Just Who Was Jesus of Nazareth?
This question and how you answer it are of utmost importance. In fact, your eternal destiny depends upon you answering it well.
Over the next few Sundays, as we work through Matthew 11 and 12, we will be confronted with the identity of Jesus and the response of the people to his claims. This section of Matthew opens with John that Baptist, of all people, wondering if Jesus is the promised messiah.
The website thestateoftheology.com occasionally polls Americans to determine where things stand. In the just-released poll results, 53% of Americans believe he was a great teacher but that he was not God. C.S. Lewis famously dealt with this view in his series of radio addresses which were eventually published as Mere Christianity. Jesus Christ claimed to be God incarnate and the promised messiah. Therefore, he was either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. The one thing he could not be is simply a great teacher.
The gospel accounts of Christ’s earthly ministry, his perfect life, his substitutionary death, and his burial and resurrection stand as a strong witness against such a weak view of Christ. He is not to be numbered among the greatest of mere men, named as he often is among men such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. He is instead the Son of God, fully God and fully man, the Creator and our Redeemer. Otherwise, he is nothing more than a charlatan.
Are we living the Christian life as though Christ was merely a great teacher and a most moral person? Is Christianity just a helpful set of rules to make the best of the life that has been given to us? The gospel accounts make it clear that Christ and Christianity are far more radical than that. Let’s live our lives this week, and every week to come, according to this truth—that the good news of salvation has been published in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the God-man. He has done it. Amen!
Your fellow servant of Christ,