Christmas is ten days away and is celebrated by more people around the globe than any other holiday.
For the next few weeks I will re-publish some of my most popular blogs. They focus on the one Person who’s most crucial to our lives–both here on earth and also after we die. He is “the Way” in both realms.
Jesus Towers Above All
If you’d like to watch this message instead of read it, you can access it here.
You can never have a big enough vision of Jesus Christ. It starts with these important truths:
1. Jesus is unique in historical verification.
When we read the history books, we often assume that ancient historical figures such as Alexander the Great, Plato, or Julius Caesar, can be easily verified by historical records. That is not true. Very few ancient manuscripts exist that confirm the reality of any ancient history-maker—especially books or parchments that go back over one thousand years.
But Jesus is different. First, there are twenty-seven different New Testament sources that describe his life and ministry. Second, his life is mentioned by numerous non-biblical authors such as Cornelius Tacitus (born A.D. 52-54), the great Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (born A.D. 37), Seutonius (Roman historian), Tertullian (African jurist-theologian), and even the Jewish Talmuds (written A.D. 100-500).
The Encyclopedia Britannica uses 20,000 words to describe Jesus—more than Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, or Napoleon Bonaparte combined. There is unprecedented proof that Jesus of Nazareth walked this earth some two thousand years ago.
2. Jesus is unique in the prophecies related to his life and work.
Jesus’ life purpose was announced by numerous prophecies hundreds of years before his coming in 6/5 B.C. The Old Testament contains three hundred references to the Messiah that could have been fulfilled only in the person of Jesus. These include him being a Jew (Numbers 24:17), from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), in family line of David (Jeremiah 23:5), and born in David’s hometown of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). He was preceded by a messenger (Isaiah 40:3), betrayed by a close friend (Psalm 41:9), sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12), crucified with thieves (Psalm 22:16, Isaiah 53:12), and buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9).
Peter Stoner states in Science Speaks that the odds of Jesus fulfilling only eight of the major prophecies are one in 100,000,000,000,000,000 (10 to the 17th power). He concludes, “The prophets had just one chance in 10 to the 17th power of having them come true in any man, but they all came true in Christ.”
Allow that scientific probability to sink deeply into your heart. Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah has no parallel in history.
3. Jesus is unique in his birth.
Jesus’ unique and utterly miraculous birth is celebrated all over the world each Christmas. Two detailed accounts of the amazing circumstances are recorded in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2. Besides the angel Gabriel announcing the birth (Luke 1:26-38), the extreme humility of being born in a cave or barn reserved for animals (Luke 2:6), or the choir of angels that sang for some startled shepherds, Jesus being conceived of the Holy Spirit and born to a woman who was a virgin is unparalleled in human experience.
But this, too, was prophesied: “The Lord himself will choose the sign: Look! The virgin will conceived a child! She will give birth to a son and call him Immanuel—‘God is with us’” (Isaiah 7:14).
Do you know of any other “virgin” births?—or any child conceptions that produced a life anywhere near that of Jesus Christ? As the creeds finally delineated, Jesus was fully God and fully man. God himself had taken on human form. Can we imagine anything more wondrous than Incarnation? This act exemplified the greatest act of humility of all time—God stooping to become a part of his fallen creation.
4. Jesus is unique in his supernatural powers.
If anything stands out in the four gospels (good news accounts) of the life of Jesus Christ, it is God’s love expressed through miracles that freed and benefited people. The first gospel, written by John Mark, contains fast-paced stories where Jesus heals peoples’ diseases, casts out demons, multiplies food for thousands, and even raises people from the dead (e.g. Mark 2:1-12, 6:34-44, 9:14-29). John’s gospel, written by the disciple whom Jesus’ loved (John 20:2), builds its case on eight miracles that demonstrated the power and divinity of Jesus Christ.
A careful study of the New Testament reveals at least thirty amazing signs and wonders that Jesus performed while on the earth. No other person validated their ministry by supernatural means as did Jesus who “went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:38).
5. Jesus is unique in his perfectly holy life.
Jesus Christ remains to this day the only person who backed up his claims by a sinless life. You don’t find any youthful indiscretions such as plagued the early years of Saint Augustine of Hippo. His adult years revealed no adulteries or crusades of violence such are recorded about Muhammad, the founder of Islam.
On the contrary, when questioned about his teachings or his unique moral authority, Jesus responded humbly and confidently to his accusers: “Which of you convicts me of sin?” (John 8:46). Deafening silence followed.
Jesus made it quite clear to all that followed him that the secret to his success was found in perfect obedience to his heavenly father. “I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (John 8:29). Did any other human being dare to make that claim? History and personal experience say no. Philip Schaff confirms, “It is his absolute perfection which raises [Jesus’] character high above of all other men and makes it an exception to a universal rule, a moral miracle in history.”
How did he do it? Jesus was not a mere man—he was God in human form. The great French general, Napoleon Bonaparte, acknowledged that fact when he said, “I know men and I will tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for him.”
6. Jesus is unique in his teachings.
Many of the world’s most memorable sayings and teachings came from the lips of the God/man, Jesus Christ. Years ago, the first section of Scripture that I memorized was the incomparable “Sermon on the Mount” found in Matthew 5-7. It begins with the “Beatitudes” which describe the life that God honors, such as “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). A few verses later, we find sentences still quoted two thousand years later by United States presidents: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14).
These remarkable chapters conclude with the famous warning: “But everyone who hears these sayings of mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.’ And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:26-29).
Jesus also told forty memorable parables. They include “The Lost Sheep” (Matthew 18:12-14), “The Rich Man and Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31), “The Pearl of Great Price” (Matthew 13:45, 36), and “The Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:11-32). No wonder those who heard him exclaimed, “Never did a man speak the way this man speaks” (John 7: 46).
The power and impact of Jesus’ words, beloved by millions for over two thousand years, hold a special place in history and human literature. Jesus himself could say with confidence: “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away” (Luke 21:33). And Mary Hopkins could echo, “No revolution that has ever taken place in society can be compared to that which has been produced by the words of Jesus Christ.”
7. Jesus is unique in claims to deity.
Biblical faith makes a revolutionary assertion: the Creator God of the universe came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ and lived among us. According to both the Old and New Testaments, the coming of Jesus consists in nothing less than “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23)—not simply a guru, a holy man, a religious founder, a wise man, or political leader.
Jesus is the only figure in history to claim to be God and back it up by living proofs.
Josh McDowell points out in Evidence That Demands a Verdict that there are three areas of Jesus’ life that point to his deity. The first represent his direct claims. These include numerous references to himself where he stated unequivocally his equality with the Father (e.g. John 10:30-33, John 14:9). At his mock trial before the Sanhedrin, he answered the Jewish leaders question of his divinity by saying, “You say that I am” (Mark 14:62)—a Greek idiom for yes. When questioned about his age and authority in John 8:58, he famously declared, “Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM (eimi)—equating himself directly with Jehovah, the eternally existent God (Exodus 3:14, Deuteronomy 32:39, Isaiah 43:10.)
The second area reveals Jesus’ indirect claims to divinity. Norman Geisler lists seventeen references where Jesus used terms that equated him with Jehovah. They include being the Creator (John 1:3), Savior (John 4:42), Forgiver of sins (Mark 2:7, 10), First and the Last (Revelation 1:17, 2:8), the Judge (Matthew 25:31), and the Redeemer (Revelation 5:9.
Finally, the Bible reveals sixteen different titles that Jesus openly shared in unique relationship to the Father. Among them are: Jehovah (John 8:58), Lord (Matthew 13:14, 15), Son of God (John 5:19-27), Son of Man (Daniel 7:13, 14, Matthew 8:20), Abba—Father (John 5:18).
Albert Wells sums up well the unique aspect of the deity of Christ: “Not one recognized religious leader, not Moses, Paul, Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius etc. have ever claimed to be God; that is, with the exception of Jesus Christ. Christ is the only religious leader who has ever claimed to be deity and the only individual ever who has convinced a great portion of the world that he is God.”
Don’t settle for shallow thoughts this Christmas that only pertain to lights, food, presents, family and the like.
Jesus towers above all.
Let him reign in your heart and life.