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What's So Different About Jesus?
By Mark Moring
People have doubted Jesus for a long, long time, ever since he walked the sands and hills of Palestine 2,000 years ago.
People who met him then didn't know what to make of him. Some believed he was God in the flesh. Others thought he was the devil himself.
Now, 2,000 years later, people still don't know what to make of Jesus. Is he really who he said he was, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of the World? Or was he just a smooth-talking philosopher, a great teacher with a radical view? Or was he simply insane, a man whose revolutionary ideas were merely demented delusions?
What do we make of this guy Jesus?
Yes, Jesus was a great teacher. But he was much more. He claimed to be the Son of God, to have the power to forgive sins, heal diseases and raise people—including himself—from the dead.
Anyone who makes such claims can only be one of three things: A liar, a kook, or truly the Son of God.
Jesus walked out of the tomb. Only God could pull off something like that.
Instead, Jesus appeared to more than 500 people after his resurrection
Why were they so bold, even in the face of death? Because they knew that what they said was true: Jesus had come back to life.
But here's another reason to believe the miracles actually occurred: Thousands and thousands of people followed him around—and it wasn't just to hear his sermons. Jesus also said a lot of controversial things, like this: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and his sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). And this: "If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away" (Matthew 5:29). Certainly, not everyone was following Jesus around just to get the warm fuzzies inside.
No, many followed him for another reason: They wanted to be healed. "Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them" (Matthew 15:30).
But Jesus had power over much more than diseases and illness. He had control over the laws of nature, too. Once, when Jesus and his disciples were in a boat, a huge storm came out of nowhere. Waves swept over the boat. His disciples cried, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" Jesus, who was actually sleeping during the commotion, got up and told the storm to go away. Immediately, the waters became completely calm.
"What kind of man is this?" the disciples asked. "Even the winds and the waves obey him!"
Obviously, no ordinary man. Only God himself could have such power.
So, a Christian can't say to such a person, "You're right. There are lots of ways to get to God." To say this would be to say Jesus is a liar, and not God.
And the life span of Jesus? From before the beginning of time till long after the end of it. He's timeless, infinite, eternal (John 1:1-2; Revelation 21:6).
Yes, Jesus walked on this planet for 30-plus years. He has a date of birth and a date of death. He was fully human, while at the same time being fully God. But, unlike Buddha and Muhammad and the founders of the world's other religions, Jesus also has a date of resurrection. Jesus came back to life, and we celebrate it every Easter.
Buddha and Muhammad were mere men, and they died. Jesus is the Son of God, and he still lives.
I don't need Jesus. I'm good enough. The Christian's response is this: "Yes, you're a good person. You might even be a better person than me. But how good is good enough, when it comes to God's standards? God demands perfection, because he is perfect. No human being is that good."
Technically, none of us should have any chance of getting into heaven, because none of us are good enough: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
We all fall short, and we all pay the price: "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Fortunately, the verse doesn't end there; it goes on to say, "But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Because of Jesus, we don't have to pay the "wages" of our sin. Jesus paid that price for us when he was nailed to the cross. The penalty for our sin died when Jesus died. And when he came back to life, he left the power of sin behind, buried in the tomb. All we've got to do is believe it: "For whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
So, what's so different about Jesus?
Christians believe Christ has been raised. Because of that, we also believe he is God, very much alive and well today, and sitting on his throne in heaven (Hebrews 8:1; Revelation 3:21).
And he is God.
That's what's so different about Jesus.
Copyright © 1997 by the author or Christianity Today International/Campus Life magazine.