by Dick Innes
Almost 2,000 years ago when Caesar Augustus was ruling the vast Roman Empire, Jesus Christ was born in Palestine in very humble circumstances. Until he was 30 he was unknown.
However, during a brief three year public ministry, his impact was such that it changed the world--including the change of our calendar from B.C. to A.D.
H. G. Wells, the famous historian, once said about Christ: "I am not a believer. But I must confess, as an historian, this penniless creature from Galilee is irresistibly the center of history."
No other person ever made the stupendous claims that Jesus did. He claimed to be the Son of God, the promised Jewish Messiah, and the only way to God for all mankind. He claimed to have power to forgive sins and to give people eternal life. Above all, he claimed to be God, saying, "I and the Father [God] are one."1
Socrates once said, "On, that someone would arise, man or God, to show us God." Four hundred years later Christ came and claimed to be that person.
But was Jesus Christ the Son of God, or was he the greatest impostor who ever lived?
Lew Wallace, a distinguished general and literary genius, and Robert Ingersoll, a notable skeptic, agreed to write a book that would prove Christianity to be a myth.
However, after two years of research in some of the leading in some of the leading libraries of Europe and America in preparation for writing this book, Mr. Wallace had a transformation of attitude. He was only up to the second chapter when he fell to his knees and prayed, "My Lord and my God."
After studying the evidence, Wallace became convinced of the deity of Jesus Christ. He then wrote Ben Hur, one of the greatest novels ever written about the times of Christ. Later, Robert Ingersoll had this to say: "In using my speeches do not use any assault I may have made on Christ, which I foolishly made in my early life." A similar thing happened to one of today's leading Christian authors and spokesmen, Josh McDowell. His outstanding book that supports Christianity, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, began as his attempt to deny Christianity.
"This penniless creature from Galilee is irresistibly the center of history."
Jesus Christ, however, is not the only religious leader who claimed to be God, but he is the only one who ever convinced a great portion of the world that he is. He is also the only leader who ever claimed that he would rise from death.2 According to historical evidence, he did. He was seen by the women who visited his tomb and found it empty, by his disciples, and by more than 500 other witnesses.3
Christ's resurrection was also recorded by Josephus, the Jewish historian, in his Antiquities. Josephus was a Jew writing to satisfy the Romans, so his report of Christ's resurrection wouldn't have pleased the Romans at all. He would not have included it had he not believed it to be true.
Further evidence to support the deity of Christ is seen in the more than 300 prophecies concerning him and his life that are found in the Bible and were written centuries before his birth.
For instance, 700 years before Christ was born in Bethlehem, Micah wrote, "But you, Bethlehem...though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel."4
One thousand years before Jesus Christ's death David said how Jesus would die. "They have pierced my hands and my feet,"5 he wrote. This is exactly what happened to Christ at his crucifixion.
"Who do you say that I am?" This is even more remarkable when considering that in David's time, death by crucifixion was unknown.
This inhuman, torturous death was first used by the Persians centuries later. David also predicted 1,000 years before that Christ would be betrayed by a friend, that people would "throw dice" for his clothes, and that he would die with criminals.6
David also predicted the dying Savior's cry: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"7
Six hundred years earlier, Daniel stated the time of Christ's coming and Zechariah, 500 years before, told how Christ would enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey; how he would be sold for 30 pieces of silver; and that this money would be used to buy a potter's field.8
All these predictions about Christ and many more--written hundreds of years before his coming--were fulfilled in detail, giving evidence to show that Jesus Christ was indeed God's promised Messiah--the Savior of the world.
When Jesus came, he asked his disciples, "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."9
This is the crucial question that each of us needs to answer, If Christ is who he claims to be--the Son of God and Savior of mankind--then our response to this question will determine our relationship to God for all eternity.
One thing we cannot do is accept Christ as a great moral teacher but not as God. As C. S. Lewis, a former professor at Cambridge and Oxford wrote, "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."
Jesus himself said, "He who is not with me is against me."10 That is, unless we act on our belief and make a commitment to follow Christ in our everyday life, we are automatically against him.
However, if you do believe Jesus is the Son of God, you can commit your life to him through a simple prayer. Tell Christ that you believe he is the Son of God who died for your sins, and that you would like to become one of his true followers starting today.
1. John 10:30, NIV. 2. Matthew 16:21. 3. Luke 24:13-43; I Corinthians 15:5-8. 4 Micah 5:2, NIV. 5. Psalm 22:16, NIV. 6. Psalm 41:9; 22:18. 7. Psalm 22:1, NIV. 8. Daniel 9:25-26; Zechariah 9:9-10; 11:12-23. 9. Matthew 16:15-16 NIV. 10. Luke 11:23, NIV.