We will begin with a scenario.? Imagine for a moment that you are having an
informal conversation with a close friend you have known for some time.? Your
friend?s name is Bill.? In the course of the conversation, Bill tells you that
he has the ability to raise people from the dead.? How would you respond to this
claim?? Assuming that up until now you have thought of your friend Bill as a
fairly normal person, what would this shocking claim do to how you think about
Perhaps your first response to a situation like this would be to chuckle, with
the assumption that your friend Bill would soon lighten the tense atmosphere
by joining in the laughter.? Very funny, Bill.? But imagine instead that he
gives you an offended look and says to you ?Look, I am serious, I have the ability
to raise people from the dead.? You don?t believe me?? Let me tell you about
Mariana and Rex.?? Imagine your friend continuing by relating a story with specifics
about two different people he had raised from the dead.? Bill describes in detail
how the two had died and the manner in which he had resurrected them.? He even
mentions a few witnesses you can contact if you want to check out the claim.
What are you thinking about your friend now?? Different possible explanations
of Bill?s sudden bizarre behavior begin to race through your mind.? Has he gone
off the deep end?? Is he trying to practice his poker face by seeing how big
a lie he can get people to believe in?? He seems so sincere that for just an instant,
the possibility that he may really have raised someone from the dead pops into
your head.? Of course, you reject this idea almost instantaneously because to
accept the premise that your friend raised someone from the dead would imply that
it is actually you who is going crazy.
What would you do next?? You would perhaps play along for just a little while,
pretending you are at least open to believing your friend is telling you the
truth. You might begin plying Bill with a number of leading questions.? You
might ask him where he got this ability, or where the people he raised from
the dead are right now.?? Alternatively, you might say ?Come on Bill, quit the
game, you are starting to scare me,? in order to see if he will lose nerve and
admit it is all a joke
If neither of these tactics works, you might change the subject for now, but
later? on, begin to do some investigating on your own.? If you were a true friend,
you would be extremely concerned about your friend.? If word of his behavior
were to get out, Bill?s reputation as a normal, reasonable guy might be permanently
Now imagine going to one of the witnesses Bill has told you about.? You discretely
tell this person the story about what Bill has said to you.? Imagine for a moment
how you would feel if this witness responded by telling you he or she had absolutely
no idea what you were talking about.? Now your investigation is heading toward
a conclusion.? You will go back to Bill and directly confront him with what
is obviously a lie.? His response to the confrontation will tell you whether
he is lying or whether he has lost his mind.
But what if the witness confirms Bill?s claim?? What if all the witnesses were
to confirm the claim that Bill really did raise two people from the dead?? Would
you be inclined to believe Bill was telling the truth?? The explanation that
Bill is insane is starting to appear a bit shaky.? Your brain is racing.? What
scenario can explain what is happening here?? OK, I am a rational person, there
is a rational explanation for this whole thing. You decide that for some bizarre
reason, Bill has decided to play a very elaborate practical joke on you and some
of your friends.? He has gone so far as to set up an elaborate scheme, including
setting up ?witnesses? to confirm his story.? When you think about the fact
that Bill is one of the greatest practical jokesters you know, the story begins
to fit together.
Still, you cannot let it lie.? You confront one of the supposed witnesses with
your scenario, and finally he cracks a smile.? You both start a good laugh.?
The mystery is solved.
But what if this tactic did not work?? What if one by one, each of the witnesses
were to confirm that everything said was true, even when confronted with your
claim that this is all a set-up?
The story could continue in this vein for a while, but one point is clear.?
If someone you knew well claimed he had the power to raise people from the dead,
you would find it all but impossible to accept the claim, no matter how seriously
it was made.? You would assume that your friend Bill was either a blatant liar
or that he was crazy: that the elevator was not stopping at all the floors,
as they say.
But there was once a man who claimed, not just to his friends but openly to
the public that he could raise people from the dead.? That man was Jesus Christ.?
The book of John, chapter eleven records a situation in which one of Jesus?
best friends had died.? In fact, Jesus? friend Lazarus had been dead and in a tomb
for four days when Jesus came to Bethany.? Let us back up the tape and look
at this remarkable account of Jesus and his friend Lazarus.
From what is described in John chapter 11, along with the other references in
the New Testament to Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, one can infer
that Jesus was a very close friend of this family.? It would appear that Jesus
had a habit of staying with Lazarus and his sisters when he came up to Jerusalem.
Now a man named Lazarus was sick.? He was from Bethany, the village of Mary
and her sister Martha.? This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the
same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.? So
the sisters sent word to Jesus, ?Lord, the one you love is sick.? (John 11:1-3)
When Jesus heard this plea for help, his response was remarkable.? ?Yet when
he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.? (v. 6).?
Surely Jesus was well aware that Mary and Martha considered this a dire emergency.?
Why did Jesus wait for two days before responding?? Was he too busy to respond to
the pleas of a dying friend?? Apparently, Jesus had delayed coming to Bethany,
perhaps at least partly because he knew what he would do with Lazarus.? Two
days later he said, ?Lazarus is dead, and for your sake, I am glad I was not
there, so that you may believe.? But let us go to him? (v. 14,15).
When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he explained to Lazarus? sister Martha, ?I am
the resurrection and the life.? He who believes in me will live, even though
he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.? Do you believe
this? (John 11:25,26)?
This is the first of the claims of Jesus Christ which we will look at in this
chapter.? The theme of this section is Jesus:? Liar, Lord or Lunatic?? We will
be asking a simple question in this chapter.? What is the most reasonable explanation
for the claims of Jesus?? During his time on earth, Jesus made some astounding claims
about himself.? How is one to deal with these claims?? Putting aside emotion,
what is a reasonable explanation for what Jesus claimed about himself?? Did
Jesus really make these claims?? Given the context of the audience Jesus made the
claims to, what was he really saying about himself?? How did the people of his
day respond to Jesus? claims?? What are some of the ways people today re
to Jesus?? Why are modern-day responses to Jesus radically different from those
of people who actually heard them first hand?
Besides considering carefully what is the most reasonable explanation of Jesus?
claims about himself, these claims will be compared to those of other well-known
religious leaders.? Finally, we will consider what would be a reasonable response
for a person in the modern world to have in light of his or her understanding of
the claims of Jesus.
This argument is not exactly brand new.? In fact, those who seek to defend faith
in Jesus Christ have often returned to the Liar, Lord or Lunatic argument because
it is so compelling (besides, all three words start with an L, which makes it
roll off the tongue really nicely).
Let us return to the story in question.? Jesus has just made one of the most
amazing (or outrageous) claims ever made by a human being.? Jesus has claimed
not just that he has the power to raise people from the dead: he has gone much
farther than that!? Jesus has made the claim that he is the resurrection and
the life.? Jesus claimed that he was the actual source of resurrection.? He
did not just claim to be a channel for some power greater than himself to raise
someone.? Jesus claimed that ?He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.? (John 11:25,26).
Martha?s response to Jesus? claim is very interesting.? Essentially, she said,
yes, Jesus, I know you are the resurrection and the life.? I know you offer
eternal life, but that is not what I was asking.? I was asking whether you would
please resurrect my brother Lazarus physically from the dead right now.? What
amazing boldness!? What nerve!? Martha must have been very close to Jesus to
make this request of him.
In response to Martha?s request, Jesus went to the tomb.? Mary, the sister of
Martha, was weeping and crying out loud that Jesus could have healed him, if
only he had come in time.? Apparently Mary?s faith was not as strong as that
of Martha.? In one of the most compelling scenes in the gospels, Jesus responded
to the emotion of Mary by crying openly.
Lazarus had been dead and placed in the tomb for four days already.? In a warm
climate such as that in the Middle East, a body will begin to decompose in just
a few hours.? No wonder that Martha responded to Jesus? command to remove the
stone at the front of Lazarus? tomb by saying,? ?But Lord, by this time there is
a bad odor, for he has been there four days.? (John 11:39).
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ?Lazarus, come out!?? The
dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth
around his face.
Jesus said to them, ?Take off the grave clothes and let him go.? (John 11:43,44).
What a dramatic scene!? Imagine the emotions of those in the crowd who witnessed
this event.? After struggling with the grave clothes for a few moments, Lazarus,
stiff but very much alive, came out of the tomb, dragging the strips of cloth
behind him.? How would you have felt if you had witnessed this amazing event?
Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus
did, put their faith in him. (John 11:45)
I would think so!? Jesus had a way of making an earth-shattering claim and following
it up with an action that proved what he was claiming was true.? Remember that
Jesus claimed, not just to be able to resurrect people physically from the dead?he
claimed to be the resurrection and the life for all mankind.? Immediately after making
this astounding claim, Jesus backed it up in the most dramatic fashion possible.?
He raised a man from the dead whose body was already in the advanced stages
Let us now return and apply the illustration which began this chapter to the
new situation.? Assume for a moment that you were a contemporary to these events,
but not an actual eyewitness.? Imagine someone told you about Jesus and Lazarus.?
What would be a reasonable response to this outrageous claim?? And how could
you explain the fact that such a large number of people actually believed the
claim without further investigation?? Remember your response to your friend
Bill.? The absolute last conceivable explanation of the claim was that it was
actually true, yet one can see a great number of people believing that Jesus
could raise people from the dead.
True, but there is a very big difference between Bill and Jesus. The reason
a number of people could believe his claim to be the resurrection and the life
is that Jesus? life backed up his claims.? This will be a repeating theme in
It is worth noting that not all the witnesses to this awesome event were convinced.?
They may have been convinced that Jesus raised Lazarus after being dead for
four days, but they were not convinced that it was a good thing.
? But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what
?Jesus had done. Then the chief Priests and the Pharisees called
?a meeting of the Sanhedrin. ?What are we accomplishing??
?they asked.? ?Here is this man performing many miraculous
?signs.? If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in
?him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our
?place and our nation.?
??????????? Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high
?priest that year, spoke up, ?You know nothing at all!? You do
?not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the
?people than that the whole nation perish.? (John 11:46-50).
Some of the witnesses believed that Jesus had the power to raise people from
physical death.? They saw the event happen before their eyes, so it was difficult
to deny the fact.? However, it is unlikely that they believed his claim that
he was the resurrection and the life.? Otherwise they would not have tried to murder
The point of considering the response of both those who believed and those who
definitely did not believe is this:? If Jesus was a liar?if he was making false
and outrageous claims, then the most reasonable response would be to oppose
him with all the energy one possesses.? It Jesus was a liar, then he would have
been an extremely dangerous person.? In fact, that was how the Sanhedrin
saw Jesus.? To them, he was a very dangerous threat to their position.? If Jesus
was crazy, then the most reasonable response would have been, first, to totally
reject his message, and second, to lock him away before he got himself or someone
else hurt.? If Jesus? claim were true, the only reasonable response would be
to worship him as Lord.
Given the character of the life of Jesus (more on that later), the Sanhedrin
knew he was not insane, but being unwilling to accept that he was who he claimed
to be, they assumed he was a liar.? As mentioned above, a reasonable response
for one who believed Jesus was a liar was to oppose him vigorously.? That is certainly
what they did.? The statement of Caiaphas is ironic.? He wanted Jesus to be
murdered in order to save the Jewish people.? A short time later, Jesus was
indeed killed that the Jewish people would not perish.? In fact, Jesus died so that
all men ?shall not perish, but have everlasting life.?? (John 3:16).
In this, the first of the claims of Jesus which we will look at, one finds Jesus
claiming to be the resurrection and the li
fe.? He backed up his claim by raising
Lazarus from the dead in the most dramatic fashion.? In the event, as described
by John, one can find two responses; the response of putting faith in Jesus
and the response of wanting to kill him.? As we look at some of the other claims
of Jesus about himself, this pattern will become familiar.
Jesus made a great number of claims about himself.? It is not the purpose of
this chapter to catalogue all of them.? The New Testament writing which contains
the greatest number of the claims Jesus made about himself is the book of John.?
We will therefore look at a few of the claims of Jesus as recorded in this great book.
THE BREAD OF LIFE
One of the claims of Jesus which was least understood by his hearers is found
in John 6:35.? To a large crowd, Jesus boldly declared, ?I am the bread of life.??
What was Jesus claiming?? Was he claiming to be edible food?? Not likely.? Was
he claiming to be able to provide physical food for those who believed in him,
or perhaps for everyone, regardless of whether or not they believed in him??
Is there some spiritual, rather than physical implication of this claim?? The
context of this statement of Jesus will answer the question, but first let us back
up a bit to look at an incident which had occurred just the day before.
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of
?the Sea of Galilee (that is the Sea of Tiberias), and a? great
?crowd of people followed him because they say the miraculous
?signs he had performed on the sick.? Then Jesus went up on the
?hillside and sat down with his disciples.? The Jewish Passover
?Feast was near?.
Jesus said, ?Have the people sit down.?? There was plenty of grass in that place,
and the men sat down, about five thousand of them.? Jesus then took the loaves,
gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.?
He did the same with the fish.
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ?Gather the pieces
that are left over.? Let nothing be wasted.?? So they gathered them and filled
twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those
who had eaten (John 6:1-4, 10-13).
One can assume that a large proportion of the crowd which heard Jesus claim
to be the bread of life had also participated in the meal of bread and fish
the day before.? It is certainly not a coincidence that the claim followed
the miracle.? Jesus had a habit of backing up his claims about himself by performing
a miracle which related to the claim.
There is one question which will be raised by the skeptic at this point.? ?How
do we really know that Jesus did this supposed miracle??? Or one might ask how
one can be sure he really made the claim to be the bread of life.? This is absolutely
a legitimate question.? The same question could have been asked in regard to the miracle
of raising Lazarus from the dead or the claim which preceded it.? This is a
legitimate question, but the author would beg the patience of the reader.? The
very important issue will be dealt with carefully in chapter two?the chapter on miracles.
But back to the lake.? Let us consider the claim in its context;
So they asked him, ?What miraculous sign then will
?you give that we may see it and believe you?? What will you
do?? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is
?written: ?He gave them bread from heaven to eat.??
??????????? Jesus said to them, ?I tell you the truth, it is not Moses
?who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father
?who gives you the true bread from heaven.? For the bread of
?God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the
??????????? ?Sir,? they said, ?from now on give us this bread.?
??????????? Then Jesus declared, ?I am the bread of life.? He who
?comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me
?will never be thirsty.? But as I told you, you have see me and
?still you do not believe.? All that the Father gives me will come
?to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.? For
?I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the
?will of him who sent me.? And this is the will of him who sent
?me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but shall
?raise them up at the last day.? For my Father?s will is that
?everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have
?eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.? (John 6:30-
Jesus was certainly not claiming here to be physical food, or to provide physical
food to eat.? He was claiming to be spiritual food which, when eaten, will lead
to eternal life.? Jesus claimed that through a relationship with him, people
could go to heaven. What an awesome claim!? The situation is quite similar to that
in John chapter eleven in which Jesus performed a miracle (raising Lazarus)
to confirm a spiritual claim (to be the resurrection and the life).? In this
case, Jesus performed the miracle of creating bread to confirm the claim that
he is the bread of life.
It is interesting to note that Jesus? claim to be the bread of life caused them
to think about the relation between him and Moses.? They asked Jesus by what
authority he could call upon them to follow him.? They reminded him that Moses
had given them bread (manna) in the wilderness in order to allow them to continue
following him through the desert.? Jesus turned their argument around on them
by pointing out that Moses did not actually give them bread.? It was God who
had given them the manna.? It fell directly from the sky.? The manna falling
from the sky helped Moses accomplish the mission God had given him.? Presumably,
he gathered some of the manna himself in order to eat it.? Jesus was very different.
Just the day before, he had given them bread, not from the sky, but from his own
Jesus went on to say that he was the spiritual bread which came down from heaven
to give true life to the world.? ?I am the bread of life.?? Coming from a human
being, this claim is so outrageous that it is hard to know how to respond to
it.? Imagine your friend Bill saying ?I am the bread of life which came down from
heaven.?? As if claiming to resurrect people wasn?t enough, now he has definitely
lost it.? This claim, if possible, is even more unreasonable.
What was the response of the crowd to this claim?? They grumbled.
At this, the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, ?I am the bread
of life that came down from heaven.?? They said, ?Is this not Jesus, the son
of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?? How can he now say, ?I came down
from heaven??? (John 6:41,42)
This seems like a somewhat muted response, but given that Jesus had only recently
given them actual physical bread to eat, it might explain a relatively tame
reaction, compared to some of the others we will see in this chapter.? The comment,
?Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?? seems to imply that they were unsure how
to react to him.? They had not yet decided whether he was Liar, Lunatic or Lord.?
What about you?
CLAIMS OF OTHER SPIRITUAL LEADERS
We will get back to a few more of the claims of Jesus, but first let us consider
what the claims of some other well-know
n religious leaders or teachers have
been throughout the ages.? These claims, and the evidence for the validity of
these claims, will put what Jesus said about himself into a very helpful context.
There are many candidates for a list of well-known religious leaders and their
claims about themselves.? Space will not allow us to consider the claims of
such men as Ba?haulla (the founder of the B?hai faith), Nanak (the founder of
the Sikh faith), Lao Tzu (the founder of what is knows as Taoism), Mahavira (the
founder of the Jain religion, and a contemporary of Gautama Buddha), or more
modern figures such as Mary Baker Eddy (the only woman on the list:? the founder
of the Christian Science movement) or Sung Myung Moon (the founder of the unification
church, also known somewhat perjuratively as ?the moonies?), and the list could
go on.? We will consider below just a few of the most well-know leaders of world
religions.? They will be discussed in chronological order based on when they lived.
First, consider Moses.? He certainly was a religious leader.? What did Moses
claim about himself?? The Bible refers to Moses as the most humble man on earth,
so not surprisingly, it is difficult to find him making open claims for himself?
However, from what is recorded about his life, one could conclude that he claimed
to be a spokesperson for God.? He claimed to have seen God, or at least a manifestation
of God.? He did not exactly claim to be able to work miracles, but the Bible
claims that God worked miracles through Moses, or at least through the rod which
God had given to Moses.? One can assume that at least part of the reason God
worked miracles through Moses was to confirm his claim to speak for God.? Moses
definitely did not claim to be the resurrection and the life, or to be the bread
which came down from heaven, or for that matter any of the other claims of Jesus
we will be considering in this chapter.
It would be helpful to compare the claims of a Hindu religious leader to those
of Jesus, but there is no single historical figure from the Hindu religion who
could be considered its founder.
Next, consider the claims of the Buddha.? Gautama Buddha is an historical figure
who lived 567-487 BC.? He was the founder of what is known today as Buddhism.?
What did Buddha claim for himself?? He claimed to be a good teacher with a worthy
approach to how to live.? Among other things, he proposed an eight-fold path
or philosophy for life.? Long after he lived, some claimed that he had worked
miracles, but there is no record of the Buddha himself, or of any contemporary
ever claiming miracles.? Buddha made no great claims about himself.? He certainly
made no claim even remotely like those of Jesus Christ.
What about Confucius?? Like Buddha, Confucius is an historical figure.? It is
interesting that Buddha, Confucius and Mahavira were all alive at the same time.?
He lived from 551-478 BC. He founded the religion which is now known as Confucianism.?
It is the dominant religion in China today.?? ?Confucius made no major claims
for himself whatever.? Somewhat similar to Buddha, he simply taught a way of
life which he felt was wise.? He emphasized tradition and family worship.? One
could claim that he was more of a philosopher than the founder of a religion.?
There is no comparison between? the claims of Confucius and those of Jesus Christ.
Next, consider the claims of Muhammad.? Muhammad certainly is an historical
figure.? He lived from 570 to 632 AD.? He founded the religion which is now
known as Islam.? In some sense, Muhammad made similar claims to those of Moses.?
He claimed to be a prophet of God.? He claimed to have seen some angels, and to
have received the collection of writings now known as the Q?uran by direct revelation
of God.? Muhammad did not claim to be a miracle worker.? He did not claim to
have the power to raise people from the dead.? He certainly did not claim deity
Let us consider as our final example a religious leader closer to our own time.?
Perhaps this example could help us to better understand how? the claims of Jesus
Christ might have emotionally impacted his contemporaries.? Let us consider
Joseph Smith.? Joseph Smith was the founder of Mormon Church (the church?s members
use the name The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints).? Because
Joseph Smith lived in the early nineteenth century, it is fairly easy to learn
what he claimed about himself.
Joseph Smith made claims about himself which were somewhat similar to those
of Muhammad. ?Smith claimed to be a prophet of God.? He claimed to receive direct
revelation from God.? He claimed that an angel gave him a number of golden tablets
which were covered with some sort of ancient language used in Egypt, and to be
given the power to ?translate? this language into English.? The supposed
translation of the writing on the tablets are known as the book of Mormon. Although
speaking in tongues was especially popular in the early Mormon movement, Joseph
Smith never claimed to work the kind of public miracles such as one can find
in the New Testament.? He did not claim to be the Messiah, to be without sin,
or to be deity per se.? Given some of the flaws in Smith?s character, his
claims are made dubious to say the least, but in any case, his claims about
himself do not even approach those of Jesus Christ.
It is a very popular modern idea to equate figures such as Moses, Muhammad,
Jesus Christ, Buddha and others as all being a pantheon of more or less similar
and equal religious leaders.? Given the claims of the religious leaders as listed
above, and assuming that the claims of others not mentioned in detail are similar,
a question comes to mind. If one considers the nature of the claims of Jesus
as compared to the others, is this a reasonable position to take?? Is it reasonable
to say that Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, and any of a number of other
religions are all just different ways to the same end?? The evidence speaks
OTHER CLAIMS OF JESUS
??????????? Back now to considering a few of the major claims of Jesus as recorded
in the book of John.? Next, consider John 5:39.
??????????? You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by
?them you possess eternal life.? These are the Scriptures that
?testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
There are actually two claims here.? First Jesus claimed that those who come
to him will have life.? This is similar enough to the claim to be the bread
of life, to justify moving to the other claim contained in this passage.? Second,
in the passage quoted above, Jesus was claiming that the Old Testament prophesied
to the Jews specific details about his life.
A similar quote from Luke might make the implication of this claim clearer:
??????????????????????? He said to them, ?This is what I told you while I was
?still with you:? Everything must be fulfilled that is written
?about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.
Given that the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms were the three divisions of
the Hebrew Old Testament, Jesus was claiming that all the prophecies of the
Messiah in the entire Old Testament were written about him.? He also claimed
that he fulfilled all the Messianic prophecies during his l
John 5:39,40 and Luke 24:44 together, Jesus claimed that the fact of his fulfilling
all the prophecies about the coming savior should have provided strong evidence
to support his claim to be the Messiah?strong enough proof that only those who stubbornly
refuse to believe would conclude anything differently.? An entire chapter in
this book will be devoted to investigating this claim of Jesus.
This is another example of a claim of Jesus which he backed up by what he did.?
In chapter four we will look at a number of specific prophecies about the Messiah
which Jesus fulfilled.? What was the response of the hearers to this claim??
To those who were not ready to accept the clear evidence because they were not
ready to come into the light, the response was to refuse to believe.? Many,
however, responded by believing in Jesus.? In fact, if one studies the sermons
recorded in the book of Acts, one will discover that the prophecies about the Messiah
were always or nearly always a part of the gospel sermons in the early church.
Has anyone else ever made a claim similar to this?? The answer is no.? Others
have claimed to be the Messiah, either directly or indirectly, but none was
so bold as to claim to be the fulfillment of all the Messianic prophecies.?
Considering that the Old Testament predicted that the Messiah would be born
in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2-5), this one prophecy alone would rule out virtually
every possible claimant to be the culmination of all the prophecies about the
Savior.?? Dozens of other examples could be mentioned.? By the way, was your friend
Bill born in Bethlehem?
The next claim of Jesus which we will investigate is found in John 8:46.? Get
ready for this one.
??????????? When he (Satan) lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a
?liar and the father of lies.? Yet because I tell you the truth, you
?do not believe me!? Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?? If
?I am telling the truth, why don?t you believe me? (John 8:44-
What nerve!? Jesus was openly claiming that he was without sin!? Has anyone
ever made this claim?? Even a crazy person would know enough not to make this
claim.? Jesus declared in front of a large crowd, some of whom had known him
since he was a youth that he had never sinned.
The response of the crowd is very telling in this case.? One can assume that
there was a bit of silence after Jesus asked this unbelievably bold question.?
Probably his hearers ran back their own mental tapes.? Obviously Jesus has sinned
at least once.? Let?s see? what about the time he overturned the tables in the
Temple?? Despite the height of emotion, he was in control the whole time. I
will have to admit that that was truly righteous anger.? What about the time
he disobeyed his mother when she asked him to come home and stop preaching?? Didn?t
Jesus break the command to obey your parents?? Well, I guess not, as we must
obey God, rather than men (Acts 5:29).
Next, the crowd may have considered what the response would be if they made
a similar claim.? Imagine if one of us were to ask the question ?Can any of
you prove me guilty of sin?? in front people who had been close friends for
years.? The first response would be hearty laughter. ?For those of you who are married,
imagine if you said to your spouse:? ?Can you prove me guilty of sin??? For
those who are not married, imagine making a statement like that to your parents
or your siblings.? Ha, Ha!? Good joke!
Surely the crowd struggled to think of an example of an actual sin Jesus committed.?
Even the believers were probably taken aback by this astonishing question/claim
of Jesus.? But what was the response? Did anyone come up with a single example
of an actual sin?? No!? Not even one.? For lack of being able to think of even one
sin, their answer was,? ?Aren?t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan
and demon-possessed?? (John 8:48).??? What were they left with?? Jesus is either
a liar (Samaritan is a close enough equivalent for this crowd) or a lunatic
(demon-possessed).? These are the only other possibilities if Jesus? claim is
But that still leaves the original claim unanswered.? They could accuse him
of being a liar or a lunatic, but not of being a sinner. Jesus never sinned.?
This bold and emphatic truth rings across the ages.? Jesus was without sin.?
Jesus truly is Lord of all.
I AM GOD
Surely, the reader is already convinced that Jesus made some bold claims?claims
which no sane person has ever made in the history of mankind.? Jesus is about
to take it just one step higher.? The claims in John 8:49-59 and John 10:27-30
are similar enough that they will be taken together.? We will start with John 8:49-58:
??????????????????????? ?I am not possessed by a demon,? said Jesus, ?but I
?honor my Father and you dishonor me.? I am not seeking glory
?for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge.? I
?tell you the truth, if a man keeps my word, he will never see
At this the Jews exclaimed, ?Now we know that you are demon-possessed!? Abraham
died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if a man keeps your word, he
will never taste
?death.? Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and
?so did the prophets.? Who do you think you are??
That was a good question, but to continue:
??????????????????????? Jesus replied, ?If I glorify myself, my glory means
?nothing.? My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one
?who glorifies me.? Though you do not know him, I know him.
?If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him
?and keep his word.? Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my
day; he saw it and was glad.?
??????????? ?You are not yet fifty years old,? the Jews said to him,
??and you have seen Abraham!?
??????????????????????? ?I tell you the truth,? Jesus answered, ?before
?Abraham was born, I am!?
The claim we will focus on here primarily is contained in the last verse quoted,
but before that, another very interesting claim of Jesus is found in this section.?
Jesus said to the Jews that if they keep (obey) his word, they would never taste
death.? Jesus was not talking about the death of the physical body.? Je