“Jesus wept; Voltaire smiled. From that divine tear and from that human smile is derived the grace of present civilization.”
Who is Jesus?
by Mark Karapetyan
Last year, a principal of an elementary school from Maryland, called me and asked me if I could speak to his young students and share my views on “success.” With one request, he added: “without mentioning Jesus in any way, shape, or form.” I obliged, and with one condition I replied: “as long as I tell the truth about my success through Jesus.” (I don’t think I’ll ever be invited back to that school again).
Why is it that whenever the name ‘Jesus‘ is mentioned, people get very uncomfortable and at times, become hostile? Whether it’s at a family reunion or in a classroom, during a government meeting, or when friends are just discussing things together, the moment the name ‘Jesus’ is brought up things get tense and emotions run high! Why don’t other historical characters like Socrates, Napoleon or George Washington have similar effect on people? What’s so special about Jesus that even two thousand years later His name still sends shivers through people’s minds? How could a simple man born in a manger, to a poor family, who lived His life homeless and fatherless, achieve this?
The reason fireworks light up the skies when He is mentioned is that unlike other historical faith leaders, Jesus claimed to be God, the creator of the universe, Himself. And this is the pivotal point where billions of people around the world disagree. Wars have been fought and people have been killed because of this claim. For example, Muslims deny His deity, that He is the son of God, and claim that He was only a prophet. The Mormons also deny His deity and teach that He is the spiritual brother of Lucifer. Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Seventh Days Adventists deny His deity and claim that Jesus is Michael, the Archangel himself. Most Evangelical Christians believe He is God in the flesh. Atheists and most others, deny and hate Jesus at the same time. Now you understand why so many people have contradictory beliefs about the Nazarene? But what’s the ultimate truth about Him? Who is Jesus?
To better answer this question, let’s compare Jesus to other faith leaders and then study some of His attributes. Think of all the historical personalities from Buddha to Mohammad, from Joseph Smith to Ellen G. White and all the others; who amongst them lived a sinless life, forgave sins, accepted worship, performed miracles in front of eye witnesses, had power over nature, created from nothing, or requested prayer in their names? The answer is, you guessed it, no one… but what about Jesus?
Did Jesus Live a Sinless Life ?
When Adam sinned, he caused all humanity to be stained with a sinful nature through the male seed. That’s why it is impossible for any human being to live a sinless life; all humans are born with sin due to human male participation in the conception. The Apostle John said that “if we say we are without sin we deceive ourselves.” Paul declared, “none is righteous, not any one.”
Jesus, on the other hand, was born from a seed of a woman not a man (virgin birth), which excludes Him from being sinful. Think about this logically; for anyone to be able to save others from their sins, that person must be sinless himself. Otherwise, if he is also sinful, he would need a savior to save him from his own sins. Only a sinless person can wipe away the sins of sinful people. If Jesus were sinful, how dare He claim to be the savior? However, because he was born to a virgin, and lived a perfect, sinless, life He was qualified to fulfill this duty. Even at His birth, the angel said, “that Holy one is born.” Another time, Jesus challenged the Pharisees to ‘convict Him of a sin.’ But they couldn’t. Only a Holy God can be without sin, and on earth, Jesus demonstrated that as the Holy, sinless God in the flesh.
Did Jesus Forgive Sins?
Jesus’ unique authority on earth to forgive sins sets Him apart from everyone else:
If I offend you for any reason, you have the right to forgive me because ‘you’ in some way were violated. Why would you be offended if I violate a stranger? Why would you care if I stole money from someone you’ve never met? It’s not your money. In Capernaum, Jesus not only healed the paralyzed man, but also forgave his sins! This disabled man never offended or violated Jesus in anyway. Why did Jesus feel the need to forgive him of his sins when this poor man not once did anything wrong to Jesus?
The reason Jesus forgave the man’s sins is that when the man sinned, he violated and trespassed against God. The man’s sins violated Jesus because Jesus is God. Only God forgives sins and the Jews knew it. That’s why they were infuriated and accused Jesus of blasphemy.
There are many examples in the Gospels where Jesus clearly acted as God and forgave people of their sins. Examples include when He told the harlot to “go and sin no more.” Or when He asked the blind man to wash in the pool and “sin no more.”
If Jesus healed because He wanted to combat the effects of humanity’s fallenness, why not combat the fallenness itself by forgiving sins?
Did Jesus Accept Worship?
Jesus, as a Jewish Rabbi, knew very well that God alone was to be worshiped. Ten different times in the Bible we read where people actually knelt down and worshiped Jesus, yet He always accepted the gesture and never once prohibited it. Therefore, He either accepted worship as God or as Lucifer. His followers knew He wasn’t Lucifer, (otherwise, they wouldn’t have continued to follow Him), so they still chose to worship Him. You might object here and say, “so what? Many crazy people accept worship, it doesn’t mean they are God.” That’s true. However; do you honestly think that the disciples would have really continued to follow, worship, and even die for a man who just ‘claimed’ to be God? Were they all equally delusional? When Jesus claimed to be God and accepted worship, He backed His claims by performing supernatural miracles that no one including His opposition could refute or deny!
Did Jesus Perform Miracles?
A famous magician once said: “it is fascinating to me that whenever I perform magic to my audience, it takes hard work, long hours of preparation, many helpers and performers, and truck loads of supplies and equipment to make the magic show successful. Jesus on the other hand, performed miracles in an instant, alone, in front of thousands, and without using any equipment.”
The stunning fact about the miracles of Jesus is that even His fiercest adversaries agreed that the miracles weren’t any magical or illusory feats, but unusual supernatural acts they could not explain. His adversaries warned: “if we let Him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him.” Because they witnessed His miracles and could not refute them, they claimed that “these miraculous acts were done by the power of Satan himself.”
Think about this; if you are watching a show where the magicians fails miserably and is exposed as a fraud, how would you react? I believe that in this day and age, most people would rant about the incident on social media. Similarly, If Jesus’ miracles weren’t real, don’t you think the Pharisees and the Sadducees would have exposed Jesus immediately and labeled Him a fraud? Remember, the high priest Ananias and his gang were constantly surveilling Jesus to arrest Him yet they failed. Fake miracles or primitive magic acts would have been easy enough for everyone to see and expose.
This is the bottom line. You and I cannot perform supernatural acts (I can’t even make spaghetti). We can’t control nature, create from nothing, raise the dead, or heal the sick. But if Jesus’ miracles weren’t magic, or the results of utilizing modern advanced devices, or some strange unexplained series of optical illusions, then what were they and how did Jesus perform them? Remember, thousands and thousands of people believed and agreed unanimously that Jesus’ miracles were authentic; hence the large number of His new followers everyday, including Paul of Tarsus.
Did Jesus Request Prayer In His Name?
When a child asks his father for a toy, he does it because the father is greater than he is; therefore, the request can be granted if the father so chooses. In the same way, when we humans ask God to intervene in our lives and help us in our needs, we do so because God is greater than us and only He can answer prayers.
Suppose one day I ask you to pray in my name. Would you take me or anyone with a similar claim seriously? Of course you wouldn’t because there is no one on earth that can answer prayers. In the gospels we clearly see that Jesus did request prayer in His name numerous times. Why did He make this claim if prayers were to be made to God only and not men? After His resurrection, the disciples and the followers continued to praying in Jesus’ name; would they have done this if they doubted His divinity?
The Character of Jesus
Napoleon once said: “Everything about Christ astonishes me. I search in vain in history to find one similar to Jesus Christ, or anything that can approach the gospel, neither history nor humanity, nor the ages, nor nature offer me anything with which I am able to compare it or to explain it.”
I totally agree with this statement that Jesus is the most fascinating character that ever walked the earth. When I was fourteen years old, I read a passage in the New Testament where the Pharisees and the legalists were arguing with Jesus about the temple tax. The answer Jesus gave them: “Render to God what belongs to God and give Caesar what belongs to Caesar” absolutely stunned me. Do you know why? Because the minute I read this brilliant answer I asked my myself, ‘how can a simple poor man from a small town, a man with no wealth, no friends, no political power, no army, no education, no prestigious degrees, and with no weapons to defend himself, speak boldly, and defy the political leaders of his time and expose them as frauds and charlatans, without fear or hesitation?” In a twinkle of an eye, I came to the conclusion that Jesus was the supernatural creator.
When Jesus made the claim that He was God, He took that claim with Him all the way to the cross. If it were a lie, and He knew it, why didn’t He abnegate the lie and admit His fraudulent claim under torture? Who willingly accepts suffering and chooses to die by crucifixion for a lie? It is one thing to die for a lie when you are deceived and you don’t even know that it’s a lie. It’s another thing to die for something you believe is not true ! If Jesus knew He was a deceiver, why did He die for a deception He created? Who does that?
It is also crucial to note that the claim of Jesus’ deity originated immediately while Jesus was alive, not centuries later which would have qualified it as being ‘a myth”. Those who heard this claim were eye witnesses who could have easily refuted it, but they didn’t even under persecution.
Jesus’ charisma was unmatched and unexplained. Everywhere He went, masses followed Him not because He was a lunatic or a liar, but because He was astute and virtuous. He lived what He preached. Mercy was His shadow, compassion was His silhouette, and love was His image. With His pulsating personality, little children loved Him and Jewish elders hated Him. He at once welcomed everyone unto Heaven, and warned others of Hell. When the sick begged Him for help He unconditionally healed them, but the healthy adversaries He called “ the spiritually sick.” The simple peasants and fishermen easily understood His teachings, but the law teachers and the enlightened ones were baffled and perplexed by them. Prostitutes and sinners gladly received Him in their homes, but ‘the righteous and the clean’ kept Him away from every home. He gave vision to the blind, and called the seeing, “blind.” He was meek enough to touch the unclean leper, but bold enough to turn the tables of the crooked money makers. He never promised anyone greatness, but how great was His promise of salvation to everyone.
You see, dear friend; I could go on for days describing the sensational personality of the Nazarene. A king needs no defense, and neither does Jesus.
Study and read about Him on your own. Get to know Him, understand His teachings and listen to His words. Compare Him to Mohammad, Buddha, Joseph Smith, or anyone else. See where the evidence leads you. Do it with an open heart and a clear mind. In the end, decide for yourself if He was just a man, a good teacher, another prophet, or God in the flesh Himself.
My only advice to you is this. Whatever belief you have about Jesus, make sure it is the right one, because if it turns out that Jesus is God, then…
“Knowledge of God without knowledge of man’s wretchedness leads to pride. Knowledge of man’s wretchedness without knowledge of God leads to despair. Knowledge of Jesus Christ is the middle course, because by it we discover both God and our wretched state.”
APOLOGETICS - ARTICLES AND INFORMATION
- What is Apologetics?
- The Lost Truth
- Logic & Reasoning
- Truth & Reality
- Does God Exist?
- The Cosmological Argument
- The Design Argument
- The Moral Argument
- Who is Jesus?
- Satan’s Wish!
- God’s Dilemma!
- Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?
- Does God Answer Prayers?
- When Were The Gospels Written?
- Was Noah's Flood Real?
- Are Miracles Possible?
- The Apostle Peter
- Does Archaeology Support The Bible?
- Science & The Bible
- How Can Jesus be the only Way to Heaven?
- Don’t All World Religions Teach the Same Thing?
- Undesigned Coincidences
- Are All Men Created Equal?
- Is the Bible Really the Word of God?
- Amazing Bible Facts
- The Blind Atheists
- Jesus Meets Einstein
- Did the Gospel Writers Tell the Truth?
- The Evolution Fairytale
- The Day Common Sense Died!
- The Philosophy of Jesus
- The Report (Part 1)
- The Report (Part 2)
- Are All Religions True?
- Are There Contradictions in the Bible?
- Are All Religions True?
- Why Does God Allow Evil & Suffering?
- Bible Prophecy
- New Age Christianity
- The Wager
- When God Cried
- What Happened to America?
- Don’t All Good People Go to Heaven?
- Jesus at the United Nations
- False Teachers
- The Conference
- Jesus & the Woman at the Well
- The Day You face God
- Was Jesus Really Crucified?
- The Blind & the King
- Is Jesus God?
- The Meaning of Life
- Hero & the Fake
- The Insanity of Pluralism
- Who is God?
- The Tree of Good & Evil
- The Confused Agnostic
- Lazarus Come Forth!
- When God Seems Silent
- Case #1101
- The Proposal
- The Prayer
- Roman Catholicism
- Jesus Meets the Pope
- First Century Jesus
- The Patterns of False Religions
- Timid Christianity
- The Foolishness of Life without God
- An American Thanksgiving
- An American Christmas
- An American Valentine
- The Arrest of Jesus
WHERE DO I GO?
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