The Claims of Christ: What Makes Jesus Unique?
You can watch Sunday’s sermon right here.
This week Pastor Dan continued our discussion of the basics of Christianity by addressing the uniqueness of Jesus.
We talked a bit about the reliability of the Gospels, and I want to go a bit deeper with that today. How do we know that what we have about the life of Jesus is true?
It is important to remember that the Gospels were written during a very different time period than ours. When we read a newspaper article today, we expect exact numbers and quotes and fact-checking (although even that seems to be disappearing in some of our “news” today!). In the Ancient Near East, the mindset was different, and it’s not our job to force our modern-day practices on the past. In his book, “Jesus and the Gospels” Craig Blomberg makes the following points:
- Memorization was a highly-cultivated tool for Jews during the 1st century. Memorizing was a practice, something people were excellent at during the time of Jesus. It was a skill that allowed people to commit the entire Old Testament to memory! So to acknowledge that many had memorized much of Jesus’ teaching, which was often conveyed through story, makes a lot of sense.
- The presence of eyewitnesses to the words and acts of Jesus would have worked as a fact checker to the oral tradition of Jesus’ stories. (Keep in mind that many of these eyewitnesses were not believers in Jesus, so if people were saying untrue things, they would have put a stop to it.)
- Much was handed down through oral tradition (word-of-mouth memorization), but many people also took private notes.
There are other reasons to trust the Gospels as well. We have just under 6,000 manuscripts of the Greek New Testament that usually date about 100 years after they were first written. Now let’s compare that to other ancient sources. Plato wrote around 400 B.C. The earliest manuscripts we have of his comes from 900 A.D. and there are 7 copies. Aristotle wrote in the 300s B.C. We have 49 copies of his manuscripts and the earliest one comes from 1100 A.D.
We don’t often question the reliability of these classical authors, although we have barely any manuscripts and there are about 1000 years in between their writing and their earliest copies. We have much more evidence for the New Testament Gospels and can have a great confidence in their reliability.
I also want to quickly remind us of the three claims of Jesus that Pastor Dan mentioned in his sermon.
- Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament. All throughout the Old Testament, we see promises of Someone who is going to save the world from the sin that has plagued us since Adam and Eve. These promises get more and more specific throughout the Bible, and finally, Jesus arrives on the scene and says that He is the One!
- Jesus claimed to be the unique Son of God. Through Jesus, God was made visible and accessible.
- Jesus claimed to be the Saviour and Judge of all people. He was the one who could forgive sins, and He is the one who will be at the judgment seat — our eternal destiny is in His hands.
So, then, to be a Christian is to believe the claims of Jesus and confess Him as Lord. And this confessions changes our lives and our actions.
Some questions for you to consider this week as we ponder the claims of Jesus and how they changes our lives:
- What did you grow up believing about Jesus Christ? Has anything changed?
- Which claim of Jesus from the sermon stands out to you the most? Why?
- What is your story about how you came to know and believe Jesus?
- How has the way you live your life changed because of Jesus?