Did a man named Jesus really live in Palestine 2,000 years ago? Certainly, there is no doubt or question about that. No secular historian disbelieves that, for it is a proven fact of history. Many historians of Jesus’ day wrote about Him. What is of much debate, however, is if He was God or not. Was He just a man like everyone else, or was He really and truly God? Did He just say He was? Or did His followers later write in such a way to make Him seem to be God when He had no such claims? The implications of these answers are great. How can we as Christians be sure? Lets look at some proofs of His deity from within and without the Bible.
LORD, LUNATIC or LIAR
First, there is no doubt that Jesus claimed to be God. The whole tenor of His life points to that. He verbally claimed to be God many, many times (John 8:58; 10:30; 17:5; etc.). He accepted worship as if He were God. He claimed to be able to forgive sin (Mark 2:5). Now, what are we to make of someone who claims to be God? What would you say if your neighbor started claiming to be God? There are three options or possibilities about such a person. He is crazy, a lunatic, for he truly thinks he is God but is wrong. He knows he isn’t God but tries to convince everyone he is anyway, thus he is a liar. Or he really is God and Lord of all! Lord, lunatic or liar are our options. Just a good man, a fine teacher, a moral example — these are not options for one who claims to be God! If He is a lunatic or liar He doesn’t qualify as a good, fine person. If He is Lord He is overqualified and far more than just a good, fine person. Thus He is either God to be worshipped and obeyed or an impostor to be forgotten and ignored.
To prove He is Lord we turn to the Bible, not to passages about miracles and claims that could possibly have been made up by writers after His death, but to Old Testament Prophecies whose fulfillment could not have been faked. Listed below are 61 Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah with their fulfillment in the New Testament also recorded:
1. Born of the seed of woman: Gen 3:15; Gal 4:4, Matt. 1:20
2. Born of a virgin: Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1;18,24,25; Lk 1:26-35
3. Son of God: Ps 2:7 (I Chron 17:11-14; II Sam 7:12-16), Mt 3:17; 16:16 (Mk 9:7; Lk 9:35)
4. Seed of Abraham Genesis 22:18 (12:2-3); Matthew 1:1; Gal 3:16
5. Son of Isaac: Genesis 21:12; Lk 3:23,34 (Mt 1:2)
6. Son of Jacob: (Num. 24:17 (Gen 35:10-12); Lk 3:23,34 (Mt 1:2; Lk 1:33)
7. Tribe of Judah: Genesis 49:10; Lk 3:23,33 (Mt 1:2; Heb 7:14)
8. Family line of Jesse: Isaiah 11:1, 10; Luke 3:23,32 (Mt 1:6)
9. House of David: Jeremiah 23:5 (II Sam 7:12-16; Ps 132:11); Lk 3:23,31 (Mt 1:1; 9:27)
10. Born at Bethlehem: Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1 (Jn 7:42, Mt 2:4-8; Lk 2:4-7)
11. Presented with gifts: Psalm 72:10 (Isaiah 60:6); Matthew 2:1,11
12. Herod kills children: Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16
13. His pre-existence: Micah 5:2 (Isa 9:6-7; Ps 102:25); Col 1:17 (Jn 1:1-2; 8:58; Rev 1:17)
14. He shall be called Lord: Psalm 110:1 (Jere 23:6); Luke 2:11; 20:41-44
15. Shall be Immanuel (God With Us): Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 7:16
16. Shall be a prophet: Deut 18:18; Matthew 21:11 (Luke 7:16; Jn 4:19; 6:14; 7:40)
17. He shall be a priest: Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 3:1; 5:5-6
18. He shall be a judge: Isaiah 33:22; John 5:30; II Timothy 4:1
19. He shall be a king: Psalm 2:6 (Zech. 9:9; Jer 23:5); Matthew 27:37; 21:5 (John 18:33-38)
20. Special anointing of the Holy Spirit: Isaiah 11:2; Matthew 3:16-17; 12:17-21 (Mk 1:10-11)
21. His zeal for God: Psalm 69:9; John 2:15-17
22. Preceded by messenger: Isaiah 40:3; Matthew 3:1-2; 3:3; 11:10
23. Ministry to begin in Galilee: Isaiah 9:1; Matthew 4:12,13,17
24. Ministry of miracles: Isaiah 35:5, 6a; 32:3,4; Matthew 9:32,33,35; 11:4-6 (John 5:5-9)
25. Teacher of parables: Psalm 78:2; Matthew 13:34
26. He was to enter the temple: Malachi 3:1; Matthew 21:12
27. He was to enter Jerusalem on a donkey: Zechariah 9:9; Luke 19:35,36,37a (Mt 21:6-11)
28. “Stone of Stumbling” to the Jews: Psalm 118:22 (Isa 8:14; 28:16); I Peter 2:7 (Rom 9:32-33
29. “Light” to Gentiles: Isaiah 60:3; 49:6; Acts 13:47,48a; 26:23; 28:28
30. Betrayed by a friend: Psalm 41:9; 55:12-14; Matthew 10:4; 26:49-50; Jn 13:21
31. Sold for 30 pieces of silver: Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:15; 27:3
32. Money to be thrown in God’s house: Zechariah 11:13b; Matthew 27:5a
33. Price given for potter’s field: Zechariah 11:13b; Matthew 27:7
34. Forsaken by His disciples: Zechariah 13:7; Mark 14:50 (Mt 26:31; Mk 14:27)
35. Accused by false witnesses: Psalm 35:11; Matthew 26:59-61
36 Dumb before accusers: Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12-19
37. Wounded and bruised: Isaiah 53:5 (Zech 13:6); Matthew 27:26
38. Smitten and spit upon: Isaiah 50:6 (Micah 5:1); Matthew 26:67 (Luke 22:63)
39. Mocked: Psalm 22: 7,8; Matthew 27:31
40. Fell under the cross: Psalm 109:24-25; John 19:17; Luke 23:26; Mt 27:31-32
41. Hands and feet pierced: Psalm 22:16 (Zech 12:10); Luke 23:33 (John 20:25)
42. Crucified with thieves: Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:38 (Mk 15:27,28)
43. Made intercession for His persecutors: Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34
44. Rejected by His own people: Isaiah 53:3 (Ps 69:8; 118:22); John 7:5,48; 1:11 (Mt 21:42,43)
45. Hated without a cause: Psalm 69:4 (Isa 49:7); John 15:25
46. Friends stood afar off: Psalm 38:11; Luke 23:49 (Mk 15:40; Mt 27:55-56)
47. People shook their heads: Psalm 109:25; 22:7; Matthew 27:39
48. Stared upon: Psalm 22:17; Luke 23:35
49. Garments parted and lots cast: Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24
50. To suffer thirst: Psalm 69:21; 22:15; John 19:28
51. Gall and vinegar offered Him: Psalm 69:21; Matthew 27:34
52. His forsaken cry: Psalm 22:1; Matthew 26:46
53. Committed Himself to God: Psalm 31:5; Luke 23:46
54. Bones not broken: Psalm 34:20; John 19:33
55. Heart broken: Psalm 22:14; John 19:34
56. His side pierced: Zech 12:10; John 19:34
57. Darkness over the land: Amos 8:9; Matthew 27:45
58. Buried in rich man’s tomb: Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60
59. Resurrection: Psalm 16:10; 30:3; 41:10; 118:17 (Hosea 6:2); Acts 2:31(Lk 24:46; Mk 16:16)
60. Ascension: Psalm 68:18a; Acts 1:9
61. Seated at right hand of God: Psalm 110:1; Heb. 1:3 (Mk 16:19; Acts 2:34,35)
No one else in history ever came near to fulfilling these, and no one ever can since the birth records and tribal records of all Jews were destroyed in Jerusalem in 70 AD. The fulfillment of these prove the authenticity of the Bible as God’s Word as well as the fact that Jesus is God.
The probability of just 1 through 8 coming true would be 1 in 10 with 16 0’s. (If each chance is a silver dollar and they were laid down side-by-side on state of Texas they would cover whole state 2′ deep! One is marked, all others not. Blindfold a man and let him walk anywhere, chances he’d pick right one same as first 8 prophecies just happening!
In actuality the proof of the deity of Jesus raises and falls on truth of His resurrection. He said He would come back to life, then claimed to have done so. His followers clearly claimed the same thing for them. Were they right? First, it stands to reason to assume that something like resurrection from dead to an eternal body isn’t something a person would just make up! It would be too unbelievable, too unproveable, too far out for someone to have just made it up.
If Jesus didn’t come back to life, what else could have happened to his body? Some say the disciples stole His body, but how would they gain courage to preach that they didn’t have before? Why would they give up their lives for something they knew was a lie? So, others say, enemies stole the body. Then they would have said so and showed it to disprove the resurrection when that was first claimed. Neither theory explains the eye-witness accounts of over 500 people who saw Jesus alive after the crucifixion. More common is the swoon theory, that Jesus never really died but swooned then came ‘to’ later. But he was pronounced dead by experienced Roman executioners after having a spear run through His heart. He spent 3 days wrapped totally in cloth and covered with 100 pounds of spices, with no food or water. He would have had to come to, get out of the wrappings while leaving them there in the shape of a cocoon as if He were still in them, with hands pierced by nails move the monstrous rock from inside with no handholds, overpower the Roman soldiers, walk many miles on feet pierced by nails, and then prove to those He met that He had a superior, eternal body! That takes more faith than believing in the resurrection!
There is additional proof of the resurrection. Jesus appeared 10 times to over 500 people. If there was no resurrection how do we explain the change in the disciples, the spread of the early church, the conversion of Paul, the start of the Lord’s Supper and baptism, the switch of the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday and the impact His life has had even to today. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The name of Jesus is not so much written as plowed into the history of the world.” A liar or lunatic can’t do that!
IF GOD BECAME MAN, THEN YOU WOULD EXPECT HIM TO:
One more line of reasoning is to ask yourself, “If God became man, what would we expect of Him?” Jesus fulfilled all we’d ask!
1. Have an unusual entrance into life. The virgin birth is the most unusual entrance ever. It, too, is not something someone would choose were they making the whole thing up. How would the idea of a virgin birth ever be considered if it weren’t true?
2. Be without sin. Jesus claimed to be sinless (John 8:46) as do those who lived with Him 24 hours a day (Peter, John and Matthew). So do brothers who grew up in His family, seeing His whole life up close (James and Jude). Even enemies witnessed to His sinlessness (The thief on the cross, Pilate and the Centurion at the crucifixion).
3. Manifest the supernatural in the form of miracles. Jesus claimed to do miracles, and they were attested t by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Jude and James.
4. Have an acute sense of difference from others. Jesus saw Himself as different, unique, and others saw Him that way, too. Even Jewish and Roman historians saw Him as not the same as other men, as does the Koran and many scholars today.
5. Speak the greatest words ever spoken. Jesus said His words would never pass away and they haven’t! Others said that no one spoke as He did, and that is still true. Jesus is the person most quoted by religious and secular historians, teachers and philosophers.
6. Have a lasting and universal influence. Historians agree that Jesus is the most influential life ever lived on this planet.
7. Satisfy the spiritual hunger in man. Jesus met the inner needs in Matthew, Peter, Nicodemus, Zachaeus, the woman at the well, and countless others then and through the ages up to today. Truly Jesus satisfies!
8. Exercise power over death. Jesus claimed to have power over death and proved it by His own resurrection. He brought the dead back to life: widow of Nain’s son, Centurion’s servant, Lazarus and Dorcas (through Peter). (For more information along these lines see “Evidence That Demands A Verdict,” by Josh McDowell.)
Was Jesus God? You’ll have to decide for yourself. However if He wasn’t then no one will ever be. If Jesus were not God, then He deserved an Oscar!
CHRIST’S CLAIMS OF DEITY
Claimed Equality With God
Matt. 28:19; John 5:17-18; 12:45; 13:20; 14:1, 9
Claimed Oneness With God
Matt 4:7; Luke 4:12; 8:39; John 10:30, 36-38; 17:11, 21-22; 20:28
Claimed To Be Sent By God
John 4:34; 5:37; 7:16, 28-29; 8:16; 9:4; 11:42; 14:24; 16:28; 17:18, 23
Claimed To Be The Son of God
Matt 16:17; 22:42-45; Mark 12:35-37; 14:61-62; Luke
20:41; John 9:35-37; 22:69-70
Claimed To Be From Heaven
John 6:33, 35, 51
Claimed Attributes of God
John 8:42; 16:15
Omniscience Matt 11:21-22; Luke 10:13
Omnipresence Matt 18:20; 28:20
Omnipotence Mark 14:61-63; Luke 22:69-70; John 2:19, 10:18; 11:25-27
Forgive sin Mark 2:5,9,10; Luke 5:20-21; 7:48-49
Divine Authority Matt 7:21-23; 28:18
Honor John 5:22-23
Pre-Existence John 8:58; 17:5