This is part of a complete series of evidences for the major claims of the Bible that God exists, the Bible is God's word, and Jesus is God's Son. This article must be studied in context of the whole series of articles. To start at the beginning of the series, please go to www.gospelway.com/god/evidences.php.
John 5:31-40; 8:13-18 - Jesus acknowledged that His own testimony was not conclusive by itself, since He was only one witness. So He listed other witnesses: John the Baptist, His miracles, the Father, and the Old Testament Scriptures (prophecy).
Jesus is only one witness; nevertheless, He is one witness! A defendant is allowed to testify on his own behalf. If Jesus made supernatural claims, additional witnesses would be needed to confirm His claims; nevertheless, He Himself would be one witness to begin with.
If Jesus is Who the Bible writers claim Him to be, surely we would expect Him to personally make and accept those claims. If He denied such claims, that would settle the issue. If He neither affirmed nor denied them, we would have doubts. But if He Himself testified in favor of the Bible claims regarding Him, then He would constitute one more witness to add to our evidence.
Only Bible writers give us eyewitness testimony of Jesus' life and teachings. If we do not accept the Bible record as valid history, then we cannot possibly know what to believe about Jesus. But we have already cited evidence that Bible writers are honest and accurate eyewitnesses. See again John 15:27; Acts 1:8,21,22; 2:32; 10:39-41; John 21:24; 20:30,31; 1 John 1:1-3; 2 Peter 1:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8,14,15.
So consider the eyewitness testimony regarding what Jesus claimed.
Jesus made, or allowed others to make, for Himself the following claims.
"Christ" is the New Testament word for the Messiah, the anointed ruler predicted in the Old Testament. "Son of God" refers to Jesus' special relationship to the Father - a unique position no one else has - the only begotten Son (John 3:16). Did Jesus claim such positions?
Matthew 16:13-18 - Jesus rejected as inadequate the claims that He was just a prophet. But when Peter confessed Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus said that the Father Himself had revealed this to Peter. [John 6:69]
John 4:25,26 - Jesus acknowledged to the Samaritan woman that He was the Messiah (Christ).
John 9:35-37 - He told a blind man whom He had healed that He was the Son of God.
Matthew 26:63-66 - During His trial in the presence of His enemies, Jesus acknowledged that He was the Christ, the Son of God.
In addition, He allowed various other disciples to make such claims for Him (John 11:27; Matt. 14:33; John 1:29,34,49).
Did any other true prophet ever make such claims? Did God ever give approval to any other man to make such claims? John the Baptist expressly denied such claims for himself (John 1:19-22; 3:28).
What kind of man would Jesus be to make and allow such claims, if He knew they were not true? Yet He not only allowed others to make such claims for Him, He praised them for making them, and He made them Himself.
[Cf. Matt. 8:29; 12:41,42; 22:41-46; John 12:13.]
John 1:1-3 - Bible writers repeatedly claimed that Jesus is God along with the Father from Creation [cf. Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:5-8]. Remember that mere men were rebuked or even killed for allowing such terms to be used for themselves. Did Jesus allow people to use names of God in referring to Him?
"My Lord and my God" - John 20:28,29
After he saw proof of Jesus' resurrection, Thomas addressed Jesus as "my Lord and my God." If Jesus did not possess Deity, Thomas' statement would have been blasphemy, and Jesus should have rebuked Him. Instead, Jesus praised Thomas and pronounced a blessing on everyone who believes the same (v29)! Then John proceeded to claim that His record of Jesus' miracles gives us all reason to believe in Him (vv 30,31).
"The First and the Last, Alpha and Omega"
These are terms for Deity emphasizing God's eternal self-existence (Rev. 1:8; 21:6,7; Isaiah 44:6; 43:10; 41:4; 48:12). But note Jesus' use of these expressions:
Revelation 1:17 - "I am the First and the Last." Vv 10-20 show that Jesus is speaking.
Revelation 2:8 - "These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life."
Revelation 22:13 - "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last." Jesus is speaking, as shown by vv 12,16,20.
Hence, "First and Last," "Alpha and Omega," "Beginning and End" are terms for Deity, yet Jesus used them to refer to Himself.
Exodus 3:13-15 - When God called Moses to lead Israel from captivity, He said, "I AM WHO I AM." He told Moses to say that "I AM" had sent him. This expression also describes the eternal, self-existing nature of God. (See also Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10,13; 46:4; 48:12.)
John 8:58 - When asked how He could be old enough to have seen Abraham (vv 56,57), Jesus said, "...before Abraham was, I AM." His statement claims eternal existence, just like God used "I am" in Ex. 3:14. The Jews recognized this significance and tried to stone Jesus (v59).
So here is another unique name of God that Jesus used to refer to Himself. Again, what mere human would dare speak of himself in this way? Did Moses or Elijah or Paul? Such would have been blasphemy. [Cf. John 5:18; 10:30]
Many other people claimed these things on Jesus' behalf, but we will consider cases where it was claimed by Him or in His presence. (See John 4:42; Luke 2:11; Eph. 1:7; 5:23; Acts 5:31; Titus 1:3,4; 2:13,14; 2 Peter 1:1,11; 2:20; 3:18; Col. 1:13,14; Acts 4:12.)
Jesus claimed that He came to save mankind from sin.
Mark 2:3-12; Luke 7:48,49 - Jesus claimed to have power to directly forgive sins. This is a work only God can do.
Matthew 20:28 - He came to give His life a ransom for many.
Matthew 26:28 - He shed His blood for many for remission of sins.
John 8:24 - People who do not believe in Him will die in their sins.
[Luke 24:47; John 1:29,36; 12:47]
He claimed that men can have fellowship with God and eternal life only through Him.
John 14:6 - I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.
John 3:13-15 - Jesus claimed He came down from heaven so that whoever believes in Him can have eternal life. [6:40]
John 10:27-29 - My sheep hear my voice and I give them eternal life; they shall never perish.
Jesus does not class Himself with sinful creatures in need of salvation. He is the Savior! He claimed He could forgive sins and would die to give people remission of sins and eternal life. What true prophet or angel ever claimed such power?
[John 6:35,40,51; 8:51; 9:5; 11:25; 15:5]
Jesus possesses supreme authority.
Again, His disciples repeatedly claimed this for Him, but we will note cases where He was personally involved in the claims. (See Phil. 3:20,21; 2:9-11; Col. 1:16; John 3:31; Rom. 9:5; 10:12; Acts 10:36; Eph. 1:21; Isa. 9:6.)
Matthew 28:18,20 - Jesus claimed to possess all authority in heaven and on earth; therefore, men should obey all His commands.
John 14:15 - He expects men to love Him, and this requires them to keep His commands. Compare this to the claim of God in 1 John 5:3.
Matthew 10:34-37 - We must love Him more than we love our closest family members, else we are not worthy of Him.
Revelation 19:16 - Jesus wears the name "King of kings and Lord of lords." He has authority above the highest of kings and rulers. [17:14]
Imagine what kind of person would make such claims, if He were merely a man!
[John 16:15; 17:10; Matt. 7:24-27; 5:21-48]
Jesus will judge all men and determine their eternal destinies.
Again, this is a work only God could do (see Isa. 33:22; Psalm 50:6; 96:10,13; Rom. 2:3,5,16). Yet the gospel often claims that Jesus will do it. We will focus on passages where Jesus was present when the claim was made. (See 2 Cor. 5:10; Acts 17:31.)
John 5:22 - He said that the Father has given all judgment to Him.
Matthew 16:27 - He will come in glory and reward all men according to their works.
Matthew 25:31-46 - All nations will be gathered before Him, and He will send them into eternal punishment or eternal life.
Again, if the claims are not true, what kind of man would Jesus be to make them?
As studied earlier, Jesus and other Bible teachers taught that only God deserves to receive worship. Men should not receive religious honor such as is reserved for God. (See Matt. 4:9,10; Acts 10:25,26; Rev. 22:8,9; 19:10; Rom. 1:25; Ex. 34:14; Isa. 42:8; 48:11; Rev. 9:20; 14:9-11; Ex. 20:3-6; Deut. 6:13-15 Matt. 23:8-12.)
Yet Jesus often allowed people to worship and honor Him religiously in ways such as should be done only to God.
Matthew 14:33 - After Jesus had calmed the storm, the disciples worshipped Him saying He is the Son of God.
John 9:38 - The man, whom Jesus had healed of blindness, worshipped Jesus.
Matthew 28:9,17 - After His resurrection, His disciples worshiped Him.
Luke 24:52 - After He had ascended back to heaven, they continued to worship Him.
So Jesus accepted worship as an act of religious honor. If He was just a man, even if He was a great prophet, Jesus' own teachings would absolutely forbid this.
[Matt. 8:2; 9:18; 15:25; Mark 5:6; Heb. 1:6; John 20:28,29]
Glory and Honor
John 5:23 - All men should honor the Son "just as" they honor the Father. To fail to so honor the Son is to fail to properly honor the Father.
John 17:5 - Jesus asked that, after He died, the Father would glorify Jesus with the glory He had with the Father before the world was. Jesus was glorified with the Father in eternity.
What prophet or faithful religious leader ever made such statements or received such glory with God's approval? Either Jesus is far greater than just a man or just a prophet, or else He is a fraud, a cheat, and a liar.
[John 16:15; 17:10]
Once again, numerous Bible passages state that Jesus existed eternally in the past. He is not a created being - as are mere humans - but is eternal because He is Deity. But we will note passages where He was personally involved in those claims. (See John 1:1-3; Micah 5:2; Isa. 9:6; Psalm 102:24-27 cf. Heb. 1:8,10-12; Col. 1:16).
"The First and the Last, Alpha and Omega, the I Am" - We already listed passages where Jesus used these terms for Himself. But all these names of God imply eternal self-existence.
John 17:5,24 - Jesus had glory with the Father Who loved Him before the world began.
John 3:13; 6:38; 16:28 - He said He came down from the Father in Heaven and came into the world. [John 8:23]
Jesus did not acknowledge that He was a created being. Rather, He claimed to be eternal. What mere man could rightly make such a claim?
How do we explain the fact that Jesus made these claims and allowed others to make them with His knowledge and in His presence? Surely He knew whether or not He was God in the flesh, the Son of God, and a prophet sent from God. If He spoke what He believed to be true, then His statements must be accepted as serious testimony on His own behalf.
The alternatives would be that He is a liar or a lunatic. We cannot be neutral or ignore Him. We must accept His statements as serious testimony, or else we must reject him as a liar or a lunatic or both.
He and His disciples warned against false teachers.
Matthew 7:15-20 - Beware of false teachers. Just as bad fruit proves that a tree is bad and should be cast out, so false teaching demonstrates the basic nature of the teacher. If Jesus' was a false teacher, there should be fruit of it in His life and teaching.
Matthew 15:13,14 - If the blind leads the blind, both fall into the ditch. God will root up all such leaders.
Would Jesus have so opposed false religious teaching knowing His whole ministry was based on false claims? Does the character of Jesus imply He would tell such lies?
[2 Cor. 11:13-15; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; Acts 20:28-30; 1 John 4:1; 2 Tim. 4:2-4; Titus 1:9-14; 2 John 9-11; Romans 16:17,18; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Peter chap. 2]
He repeatedly rebuked lying and hypocrisy.
Matthew 23 (especially vv 3,4,25-28); 6:1-18; Luke 18:9-14 - Many of His firmest rebukes were addressed against the hypocrisy of religious leaders.
If Jesus made false religious claims and sought to exalt Himself improperly, then He would stand condemned by His own teaching. He would be an incredible hypocrite as well as a liar! Does the pattern of His life fit that of a religious hypocrite?
He revealed the greatest moral standard known to man.
Matthew 5:21-37 - He repeatedly taught that men must be right, not just in outward conduct, but also in inner attitude.
His moral teaching is universally recognized as of the highest level. Could a man who was nothing but the basest liar and hypocrite be the source of such an incredibly high moral standard? Note Matthew 7:17,18; 12:33-35.
People who knew Him repeatedly confessed that He was sinless.
John 8:46 - He challenged the Jews to convict Him of sin.
Mark 1:24; Luke 1:35 - Both an angel and a demon confessed Him to be holy.
Hebrews 7:26; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:20-23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:5 - His disciples repeatedly declared Him to be sinless. They claimed He was guilty of no guile (deceit).
Matthew 16:13,14 - The people in general, even those who did not recognize Him as the Son of God, yet viewed Him as a great prophet.
People who agreed with His teachings and people who disagreed both held Him to be holy and godly. None ever accused Him of being a liar or a hypocrite.
Those most deeply involved in condemning Him to death could not produce evidence of sin in Him.
Note the evidence during Jesus' trials that He was innocent.
* Jews - Mark 14:55-64. The witnesses produced by Jewish leaders could not convict Jesus of any crime (their testimony did not agree), yet the Jews condemned Him for claiming to be the Son of God. But that assumed He is not the Son of God - it assumed the point to be proved! If He is the Son of God, how can He be condemned for acknowledging His position? (Cf. Matt. 26:59-66; Luke 22:66-71; John 18:19-24.)
* Judas - Matthew 27:3-5. The one who betrayed Jesus acknowledged Him to be innocent.
* Pilate - Luke 23:4,14,22. Jesus faced several trials before Pilate, the Roman governor, who had the ultimate authority to judge His guilt or innocence. Pilate repeatedly declared Jesus to be innocent, yet he condemned Him to death to satisfy the Jews. He knew the rulers wanted Jesus killed because they were jealous of Him (Matt. 27:18). (Cf. Matt. 27:18-26; Mark 15:1-15; Luke 23:1-5,13-25; John 18:28-40; 19:4-16).
* Herod - Luke 23:15. Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, a King among the Jews. He also found no guilt in Jesus (cf. vv 6-12).
* One of the thieves - Luke 23:39-43. Two thieves were crucified with Him. Even one of these acknowledged Him to be innocent.
* The Centurion - Luke 23:47 (Matt. 27:54). The man in charge of Jesus' crucifixion concluded that He was a righteous man.
There were those who claimed He was guilty of sin, but they could not prove it. No one in His day could produce evidence of guilt in Him, and no one even claimed He was a liar or a hypocrite.
[Acts 3:14; 4:27,30; 13:35]
If He knew His claims were false, why did He die for them?
As extreme as His claims were, He would surely know if they were not true. If so, why not recant, admit the deceit, and hope to save His life? Yet even as He stood trial, knowing the danger He faced, He made some of His boldest declarations - Luke 22:70.
Where is the evidence that Jesus knew His claims were false? Did His life demonstrate the character of one who was, at His very core, a liar and a hypocrite?
Even on trial for His life, He calmly refused to answer those who falsely accused Him.
His enemies repeatedly made extreme, radical charges against Him, yet He calmly refused to answer. See Matthew 26:62,63; 27:12-14.
We would expect someone who is mentally deranged to react to such treatment with anger, vengefulness, or loss of self-control. Yet even when facing His worst opposition and mistreatment, Jesus was in complete mastery of Himself and of the situation. Would we expect this of one who was beside Himself?
As He died on the cross, He expressed calm concern for others.
Luke 23:27,28 - He told women who watched to grieve for themselves, not for Him.
Luke 23:34 - He prayed for the forgiveness of those who crucified Him.
Luke 23:39-43. - He promised one of the thieves that he would be in Paradise that day.
John 19:25-27 - He made provision for the care of His mother.
Would a lunatic show such concern for others even as He Himself was dying a totally unjust, vicious death at the hands of His enemies?
Compare the life and death of Jesus to other men who made false or fanatical claims. Joseph Smith was killed for his claims, but he died with his guns blazing trying to slay his attackers so he could escape. After murdering millions of innocent people, Hitler committed suicide when he saw his plans would fail.
Where do we see in Jesus the kind of conduct that we would expect from a liar or a lunatic? Who dares to produce serious, convincing evidence to convict Him? Yet if He was neither a liar nor a lunatic, then His claims must be accepted as His sincere conviction. He surely believed His claims to be true, and surely He would know whether or not the claims were true. How could He have been mistaken about such claims?
On at least two occasions, the Father directly endorsed Jesus as the Son of God in a way that people could personally witness.
At Jesus' baptism, the Father spoke from heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
The Father here audibly testified to Jesus' identity. The speaker must be God the Father, since He spoke from heaven and identified Jesus as His Son.
This event is recorded by three separate historians.
At the Transfiguration the Father again spoke from heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." He said this is why we should listen to Jesus.
Note that three apostles were present to witness this event: Peter, James, and John. And Matthew's account clearly states that they heard the voice that spoke (as well as seeing Jesus' face shine).
Finally, note that Peter was a personal eyewitness of the event. He expressly confirmed the event. He stated that they were eyewitnesses of it, quoted what the voice said, and affirmed that they actually heard the voice. He argued that this demonstrates that the apostles were not following cunningly devised fables.
Three other writers, acting as historians, record the event, which they no doubt heard repeated from those who were eyewitnesses.
So the testimony of the Father becomes an additional witness to confirm that of Jesus. This gives, not just one, but two witnesses regarding who Jesus is. This meets the criteria for historical evidence (John 8:13-18).
If Jesus' claims are false, how do we explain God's confirmation of Him on these occasions?
This is part of a complete series of evidences for the major claims of the Bible that God exists, the Bible is God's word, and Jesus is God's Son. To continue with the next article in the series, please go to www.gospelway.com/god/evidences-prophecy.php To start at the beginning of the series, please go to www.gospelway.com/god/evidences.php.
Copyright 2006 David E. Pratte
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