PASTOR'S PEN: What’s so special about Jesus?

Every year we come to this season where we remember the death of a man who lived more than 2,000 years ago. There are very few we hold in such high regard as to set aside their death as a time of remembrance. What is so special about this one man’s death? Why do we remember Jesus?

Jesus’ death was one that was unfair and cruel, but it was not uncommon. We’ve all heard stories of innocent people put to death, so that isn’t strange. There are also those who have been betrayed by a friend resulting in their death, so nothing there. Innumerable others have been beaten and many were crucified on a cross. So Jesus death was not that different from people who have suffered before Him and after Him. If Jesus’ death was not strange why do we take time to memorialize it?

Like many we remember, it’s not merely the way He died but why He died. Jesus was the son of a carpenter. He most likely crafted items like His step-father. But three years before His death, around the age of 30, Jesus’ life went another direction, a direction He would claim He was born to travel. Jesus began to preach. One day He walks up to another preacher, His cousin, named John the Baptist. This man, upon seeing Jesus come to him, would proclaim; “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) From this moment on Jesus’ life would change. He would go from carpenter to preacher.

Jesus then traveled throughout Israel teaching about the kingdom of God, telling people how to prepare for it and miraculously healing many. The teaching was unlike anything they had ever heard before. It was sincere and deep, like a message straight from God Himself. The miracles He performed were undeniable. People who had been blind all their lives could see and those paralyzed since birth could now walk. It wasn’t that He healed one or two, but many. He even raised a man from the dead who had been buried in the tomb! Jesus was no normal man. Perhaps He was a prophet or an angel or a messenger sent back from the dead. Who was this man? One of His closest disciples, Peter, would respond with this answer, “You (Jesus) are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) That statement said it all. Peter was stating that Jesus wasn’t merely a man, an angel or one returned from the dead. Peter’s statement was saying that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ … Peter was saying that Jesus was God.

This is what would ultimately bring Jesus’ demise. One late night He would go to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with His apostles. One of them had left earlier and would bring soldiers from the religious rulers to take Jesus away to stand trial. It was not a court where Jesus was innocent until proven guilty. Here Jesus would be found guilty. They would make certain of that. It ended with this:

“The high priest asked Him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”

“‘I Am,’ said Jesus.”

That was the statement which led to Jesus’ death. “I Am”, two simple words. It was an affirmative statement of fact. Even more, Jesus had used the very name of God to claim that He, Jesus, was God.

Jesus claimed to be God and His disciples believed Him to be God. They would end up suffering cruel deaths themselves standing firm upon that belief. The records within the Bible and outside of it prove Jesus was a real person and His claim to be God was believable enough to cause many to follow Him.* Unlike those of previous groups, these followers of Christ were not dispersed, but would boldly proclaim to all who would listen that Jesus was God. (Acts 533-42)

Jesus’ death came about because He claimed to be God. If that is true, He could have stopped His death at any time. He, the Creator, could have annihilated His creation. But, instead, He allowed Himself to be killed by them. As Caiaphas, the high priest, stated without realizing its implications, “…it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” (John 11:50) Jesus, God Himself, died so that everyone need not perish, suffering the consequences of their sin before the judgment seat of God.

Jesus claimed to be God. He died for that claim. His apostles believed Him to be God. They died for that claim. Many since then have suffered and died for that one statement, “Jesus is God”. This is a 2,000 year old question with life-changing implications. And is one to important to pass over. Christ’s claim has forced us to answer the question, “Is Jesus God?” What do you say?**


** Read about Jesus’ life, death and what followed in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.