If Jesus Wasn’t God, Then He Deserved an Oscar/Program 4

By: Dr. John Ankerberg; ©2006
If someone reads the books of the New Testament, can it easily be shown that Jesus claimed to be God? Can we know for sure that He said this?



Dr. John Ankerberg: Today on the John Ankerberg Show, recent surveys show that people are confused about what they believe about Jesus Christ. They think He was a great man, but are not sure about what He taught, who He claimed to be, and the purpose of His life. Through the years I have spoken to students on university campuses, to people in large gatherings, to conferences, and churches about the facts and evidence that can lead a person from skepticism to belief in Jesus Christ? Together let’s examine the evidence that can lead to a clear understanding of who Jesus is, resolve your doubts and answer your questions, and possibly lead you to faith in Him. Join me for this special edition of the John Ankerberg Show.

Welcome to our program. I’m glad you joined me. This is the fourth program in this series where I’m taking you step-by-step through the facts and evidence that can lead a person out of skepticism to belief in Jesus Christ. In our first program I addressed those who claim to be atheists or agnostics, and began to lay a factual foundation that shows Christianity is totally based on a real man by the name of Jesus Christ who lived in real history. The reason we know Jesus lived is not only because of the emergence of the Christian Church, but because of seven authors who gave us historical information about his life. In the second program, we began to answer the question, how do we know that these authors gave us reliable historical information? In the third program, why is it that we believe the four Gospels and other New Testament books came out during the lifetime of the apostles, as well as the friends and enemies of Jesus who had witnessed his life? Today, if someone reads the books of the New Testament, can it easily be shown that Jesus claimed to be God? Come with me to Vail, Colorado, and the Dobson Arena where I presented the evidence to this question.

Excerpt from Dobson Arena

Neighbors, you do not have to back off of saying that what you have in here [the Bible] is accurate historical information of Jesus written by eyewitnesses who were right on the scene. If you’re going to doubt this stuff, then throw out ancient history.
Now, do you get the idea we have accurate historical information? Okay. I think I’ve pushed you over the line, right? Now we can get down to the fun part. People say, “Okay, okay. You’ve got accurate historical information about Jesus, but Jesus never said He was God.” You read the New Testament—this is what you find in Newsweek—no place, they’ll say, did Jesus just outright say that He was God. I hear this on campus all the time. Professors will tell your kids at school that is the case. So what would you say to them? People say, “Well, you only need to know Greek and Hebrew and get to the fine nuances of these words.” No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I think that you can find it very easy.
Let me give you an illustration. If I said to you, Mom and Dad, you’re sitting around the breakfast table one morning and your kid comes down, your teenage son. And there you are, having your cereal and the family’s together and he says, “Folks, listen up. I’ve got an announcement.”
“Oh yeah?”
He says, “I want you to know, I am the light of the world! He that follows me, you’ll never walk in darkness.”
What would you say? Dad would say, “Sit down, Jack! Eat your cereal.”
If somebody comes along and says, “I am the light of the world; if you’ll follow me, you won’t walk in darkness,” we recognize that to be an egotistical claim. He’s claiming to be above the rest of us. You don’t need to know Greek and Hebrew to understand the meaning.
Now I want you to listen to some of the words that Jesus said and see what you think. Who do you think that He was claiming to be? Besides saying “I am the light of the world” in John 8:12, He also said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me…”—notice the emphasis that Jesus puts on the personal pronoun.
The religious leaders of the world all pointed people to somebody else. Mohammed said to go to Allah. Gandhi and others all pointed people to someplace else. Buddha never said, “Come to me.”
Only Jesus said, “Come to me,” and put the emphasis, “I am the light of the world.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” “He that believeth in me, though you die, yet I’ll let you live.”
Now, look at some of these others. John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me,” Jesus said.
“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden; I will give you rest.”
“Take my yoke upon you and learn of me,” Jesus said in Matthew 11:28.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He that cometh to me shall never hunger. He that believeth on me shall never thirst” in John 6:35.
He was standing one day with the religious leaders and He said, “Guys, you know Abraham, father of the Jewish nation? Abraham rejoiced to see my day.” They were about 1500 years apart. These guys said, “You’ve got to be kidding. Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, saw your day, Jesus?” That’s what He said.
He went on to say, “Not only that, you guys like Moses. He wrote about me. He wrote about me. Oh, by the way, the whole Scriptures that you believe are God’s Word, they’re about me,” Jesus said. Where do you find those? John 8:56, “Abraham rejoiced to see his day,” Jesus said. John 5:46, Moses had written about him. John 5:39, the Scriptures bore witness to him. Jesus said to know Him was to know God. To see Him was to see God. Where did He say that? John 14:9.
One day He was standing with Philip. Philip said, “Hey, Jesus, show us God. Show us the Father.” Now realize, Philip is an orthodox Jew. He doesn’t believe that there is a pantheon of gods out there. He believes there is only one God. He says, “Show us God. Show us the Father.”
Jesus said, “Philip! Have you been with me such a long time? He that has seen me has seen the Father.” Now what would that mean to an orthodox Jew? If you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen God? Jesus said to receive Him was to receive God. In John 16:23 He said if you hate Jesus you hate God. To hate Him was to hate God. If you don’t give honor to Jesus, you’re not giving honor to God.
In Mark 2 we looked at yesterday, Jesus claimed He could forgive men’s sins.
In John 11 He claimed He could give all men eternal life. You want eternal life? When you die here, would you like to know that life that exists beyond, eternal life in Heaven, Jesus says He’s the One that gives that. Who do you think He was saying He was?
In Matthew 24 He claimed we’re going to forget Byron and Shakespeare, but His words will never pass away. In John 12 He said, “If I be lifted up from the earth”—talking about His death on the cross—“I will draw all men unto myself.”
Now, in the Sermon on the Mount, I think you can see also that Jesus was claiming to be God. Remember when He said this? He said, “Guys, you have heard that it has been said, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’” By the way, what was that? “Thou shalt not commit adultery”? One of the Ten Commandments. Where did they get that? Got it from Moses. Where did Moses get it? God. That was God’s direct statement. He wrote it on the rock, okay? Right on the stone. The Jews knew. Jesus said, “You’ve heard this was said, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ but I say unto you….” And everybody went, “Oh, my goodness!” Listen, when God makes a statement, you don’t go saying, “Now let me add something to that,” right? “You have heard it has been said, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ but I say unto you, if a man looks on a woman and lusts in his heart, he has already broken that law.” He was adding to it.
Now, somebody said, “Listen, Jesus, you’re getting into deep water here. Don’t you know what you’re saying? You’re claiming that your authority is just as much authority as the very words of God.”
But Jesus went on and He said, “You have heard that it has been said, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” If you just hate your brother in your heart, Jesus says, you’ve broken that law. And their mouths dropped open.
And if you go to the end of the Sermon on the Mount, you’ll find the words, “The people were amazed because He taught as one who had authority and not like the scribes.”
What kind of authority? He was saying, “God said this. I say this.” He was putting His teachings right up there in authority with the very words of God, and the people recognized it.
But let me give you one that I think is a real show stopper. Turn over to John 8. I’m amazed at how many lay people have never seen this one. John 8:56. Here’s the spot where He starts out saying, “Your father,” talking to the Jewish leaders, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day. He saw it and he was glad.”
They came back and they said, “Hey, you’re not even 50 years old yet and you’re saying you’ve seen Abraham.”
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am.” The Greek is ego eimi. “At this they picked up stones to stone him.”
And, you know, when I’m talking to an audience and they start reaching for the rocks, I would say, “Hey, what did I say?” Now, why did these guys reach for the rocks?
Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Were they mad at Him because His grammar was wrong? No. No.
Go over to Exodus chapter 3. These Jewish leaders knew what Jesus was talking about and when you see it, it’ll blow your mind just like it blew their minds. Exodus 3:13ff: “Moses said to God, Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you; and they ask me, What is his name? What shall I tell them? God said to Moses, I Am who I Am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites. I Am has sent me to you. God also said to Moses, Say to the Israelites, The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob has sent me to you. This is my name forever. The name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.” Did the Jewish leaders know who the I Am was? You bet your boots they did. And Jesus said, “Boys, you’re looking at Him. Before Abraham was, I Am. I was there. I’m the One that brought your forefathers out of Egypt. I’m the I Am.” Isn’t that a show stopper?
Did they know whom He was talking about? Take a look at Matthew 27:41. Jesus is on the cross and it says, “Likewise, also, the chief priests mocking him with the scribes and the elders.” The scribes and the elders. You’ve got the honchos right there, the leaders of Israel. They’re mocking Jesus on the cross and they said, “He,” talking about Jesus, “trusted in God. Let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him, for He,” that’s Jesus, “said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Did they know who He was claiming to be? They taunted Him with His own words on the cross.
Go over to John 10:30-33. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one. Again, the Jews took up stones to stone Him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shown you from the Father. For which of those works do you stone me? The Jews answered Him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy,” the same thing we saw in Mark 2 yesterday, “‘because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” They said, “You’re claiming to be God!” They understood what He was saying.
Let me give you one more, because we’re out of time. Jesus said, “Folks, one day the end of the world is coming. When it happens, I’m coming back and I’m going to gather all of the nations before me.” Now somebody says, “Look, at the end of the world, I’m coming back and I’m going to gather all of the nations before me. And then I’m going to determine the eternal destiny of every man, woman and child that’s ever lived.” Let me give you His exact words. Matthew 25:31-32, He said, “I will arouse the dead. All the nations will be gathered before Him. He will sit on His throne in glory. He will then judge and separate men from one another as a shepherd separates His sheep from the goats.” If you go back and hook that up with Matthew 7:23, Jesus said there’s going to be a lot of people saying, “Lord, Lord.” They’re going to use His name. They’re going to say, “Didn’t we do this? Didn’t we do that?” And He says that at the judgment, He says, “I’m going to look at them and to some of them I’m going to say, ‘I’m sorry. I never knew you. Depart from me into judgment.’“
Now, I just want to center in on this one thing and close this. If you take all of these statements that Jesus made, it would seem that He’s implying that He is very God. And if you accept that, then I want you to jump to the next part of your relationship with Him, because Christianity is not just based on a person, it’s a relationship with that person. But here’s the thing. Jesus said there’s going to be a lot of people that use His name, that say they’re connected with Him, that is that they’re Christians, and they’re going to do a lot of good works in His name, but when they get to the judgment, horror of horrors! Jesus is going to say, “I’m going to look at them and I’m going to say, ‘Do I know them?’”
Let’s say that He’s looking at you and you come up and Jesus looks at you. Wouldn’t it be terrible for Him to say, “Yeah, you went to church all your life. You gave dough in the offering plate. You did this; you did that and the other; but I’m sorry. I don’t know you.”
Now I want you to zero in on something here. Jesus didn’t say you’re going to get into Heaven on the amount of knowledge you have and whether or not you know Him. Let’s put it into the political realm. If I was to ask you, “Do you know President Clinton? Do you know President Bush? Do you know President Ford?” You would say, “Yeah. I know all them. I’ve seen them on TV. I’ve read about them in the paper.” Maybe you were even in a receiving line and you shook hands with one of them in a political deal. “Yeah, I know them.”
But what if I went to Clinton, Bush, Reagan and I said, “Mr. President, do you know this person over here?” and they looked at you, would they say, “No, I’m sorry. I don’t really know that person.” Because what you only have when you say, “I know about” and “I know Clinton, Bush or Reagan,” what you’re really saying is, you’ve just got a certain amount of knowledge. You’ve seen them on TV or heard them on radio and so you “know them.” And I wonder if that’s the same thing with Jesus Christ. You’ve got a certain amount of information because you’ve gone to church. You’ve read your Bibles. You’ve read books. You’ve gone to conferences. And you’ve got a certain amount of knowledge about Jesus Christ and you figure, “Listen, I know Jesus. I know about Jesus.” But Jesus said that kind of information can damn you to hell. The question is, “Does He know you?” Not do you know about Him. Isn’t that interesting? Does He know you?
That brings up the question, how do I know Jesus knows me? Jesus said, “I have come to give my life as a ransom for the many.” What’s a ransom? I had a banker friend up in Minneapolis whose wife was kidnapped. And the people wanted $250,000 ransom to get her back. Now, most of the time you don’t pay that, because they’ll be killed no matter what you do. But he paid the $250,000 ransom money and got his wife back. He paid the ransom, the price that was required to get his wife back. Jesus said, “I have come to give my life as a ransom for the many.” He came to give His life as a payment for the sins that we have done. That implies what Paul says in Romans 3, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” By God’s standard, we’ve all blown it.
Over and over again, God in the Bible wants people to recognize, we are in desperate shape. We need a Savior. If we were to die in our sins, we would be in judgment. We’d be in hell forever. That’s why Jesus came to be the Savior, to give His life as a ransom for the many. The first thing that you need, you must recognize, if you’re to have a relationship, a true relationship with Jesus Christ, for Him to get to know you, is you must admit to Him what He really knows about you: that is, you are a sinner and you’ve broken His laws over and over again. You must realize your condition. You must see yourself standing before God at judgment and shrinking away; of fearing to hear the words of Jesus say, “Depart from me. I never knew you. You’re a sinner.” Do you recognize you’re a sinner? Only when you recognize you’re a sinner are Jesus’ words good news. He then says, once you recognize that you’re a sinner, you’re helpless, you can’t save yourself, you can’t please God in your own works, then I’ve got good news for you.
“The gift of God is eternal life and I’m providing it. I went to the cross, paid for all of your sin. I love you. I’m willing, even though you’re a sinner, to forgive you of that sin and to put into you the Holy Spirit and give you the gift of eternal life. It’s my gift. I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in Me, though you die, yet shall you live. I am the way, the truth and the life. Not one of you will come to the Father but through me,” Jesus said. But the good news is, He welcomes us to come. If we recognize we’re sinners. He wants to forgive us. He wants to have a relationship with us. He wants to give us the gift of eternal life. He wants to give us power to live in this life, to have a relationship with Him. And when a person, a man or a woman, a teenager comes to Jesus Christ and says, “I am a sinner for whom you died. I believe you paid for every one of my sins. Right now, please come into my life. Forgive me of my sins.” At that moment He looks down and He sees you. He makes you a Christian. He makes you one of His own and He’ll never forget you.

Read Part 5

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