Jesus said he was God. And Jesus showed, through his death, burial, and resurrection, that he alone is God. Jesus is either God, or he’s not God. Jesus either told the truth, or he lied. Jesus is either alive, or he is dead. It’s that simple! Do you believe Jesus is God? Do you believe that he died for your sin? Do you believe that he rose from death? Turn from sin; trust in Jesus.
When it comes to Jesus, there are two things I want to talk about today. One, Jesus said he was God; and, number two, Jesus showed he was God.
Jesus said some things that if they’re not true, are absolutely insane. And it’s true that Jesus repeatedly, emphatically, clearly, unapologetically said he was God. I’ll share four of them with you.
Number one, Jesus said he came down from heaven. Here’s where we find it in the Scriptures. John 6:38 and 42. Jesus says, “I’ve come down from—” Where? “Heaven.” That’s a big statement.
The way it works is not that we become gods and goddesses, but that God became a human being, that God humbled himself, that God came down to be among us, that we sinned against God, that we separated ourselves from God, that we rebelled against God, that we ran from God. And God, on a great rescue mission of love and affection, came into human history as Jesus Christ.
And so Jesus tells us here very clearly, “I came down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” He was on a mission to live without sin, to die for sinners, to rise for salvation.
Well, those who heard this were absolutely shocked. Good Jewish boys don’t walk around saying things like, “Oh, you think I was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth. The truth is I’ve come down from heaven.”
So, “‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?’” “Don’t we know his mom and dad? Didn’t we see him play Little League as a kid? Wasn’t he on the soccer team with our kids? How in the world could he say he came down from heaven?” “‘How does he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’”
This is Jesus saying, in one of four ways that I’m honored to share with you, that he has, in fact, declared himself to be God by coming down from heaven. Who lives in heaven? Well, God does. And for Jesus to come down from heaven is to show us that God, in fact, became a man.
What’s very, very interesting is that other religious leaders do not make this claim. Even other religions who have founders and leaders that have said, rightly or wrongly, that they have seen heaven, all they will say is that they had a vision, or a dream, or a glimpse, but none of them has ever claimed to come down from heaven. That’s one way that Jesus said he was God.
A second way that Jesus said he was God, he said he was sinless. Now just think about this statement. Jesus said he was perfect. I mean, that was on his résumé. “I can walk on water, I can raise dead people, and I’m perfect.” He said he was without sin.
No one says this. The holiest people in the history of the world are those who say, “I’m a sinner.” That’s why Billy Graham would say he’s a sinner. That’s why Mother Teresa did say she was a sinner. How many of you, if a crowd was watching, and people were present, you would stand up and say, “I am without sin. In my whole life, I’ve never said, done, or thought anything wrong.” That’s exactly what Jesus said in front of a large crowd, many of whom opposed him, and they wanted to murder him.
Here’s exactly what he said. John 8:46, “Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” Here’s what Jesus is saying. “I have no sin. Investigate my whole life. Follow me around. Listen to every word I’ve said. Witness every deed I’ve done. There is no sin whatsoever.”
I would never make this claim. Would you ever declare this openly and publicly? “I’m perfect. I have nothing to apologize for, no one to apologize to.” What Jesus is saying is that he has no sin.
The first step to really living as a Christian or first becoming a Christian is acknowledging the bad news that you and I are sinners. We’re all sinners. If we look honestly and earnestly at our life, we could never say what Jesus said. “I’m perfect. There’s no sin.”
Some of you, in hearing “sin,” will hear it in such a way that you think that you’re not really a sinner or a bad sinner, because you know some really bad sinner, and you’re not as bad as them. Your sin is pride. Your sin is self-righteousness. Your sin is religion. Your sin is looking down upon others.
Some of you are like that because you have a background in church, and you were given a lot of rules, and regulations, and religion, because someone told you, “Do this, and don’t do that,” and you’re pretty good at keeping the rules. And all of a sudden, you feel like you’re kind of saving yourself, and you’re moral, decent, better than most. And the worst sin of all is pride. It’s the sin that got Satan kicked out of heaven, and it’s the root of all sin.
And Jesus comes, and he says something amazing: that in all of human history, everyone who’s ever lived, he’s the one exception to the rule! You can literally divide humanity into two categories: all the sinners, and Jesus. That’s everyone who has ever lived, is living, or will ever live. Everyone on the side of “sinner” needs the one who’s Savior, the sinless Savior, Jesus Christ.
And let me just say this. Some will say that Jesus is a good man, but that he doesn’t always tell the truth. Let me submit to you, if Jesus doesn’t tell the truth, he’s not a good man; he’s a liar. And for him to say that he’s without sin, that he’s perfect, and he’s good, if that’s not true, that’s a damaging, detrimental, and damnable thing to say.
You and I would not look at anyone who was on the news tonight, standing before the world, saying, “I’m here to save you. I’ve come down from heaven. I have no sin. I’m better than anyone else,” and say, “Well, they’re lying, but they’re a good person.” We would say, “No, they’re deceptive. They’re a cult leader. They are very dangerous. No one should follow them.”
When it comes to Jesus, you should either love him or hate him. You should follow him or reject him, but don’t make him into someone that he did not present himself to be. And he said he’s without sin, so that’s true or false. He’s better than us. He’s perfect. We need him. We’re sinners. He’s the sinner’s Savior, or he’s the worst liar and he is the biggest con artist in the history of the world. But don’t just reduce him down to a nice man, a moral example, or a decent teacher who got it right only some of the time.
Number three, Jesus said he could also forgive sin. This is a big statement. This is an enormous statement. Jesus, while on the earth, says he forgives sin. Now, this is different than every other religion. Some of you have wrongly been told Christianity is like other religions. No, it’s not. Every religion tells us what God wants us to do. Jesus tells us what has been done. It’s not about us. It’s about him. It’s not about what we do. It’s about what he does. It’s not about us earning God’s love and forgiveness. It’s about God just choosing to love us and being willing, glad to forgive us.
Here is one example from the ministry of Jesus, where he forgave sin: Mark 2:5–7, “Jesus . . . said to the paralytic,” that’s the guy who’s paralyzed. He’s handicapped. His life is very difficult and hard. “‘Son, your—’” What? “‘Your sins are forgiven. Your sins are forgiven.’”
Now, this man had suffered a lot. Some of you have suffered a lot. Some of you might even think, “Well, I’ve done some bad things, but I’ve suffered so much. I think God and I are even. I’ve already paid my debt to God.” No. This man’s a paralytic. His life is very hard. He’s handicapped. He can’t care for himself as a normal man would. His life was very difficult, particularly in that day, lacking medical care and attention as we have it today. And even though his life had been hard and difficult, as some of your lives have been hard and difficult, he still had a sin problem, not just a suffering problem, but a sin problem.
And what Jesus doesn’t tell him is, “Here’s what you need to do. Do these things so that you can be forgiven. Or go to this holy place, so that you can be forgiven. Or try harder, or do better, or punish yourself, or suffer to pay God back.”
Here’s what he does say, simply, “Your sins are—” What? “Your sins are forgiven.” I need you to hear that! Stop beating yourself up. Stop removing joy from your life as a form of self-punishment. Stop hiding your sin, hoping that no one will see it. Tell Jesus what you’ve done. Be forgiven.
Let these words from him be words for you: “Your sins are forgiven.” It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. Jesus forgives you. It doesn’t matter if no one else knows. Jesus knows what you’ve done. You don’t need religion to tell you what to do. You don’t need to just feel guilty. You don’t need to be filled with shame, and regret, and remorse. You don’t need to continue to hide and punish yourself.
All you need to do is give your sin to Jesus and hear him say, “Your sins are—” What? “Forgiven.” God’s not angry! God is not going to punish those who turn from sin and trust in Jesus. Jesus loves! Jesus forgives, and he made it possible through his death on the cross. See, the penalty, the wage, the consequence for sin is death, and Jesus died in our place, for our sins, that we might be forgiven. If you know Jesus, all your sins are forgiven. It’s amazingly good news. If you do not know Jesus, none of your sins are forgiven. And what you don’t need to do is anything other than trust Jesus. Give him your sin. He gives you his forgiveness. That’s the essence of Christianity.
Now, in hearing this, people were shocked. Can you imagine this? Can you imagine anyone you know walking up to someone and saying, “I forgive you all your sins”? This is an astounding statement. “Now some of the scribes—” these are the religious guys, so they’re all dressed very nice. They’re judging other people. Sometimes religious people do this out loud; other times they’ll do it silently. But Jesus, God knows their hearts and their thoughts.
So, they asked this question: “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming!” What’s blaspheming? When someone says they’re God! Now, some people say, “I don’t think Jesus was God, but I think he had nice things to say.” Hey, one of the things he said is he was God! That’s not a nice thing to say if you’re not God.
In the history of the world, only a few people have said they’re God. Most of them are cult leaders. You end up wearing white, drinking Kool-Aid, and you think you’re going to church, and all of a sudden, you realize it’s not really a church! People who say they’re god are very dangerous. And in the history of the world, only a very short list of despicable cult leaders have said that.
Jesus says he’s God, and they say he’s declared himself to be what? God. He’s committing blasphemy! Now, let me say this. If Jesus isn’t God, and he says he’s God, he is guilty of blasphemy. We shouldn’t worship him in any way. We shouldn’t even respect him to any degree.
Here’s their question: “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Now, imagine, if you walked up to me, and you said, “Pastor Mark, I have sinned against God,” and I said, “That’s okay, I forgive you.” What have I just made myself? God. What has Jesus just made himself, or declared himself to be, revealed himself as? God. And the religious people saw this, and all of a sudden, there was a growing, escalating opposition to Jesus.
Then the conversation really intensified. “This guy keeps saying he’s God and he can forgive sin. He’s come down from heaven. He has no sin in his life, but he can forgive sin in our life.” And this is where the plots and the escalations increased, and this is where the murder of Jesus started to become more plotted and planned.
How many of you, at this point, you agree with me? Jesus said repeatedly, emphatically, clearly, unapologetically he’s God. Do you see it? Some of you still don’t, so I’ll give you one more. Here’s the fourth one. Jesus said he was God. You ready?
Some of you will hear this in school, or with friends, or on television, or in media. People will say, “Well, Christians say he’s God, but Jesus never said he was God.” Yes, he did, and that’s why they murdered him. When he said he was God, the government said, “That’s a threat to our political authority. We have to kill him.” The religious leaders said, “This will undo our religious system. We need to kill him.”
Be sure of this. Jesus fed people, but they didn’t kill him for that. Jesus was nice to people, but they didn’t kill him for that. Jesus healed sick people, but they didn’t kill him for that. They killed Jesus because he said he was God.
I’ll give you one clear example. John 10:30–33, Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” “Like Father, like Son. God the Father and I, we’re equal. We’re the same substance and stuff. Whatever attributes he has, those are the attributes that I have. Whatever office he holds, that’s the office that I hold. God the Father.”
So, “the Jews,” the religious leaders, they “picked up stones to stone him,” okay? Not [gestures smoking], but [gestures throwing]. They went to stone him, okay? And this is how you would treat someone who was blaspheming; they were saying they were God. The penalty was death by stoning, meaning a whole bunch of people would gather around you in a circle, so you couldn’t run and escape. They would take stones, and they would throw them at you until you died. That’s exactly what they’re going to do to Jesus.
Then the question Jesus asks is, “Why are you going to kill me?” And they say, “It is not for a good work that we’re going to stone you.” Not because you healed people, or loved people, or fed people, but for blasphemy, because you, being a—” What? “A man, make yourself God.” Some translations say, “You’re a man, but you claim to be God.”
Friends, this is the most extraordinary claim in the history of the world. No other religion has as its founder anyone who ever made this claim. In all of human history, it is Jesus alone who makes this mighty claim, and it’s very simple. It’s true or false.
And had Jesus been misunderstood, he would have simply told others so. “Oh, you thought I said I was God. I’m dyslexic. I just got a dog. I’m very sorry that that was unclear. Okay? Please put the rocks down. Misunderstanding.” He never did that. They kept trying to kill him. He never corrected their accusation that he was claiming to be God.
Some people say, “Well, well, Jesus kept saying he was God because he had ill motives.” Here’s my question. What did Jesus have to gain? At this point, he’s homeless. He’s broke. His family has, at this point, turned their back on him. His friends are beginning to doubt him. And if he’s not God, and he continues to claim to be God, he knows full well that he’s going to be murdered in a painful, brutal way.
I would have to submit to you, if you don’t think Jesus claimed to be God, why in the world would he endure so much suffering and opposition, if he was simply misunderstood or misrepresented? Buddha said he wasn’t God. Muhammad said he wasn’t God. Krishna said he wasn’t God. Abraham said he wasn’t God. Jesus said he was God, and they killed him for it. They killed him for it!
So, number one, Jesus said he was God. Number two, Jesus showed he was God, and he said that he would prove it through his resurrection from death.
Here is where we find that Jesus predicted his death and resurrection. Before he ever died, before he ever rose from death, Jesus said that he would die and rise. I’ll give you one of many, many examples. Mark 8:31, “He—” that is Jesus, “began to teach them that the Son of Man—” that’s an Old Testament title for God become a man that he applied to himself, “must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes,” the various religious leaders, “and be,” what? “Killed, and after three days rise again.”
So, here’s what Jesus kept saying. “I’m God! I’m God! I’m God! I’m God! And if you don’t believe me, you’re going to kill me! Three days later, I’ll be back! And you’ll see it for yourself.” That’s a massive claim, right? This is an unparalleled, unprecedented claim. “I’m God!” “We’re going to kill you.” “Please do. I’ll see you three days later.” That’s showing you’re God. Amen?
Jesus was arrested, and Jesus was beaten. Jesus was flogged so that the flesh was removed from his body, and he was barely recognizable. Isaiah prophesied seven hundred years prior that his form would be marred beyond human likeness, that he was crucified with the equivalent of railroad spikes through the most sensitive nerve centers on the human body, the hands and the feet. A professional executioner declared him to be dead. And to ensure that he was dead, they took a spear, they ran it underneath his rib cage. It punctured his heart sac, so that water and blood flowed from his side. Jesus died.
Friends, you need to know that Christianity is not based upon philosophical speculation, but historical fact. Jesus lived. Jesus said he was God. Jesus died. Jesus rose to show he was God. He died in a place called Golgotha. It’s the place of the skull. And then he was buried in the tomb of a rich man, who was a more secret and quiet follower of his. After Jesus died, that man’s tomb was gifted to Jesus, and he was thinking that Jesus would be in that tomb forever. It was more like a hotel stay for three days in Joseph’s tomb until Jesus walked away from the grave.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could go there and see those two places? Golgotha, the place of the skull, where Jesus died, and the potential empty tomb where Jesus’ body was laid and where he walked away from. Wouldn’t that be amazing? See, some of you think that the Bible is all philosophy and fantasy. It’s history and reality.
So, here’s what we did. We took a film crew. We went to Israel. We filmed it. And I just want to take a few minutes, and I want to show you. I want to show you where it seems most likely that Jesus was killed, crucified, and potentially where he rose from death. Do you want to see that? All right, let’s do a little show-and-tell, and I’ll share that with you.
Now, in the day that Jesus was crucified, it was the most horrendous, disrespectful way to die. And amazingly, that same ethos still permeates the location in which he was crucified. You see below me, bus transfer station, people coming and going. You can also see a mosque. To the left of the mosque, you’ll notice the rock formation—use your imagination—to my right. You could see two eyes and a nose. In the days of Jesus, this place was called Golgotha, meaning, the place of the skull. Tradition holds—and you can see from the details why this place would be presumed as the site of the execution of Jesus, in addition to a few historical details. Just on the other side of this bus transfer station is a very busy road and thoroughfare that dates all the way back to the time of Jesus. That is mentioned in the Scriptures, as well as the fact that this location is outside of the city. And so this does fit all the biblical criteria for the location of the crucifixion of the Son of God, and it would’ve occurred at the top of the hill; which, to this very day, remains appropriately enough a graveyard.
Someone famous dies. We memorialize their grave. This is true in Seattle with Bruce Lee, Jimmy Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain. When a religious leader dies, their grave is enshrined. There are four major religions based on a person, not just a system of ideas. Judaism is based upon Abraham. And today, if you visited Hebron, you would see an enormous tribute, a memorial, a worship site built over his dead, entombed body. Similarly, in Buddhism, the Buddha is buried in India, and over his tomb has been erected an enormous place of worship, where people pilgrimage to every year. Also, Islam was founded by Muhammad, who is buried in Medina. His grave is marked with an enormous location of worship. Christianity is founded by a man, Jesus Christ. What is curious, though, is that is tomb is not only not enshrined, it is not known. No one has any idea where the most famous man in the history of the world was buried. This is because he rose from death.
I wanted to see this for myself, and so we took a film crew to Jerusalem. It was an enormous city in Jesus’ day, and Jesus caused an enormous stir in that city. Yet, upon arrival, you quickly learn that no one has any idea exactly where Jesus was buried. The tourists visit what is essentially a museum. It is a place where a tomb did reside, and someone perhaps was buried, but it is empty. And so they take you there to show you what it perhaps was like when Jesus was buried. But they will tell you, the archeologists who oversee that site, that, in fact, Jesus was likely not buried there, but they have no idea. Why? Because he rose from death. His body is not there. And unlike every other major world religion, there is no evidence that our founder is dead.
Jesus said he was God, Jesus showed that he was God, and Jesus died and rose to prove everything he said was, in fact, true about him. These are the words of the Apostle Paul from 1 Corinthians 15:3–8. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received.” The message of Christianity, friends, has not changed for two thousand years. The billions who worship Jesus Christ as Lord and God today on the earth have not believed anything different than all the Christians who have preceded us for thousands of years, and that is that Jesus died and rose, and this is of first importance.
The amount of information on the earth is doubling more often than every two years; we are inundated, flooded with facts, and figures, and findings. Of all that could be known, the one thing that must be known is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died a brutal, bloody, public death. He was crucified openly and shamefully. Jesus Christ died.
Why? That’s the question. When Christians speak of the death of Jesus, we call it good news, or the gospel, which means good news. How could the brutal, barbarous, and bloody execution of the greatest man who has ever lived in the history of the world possibly be good news?
Here’s why. He “died for,” what? “Our sins”! You and I deserve death! You and I deserve condemnation! You and I deserve the wrath of God and hell! And if you don’t know Jesus, you are living in the path of the wrath of God! But if you know Jesus, he died for your sins! When Jesus went to the cross, he had no sin, and he took upon himself, willingly, lovingly, gladly, all of your sin and mine. And he suffered, and he died.
Among his final words are these: “Father, forgive them.” Not only was Jesus without sin, not only can Jesus forgive sin, Jesus died so that sinners could be forgiven. That’s why it’s good news!
Some of you ask, “What do I need to do?” Trust in Jesus! He has done everything! That’s exactly what he said from the cross: “It is finished!” And all the work of salvation was done. You and I are loved in Jesus. You and I are forgiven in Jesus. You and I are reconciled to God in Jesus.
“Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.” From the opening pages of Genesis over the course of the entire Old Testament, the Bible is continually pointing us to Jesus, that Jesus is God, that Jesus would live without sin, that Jesus would die for our sin, that Jesus would rise from death, that Jesus is God, that Jesus is Lord, that Jesus is Savior, that Jesus is friend.
“. . . that he was buried.” And again, like I showed you, we don’t know where! Do you know why? He’s not there! He’s not dead! He rose from death! He’s alive! People didn’t go there to leave candles and flowers. Instead, they went to have lunch with him, because he’s not dead! That’s the big idea of Christianity.
“That he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,” just like he said he would.
“And then he appeared—” some of you say, “How do we know this?” Well, he showed up, first “to Cephas,” or Peter. Peter was among his best friends. Peter would’ve known whether this was really Jesus or someone else.
“. . . then to the twelve,” the disciples, Jesus’ nearest and dearest friends. One of them was a man named Thomas. Thomas was a doubter. He was like some of you. You’re like, “I don’t know. I took a science class, and I think resurrection is unlikely.” We would agree. It’s highly unusual. And so Thomas said, “Well, I need to see it for myself.” So, Jesus showed up after he rose from death. “Thomas, here’s the scars in my hand and my side.” What did Thomas do? He fell down on his face. I mean, you’ve got to see it. Here’s Thomas. Thomas falls down on his face, and he worships, and he says, “Jesus, you’re my Lord and my God.” Thomas was a devout Jew, friends. You don’t just go around worshiping people as God. And after he saw his friend Jesus risen from death, Thomas fell on his face, and he said, “Jesus, you are Lord, and you are God.” And I want all of us to respond to Jesus in that way, face down, “You are Lord. You are God.”
It continues. “He then appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time.” Five hundred people. That’s quite a crowd. They all saw Jesus risen from death. They’d run up to hug him, and they would see the scars in his hand and the scars in his side, and they would weep, and he would embrace them. “Jesus, you’re alive.”
“Most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.” When Paul writes this, a lot of the eyewitnesses were still alive. Paul’s saying, “If you don’t believe me, go ask them! Yeah, a few of them are passed on, and their life has ended, but there are still hundreds of people that were there.”
“Then he appeared to James.” Who’s James? His brother! How many of you, it would be nice if your brother worshiped you as God, but you just can’t seem to get him there? “Please worship me as God.” “No.” “Why?” “Because you’re evil.” James went on to be a pastor. He wrote a book of the Bible called James.
“Then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me,” Paul says. Who’s Paul? Paul, his original name was Saul. He was very religious. He murdered Christians. And once he was convinced that Jesus rose from death, he went from hating Christians to being a Christian, from murdering Christians to pastoring Christians. There is no way to account for the life transformation in this man, apart from the resurrection of Jesus.
So in closing, let me make this very clear. Number one, Jesus said he was God! And number two, Jesus showed, through his death, burial, and resurrection, that he alone is God.
Friends, Jesus is either God, or he’s not God. Jesus either told the truth, or he lied. And Jesus is either alive, or he is dead! It’s that simple! Everything hinges, eternity hangs in the balance with what decision you will make.
Do you believe Jesus is God? Do you believe that he told the truth? Do you believe that he died for your sin? Do you believe that he rose from death? Do you believe that if you turn from sin and trust in him, you’re reconciled to God, your sins are forgiven, and upon your death you will rise in a glorified body like his, to be with him together forever in a world that is perfect, as God intended, a world that never ends?
I would beg you, I would implore you, I would invite you to Jesus Christ. Turn from sin. Trust in him. And so we’re going to explain how you can meet with someone, and pray with someone, and how we can serve you, but let’s just close our time in prayer. For those of you who want to come back to Jesus, maybe after a season of rebellion, or those of you who want to come to Jesus for the first time, you could just pray with me.
Lord Jesus, I am a sinner, and you are God. Thank you for coming to the earth. Thank you for never sinning. Thank you for dying for my sin. Thank you for rising for my salvation. Thank you for going to heaven and creating a home for me. Jesus, forgive me of sin. Make me a Christian and do whatever you want with my life. Amen.
Note: This transcript has been edited for readability.