14. Jesus: More than a Prophet
If you really wish to understand the Biblical faith, you have to consider the evidence honestly and with an open mind. You have already learnt a number of facts about Jesus that may be new to you. Perhaps you are thinking of rejecting this new light, like the man who said, “I have made up my mind. Don't confuse me with facts!” But the Christian's faith rests on facts. Let us examine them.
Consider His Name
Before Jesus was born, an angel (heavenly messenger) appeared to Joseph, who was engaged to be married to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Read Matthew 1:18-25.
The name “Jesus” is the English form of the Hebrew “Yeshua” which means “God is our salvation”. It was a fairly common name at that time, but in this case it becomes a very special name, “because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
The name “Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Mashiah” (Messiah / al Masih). It means literally “the anointed one.” In the early days of Semitic history kings (1 Samuel 16:12-13), prophets (1 Kings 19:16) and priests (Exodus 29:7) were anointed into their office. This is somewhat the same as a coronation or ordination now. Special sweet-smelling oil was poured out over the head of the appointed person. On the one hand, this anointing indicated dedication to the service of God, and, on the other, the election, calling and preparation for that service by God himself. Gradually the name Messiah came to indicate that one special descendant of David of whom the prophecies speak (Daniel 9:25; John 4:25).
Consider His Birth
Read Luke 1:26-38.
Some Muslims misunderstand the Christian faith on this point. No true Christian will entertain the blasphemous idea that Jesus was born out of a sexual encounter between God and Mary. Such a suggestion is as abhorrent to the Christian as it is to a Muslim. A little illustration may help us to solve the problem a Muslim sees when hearing the term “Son of God”. In the Malay language a lock is called “kutshi,” and a key “ana-kutshi,” which literally means “son of a lock”. Do Malays suggest that one “kutshi” mated with another “kutshi,“ conceived, and later bore an “ana-kutshi”? Of course not! It is just illustrating that the key belongs to the lock, and that you cannot open the lock without the key! The two are complementary and belong together. A lock without a key is incomplete, even useless. Likewise in Arabia a traveller is called a “son of the road”. No sane person will misunderstand that term either.
Consider His Divinity
Now we have to seriously consider this question: Is it possible that Jesus was in fact more than just a prophet? Could it be that He is “God with us”?
Let me illustrate two possible reactions we might have when considering a new concept. When a new type of tin opener which looks and works differently from what has been used in the past, is offered on the market, we may react in one of two ways. We may reason:
“How can that be a tin opener if it does not look or operate like the one we are used to?”
“Can it open a tin? If it does, I accept it as a tin opener.”
If Jesus had powers and knowledge that are exclusively God's, we can accept Him for what He claims to be: the Son of the living God, irrespective of our own idea of how God should reveal Himself to us.
Remember what you have learnt from the Bible. Remember the many miracles Jesus performed: He raised the dead, healed the lame, blind, deaf and dumb and lepers, He cast out demons and was the only person who ever lived without sinning. He walked on water, stilled the storm, multiplied a few pieces of bread and fish to feed multitudes, turned water into wine and rose form the dead himself. At last He ascended bodily to heaven before the eyes of His followers.
The Qur'an confirms this in its own way:
1. He was born of a virgin (Sura 19:16-35).
2. He was the Messiah (Sura 4:171).
3. He was a Spirit from God (Sura 4:171).
4. He was the Word of God (Sura 4:171).
5. He was sinless (Sura 19:19).
6. He is illustrious in the world and the hereafter (Sura 3:45).
7. He could give life to the dead (Sura 3:49 with Sura 22:73).
8. He was taken to heaven by God (Sura 4:158).
9. He will come back as a sign of the Hour of Judgement (Sura 43:61).
Consider the Evidence of His Disciples
Please do not jump to conclusions. Consider the evidence like an impartial judge. The Bible book of Proverbs has a verse that says,
“He who answers before listening : that is his folly and his shame.” (Proverbs 18:13.)
Let us read some of the statements recorded in the Bible. Answer the questions as honestly as possible.
1. Read John 1:1-3, 10-12.
2. Read Colossians 1:25-20.
3. Read Hebrews 1:1-3, 7-10.
4. Read Philippians 2:5-11.
Another important fact to note is that Scripture references that refer to God in the Old Testament are often applied to Jesus in the New Testament. A few examples: Isaiah 6:10 compared to John 12:40-41. Isaiah 44:6 compared to Revelation 22:13. Psalm 102:26-28 compared to Hebrews 1:10-12.
You could also read 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:20; Titus 2:11-14; 2 Peter 1:1, 2, 11; Romans 9:5; 2 Timothy 4:16-18.
Can one in all honesty say that Jesus was only a prophet? As you saw, the Bible repeats again and again that He is God. It is clear that those who knew Jesus intimately came to realize that He was in reality God among men.
Consider the Words of Jesus
It is sometimes said that Jesus Himself never claimed to be divine. Let us test this statement.
Read Revelation 21:6-7.
Read John 20:27-29.
Read John 20:24-33.
After Jesus walked on the water and calmed the storm, we read, “then those who were in the boat worshipped Him, saying, 'Truly You are the Son of God”' (Matthew 14:33). Jesus accepted this worship, though earlier He stated, “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only” (Matthew 4:10).
When Simon Peter said to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” Jesus edit not rebuke him for it, but replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven” (Matthew 16:16-17).
Read Mark 2:3-12.
At the trial the high priest said to Jesus, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus replied, “Yes, it is as you say. But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:63-64; compare Daniel 7:13-14).
Jesus existed before He came to earth. As He told the Jews, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58.)
It is very clear that the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, spoken 700 years before Christ, was fulfilled in Jesus.
Read Isaiah 9:6
Consider the “Trinity”
Any serious student of the Bible will sooner or later discover the truth of the words of Job 36:26:
“How great is God : beyond our understanding!”
It quickly becomes clear that no creature can ever hope to understand his Creator. As we have seen, the Bible reveals that Jesus is more than a mere prophet. He was God and is God with us. In our next chapter we will discover that God also reveals Himself in the Holy Spirit. And yet, God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29).
In Matthew 28:19 we read that the disciples of Jesus must be baptized in the one name (not names) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Also in Isaiah 44:6 we read: “I am the first and I am the last; apart from Me there is no God.” But in Isaiah 63:7-10 God is called the Lord, the Saviour, the angel of his presence and the Holy Spirit in the same passage. And all through the Bible the same divine attributes are given to each of the three Persons in turn.
This great mystery has led the Christian church to speak of God as the Trinity (= three in one). But how can three be one?
If an example can help you to understand that three can be one, think of a triangle. It has three sides, but together they form only one triangle. Remove any side and you have nothing.
God is one. And yet He reveals himself in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We do not have to understand Him. We dare not argue about Him. We only have to believe in Him as He reveals himself.
Consider Your Verdict
Dear reader, did you remember to pray before you studied this chapter? Did you read the verses in the Bible? What do you think about Jesus Christ? Can you honestly say that He is merely another prophet? Every true Christian during the last twenty centuries was convinced that Jesus Christ is in fact God who came to earth. Can you come to any other conclusion if you honestly weigh the evidence?
Test Yourself No. 14
Answer the following questions and compare your answers.
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