What’s so unique about Jesus that people in well-earning jobs throw them aside, to dedicate their entire life and all their waking time just to tell others about Him? What’s the big deal about Jesus that you get to hear about Him Christmas after Christmas? As a teenager, I once wrote a letter to a movie starlet. What did I write? “I love you and can’t live without you?” Nah. I wrote to her about a person who had made such a difference in my life – Jesus. Jesus? What’s so unique about him that I had to write to a movie actress about him? Hang on.
All roads lead to Rome?
Popular music troupe, Colonial Cousins sang a song that went on to become a big hit: Come back as Jesus, come back and save the world/We need a teacher and you are the only one/Come back as Rama and forgive us for what we have done/Come back as Allah, come back as anyone…Colonial cousins were only eloquently putting into music a popular philosophy called pluralism which you will bump into time and again. A pluralist would say, “All religions lead to the same destination; you have your religion and I’ll have mine; let’s not fight or argue over religion!” Whenever I have witnessed about Christ while traveling, 99% of my fellow passengers would bounce back at me with this stereotype response. Stumped by this response I started thinking hard and also reading on this controversial subject. You see, if Jesus wasn’t unique it did not matter who I followed. It did not count what way of life I chose. This article is the baby of my reflections on this crucial subject.
DOES THE BIBLE REALLY SAY THAT JESUS IS UNIQUE?
Absolutely! To a man who would go as the first ever missionary to a country worshipping 330 million deities (India), to Thomas, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Incredible! Thomas took Jesus at his word and came to India in A.D. 52, preaching Jesus as the only way to salvation and gave his life for this very message by dying as a martyr in Chennai.
Peter denied Jesus before a servant girl saying, “Woman, I don’t even know him!” (Lk 22:57). Months later this very same Peter, after receiving baptism of the Holy Spirit said, “Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been given or will be given us by which we can be saved, only this one!” (Acts 4:12). Think! Previously he said that he hadn’t even heard “that name”. Now, he says, he knows no other name that will save humanity but the name of Jesus!
The way of Jesus was sometimes also dubbed ‘the Way’ during the time of the early church (see Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23). That implies that all other ways are dead ends – paths that will neither lead to heaven nor will give real purpose and peace. Logically speaking, no one can really believe that”All ways lead to the same destination!” Wondering why? How will a person who makes the ‘all-religions-are-cool claim’ respond to Christ’s claim that He alone is the Way? He might then argue – “When Christ said that He was the only way, He was wrong!” But the moment he says that he no longer believes that “all” ways are equally valid when it comes to the salvation of the soul which is what he claims to actually believe! Pluralism – as you just saw – is logically inconsistent.
What Jesus tells us is very similar to what a boy told a girl in a popular song: “Don’t love me for fun girl. Let me be the ONE, girl!” He demands that we serve him and preach him as the ONLY Savior. Did not the God of the Bible say, “I, even I, am the LORD and apart from me there is no Savior!” (Isa 43:11).
Put your thinking caps as I present a few arguments for the uniqueness of Jesus, that sets him apart from the Buddas, Mahaviras, Mohammeds, Sai Babas and anybody else anyone would care to name!
1. HIS SUPERNATURAL BIRTH
The High Priest before whom Jesus stood after his arrest at Gethsemane garden shot a solemn
question to Jesus: “I demand in the name of the living God that you tell us whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God?” (Math 27:63). Here was a golden chance for Jesus to escape the crucifixion. All He had to do to escape death was to say that He was indeed born to Mary and a human father. But He stubbornly refused and broke His silence (notice that he did not answer the previous question of the High Priest) to say, “Yes, it is as you say!” (Math 27:64).
Why did Jesus say that? Simple. That was the truth – while He was born to a biological mother He had no biological father. He was living since eternity (in the pass tense) before He decided that He was going to give up His divine glory to become a baby floating in the amniotic fluids of Mary who was a virgin on Christmas. You see – it is not an easy job at all for a mother to watch her son die, right before her own eyes, to know pretty well she can save him. But Mary preferred to watch Christ die. All she had to do to prevent her Son from the savage death awaiting him was to have gone and told the executors of Jesus: “Listen! Don’t believe my Son and his ridiculous claim that he is the Son of God and all that rubbish. He was born because of an immoral relationship I had with a person I do not wish to name. I am his mom and if anybody knows how he was born, it is I! Please release him, I beg you!” But Mary did not do that. Asking why? You are right – Mary pretty well knew that she became pregnant when the Holy Spirit came upon her when she hadn’t even allowed a man to even peep into her bed (so to speak)! And what was more – a medical doctor – records for us in the Bible, the most detailed record of the conception of Jesus (Lk 1:27-37).
What is it about the virgin birth of Christ that sets him apart from the rest of pantheons of self-made gods? Simple. All other citizens of planet Earth had a beginning. But Jesus had none. He has been existing eternally – something that no other so-called ‘god’ or ‘guru’ can truthfully claim! In fact he claimed to have existed long before Abraham, someone who existed thousands of years before he did (Jn 8:58). Not only that, He claimed that famous prophet Isaiah – again a chap who lived hundreds of years before Jesus came into this planet as a baby – ‘saw Him and spoke about His glory’ (Jn 12:41)!
Not only that. While we are unsure if the many of the founders of religions even existed. But that is not the case about Jesus. The supernatural birth account of Jesus pins him to both history (he was the one who divided the time line of the planet into two – A.D and B.C) and geography (he was born in Bethlehem, a small village near Jerusalem). We have more solid proof that Jesus historically lived than for Alexander. The two earliest biographers of Alexander, Arrian and Plutarch wrote more than 400 years after his death in 323 B.C. The first three Gospels – which tell us a historical narrative of the life and times of Jesus – were written within 30 years of Christ’s death!
2. HIS STAGGERING FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECY
Jesus fulfilled no less than 110 prophecies made about Him in the Old Testament that was written hundreds of years before His birth.
The Bible predicted that Jesus would be born of a woman (Gen 3:15). That was an easy one to fulfill. He was (Gal 4:4). Again the Bible predicted that Jesus would be born of a virgin woman (from among the millions of women who would come to exist in this planet) (Isa 7:14). Again it happened (Math 1:21). The Bible further narrowed its prophecy span to say that He would be born of virgin woman in the line of the Abraham, the father of the Jewish race – to simplify the prophecy (Gen. 12:1-3/22:18). Jesus was (Math 1:1; Gal 3:16). Then the Bible incredibly further narrowed its prediction spread to say that Jesus would be born to a virgin Jewish woman from one of the twelve tribes of the Jewish race – the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10). He indeed was (Luke 3:23, 33). The Bible further foretold that the Messiah, Jesus would be born to a virgin Jewish woman from the family of David who belonged to the thousands of families of the tribe of Judah (II Sam 7: 12). Though it was asking for too much Jesus fulfilled that prophecy too (Math 1:1). And this is just to talk about his birth – leaving out the rest of his life on the earth in which he fulfilled at least 100 more prophecies.
Daniel predicted the exact date Jesus would enter Jerusalem to be crucified – die for the sins of others (Dan (Dan 9:24). Stunning!
Some have suggested that Jesus himself arranged His life so that he could fulfill prophecies made about him. Come on! Can anyone – the family, time and place of birth? Do you think Jesus whispered to the Roman soldiers who beat him black and blue, “Beat me softly guy – none of my bones must be broken as per the Old Testament prophecy which I have got to somehow fulfill” (Ex 12:46; Psa 34:20; Jn 19:36)? Ha Ha! Mathematicians have calculated that the probability of 16 predictions being fulfilled in one man is 1 in 10 to power of 45! If we stretched it to 48 predictions, the probability will swell to 1 in 10 to the power of 157! Set mathematics and the probability calculations aside. Let’s try to figure out what one is saying if he just brushed aside the fact Jesus fulfilled so many prophecies purely ‘by chance’. It would be tantamount to that Actor Shah Rukh could have batted for India, left-handed, and made a triple hundred to take India past to the near-impossible World Cup final target Australia set for India – 360 in March 2003!
By fulfilling prophecy at will Jesus was just proving that He could control the history and happenings before the time He entered the world as a human and after He did – a feat no one can even ever dream of doing!
3. HIS SPOTLESS CHARACTER –
Only a sinless person qualifies to save a sinner!
Speaking to his worst enemies – the Jewish leaders of his time – Jesus challenged, “Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin?” (Jn. 8:46)? They were dumbfounded.
Jesus had a cousin brother in John the Baptist. They were born just six months apart. I can
imagine Jesus and John playing many kids games with each other. Hide and seek? You bet! This very same John who had literally seen Jesus grow up before his eyes testified to the absolute sinlessness of Jesus by refusing to baptize Jesus at first. “You need not be joining the sinners’ string, Jesus – no never! I never seen you commit a sin that you need to repent of,” he said in-effect (Math 3:6)? Will any childhood buddy of any great figure in history ever testify that he/she was sinless? Never! But Jesus’ childhood friend did just that!
The man who was Jesus’ bosom friend could testify this of Jesus: “There is no sin in him and sin is not part of his program” (I Jn 3:5 MGE). Would any close pal of any top notch ‘guru’ testify the same about his friend?
When we contrast the sinlessness of Jesus with sensuousness of other religious biggies His character becomes dazzling white! The Quran itself records that Prophet Mohammed praying for forgiveness of sins. But the very same book declared that Jesus was sinless (Surah 19:19). Rock group, Beatles found out that the Hindu guru they were going bonkers over – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – was more interested in the bodies of one of the female singers than in spiritual stuff he was supposed to teach them! The communist ‘god’ Karl Marx died because of syphilis – a disease that he got because of his immoral life style.
Man’s universal problem is sin. The Bible teaches, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins” (Eccl 7:20). Only a sinless person qualifies to save a sinner. Isn’t that plain cool logic? Max Lucado smartly put it: “Two kids in a mud puddle cannot clean each other. They need someone clean. Someone spotless. We need someone clean too. That is why we need a savior.” Not just “a savior”. But a sinless savior. Therefore only Jesus – and no one else – qualifies to bring salvation from sins to humans who are all sinners. In fact Jesus was named so because “He will save His people from their sins?” (Math 1:21). The world neatly divides into two groups: in one group are people who have never experienced a vacuum in their heart. Only Jesus is there in this group. Only Jesus and no one else. Because Jesus never sinned he never had any vacuum in his heart! In the other group there are the Aishwarya Rais and rest of her species – the entire Homo sapiens! Indian actress Aishwarya Rai talked about it – this emptiness phenomenon. She once said, “You know as Ms. World, I was exposed to so much that after the year was over there was a suddenly a vacuum!” And every human would talk about the empty feeling he or she had without exception, not just Ashwariya, if he were honest. Jesus explained the reason why He – though being God – took human flesh. It was so that “you” – whoever you may be – “may have life and have it to the full!” (Jn 10:10). Expressed in another way what He was communicating was this: apart from having a living daily relationship with him, all mortals would languish with a vacuum in their heart – an emptiness – which is caused by sin (Lam 1:18).
4. HIS STUPEFYING MIRACLES AND WONDERS
The ONLY sinless miracle-worker!
Three funeral services Jesus attended had to be stopped midway. You may give Jesus a
nickname: “Funeral Spoiler!” Why? In all the three cases he raised the dead (Mk 5:35; Luk 7:11-15; Jn 11:43-44). Jesus’ miracles beat time and space. When He changed water to wine, His miracles were beating time, for water does ferment as wine in a natural process that takes lots of time – many months. His miracles beat space. When He spoke a word of healing from one location an official’s son was instantly healed at another location (Jn 4:43-54)! What was more, even His opponent accepted the fact that He worked irrefutable miracles (Mt 28:11-15; Mk 5:40-42; Jn 11:47-48). Even the Koran conceded that Jesus did miracles. Several miracles and medically documented healings take place even today when people are prayed for in the name of Jesus!
Why did Jesus go around working miracles? Easy. He did them so that people would believe that He was the way and came from the Father. He rapped the unbelieving Jews saying, “The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for Me but you do not believe” (Jn 10:25, 26). When the apostles preached Jesus, they kept re-hammering the same point: “Jesus the Nazarene, a man thoroughly accredited by God to you – the miracles and signs God did through Him are common knowledge” (Acts 2:22).
Miracles, a person does, would count for nothing if it is not backed by a pure life that is lived in obedience to God’s will – Jesus himself taught this truth (Math 7:21-23). In other words, miracles don’t mean a thing, unless the person who does it is immaculate. True, there are many claims from modern gurus that they perform miracles. Though many of their claims have been shown to be duplicitous – one cannot deny some miracles may be genuine. But even those genuine miracles don’t substantiate any claim to divinity. Why would I say that? Only Jesus has got the one-of-a-kind combination of a pure life and powerful life, a never-been-seen joining of an innocent life and incredible life! You can be sure of this – Jesus is the ONLY sinless miracle-worker, there is or there will be!
5. HIS SUBSTITUTIONARY DEATH
By definition God is eternal. So God cannot die actually! But God can die – if He chooses to. Jesus chose to die. “No man can take away my life from me. I lay down my life voluntarily. For I have the right to lay it down when I want to and also the power to take it up again” (John 10:18). And that is what exactly happened at Calvary’s cross: Jesus willingly gave up His life. The nails did not hold Him on the cross but it was love, as someone said. No one died the way the way Jesus did: others would die and then bow down their head. But Jesus bowed His head and then died – He could pick and choose the exact moment He would give up his spirit without resorting to a suicide (Jn 19:30)!
Jesus said that He was dying as a “ransom” for the sins of the world – a purpose for which no one has died or will die (Math 20:28). He explicitly said that the blood He would shed would bring “forgiveness of sins” – again a unique reason to die (Math 26:28). The rest of humanity – when it dies – does so for their sins. The wages of sin is death, we are told in the Scriptures (Rom 3:23). Put in another way, we all die because we are all sinners. But Christ wasn’t. He need not have died at all. But nevertheless He did – as a substitute for sin (Isa 53:5). A one-of-kind death! Because He was one hundred percent human – He could die as a valid substitute for the human race. And because He was one hundred percent God as well He could die for all people of all time. God is beyond time, you see! “A just-God Jesus could make us, but not understand us.”A just-man Jesus could love us, but never save us. But God cum equally man Jesus could understand, love and save us, if only we surrender our lives to Him alone!” – this is how someone put this whole thing irrefutably!
6. HIS SURE-FIRE RESURRECTION!
The Greatest F-E-A-T in the world!
Jesus’ resurrection is the greatest proof that He is unique (I Cor 15:14, 17, 20/Rom 1:14). Jesus proved beyond a whiff of doubt that He stands alone in history as God – thanks to His resurrection. In fact, the resurrection was a necessary event in Jesus’ life. Do you know why?
Having died at by own will, He chose the time to become alive as well – a feat that proves that He is God and there is none else. All other so-called Gods are all dead and gone. But not Jesus.
“Not so fast,” some say. “Can you prove the resurrection of Jesus?” Here follows a brilliant chain of arguments for the resurrection of Jesus developed by Hank Hannegraaf. This chain of evidence is based on the acronym FEAT – isn’t the Jesus’ Resurrection, the greatest feat in the world? F stands for Fact. Yes, the resurrection of Jesus isn’t a story but a certainty! A smart American student named Josh vowed to disprove the resurrection of Jesus. He piled up 700-hours of library research on the subject. And after that research he concluded that Jesus was actually alive. And today McDowell – well that is second name! – travels around the world speaking to sharp students in the campuses of the world about the change in one’s life a resurrected Jesus can bring about! Yup – the resurrection is a solid fact! The next letter in the acronym FEAT is “E”. It stands for the Empty Tomb. All the Jewish leaders had to do to convincingly prove to the world that Jesus never rose from the dead was to showcase his dead body. But they couldn’t. The next letter in this chain of proofs for the resurrection is “A” – the Appearances of Jesus. On one occasion Jesus appeared to 500 people and repeatedly to His disciples. Some suggest that the disciples were hallucinating. You’ve got to be kidding. You can never hallucinate about an event you never expected to happen – you hallucinate about an event you long for to happen. The disciples were done with Jesus. They did not expect Him to rise from the dead at all (Luke 21:24). That is why some of them got back to their old way of life – fishing. But then, since they really saw Jesus! The final word of the acronym FEAT is “T” which stands for the Transformed lives of the disciples. From cowardly no-hopers to courageous non-stop witnesses they became! The message they kept pounding was that “Jesus is Alive! We are witnesses of this fact!” wherever they went. In fact, in the book of Acts alone, I counted 14 times when it is specifically recorded that the disciples were witnesses in particular of the “resurrection” of Jesus (Acts 2:24; 3:15 are just samples – you can find the rest of the references!). Eleven of the disciples of Jesus died a martyr’s death: they died for their message that Jesus was alive! “Can 11 people die for a lie knowing it is a lie?” asks Josh McDowell. Impossible we all agree!
The Sportstar’s tribute to the Legendary Batsmen Don Bradman went this way: “In an era when 50-plus is still the true yard stick of greatness for batsmen, Bradmen’s average of 99.94 must give us an idea of where the Don stands – alone and apart from every other cricketer!” Jesus stands “alone and apart” from every human on earth in every sense of the word!
Yes – just anyone can take the place of Jesus. That is right – just anyone. All that he/she has to do is this: die and be raise from the dead after three days! It is that simple! Jokes apart – the resurrection sets Jesus alone and apart from the rest of the gods-gang!
7. HIS STUNNING CLAIMS
No one in all of history has claimed to be and do the things Jesus did. What’s more – the points mentioned above qualify Jesus to make these stunning claims!
Judge of all – Mandelas to Manishas
Jesus demanded that all must follow Him (Math 4:18-22). While other leaders pointed to a way (Budda – Ahimsa or Non-Violence; Rajneesh – Sexual Freedom) Jesus claimed to be the way Himself (Jn 14:6). There is a big difference you see! While most others taught that salvations is earned by good behavior Jesus taught that salvation is earned by repentance and belief on Him and what He has already done on the Cross (Jn 3:14,15,16). He categorically taught that salvation – eternal life – can never be earned by following a set of rules – which is in direct contradiction to what other religious big heads have taught (Math 19:26). Jesus claimed that if anyone did not confess Him before other – that is, own up an allegiance to Him and Him alone – this meant that they could not be accepted by God (Math 10:32-33). Jesus made a claim that would make one drop his jaw in amazement – He said that he would judge every human being (that would mean that all from the Mandelas to the Manishas would have to give account to him) (Jn 5:27; Math 25:31-33). He presented a seemingly outrageous proposition to each member of the human race: to either come to Him in repentance and faith and accept him as Savior or face Him as a Judge. Jesus forgave sins – not just the sins people committed against Him in person, but also, every sin, every person may have committed against anyone – clearly something which God alone could do (Mk 2:5)! The Jewish onlookers without a whiff of doubt understood that Jesus was making him “equal to God” (Jn 5:18). Perhaps the most stunning claim ever made by Jesus was this: “For unless you believe that I am who I am, you will die in your sins” (Jn 8:24). In the very same chapter, in verse 54, Jesus claimed to be God (The word “I am” was the name for God in the Old Testament – Ex 3:14). The ultimate Bible meaning for the word “death” is to experience eternal conscious punishment in a lake of fire called Hell (Rev 21:7, 8). So what Jesus was saying in John 8:24 is quite shocking: if anyone did not believe that He was God – the unique God – they would land up in eternal hell to be tormented forever! Not only John records this. Even the other three Gospel writers record that Jesus made the astounding claim that believing in Him and not believing in Him would make the difference between eternal life in heaven and eternal languishing in hell (Mk 8:28; Lk 12:8-12; Mt 12:41; 25:46). Only Jesus has made such astounding assertions – no one else. And given us evidence to take those claims seriously. Budda never claimed to be God – did you know? Yes – some modern godmen have made some crazy claims but they haven’t given us enough proofs to take their claims seriously like Christ!
Jesus did not mince with word when he stated, “I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them” (Jn 10:7, 8). In effect here Jesus calls all the leaders of other so-called faiths as “thieves and robbers”! Clear, strong words!
Lunatic, Liar or Lord!
Every human being has to answer this question which the Roman Governor of Jerusalem asked the frenzied crowd which was rooting for Jesus’ death: “What do I do with Jesus…?” (Mt 27:22). You know what – that is a question every person who has set foot in this planet must answer: “What do I do with Jesus?” Jesus made it clear that He can be accepted or rejected but none can remain neutral towards Him (Jn 12:30).
As C.S. Lewis categorized it captivatingly you’ve got call Jesus by one of these three titles: Liar, Lunatic or The Only Lord! No one would have any qualms about calling Jesus a “good teacher of morals” but He has not given us that options. That as a matter of fact would amount to calling him a liar!
Gardener, Ghost or God!
Mary Magdalene saw Jesus and mistakenly thought of Him as a gardener (Jn 20:15). For many today, Jesus is just like a gardener. Just like there are many gardeners in the world, Jesus is yet another good guru – one more addition in a pantheon of gods! The disciples wrongly identified Jesus for a ghost once (Mt 14:27). For many even today Jesus is a ghost. They are scared to come to close to Him. They by their life attitude (if not by their actual words) tell Him, “Jesus do not come too close to me. You will not like the things I think about, the things I enjoy seeing and the things I secretly do!” But Thomas worshipped Jesus as God (Jn 20:28). When we go about witnessing the uniqueness of Jesus – during the Christmas time or any other time – we sure must present the uniqueness of Christ. “If you try and fail you may be disappointed. But if you don’t try at all you will be doomed!” someone said. That is particularly true when it comes to the matter of witnessing about Christ’s uniqueness. Without believing in the unique Christ people are “without hope” – doomed (Eph 2:12). But we must not leave it at that. We must graciously call for a response from the people we’ve talked to Christ about: either He is a gardener, ghost or God who alone will save them from their sins!
Mohammed Ali in a live TV program after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on America
said that the firemen, police and the rescue workers are the true heroes of New York. I agree with him so would any follower of Christ. Mohammed Ali went on: “A river, lake and stream are different words, but they all contain water; Christianity, Islam and Judaism are different words but they all contain truth!” I don’t agree with him. Neither would you if you have read this article with an open mind!
What do I do now?
What should you do right now if it was true that Jesus is really unique (as this article has powerfully pointed out). Two things. First you need to LEAVE. That is you need to leave your life of sin. Jesus preached, “Unless you repent, you too will perish (in everlasting hell)!” Second you need to BELIEVE. You need believe that Jesus, God in Human Flesh, died instead of you on the Cross, as the Bible says He did. “Yet to all those who received Him, to those who believed in His name He gave them the right to become the children of God,” we read in the Bible. When you do that – believe in Jesus with all your heart and confess your sins to Him – the sinless spotless blood of Jesus will forgive you of every sin and give you a peace which the world cannot give you ever!
Why not then pray this prayer right away: “Dear Lord Jesus. I am sorry for my sins. Please forgive me. I am LEAVING my terrible sins and BELIEVING in your as my Savior. Wash me with you blood and make me a new person completely. I will serve you with all my heart hereafter. So be it!”
Do not forget the following things: Get yourself a copy of the Bible and read it daily. Talk to the Lord Jesus daily in prayer. Join a fellowship where the Bible is taught. Share with as many people as possible with your life and lip about the Lord Jesus.
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