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Almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus entered the human race in a small Jewish community. He was a member of a poor family, a minority group, and resided in one of the smallest countries in the world. He lived approximately thirty-three years, of which only the last three comprised His public ministry.
Recently I was talking with a group of people in Los Angeles. I asked them, "Who, in your opinion, is Jesus Christ?" The response was that He was a great religious leader. I agree with that. Jesus Christ was a great religious leader. But I believe He was much more.
The distinct claims of Jesus to be God eliminate the popular ploy of skeptics who regard Jesus as just a good moral man or a prophet who said a lot of profound things. So often that conclusion is passed off as the only one acceptable to scholars or as the obvious result of the intellectual process. The trouble is, many people nod their heads in agreement and never see the fallacy of such reasoning.
To Jesus, who men and women believed Him to be was of fundamental importance. To say what Jesus said and to claim what He claimed about Himself, one couldn't conclude He was just a good moral man or prophet. That alternative isn't open to an individual, and Jesus never intended it to be.
C.S. Lewis, who was a professor at Cambridge University and once an agnostic, understood this issue clearly. In his book Mere Christianity, Lewis wrote: "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."
Then Lewis adds: "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 up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
Jesus claimed to be God. He didn't leave any other option open. His claim must be either true or false. It is something that must be given serious consideration.
Jesus asked His disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" It is a question that every one must answer. The Bible says whoever believes in Jesus Christ the Son of God "has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him" (John 3:36).
What is your answer? Have you trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior? If you haven't, pray right now telling Him that you want to turn from your sins. Thank Him that He died for you and rose again so that you can have eternal life.
Excerpted from More Than a Carpenter (c) Tyndale House Publishers. Used by permission.
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