In this series of articles on Apologetics, we have followed a logical sequence moving from the simpler to the more complex. So, first we saw how it makes sense that truth is objective, and not subjective; that is, our minds do not create the truth, they learn it, discover it, and apprehend it from the outside reality through the senses. From this perspective, we realize that God’s existence is not a belief that we may accept because someone revealed it to us, like the Eucharist, the Virgin Birth or the Holy Trinity. No, God’s existence can be verified by logic and science, as we have seen in previous articles. But once we know that there is a God, then we realize that there are many religions claiming to be the true pathway to that God. Then we start taking a look at Christianity: first, the Gospels are authentic historical books, written by men who lived in the days of Jesus, and knew Him well.
Now comes the big question: the Gospels do not portray Jesus as a mere prophet, like Moses; or as the Koran presents Mohammed; or the book of Mormon presents Joseph Smith; and so on, and so forth. In fact, the Gospels present Jesus as the Son of God, sharing God’s very divine nature!
Now we must take a step back and realize that this is the most outlandish claim ever made by any man! We have already examined this issue in detail in a previous series of articles, so it will not be necessary to elaborate too much into it in this series. But it is the most important issue about Christianity: because if Jesus’ claim of divinity is true, we can give a miss to all other self-proclaimed prophets. But if it is not true, then we must reject everything about Christianity and its founder as the biggest fraud of History. To be or not to be, as the old Shakespearean adage goes…
To investigate this claim we must first of all find out if it was ever made, that is, did Jesus ever claimed to be divine? Yes, He did.
He claimed to be the Judge of all mankind, knowing the individual sins and virtues of every single human being that has ever lived and giving each of them their eternal desserts (Matt. 25:31-46) To have such knowledge and power would require a divine mind and will!
He claimed to have power over the Sabbath Day, which was dedicated to God alone (Matt. 12:8);
He claimed to have the power to improve on God’s Ten Commandments given to Moses at Mount Sinai (Matt. 5:21-22; vv. 28, 32, 34, 39, 44). He would say to the people that they had heard from the ancients (that is, Moses and his followers) this or that commandment, but I say to you, etc., and then He added a perfection, changing God’s Commandment for the better, on his own authority.
He claimed to be omnipotent, that is, of having all power in heaven and on earth (Matt: 28:18), which is definitely a divine prerogative;
The Sanhedrin condemned Him to death for blaspheming precisely because he claimed to be divine (Mk 14:61-64; Matt. 26:63-66);
The Gospel of St John is especially rich in verses of Jesus claiming his divinity. For example, He claimed to pre-exist Abraham (Jn. 8:57-58); that men would honor Him as they honor God the Father (Jn. 5:22-23); that He and the Father were one, thus making Himself equal to God in the hearing of the Jews (Jn. 10:30-33; 5:17-21; 19:7); and he who saw Him, saw the Father (Jn. 12:45);
To prove His claim of divinity, He performed many miracles. And to the Jews who did not believe Him, He challenged them to believe his works, whose reality they could not deny (Jn. 10:38) – and this is another powerful argument, because even His own enemies did not deny His power to perform miracles;
Jesus is the only founder of religion who actually claimed to possess the divine power to forgive sins (Mk. 2:5-12; Lk. 7:47-48) and who delegated the same divine power to the Apostles (Jn. 20:23)!
The problem now is this one: was His claim true or false? It is either one of the other. It cannot be both, or depending on anyone’s opinion. He cannot be divine in someone’s opinion and not be divine in someone else’s opinion, all at the same time – this would be utter nonsense! So, if the claim of divinity is false, He would be the greatest fraud in human history!
In which ways His claim could be false? In only two ways: either it was false and He knew that it was false; or it was false and He did not know that it was false; in the first case, He would be a Liar, in the second He would be a Lunatic. But if it was true, then He would be the Lord, the Messias, the Redeemer, God Incarnate!
Thus, here are the options: He was Liar, a Lunatic or the Lord!
Could He be a liar? First of all, nobody, but nobody lays down his life for a lie, for something he knows not to be true. One may die of a lie mistakenly thinking that it was true, yes, it is possible. But nobody does for something he knows to be a fraud. But Jesus remained true to His claim until the end, and a most excruciatingly painful end – crucifixion!
If He had lied about His claim, all he had got to do when the going got tough was to admit that He never meant it that way. He might have got out of the trouble with only a few lashes for his lying, but they would not have crucified Him if He had admitted that He was lying. But He did not. He maintained till the end that He was the Son of God – “thus making Himself equal to God”.
Now, if He was not lying in claiming to be divine, then He must have been out of His mind – a Lunatic….? But this suggestion is so preposterous, that anyone can see it could not be true: His composure, His intelligence, His knowledge of the Scripture, His ability to argue and confute His adversaries, everything indicates that Jesus possessed a very high I.Q. and, moreover, under Roman Law you do not crucify a lunatic. If they could have proved that he was out of His mind and just talking nonsense, they would have simply mocked him publicly and locked Him up as a lunatic – because the Romans never crucified people who were lunatics. They were simply locked up somewhere safely out of the streets.
Conclusion: since the Gospels portray accurately Jesus claim of divinity, and His laying down His life in support of that claim, and we can see that He was neither a Liar nor a Lunatic, there is only one final option: He was the Lord! Therefore, it makes immensely more sense to believe that Jesus was telling the truth when He claimed divinity, than to suppose that he was either lying or talking nonsense like a lunatic.
Next article: Yes, Jesus Christ is Divine – a response to Islam
Raymond de Souza KM is available to speak at Catholic events anywhere in the free world in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. Please email SacredHeartMedia@Outlook.com or visit http://www.RaymonddeSouza.com or phone 507-450-4196 in the United States.