In Part 1 Who Was Jesus?, we covered the possibilities of His identity.
He was a fraud who was intentionally deceiving those who followed him.
He was deluded himself, and thought he was the Son of God, but wasn't.
He was Divine.
Additionally, we covered the possibility that the Gospel narratives were legendary, fictitious accounts that didn't accurately describe who Jesus really was. We provided good rationale for discounting this assertion.
In Part 2, we discussed Jesus own self-perception. We provided abundant testimony from Him and from His enemies (and/or the reactions to Him) as to Who He claimed to be. As we stated earlier, He was killed for something, and it wasn't for being a “good moral teacher.” He was killed for claiming to be God.
Part 3 will discuss other things Jesus is recorded to have said that may affirm His claim to be deity.
Matthew 5:3-12 commonly referred to as the Beatitudes, expresses how one should approach life with all its difficulties and how God responds to His people. The discourse is profound in its simplicity and sobriety as to what we face during our time on earth.
Matthew 5:17-6:18 details a higher moral law than had previously been given to the Jewish people. His words made people consider their heart attitudes and motivations rather than just the outward behaviors. His moral law dealt with WHO we are as human beings and not just what we DO. His teaching here even gets into religious hypocrisy and self-righteousness, things that people who hate religion talk about these days. Jesus decried it Himself 2000 years ago.
In chapter 6 of Matthew Jesus discusses how important it is for us to guard what we allow to enter our bodies through our eyes. He discusses man’s tendency to become anxious over physical provision and encourages us to trust God’s provision. He also makes it clear that greed prevents us from serving God.
Matthew chapter 7 contains one of the most often quoted passages in the Bible.
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Most people stop the quote after the first verse. Jesus words are more in line with the “Golden Rule,” which follows in verse 12 of the same chapter. Here he teaches us to “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” He is simply advising us to examine ourselves and to avoid making rash judgements of people. Instead, He instructs us to judge fairly as we would want to be fairly judged.
In Matthew 10 Jesus speaks of the cost of following Him. It is apparent He isn’t selling His followers on wealth, fame, or adulation.
“and you will be hated by all for my name's sake.” Matthew 10:22
Likewise, in Mark 10:44 Jesus says:
“and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.”
These are not the words of a megalomaniac. These are sober words that Jesus spoke so that His followers might understand that the Kingdom He often referred to was not one of earthly riches or power.
In Matthew chapter 16, Jesus explains to His disciples that soon He will be executed by the religious leaders in Jerusalem. The disciples are still thinking that His kingdom is going to be an earthly one and one of them, Peter, rebukes Jesus for saying that these things were going to happen. Jesus firmly let Peter know that Peter’s motivations weren’t the same as His. That Peter had set his mind on human power and prestige. He actually called Peter Satan in this exchange and then told His disciples the following:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
The verses I’ve shared in this entry do not prove that Jesus is God. That wasn’t my intention. I used these to rule out that He was a fraud or that He was deluded. A fraud wouldn’t have painted such a gloomy picture of what the future held. His words were rooted in a very sane understanding of what was facing Him and what would face His followers. There wasn’t a grandiose attempt at luring people into His “cult.” He spoke sober, sane, words of truth. Part 4 of Who Was Jesus? will focus in on the alleged miracles Jesus performed and the words He spoke in conjunction with these events.
Each day we go into the world with the opportunity to make an impact. Each person whose paths cross ours matters. Lives intersect for a reason. I believe there is One who directs our steps to these sometimes seemingly random meetings. My goal for these encounters is that I make a difference. That is my desire for those who venture across my blog. I hope you are blessed and it makes a difference for you.