Have you ever had someone tell you that Jesus never claimed to be God or the Son of God?
I was a part of the fledgling New Age Movement as a teenager and young adult in the 70’s and early 80’s. The New Age Movement loves to claim Jesus as its own, but it can’t have Jesus teaching the things he teaches. The New Age is all about feeling good and living for yourself. Staying married, denying yourself, or changing in any way so that you might benefit others is an abridgment on New Age freedom and enlightenment.
The New Age is sort of like the far left in politics. Its adherents simply invent their own reality and live in a dream world all the time. That way, they feel really good about themselves and even believe they’ve transformed the world, while never having actually met or touched the people they talk about helping.
Actually, I guess they’re also like many (most?) Christians, who say glowing, worshipful things about the Bible, but who don’t actually read it, do what it says, or even believe the things it teaches.
Okay, I’m off track. (And to think I did so well being brief in my last post.)
The Outrageous Claims of Jesus
Despite what I was told in the New Age Movement, Jesus most certainly did claim to be the Son of God (Matt. 26:63-64; Luk. 22:70; Jn. 3:18; 5:25; 9:35; 10:36; etc.). Yes, the apostles taught that we could all be sons of God, but it was Jesus alone who could say, "Before Abraham was, I am" (Jn. 8:58).
It’s not the words, "I am the Son of God," that make Jesus’ claims stand out. It’s everything else!
It’s not the rest of us who can say, "I saw satan falling from heaven like lightning" (Luke 10:18). We hear about it from Jesus, who has existed since before the beginning.
He’s the one for whose coming we wait, and he’s the one who will sit down on his glorious throne and judge the nations (Luke 17:24-25; Matt. 25:31-46). He’s also the one who will call the dead out of the graves (Jn. 5:25-29). Now that’s an audacious claim!
But today I want to talk about the simply implied claim I was reading about in Matthew 10.
Matthew 10 and the Implied Claim of Jesus
Picture this scenario. You’re a Jew; you are listening to a man expound the Law of Moses, the greatest of the prophets, and towards the end of his exposition, he says the following:
The HCSB capitalizes "Me" in this passage, but those who were listening to him, even though they were apostles, did not yet know that pronouns referring to him ought to be capitalized. (Actually, I don’t even agree with that; let’s honor him with our obedience, not by adjusting our grammar.) Statements like these had to take the apostles’ collective breath away!
The crowds had wondered who he was just because there was so much authority in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:28-29). This passage from Matthew 10 is only directed at his disciples, but what a statement!
I’m more important than your parents, and if you love them more than me, then you’re not worthy of me?
Jesus had better be more than just one of many sons of God if he’s going to be making statements like these!
The Foolishness of Preaching Christ
Let’s forget about New Agers. We’ve addressed some Scriptures to answer them with. People who live in a fantasy world are always easy to answer.
But what about us?
Do we know what religion we’ve joined and what religious leader we’ve chosen to follow?
We’re making some outrageous claims. Jesus rose from the dead? He created the universe? Somewhere around an octillion stars (a number so big that WordPress’ spellchecker doesn’t recognize it!) spread across 14 billion light years of space? 14 billion light years is 5.88 trillion miles … times 14 billion, or 82 sextillion miles.
Jesus, if we believe what we teach, lived a highly supernatural life, and he sent his apostles to live a highly supernatural life. In Matthew 10, he sent his disciples to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons.
Have you ever thought about those people knocking at Jesus’ door on the last day, asking to be let into the kingdom? Jesus said many would tell him that they prophesied, cast out demons, and did miracles in his name.
He’s not going to let them in because it’s not faith that matters on the last day, but what your faith accomplished: good works. So they are kept out because they didn’t obey the Father but were lawless instead (Matt. 7:21-23).
But despite the fact that they were locked out of the kingdom, the King—Jesus—doesn’t deny that they performed these supernatural feats. If we’re going to be Bible believers, then we have to acknowledge that miracles are a somewhat normal part of the Bible’s picture of the Christian life.
We’re making outrageous claims. We had better have outrageous power.
One Final Caveat and One Final Plea
Matthew 13:58 says that Jesus couldn’t do many miracles in his own country because of their unbelief.
In the history of the world, there has never been a more unbelieving culture than modern western society, primarily the US, Canada, and western Europe. Miracles are limited here.
I’ve spent a relatively significant amount of time in 3rd world countries, and I’ve had good friends raised in countries like Kenya, Nigeria, Surinam, India, and Togo. Miracles are not so uncommon there. I know atheists would believe they’re just confused or inventing the stories, but I’ve been too close to too many absolutely stunning events to disbelieve so easily. While I’ve personally witnessed only a few of those events, I’ve spoken firsthand with literally dozens of people who have recounted amazing miraculous occurrences.
In fact, one of South Africa’s national rugby players was healed of a knee injury by a faith healer from Nigeria. That was a public event, and there are videos of it on the internet.
I’m not giving a plug for the prophet who healed him. Obviously, if we believe in Jesus, some miracle workers are lawless; Jesus said so in Matt. 7:21-23. I don’t know anything about T.B. Joshua.
But we’re not in Nigeria. We’re in America, a breeding nest for venomous unbelief.
But just because America’s full of unbelief doesn’t mean we who are Jesus followers should be. Let’s give some actual thought to whom (Whom) exactly we’re following.