Whose account do you believe? When you are researching on a historical character, would you rather believe the accounts of his closest allies or that of the people who lived some centuries after his death? I choose the former. That is why when it comes to Jesus Christ, I believe what is written about him in the bible. Simply because it was written by people who longed to see him, those who saw him and walked with him and those who looked up to him after his death. The credibility of an autobiography rests on the time it was written. This is why I believe in who the bible says Jesus is – God.
Christianity isn’t the only faith that believes Jesus Christ existed – even secular historians believe that He lived. Islam believes in Jesus Christ too; it professes that Jesus lived and died(I was recently corrected, Muslims believe Jesus was taken up, – He didn’t die). Muslims believe that Jesus was merely one of the prophets of God, thereby denying his deity. I would like to start by saying that WE DO NOT WORSHIP THE SAME GOD. I think people need to get this right. Many assume that by making this assertion, it will bring a certain level of religious tolerance in the world. The popular slogan people chant, ‘one God but multiple ways to get to him’ isn’t consistent with Christian doctrine. Yahweh, who is worshiped by Christians, has made Jesus the way to Him, period! I have heard a few Muslim scholars try to prove the fact that Jesus isn’t God but a mere prophet. Well, that’s an opinion well expressed, but is it true? Studying a character in a book involves taking into consideration what he/she says about himself, what he does, what his closest allies say about him, what the author says about him and what you, the discerning reader make of him. Therefore, we are going to use this format to some extent, to study the life of Christ to see whether or not He is indeed God.
First of all I would like to make two points briefly. 1. Jesus wouldn’t have been killed if he lived in our world today. 2. He wouldn’t have been killed if He didn’t say that He is God. The state of Israel in the days of Jesus had a very interesting political system. The political and legal systems were inseparably married to the religious system of the state. Hence, what we would regard merely as a sin in our world today could have been punishable by law in those days. This is why Jesus Christ was killed. He made some religious statements that offended the religious authorities of the land and they pressed legal charges against him. In John8, Jesus in a debate with the Jews said ‘… before Abraham was, I AM’. Let’s look pass the fact that ‘I AM’ is identical to the name God gave to Moses: I AM THAT I AM. Let’s ignore that for a minute. I trust the work of the linguists who put the English bibles together. Their attempt to translate from the Greek and Hebrew text to English is unmatched. Nevertheless, the quotation above is the only grammatical error in the bible, to the best of my knowledge. ‘Before Abraham was, I AM?’ That’s like saying ‘before Kwame came, I sweep’. It doesn’t make semantic and syntactic sense. It is either Jesus made this mistake or the translators did. In my view the translators did a good job in trying to capture the very sentiments of the Messiah. The point here is Jesus was trying to communicate the fact that He is God and the only way to do that was to break a grammatical law. He wanted to prove to the people that He existed before time and shall continue to exist long after time. He is eternal. What if he had said that ‘before Abraham was, I WAS’? This would have implied that he ceased to exist at a certain point in the past. But He wanted to express his transcendence: the fact that He came from another realm which isn’t governed by time. God is the only one who could make such a claim. Maybe I am being delusional, because here I am explaining the words of a man who died 2000 years ago. Right? We can’t understand the statement more than the people who were there. From their very reaction, I can conclude that I am not wrong in my assertion. The bible said, they took out stones to kill him but he hid himself. Really? Stones? Well, throughout the bible, we can see that the most popular form of instant mob justice for any crime was stoning. Apparently what Jesus said was a crime. Meaning, Jesus had committed a crime by implying that He is God. So there you have it.
Before Pilate, Jesus didn’t deny the fact that He is a king. Pilate desired to know whether Jesus claimed He was the king of the Jews. Jesus answered by saying ‘my kingdom is not of this world…’. So it isn’t really clear whether or not Jesus sees himself as the king of the Jews. Maybe this is why anytime they wanted to make him king he hid himself. But he makes a very cogent point here by saying ‘my kingdom is not of this world’. Then where is it? Apart from this life, theists all over the world believe in the existence of the spiritual world. That is probably where Jesus’ kingdom is. Need I remind you who the king of that world is? This compelled the renowned Christian apologist C.S Lewis to say that, ‘either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse’.
This goes to show the sort of ‘outrageous’ claims Jesus made about who he is. So saying that Jesus never said He is God only exposes one’s limited knowledge of the bible. The point I have made so far is that, Jesus wouldn’t have been killed as a criminal if He didn’t imply that He is GOD. And if He lived in today’s world, he wouldn’t have been killed at all because the political and legal systems have been divorced from religion. (Read John5:18).
‘But who do you say that I am’, Jesus asked. Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’. It is simple logic: like begets like. And let’s pay attention to the use of capital ‘s’ anytime the phrase is in reference to Jesus Christ. Even in the Old Testament, this is seen in prophetic verses that point to the arrival of Jesus Christ. For example, Psalm 2:7 says ‘I will tell of the decree: You are my Son…’. David recounts this encounter he had with God and clearly that quotation was made by the member of the Holy Trinity we have come to know as Jesus Christ. According to John1, ‘in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.’ Again, we see the capitalization of a common noun (word) to imply that it is a name of a being. It is believed that before his birth, Jesus was known in the Trinity as the Word. Since this is stated clearly in the bible, then it goes a long way to establish the deity of Jesus. In some places he is referred to as ‘the ONLY begotten of God’: because He is the only one who was directly begotten by God through the human process of procreation. The bible states it clearly that Jesus is God. The Qur’an states this about Allah:
He is Allah; The One; Allah The Eternal and Absolute. He begets not nor was He begotten and there is none that is comparable to Him. Quran 112:1 – 4
Whether true or false, it doesn’t interfere with what the bible says. The Qur’an is the Islamic Holy scriptures and the bible is the Holy Scriptures of Christianity. Hence if our quest is to know the truth about Christianity, it is the bible we have to go to. The deity of Christ is the rock on which Christianity rests. There are many instances in the bible that prove this fact. Time and space won’t allow me to do justice to the subject. Whom do you seek? Jesus of Nazareth? Well I wish you well on this quest. It is a wonderful experience; the only thing is that your knees will hurt a little. For just like the soldiers who went to find and arrest him, the very moment you draw near to him and request to know him even more He will speak to you. He will say ‘I AM HE’, you will then involuntarily fall to your knees in total worship of Jesus who is God. He is God forever.