Jesus of Nazareth is perhaps the most debated and intriguing Person in all of history. He continues to be the subject of scholarly investigation and research. There is a magnetism about Jesus – He provokes thought and inquiry and also invokes a response from us as to His identity. Who really was Jesus of Nazareth?
This question is recorded in a twofold manner in the New Testament, where Jesus asks His disciples two direct questions, Who do people say that I am? (Mk. 8:27), and Who do you say that I am? (Mk. 8:29). In another occasion, Jesus asked the religious leaders of His day, What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he? (Mt. 22:42). These questions are profound, and the responses to these questions must therefore be of utmost importance. Many claim Jesus was just a good man, a prophet, a rabbi, an enlightened teacher, and so forth. Jesus was much more than this. He made unique claims about Himself that no other religious figure ever made.
The Unique Claims of Jesus of Nazareth
- He claimed that He was the only way to God (John 14:6).
- He claimed the right to forgive people’s sins (Mk. 2:5-12).
- He claimed He would come to judge the whole world and sit in judgment of all people (Mt. 25:31-46).
- He claimed to be God’s Son and even to be one with God Himself (John 5:18; 10:30).
- He claimed to be the One that could grant eternal life (John 10:27-28).
Of course anyone can make these claims; talk is cheap after all. But why did the early Christians come to believe these points were true of Jesus? The answer according to the New Testament lies in the resurrection of Jesus.
The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth
The resurrection of Jesus lies on five historical facts held by the vast majority of New Testament scholars and historians today which are the following:
- The death of Jesus on a Roman cross
- The burial of Jesus
- The discovery of the empty tomb
- The post-mortem appearances of Jesus
- The origin of the Christian faith.
The Christian movement began because of the resurrection of Jesus. No resurrection, no Christian movement. It’s that simple
The resurrection of Jesus was the vindication of all His unique claims. While all other religious founders lived and died, they all remained dead. By contrast, Jesus is risen from the dead and offers salvation to lost sinners who will trust in Him as Lord and Saviour (Rom. 10:9-13).
Who is Jesus of Nazareth?
After Jesus asked this question of His disciples, Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mt. 16:16). Jesus was unique in His conception, life, ministry, death, and most of all, His glorious resurrection. What will Jesus ultimately be to you? Your Saviour or your Judge?