devos from the hill


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Liar, Lunatic, Lord – “Who Do You Say that I Am?”

Why Jesus left us no other choice.
Lesson 50 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

He began asking His disciples, saying, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

– Matthew 16:13–17

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

The people of Jesus’ day had varied opinions about who He was. Not much has changed in our day. If you asked a number of people on the street who Jesus is, you’d probably get a number of different answers. Some might say, as Peter did in the verse above, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. But others would likely identify Him merely as a great teacher or a prophet, or perhaps a man who performed miracles.

The question Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” is the most important question a person will ever answer. Having considered the ministry and the claims of Jesus over the past several lessons, the time has come for us to deal with this question.

Some may argue otherwise, but Jesus did not leave us the option to say that He is merely a great teacher, or a prophet, or a man who performed miracles. The reason we do not have this option is summed up in an argument that was first made by C.S. Lewis,1 and later by Josh McDowell.2 This argument insists there are only three possible answers to the question “Who was Jesus?”

Jesus claimed to be God. Some deny that He really made this claim, but that is in fact the reason the religious leaders wanted Him dead. Jesus was clear about His claim and that claim leads to only one of three possibilities:

  1. Jesus sincerely believed that He was the Son of God, but He was Himself deceived, so much so that He was willing to die because of it. This would put Jesus in the category of a lunatic.
  2. Jesus knew that He was not the Son of God, but He was willing to lie about it. This would not only make Him a liar, it would make Him a very evil man because He was intentionally misleading people, many of whom would suffer and die because they believed Him.
  3. Jesus was who He claimed to be: the Son of the Living God.

 

Jesus left us no other options. We cannot call Him just a good man, because a good man would not mislead people by saying that He was something He was not. We cannot call Him just a good teacher, because a good teacher would not teach something that was untrue. And if Jesus was deceiving people, either intentionally, or because He was Himself deceived, then we cannot conclude that His power to perform miracles was from God. It would be more reasonable to assume that the power had come from Satan.

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The Greatest Miracle of All

Forgiveness of sin – the miracle of all miracles.
Lesson 49 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” But there were some of the scribes sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Arise, and take up your pallet and walk?’ But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins–He said to the paralytic–“I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.”

– Mark 2:5–11

But of all the things that Jesus did, the thing that seemed to anger them the most was when He told people their sins were forgiven. For only God has the authority to forgive sin.

By claiming to do what only God could do, Jesus was in fact claiming to be God, an act that, according to Hebrew law, was punishable by death.

– The HOPE, Chapter 9

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

When it comes to the subject of miracles, the documentation of the miracles of Jesus is in a class by itself. There are, however, others in history who have (or have been said to have) performed miracles. This not only includes other characters in the Bible, but also the founders of other religions.

But there is one miracle that no other person in the Bible and no other founder of a major world religion can claim: the forgiveness of sin. Jesus actually told people their sins were forgiven (Matthew 9:2,Mark 2:5, Luke 5:20, Luke 7:47). The basis for the forgiveness that He offered is what Jesus would ultimately accomplish by His death and miraculous resurrection.

Most of the Hebrew religious leaders were infuriated that Jesus would say “Your sins are forgiven” for only God can forgive sin. By claiming that He had the authority to forgive sin, Jesus was in fact claiming to be God. He knew it – and so did they. And because these religious leaders didn’t believe that Jesus was God, they considered His words as blasphemy: speaking evil of or against God, or making the claim to be God.1Blasphemy was an offense punishable by death in the Old Testament (Leviticus 24:16).  Continue reading


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Jesus as a Child – Fully Human and Fully God

The Father was pleased because of “Whose” He was.
Lesson 43 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

And the Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

– Luke 2:40

And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

– Luke 2:47

And immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well–pleased.”

– Mark 1:10–11

As a boy, Jesus grew in strength and wisdom. Even the Hebrew teachers were amazed at His understanding of the things of God. And when Jesus spoke of God, He called Him Father! The grace of God was upon Jesus, and He had favor with those who knew Him.

– The HOPE, Chapter 8

And when Jesus came up from the water, the Spirit of God descended upon Him. And a voice came from Heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

– The HOPE, Chapter 8

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

Not much is known about Jesus as a boy or as a young man. Thirty years passed from the time of His birth to the beginning of His public ministry, and the Bible says little about those years. As the Son of God, He was unlike other people. As the Son of Mary, He was not unlike every person that ever lived. So what was it like to grow up as God in human form? We are left with many questions.

What was it like to be the Creator of the universe, and yet depend upon the creation the same as every other child nursed as an infant? What were His first words? Was there ever a time when the children were choosing sides to play a game, and He was left out? How did He feel? When He hit those awkward years of pimples and puberty, did He feel awkward? Was there ever a young girl who thought Jesus was cute? How did He handle that? Was there ever a bully who tried to intimidate Him? How did He handle that?

Somehow, it would be easier for us to dismiss those years, to skip over them, but Jesus didn’t skip them. He experienced them, and He experienced them fully. From the verses above, there are some specific things we can know about the Son of God as He grew up and became a man.

We know that even as a boy, Jesus had a thirst for the things of His heavenly Father. The passage above from Luke 2:47 took place in the temple. Joseph and Mary had taken Jesus to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, an event that foreshadowed the sacrifice Jesus would ultimately make to conquer sin and death. Somehow Jesus had become separated from His parents. After three days His parents finally found Him in the temple dialoging with the religious leaders of the day. The Bible says that people were “amazed at His understanding and His answers.” And when His mother scolded Him for causing His parents to worry, Jesus answered, “Did you not know that I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

About 18 years passed in obscurity from the incident in the temple to the baptism of Jesus cited in Mark 1:10 above. We’ll spend more time dealing with Jesus’ baptism in the next lesson, but for now pay special attention to the words of His heavenly Father as Jesus came out of the water, “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well–pleased.” Continue reading