In less than a week, the world will hold its largest holiday celebration in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ. A recent estimate shows that fully 89% of the world’s population and geography–the largest percentage ever--will “do Christmas” this year despite the howls and protests of radical atheists and “nones.”
Last week we looked at five reasons why Christmas is supreme. Let’s conclude with four further reasons (some taken from my new book) as to why Jesus gets and deserves the global place of honor.
There is no one like Jesus.
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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).
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.
Next, 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.”
- Jesus is unique in dying for all people.
Jesus walked the earth for a little over three decades. He healed the sick, taught and fed the masses, cast demons out of the oppressed and even raised people from the dead. His message stated that the fullness of God’s Kingdom had arrived and that people “must turn from their sins and believe this Good News!” (Mark 1:15). In Jesus’ own words, we learn his purpose:
“As Moses lifted up a bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole, so that everyone who believes in me will not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it” (John 3:14-16).
Jesus Christ came to earth to be the Savior of the world. He was born to die for the sins of all people. Just before his death, Jesus told his disciples, “Greater love has no one than this; than to lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). He would fulfill the greatest act of love the world had ever seen—a holy God substituting his own agonizing sufferings on behalf of sinful people to reconcile them to Himself. He would save them by dying for them.
Through his death, they could experience eternal life—if they believed.
Why do human beings need a sacrifice for sins? Gordon Olson reminds us that sacrificial offerings served two vital purposes: 1) Propitiation—providing forgiveness of sin before a holy God, and 2) Transformation—showing the seriousness of sin, prompting hatred of it, and engendering guilt and reform in the human heart.
In other words, sacrifices revealed God’s true nature (Romans 3:21-26) and brought necessary humility to human hearts. God and men can walk in fellowship through atonement and faith (Romans 5:6-11).
Eighty-nine chapters of the New Testament gospels share the incomparable life of Jesus. Nearly thirty percent of them (25 out of 89) focus on his last week alive—the period of his sacrificial death.
The gospel writers focused their accounts like a laser. They also knew why he came: to die in the place of wretched human beings. This was the Good News! In the greatest act of humility ever contemplated, the omnipotent Ruler of time and space substituted his own sufferings in the place of sinful people.
Don’t settle for shallow thoughts this Christmas that only pertain to lights, food, presents, family and the like.
Do you love Him? Do you understand who he really is, and what that means for your life?