Just who was Jesus Christ? Your eternal destiny depends on how you answer that question! There isn't a more important question that you will ever ask, because your eternal destiny will be determined by who you believe He is, and how you respond to His word. To some, Jesus was a great moral teacher. To others, He was a prophet of God, on a par with other prophets like Isaiah, Mohammed, and Buddha. Others understand Him to be the highest expression of manhood this world has ever known. Yet, all these views understand Jesus Christ to be a human being, like you and me. Yes, a unique, powerful, and godly human being, but a human being all the same. Why is it that His name, more than the name of any other religious leader causes irritation? Why is it that you can talk about God and nobody gets upset, but as soon as you mention Jesus, people so often want to stop the conversation? Why don't the names of Buddha, Mohammed, and Confucius offend people? The reason is that these men did not claim to be God, but Jesus did. That is what makes Him so different from other religious leaders.1
Jesus made astounding claims about Himself. When He was brought before the Jewish authorities they asked Him, "Are You the Son of God, then?" Jesus replied, "Yes, I am."2
On another occasion "Doubting Thomas" (one of Jesus' disciples) told the others that unless he saw the imprint of the nails in Jesus' hands, and put his hand into His pierced side, he would not believe. Eight days later, however, Christ appeared to the disciples when Thomas was present and said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing." To this Thomas cried, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus responded by saying, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." Notice, that though Christ rebuked Thomas' unbelief, He encouraged his open confession that He was God.3
On still another occasion, Jesus told the religious leaders of His day, "I and the Father are one." The Biblical record goes on to say, "The Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?" The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."4 There is no doubt that these Jewish leaders understood that Jesus was claiming to be God.
These are not isolated incidents. Jesus continuously asserted that He was one in essence and nature with God. He repeatedly made statements like, "He who has seen Me, has seen the Father"; "He who hates Me hates My Father also"; "He who beholds Me beholds the One who sent Me"; "If you knew Me, you would know My Father also"; and "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father."5
Furthermore, Jesus claimed to be able to forgive sins6 , to grant eternal life7 , to raise all men from the dead8 , and to judge all men.9 He called Himself the light of the world, the resurrection and the life, the bread of God come down from heaven, the "I Am", and the only way to the Father.10
Moreover, in line with His claim to be God, Jesus required unswerving devotion and loyalty to Himself from those who would follow Him. He said that only those who obeyed His word would be able to stand in the day of judgment.11 He said that He would only confess before His Father those who confessed Him before men, but would deny before His Father whoever denied Him before men. He said that if anyone wished to come after Him, he must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Him. He said that whoever wished to save his life would lose it, but whoever lost his life for His sake and the gospel's would save it.12 In fact, He told the crowds that no one could become His follower who would not put his allegiance to Him before that to his family, and even to his own life.13 These claims make sense only when we understand that Jesus claimed to be God in human flesh.
Now, having seen what Jesus claimed for Himself, we are only left with four alternatives. Either He was a legend, a liar, a lunatic, or Lord and God.
Some have claimed that Jesus was only a legend. That is to say, that He never really lived on the earth at all, or if He did, His disciples exaggerated His claims and misrepresented His words. To say that Jesus never lived at all, however, is preposterous. How could someone who never even existed be the most influential person this planet has ever known? Further, the incontrovertible truth, is that these same disciples went on to die martyr's deaths for preaching that Jesus is Lord. Men do not willingly die for what they know to be false. Martyrs and liars are not made of the same stuff.
Another option is that Jesus was a liar. In other words, He knew the claims that He was making were false, but said them anyway. In that case, He was not a great moral teacher at all. Instead, He must have been the most evil man to ever walk the earth, for He would have been deliberately claiming to be God, and receiving worship from men, when He knew this was not the truth.
Others have surmised that Jesus was a lunatic. In this scenario, Jesus actually thought He was God, when in fact, He was not. Read through the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John impartially and then ask yourself if these accounts describe a madman or a person fully in control of all His faculties.
The only other option available to us is that Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be -- Lord and God. C. S. Lewis observed, "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 a 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. 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."14
Your decision about the person of Jesus Christ must not be an idle intellectual exercise. You cannot put Him on the shelf as a great moral teacher. That is not an option left open to you. He is either a legend, a liar, a lunatic or the Lord. The truth is that He is the Lord, and you must either bow and kiss His royal scepter, or be dashed to pieces by His rod of iron. Jesus Himself said that unless you recognize who He is and submit your life to His authority, you must perish in hell forever. But He also said, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."15 When He died upon the cross, he bore the punishment that sinners like you and I deserve. Three days later He rose from the dead, proving that God the Father accepted His sacrificial death as payment for sins. Today He reigns from heaven as the supreme Person and Power in the universe, and one day He will be your judge.
Now He offers you forgiveness of sins and everlasting life as a free gift, but that gift can only be received through repentance and faith. Imagine that you were cast overboard a ship in a great storm and were drowning at sea, clutching a bag of gold in each hand. When the sailors on board ship toss the rope to you, you must make a choice. Either you must decide to drop the bags of gold and clutch the liferope and live, or hold onto the gold and drown. Repentance is turning loose of the gold of sin, while faith is clutching the liferope of Jesus Christ. Christ is offered to you freely. You don't have to try to clean up your life, or do a certain amount of good works before you can receive Him as your Lord and Savior. But you can't be saved from your sin unless you are willing to let go of it. Jesus will not become your Savior without also becoming your King.
Which is it? Is Jesus a legend, a liar, a lunatic or Lord and God? The Bible declares that He is Lord and God, and that your eternal destiny will be determined by what you do with him. Repent and trust Him today. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."16 For a free Bible, and further information on becoming a follower of Jesus Christ, you may contact us below.