Sermon by Rev. Trevor Johnston
Series: The God I Wish You Knew, Week 6 – “Is Jesus”
- Deepak Chopra believes that Jesus is a great moral teacher and spiritual guide, but Chopra does not believe Christians are correct in saying that Jesus is God. Why do some people prefer to believe Jesus was just a good person with great moral teachings, rather than believing Jesus is God? What makes that idea attractive?
- Read John 14:5-11:
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.
In this passage, what does Jesus claim about himself?
- If someone says the sort of things Jesus said about Himself, C.S. Lewis points out that there are really only three logical options. Either Jesus was lying, or Jesus was mentally ill, or Jesus really was God as He claimed. Name some reasons why it is unlikely that Jesus was lying.
- What evidence speaks against Jesus being mentally ill?
- Pastor Trevor said that one reason he believes Jesus is God is because the writers of the New Testament acknowledged Jesus as God. This is especially significant, because they were mostly devout Jews and the core of their Jewish faith was the belief that there is only one God. To call a person God would have been considered one of the worst sins a Jewish person could commit. This was why the Apostle Paul had originally been vehemently opposed to Christianity. Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 (below) to see what changed Paul’s mind about Jesus.
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me….
What caused Paul to change his mind and begin to believe that Jesus is God?
- In this passage (1 Corinthians 15), what does Paul say was the most important topic he spoke about as he traveled around as a missionary preacher? Why was this topic so important?
- Muslims, Jews, and Jehovah’s Witnesses accuse Christians of believing in three Gods, rather than being true monotheists. How can Christians assert that we believe in one God, if we say that God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all three God?
- All four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) give eyewitness testimonies that Jesus rose from the dead. The Gospels are considered, even by non-Christians, to be quite reliable as historical documents. Yet some people dismiss them, saying that their descriptions of Jesus are probably full of legends that gradually developed about Jesus. One of the strongest arguments against this is that the Gospels were written within about 30 years of when the events took place, which is not considered to be enough time for legends to develop. The reason we know that they were written within 30 years of Jesus’ resurrection is because the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem took place in 70AD, about 35-40 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. This event is never mentioned in the New Testament, which indicates that it hadn’t yet happened when they were writing.
To put that in perspective for us today, 30 years is less time than the time since Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed (April 1968 – 47 years ago). Imagine if people who admired Martin Luther King began now to tell legendary accounts of his life saying that he did miracles, and that he rose from the dead, or that he was actually God. If people were to do that, what would be likely to happen? How does this support the validity of the resurrection accounts?
- Another strong piece of evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is the change in the disciples and the amazing spread of Christianity. Describe the character of the disciples during and right after Jesus was arrested and crucified.
- How did the disciples change after the resurrection of Jesus?
- Each of the 11 disciples spent the rest of their lives telling people that Jesus rose from the dead, and each one was killed or imprisoned for their belief that Jesus is God. Within a couple months of Jesus’ death and resurrection, over 8,000 people had become Christians (3,000 in Acts 2 and 5,000 in Acts 3). Today there are over 2 billion Christians – about one third of the world’s population. If Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead, what other explanation could you suggest for this?
- Below are some alternative explanations people have given for Jesus’ empty tomb. Talk about the problems you see with each one:
- Some say that Jesus’s tomb was empty because someone stole Jesus’ body. What are the problems with this explanation?
- Some say that the disciples hallucinated when they saw Jesus alive after His death. What are the problems with this explanation?
- Some say that Jesus only pretended to be dead or was in a coma. What are the problems with this explanation?
13. Read John 20:31: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Talk about some of the things that happen in the life of a person who believes that Jesus is God.