No one man or religion or belief system has so impacted the world as this one. Can’t ignore it. Can’t get around it. What do we do with it? ◊
What would you say to someone who told you they believed that all the great philosophers and religious leaders recorded over human history – Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Jesus, Muhammad, and Gandhi – are essentially the same in their life quest to bring a message of love, wisdom, and peace to mankind?
Would you agree?
I would make the case that they are actually not the same. That Jesus is an unmatched standard reflecting perfect character and alignment with God. That any other man’s comparison to Jesus falls abysmally short of His goodness, holiness, beauty, intelligence, and compassion. That any religion, belief system or philosophy based on human attainment or works reflects a misunderstanding of the revelation of God and the status of Man.
Perhaps one might push back and wonder how can one be so definitive in such a stance raising up Jesus above all others.
Who Else Compares to This?
No one is like Jesus. Who else is equated with God? Who else is deemed the Incarnation (taking on flesh) of God, Immanuel, God with us? “…and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). (Matthew 1:23)
It is in that Incarnation that the shortcomings of other leaders, religions, and philosophies of spiritual self-reliance are laid barren in comparison. All other men died. None rose from the dead. None claimed to be God in the flesh. Christ was fully human and fully man; the Most High God himself.
Here are some Biblical references attesting to this claim:
- Titus, a companion of the apostle Paul, claims that Christians are “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” (Titus 2:13).
- Doubting Thomas, upon seeing the resurrected Christ, cried out, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
- The disciple John refers to Christ “In the beginning” as “the Word…with God…and the Word was God. (John 1:1).
- John also refers to Jesus as “the only begotten God” (John 1:18).
- The apostle Paul writes that “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation…all things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:15-16) and “For in Him (Christ) the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily…” (Colossians 2:9).
- The author of the book of Hebrews presents God the Father’s direct testimony about Christ: “But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever…” (Hebrews 1:8).
- Even Jesus himself testifies that “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58) (which was referencing God’s words in Exodus 3:13 to Moses: “I AM who I AM.”). Christ also said “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30) and “…now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (John 17:5).
A thorough deep dive into the Scriptures leaves one with the unassailable conclusion that Jesus was/is who He says He was/is. Which is why all of humanity since His birth, life, death, and resurrection has had to deal with His documented historical presence and the implications.
No one man or religion or belief system has so impacted the world. Can’t ignore it. Can’t get around it.
More Than God Status
Getting over the hurdle of belief and acceptance that Jesus was God in the flesh is just one piece of a fairly simple but potentially confusing puzzle. God injected Himself into human history by way of the Jewish/Hebrew people (God’s chosen people as documented in the Old Testament). Christ (as documented in the New Testament) was born through Hebrew lineage and sacrificed in a powerfully symbolic tie-in with the Old Testament tabernacle and temple sacrifices.
He was born to die. He was the Lamb of God, sacrificed for the sins of all mankind.
We’ve heard about the Old Testament teachings of animal blood sacrifices, covenant promises of blessings and curses, and forgiveness and atonement for sin. These were God’s legal forerunners to what Christ fulfilled and represented in His life and death. The New Testament Gospels and Paul’s letters of explanation (via direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit) to the emerging new Judeo-Christian Church is what pulls it all together and lays out guidance for us to have new life in this temporal but purposeful world.
I Get It. It’s Mercy and Grace.
But it goes beyond just giving a wave and a nod to Jesus and saying you believe He’s God. Recall that “even the demons believe” (James 2:19). And God did not present Himself in human form to teach humanity a lot of Do’s and Don’ts (that’s Old Testament Hebrew law) and simply how to get along and make the world a better place to live.
God wants more and gives us more than we expect or deserve.
As “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23 6:23), God has given us mercy (not getting what we deserve) and grace (getting better than we deserve). As scholar Ken Boa puts it, Thus we are not saved by creed, conduct, or church, but by the limitless love and grace of Christ. 1
There are therefore big implications involving our life’s level of devotion. Is Jesus, as Lord/God, really in control of our lives? Does He rule and reign over our own personal kingdom? Have we in essence, died to self, for Jesus’ sake?
Understanding and belief are just the beginning of a true disciple’s life.
Do you really believe it? Has it changed your life?
He (Jesus) is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood shed on the cross. – Colossians 1:19-20
1. Conformed to His Image, Ken Boa, Zondervan, 2001, p. 189.