“I came from God”

It boggles my mind how many people see Jesus as merely a historical, religious figure who taught people not to judge and to love thy neighbour. To be sure, Jesus is a historical, religious figure, and he did teach about judging others and loving others. But if that is all you think of when you think of Jesus, you are missing gigantic chunks of the rest of the picture!

I’m guessing that most people think this way about Jesus because that is the common perception of him. And since that is the most common view, we feel like we understand enough to have an opinion without really looking into it for ourselves. I would like to challenge you to take a closer look at Jesus. Anyone who reads the gospels and pays close attention at all to the words and actions of Jesus will be hard pressed to find him to be just a good religious leader. Jesus said the most controversial and offensive statements the world has ever known. He made claims that no human being has the right to make – that is, of course, unless they are true. Author C.S. Lewis rightly said that when one considers the Jesus of the Bible, there are only three legitimate options you can arrive at.

Option 1 – Jesus is a liar. Because of Jesus’ remarkable statements, some conclude that he was a master manipulator out for personal gain. His wild professions of special knowledge and relationship with God the Father were simply lies, and Jesus knew it. Therefore he is discredited and we ought not to pay attention to such a mischievous person.

Option 2 – Jesus is a lunatic. This view sees Jesus not as conniving but as mistaken. Jesus said crazy stuff simply because he was crazy. He was out of his mind. Therefore, he again ought to be dismissed, and his teachings seen as those of a rambling lunatic.

Option 3 – Jesus is Lord. Here, Jesus is not considered to be lying, but in fact telling the truth. And he is not considered to be crazy, but of a sound mind. Therefore, Jesus’ outlandish claims are the truthful words of one who is qualified to say such things; in other words, he really is the Son of God.

In Lewis’ mind, no one can rightly say that Jesus was merely a good man or a moral teacher, because neither would make the kinds of claims that Jesus made. It is simply an option that should not be left open.

So, just what kinds of claims did Jesus make that are so controversial?

There are dozens that I could point to, but here is just one. In John 16, Jesus says the following to his disciples (emphasis mine):

[25] “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. [26] In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; [27] for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. [28] I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

Did you catch that? Jesus not only says that his followers believe that he came from God. He explicitly affirms it as true. Jesus is claiming that his origins are with God. He is speaking not of coming from God the way every person comes from God (since God alone gives life), but he is speaking of coming from God in a special sense. He speaks as one who has been specifically sent by God, as if he has a unique relationship with the Father that is beyond that of anyone else.

How many of us would find it odd, shocking, or even downright offensive if someone we knew made this claim? Imagine cousin Jimmy at Christmas dinner, saying “Well, the reason God sent me to you all is just about ready to be taken care of. I guess after that I’ll head back home to heaven.” Everyone would think he’s nuts!

That is, unless, cousin Jimmy could give some evidence that what he says has merit. Can he give us something to make us consider his outlandish claim to be trustworthy? What if cousin Jimmy could perform miracles, like healing the sick, walking on water, and raising people from the dead? Would we have more reason to give weight to his statements?

Jesus plainly says he came from God. Let the shock of that sink in. We cannot consider Jesus to be an ancient moral teacher, not when he says crazy stuff like that. But at the same time, how can we call him a liar or a lunatic when he backs up his claims with supernatural power? How can we squander such a notion when he comes back from the dead, as witnessed and verified by hundreds of people?

The answer is: you can’t. To do so is illogical and unwise. Too much is at stake. If Jesus really did come from God, then we ought to listen to what he has to say. We should not be so flippant about him and brush him off too quickly. Especially when he says other things like…

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Answering the question “Who is Jesus?” rightly, and therefore believing in him or not, is the difference between perishing and eternal life. I would encourage you to give that some serious thought.

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