal conflicts.

En Route to the country of the Gadarenes by sea, a great wind storm arose and the waves began to beat on the boat Jesus and His disciples were in, such that it was already filling; but Jesus was in the stern asleep on a pillow. When they had awoken Him saying “Teacher do you not care that we perish?” Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the storm “Peace be still”, then the wind ceased and there was a great calm (See Mark 4: 36-39).It is quite interesting to note that: Jesus was fast asleep in the midst of such a storm; when they awoke Him from sleep, He was not startled; the peace that calmed the storm came from within Him.

Jesus was a man of peace; He told His disciples ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you…’ He had peace within Himself and gave His peace to His disciples not as the world gives. He told them not to allow their hearts be troubled or afraid (See John 14:27). A troubled heart and constant harassment of fear are features of internal conflicts. Jesus’ experience was the opposite, what He had was peace within Himself. So much so, that He gave His peace to His disciples to enable them keep their own hearts from being troubled and afraid.

 

He is well adjusted

According to the Microsoft Encarta Dictionary, the word ‘adjusted’ means to ‘change slightly’ it also means to ‘adapt to a new environment or condition’.

We see Jesus minister healing to the sick, address the evil hearts of the Pharisees, call a tax collector to follow Him, and sit to eat and drink with sinners and publicans (See Matthew 9:1-13). He moved from addressing a religious audience to addressing a non-religious audience in a social setting. It takes some adjustments to address different audiences in different environments, and do so effectively. Jesus adjusted Himself meritoriously wherever He was, without compromising His principles.

When the Pharisees criticized Jesus for eating and drinking with sinners and publicans, He told them that He did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance (See Matthew 9:11-13). Jesus responded to His critics intelligently without losing His composure. This shows that He had the mental capacity to accommodate criticism.

 

He searches for identity.

Jesus told His parents ‘…Do you not know that I must be about My Father’s business’, referring to God as His Father (See Luke 2: 42-49). Jesus knew His identity as the Son of God from childhood, and He affirmed it.

When the Jews asked Jesus “…who are you...” He answered them “…just what I have been saying to you from the beginning”. He had told them that He was the Light of the world and went further to tell them that He proceeded forth and came from the Father (John 8:12,25,and 42).

The Jews sought to kill Jesus because He declared His identity as the Son of God (John 5:1-47); Jesus confirmed to Peter and the other disciples that he was the Christ (Matthew 16: 3-17); Jesus confirmed that He was the Messiah (the Christ), to the woman at the well of Samaria (John 4:25, 26); Jesus affirmed that He was the Christ, before the high priest (Matthew 26: 63, 64; Mark 14 : 61, 62); Jesus affirmed that He was the king of the Jews before Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:10-11) 

Jesus was not in search of His identity; He knew His identity from childhood. One of the signs of mental ill health is to be confused about one’s identity, Jesus was never confused about His identity. He consistently declared and affirmed who He was, even at the risk of His life.

 

He has a strong sense of self-esteem.

The Microsoft Encarta Dictionary defines the word ‘esteem’ as to ‘value somebody or something highly, that is, to have high regard for somebody or something’.
Jesus said “I and the Father are one” (See John 10:30). The Jews wanted to kill Jesus because they accused of making Himself equal with God by claiming to be the Son of God (John 5:18). Jesus esteemed himself as being equal to God.

 

Knows himself, his needs, problems and goals (that is, self-actualization).

According to the Microsoft Encarta Dictionary the word ‘needs’ means ‘something that is a requirement or is wanted’.

When Jesus needed money to pay His temple tax, He knew where to get it (See Matthew 17: 24-27). In line with prophecy, Jesus knew that He needed to ride on a donkey into Jerusalem, and He knew where to get it (See Matthew 21:1-11). Jesus knew His needs and had the capacity to meet them. He was never driven by any sense of inadequacy or lack.

The Microsoft Encarta Dictionary defines the word ‘problem’ in its noun form as ‘a difficult situation, matter or person’, and defines it in its adjective form as ‘hard to deal with or difficult to discipline’.

The Jews reacted angrily to the message that Jesus preached in Nazareth; they casted Him out of the city and wanted to throw Him off a cliff. But Jesus escaped by passing through their midst (See Luke 4:16-30). Jesus faced the problem of threat to His life because of His message but He remained undeterred.

Jesus could not do mighty works in His own city because of their unbelief (See Matthew 13:54-58). In Verses 45 and 46 of the eighth chapter of John, Jesus told the Jews that they did not believe Him because He told them the truth (See John 8:13-47). The unbelief of the Jews was a problem to Jesus because it hindered Him from doing mighty works.

Jesus’ soul was troubled about going to the cross and He was sorrowful about it. He asked some of His disciples to join Him in prayer. He prayed to the Father if He could cause the cup to pass from Him, He said, “…Nevertheless not as I will, but as you will” (See Matthew 26: 37-46; John 12: 27). Jesus’ utterances about going to the cross show that it was a difficult assignment for Him.

The same dictionary defines the word ‘goal’ as ‘something that somebody wants to achieve’

From the time that the Father revealed Jesus’ identity to Peter, Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, suffer many things in the hands of the elders of Israel, be killed and be raised on the third day (See Matthew 16:15-20). Neither His needs nor His problems could dissuade Him from pursuing and attaining His goal (which was, going to the cross).

 

He has good self-control - in his utterances, rationality and emotionality.

Jesus spoke only what He knew and testified of what He had seen; He said “…as the Father taught me so I speak” (See John 3:11; 8:28, 38). Jesus was guided in His utterances by truth.

The Pharisees, the Sadducees and the teachers of the law tried to entrap Jesus in His talk but could not (See Matthew 22:15-46). Jesus was so consistent in His utterances that even the learned people in His day could trap Him by His words.

Peter tells us that when Jesus was reviled, He did not revile in return, and when He suffered, He did not threaten (See 1 Peter 2:21-23). This shows that Jesus handled his emotions very well; He was ruled by his emotions.

When Jesus was troubled in His soul about going to the cross, He said “…and what shall I say? ‘Father save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose came I to this hour” (See John 12:20-27). Jesus was driven by God’s purpose, not his emotions, even in prayer. Hence He knew the right thing to ask in prayer. (See Luke 22: 14-24, 63-71; 23: 34, 43; John 18: 22-23; 19: 26, 27)

He faces problems and tries to solve them intelligently
When the Pharisees asked Him whether or not it was right to pay tax to Caesar, He told them to show Him a coin, and asked them whose image was on the coin. At that moment, He said “…Render therefore to Caesar that the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (See Matthew 22: 15-22). He did not just answer the difficult question of the Pharisees, He answered it with intelligence.

Jesus as seen in the bible, is one who had no personal conflicts with Himself meaning He had peace enough that He could calm the storm with and also give to His disciples. Jesus is seen to be well adjusted with the public being able to get along with others and their critiques. He was well aware of His identity, knowing fully well who He was as the son of God. This He constantly affirmed whenever the need arose. This awareness boosted His self-esteem, making Him state that He is equal with the Father. He understood fully His person, his needs, problems and goals. He knew when He was in need of money to pay His taxes that He was going to ride a donkey and where to get it. He knew the problems He had when He was to be stones and go to the cross – and knew how best to handle them in the midst of the problems He had. He was in good control of Himself in His utterance, rationality and emotion. His speeches according to Him are what His father tells Him to say and whenever He was confronted by the Pharisees and Sadducees, He also had the perfect reply. He never let His emotion get the best of Him even when He was about to go to the cross and wasn’t sure He could carry all; He did not allow His fears determine His line of prayer. He was also able to resolve His problems intelligently.
Deducing from the above stated points on Jesus not being a liar and a lunatic, it is obvious that Jesus was and still all He claimed to be. He is truly the SON OF GOD.

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