Advanced Bible Studies, Lesson 3 of 8
Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the Christ of God. Once in a synagogue, He read a prophecy from Isaiah about the promised Messiah and said:
" To-day hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears" (Luke 4:21).
When a woman spoke to Him of the coming Messiah, He replied, "...I that speak unto thee am he" (John 4:26).
When Jesus asked his disciples, "...But who say ye that I am? And Peter answering said, The Christ of God" (Luke 9:20). This was the answer Jesus accepted; this was who Jesus declared Himself to be. He went on to say in another place:
"...I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
This was quite a claim. He was born in the midst of poverty, grew up in the insignificant village of Nazareth, and spent most of his adult years as a carpenter. After He made this claim, the leaders of the people mocked Him, ridiculed Him, and laughed Him to scorn. As He continued to make His claim, they became so angry with Him that they nailed Him to a cross and crucified Him. Yet, He maintained His claim to the death.Was He a fool, was He a fake, or was He the Christ? The truth is found in an honest examination of the evidence.
(1) The nature of His birth identified Jesus as the Christ. When the angel appeared unto Mary and told her that she would have a son, she asked, "...How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:34-35).
Joseph, who was to be her husband, upon hearing that she was with child, wanted to put Mary away quietly; but, while he thought on these things, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him and said, "...Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:20). Matthew the apostle went on to explain:
"...all this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, And they shall call his name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us" (Matthew 1:22-23).
This was not a man that was begotten of man; this was Gods "only begotten Son" (John 3:16).
(2) The events of His life identify Jesus as the Christ, for they were the fulfillment of prophecy. He was of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Judah, of the house of David, and born of a virgin. He was born in Bethlehem, called out of Egypt, and raised in Nazareth. He would visit the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, teach in parables, and be rejected by His own people. He would be sold for thirty pieces of silver and the money would be used later to buy a potters field. He would be smitten on the cheek and spat upon. Some would cast lots for His garments and give Him vinegar to drink. He would be crucified with the wicked, not a bone of His body would be broken, and He would be laid in a rich mans tomb. He would arise from the dead and ascend into heaven. This was all the fulfillment of prophecy. There are over 300 prophecies of Christ fulfilled in the life of Jesus. It is impossible to conclude that He was an imposter.
(3) His teachings identify Him as the Christ. There is no greater sermon in history than the Sermon on the Mount. The moral standards presented in it are so high, they could not have come from the lips of a liar. The wisdom expressed in it is so great, it could not have come forth from the mind of a fool. The Lords enemies were unsuccessful in their attempt to ensnare Him in His words. While the high and mighty turned against Him, the common people heard Him gladly. They recognized that He taught them as one having authority, and they were astonished at his doctrine.
Once, when officers were sent to arrest Him, they returned empty-handed, saying, "Never man so spake" (John 7:46). This knowledge, wisdom, and authority could not have originated in a carpenters shop.Jesus attributed His words to God, saying, "...as the Father taught me, I speak these things" (John 8:28).
(4) His miracles identify Him as the Christ. Matthew the apostle wrote:
"Now when John heard in the prison the works of the Christ, he sent by his disciples and said unto him, Art thou he that cometh, or look we for another? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and tell John the things which ye hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good tidings preached to them" (Matthew 11:2-5).
Even His enemies did not deny the fact of His miracles. They charged Him with violating law because He healed on the Sabbath. They claimed His power came from the Devil. Some of them asked, "...How can a man that is a sinner do such signs?" (John 9:16). One ruler of the Jews came to Jesus by night and confessed, "...we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that thou doest, except God be with him" (John 3:2).
(5) While each of these evidences identifies Jesus as the Christ, the greatest proof is the fact of His resurrection. Christ had spoken before that the sign He would give would be that He would lie in the grave for three days and nights and then would come forth from the dead. One fact that cannot be denied is that the apostles were convinced without a doubt that Jesus arose from the dead. They could not have been mistaken. They were with Him while He lived, they witnessed His death, and they ate and drank with Him after He arose. They were so certain that just fifty days after Christ was crucified, in the very city in which he was tried, in the very presence of those who had slain him, they declared that this same Jesus whom " ...ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay God raised up " (Acts 2:23-24).
Although it meant hardship, persecution, and death, the apostles carried this message to the uttermost parts of the earth. His resurrection is the concluding testimony of all four of the accounts of the Gospel. The book of Acts begins by telling us that "...he also showed himself alive after his passion (suffering) by many proofs " (Acts 1:3). The apostle Paul began his writings in the New Testament by saying that Jesus was "...declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4). This sets Jesus apart from every other religious leader who has ever lived. They all diedChrist arose!
After Jesus had shown Himself openly for forty days, He ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God exalted.
"far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and he put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:21-23).
He now reigns as "...the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords" (1 Timothy 6:15). His law is the law, His Gospel is the Gospel, and His church is the church.
The apostle John wrote: "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name" (John 20:30-31).
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