Friday, March 12, 2010

What did Jesus say about himself?

by Pastor Eric Waters, UALC

"Pretty much every year, just in time for Easter, magazines and cable shows appear claiming that Jesus is not the person we think he is. Invariably, these shows and articles smugly conclude that the Church has gotten it wrong when it comes to Jesus. They’ll say, “Jesus was a great teacher, but the Church corrupted his teaching.” Well, let’s take a look at what Jesus taught.

First, Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man. It was Jesus’ favorite way of referring to himself. The title comes from a prophecy in the Book of Daniel: “I saw one like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven… He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations, and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion…” (Daniel 7:13-14). Who can rightly claim dominion and authority over all people; who can rule a kingdom that lasts forever; who can receive the worship of all people, except for God alone?

Second, Jesus claimed to judge the world. He warns, “When the Son of Man comes… All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:31-32). Jesus further claims that the basis for separation will be how people respond to him: “Whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9). Who has authority to judge the hearts of people and demand their ultimate allegiance, except God alone?

Third, Jesus claimed to forgive sins. Early in his ministry (Mark 2:1-12), four men carried their paralyzed friend to Jesus on a mat. Jesus said to him, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” People in the crowd were stunned, saying, “He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” They’re absolutely right – who can forgive sins, but God alone? Yet to prove that he was who he claimed to be, Jesus healed the paralyzed man so that the man “got up, took his mat, and walked out in full view of them all.”

Fourth, claimed authority to edit the Word of God. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus taught, “You have heard it said… But I say to you…” Each time, what “they heard said” was God’s Word. Similarly, in his teaching on divorce (Matthew 19:1-9), Jesus claimed to understand what God was thinking when he wrote his Word, and authority to overrule what Moses had allowed. Finally, when Jesus “declared all foods ‘clean’” (Mark 7:1-23), he did nothing less than set aside the entire Kosher system God had set up! Who has authority to edit what God has said, except God alone?

So has the Church gotten it wrong when it comes to Jesus? Look at what Jesus taught, look at what Jesus said about himself, and see for yourself that Jesus claimed to be no one less than God."

— Pastor Eric Waters
The Cornerstone, March 14-20, 2010
Upper Arlington Lutheran Church

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