Jesus Christ is kind of a big deal.
I dare you to mention Him in a public school. What makes just mentioning Him controversial?
What year is it? 2012. Years after Christ. Why did people restart and make Him year 1?
“Jesus was a nice guy, but He never said He was God.” People who say this should think twice.
Those are just a few ways of pointing out how Jesus is a controversial figure who is kind of a big deal and made some pretty high claims. I’d like to introduce you to… *drumroll* Jesus!
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, relocated to Egypt for a couple of years, and then raised in Nazareth. Pretty exciting childhood. Course that’s what happens when the king decides to kill all newborns in the land. He worked as a carpenter like his foster father Joseph and stayed at his parents home until He began his ministry at about age 30. As far as I understand it, Jesus was actually born at about 3BC (BCE blah blah blah) and was crucified, died, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven at 30AD. It’s a lot more interesting if you read it in this thing called the bible.
My first set of interesting stuff to say here is that Jesus really did exist and we don’t just have to look at the Christian bible spammage to find it out. So this is a great old webpage with a nice list of a whole bunch of non-Christian secular writers who mentioned Jesus and Christians. I especially think that the account in Jewish Antiquities of Flavius Josephus, a Jewish priest and historian, is interesting:
“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.”
Well, this sounds very familiar to this guy. So there you have it. Jesus is a historical figure who did exist and look, they even talk about the resurrection and stuff!
So now I’d like to show you some of the things that Jesus said about Himself.
“I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” -John 11:25-26
“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me.” -John 6:37-38
They all asked, “Are you the Son of God?” He replied to them, “You say that I am.” -Luke 22:70
“Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” -John 8:58
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” -Matthew 28:18-20
That’s plenty. See what He’s saying here? He’s saying some crazy stuff! In the first passage He claims to have the power to make people immortal. In the second passage He says that He came down from heaven. In the third He says that He is the Son of God. In the fourth He not only claims to be older than Abraham, born hundreds of years beforehand, but also uses the same name (I AM) that God used to describe Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14. And then in the last passage that I shared with you, which takes place after the resurrection, Jesus claims to have all of the power in heaven and earth.
So what does this mean? Without getting too technical, this means that Jesus made some claims that most people who just call Him a “good guy” or a “social activist” nowadays wouldn’t be too comfortable with. We have to draw the line somewhere. Was Jesus God, as He claimed He was, or was He an insane liar? Do you accept how He taught us to love each other and refuse to believe His claim that “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink,” as he said in John 6:54-55?
Get to know Jesus. Spend some time in prayer daily, read the Gospels, go to mass, etc. This Jesus is the one,
“Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” -Philippians 2:6-11