Who is Jesus Christ really?
The Christians say that Jesus is God, within the Trinity, (… at least many do).
The Muslims say Jesus is a great prophet.
The Hindu’s and Buddhists say Jesus is a great and wise teacher.
The New Agers say Jesus is an ascended master.
The DaVinci Coders say he was a good and holy man who had some great ideas.
But who does Jesus say he is? When his disciples told him they did not know the way to God, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Pretty deep! What he’s saying, in case you didn’t get it, is that nobody can come to God except through Jesus Christ. He is the only way and there is no other.
There is a profound interaction that took place between Jesus and his disciples when they were struggling with this very question. We find it in Matthew 16, verses 13 through 17.
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
It’s interesting that the place Jesus chose to ask this question was at a center of pagan worship, one of many found throughout Israel. Canaanites, apostate Israelites and Greeks had worshipped Baal, Pan and many other gods at Caesarea Philippi for centuries. The rock walls surrounding the main cave where the worship took place were filled with niches full of offerings and sacrifices to a panoply of deities. In the context of all the religions that had been set before the easily swayed Israelites, religions that would later deny Jesus’ divinity while accepting his wisdom, Jesus asked Peter, “Whom do ye say I am?” When Peter answers, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” Jesus very clearly confirms that he indeed is the Son of God, the Christ, the promised Messiah that all the scriptures have foretold was coming as the Savior of Israel and the world. There can be no mistaking his intent or his words.
Here is my dilemma. The person who made these statements is either a liar, or he’s telling the truth. If he is a liar, the Muslims, the Hindu’s, the Buddhists, the New Agers and all those who say that he is a great prophet, a great and wise teacher, an ascended master, or anything else noble and true are wrong about who he is. He can’t be a liar and at the same time be what all the other religions say he is. If they are wrong about who he is, what else are they wrong about? And if they are wrong about other things, why should they be believed about anything? There is a famous radio talk-show host who puts forth a theory he calls the “wheel” approach to God. His idea is that all religions, including Christianity, are simply spokes in the great wheel of life and each one of them will take you to God. But if Jesus is a liar, shouldn’t he be removed from that wheel? And if the other religions are wrong about Jesus, shouldn’t they be taken off too?
Here’s the other side of the picture. What if Jesus is telling the truth? What if he is the only way to God? If he is telling the truth, that means that all the other religions are very wrong about who he is and should not be believed about anything. And if he is the only way to God, then all the followers of all the religions are condemned to an eternity separated from God. So now it becomes everybody’s dilemma: If he’s a liar, then everybody is wrong about who he is. If he’s telling the truth, then everybody is wrong about who he is, except of course, those who really believe him. So why should I trust any of those other religions when they are wrong about who one of the most important figures in history really is, whether he is a liar or not? If Jesus is a liar, then anybody who believes in him is lost – but since the other religions claim he is a great man, if you believe in them, you are still lost because a liar can’t be a great man. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
Remember the question that Jesus asked Peter? “Whom say ye that I am?” This is the heart of the matter. The answer that Peter gave Jesus determined his eternal destiny. Because Peter accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, Jesus promised Peter a place in heaven with him forever. And the same is true today for each of us. Jesus stands in the midst of all the religions of the world and asks this question, “Whom do ye say I am?” You can’t get around it, over it or under it. It is a question that each of us will have to answer, or at least consider. If he is a liar, then it is a meaningless question and we can go our way, caught up in the cares and struggles of this life, hoping that maybe we go into nirvana when we die, or perhaps will be reincarnated into a better circumstance, or just become one with everything (again). In all of that, there is one obvious problem: you can’t be sure of anything promised to you by religions that are wrong about who Jesus is. Liars can’t be great teachers and religions that promote liars are false religions.
But if he is telling the truth, then Jesus is the only way we can escape death, the grave, and hell, and come to God. Only through Jesus Christ can we find life, and life abundantly. If Jesus is telling the truth about who he is, then everything he promised to those who believe in him will come to pass, and if you know your bible at all, you know that it is full of infinitely wonderful blessings from the beginning to the end – blessings that take us from a broken, hopeless, helpless life that leads only to eternal separation from the God who created us and loves us, into a relationship where, as Psalm 16:1 says, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” The bottom line in this case is that religions who say he is not who he says he is, are false religions.
It seems like the only winning proposition is to forget what everyone else says about Jesus, and take his word that he is who he says he is. Put your faith in Jesus Christ, and trust that he is telling the truth. Anything else is lose-lose.
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. John 8:58