What Do You Know About God’s Son?
“NO OTHER figure—spiritual, philosophical, political or intellectual—has had a greater impact on human history. Jews can take pride in the fact of his being and his ideas and his claim on history. A rediscovery of Jesus can help the Jews . . . to forgive their tormentors.” So wrote Norman Cousins, one of America’s leading scholars and journalists, in American Judaism, October, 1960. His purpose was to cause both professed Christians and Jews to let go of their reluctance to acknowledge the fact that Jesus was a Jew. This position was considered to be of such striking interest that one of New York city’s leading dailies featured it in an article entitled “Study of Jesus Urged for Jews.”—New York World-Telegram and Sun, October 15, 1960.
But Judaism is not the only religious segment in Christendom that needs to “rediscover” Jesus. Ever so many that bear his name are woefully lacking in knowledge about him. Thus when a clergyman decided to test his supposedly educated adult congregation on their Bible knowledge, he found the results disappointing, to say the least. “Nearly one-fourth . . . could not identify Calvary as the place of Jesus’ death. Over one-third did not know that Nazareth was the town where Jesus was brought up. ‘Gethsemane’ rang no bell for 43 per cent. . . . Only 58 per cent could identify the Gospels.” And it may be observed that these are but the most elemental facts regarding the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.—Toronto, Canada, Daily Star, September 24, 1960.
What do you know about God’s Son? It may be that you are among those who hold that Jesus Christ never existed, that he had no historic reality. If so, then note what Hebrew scholar Klausner states in his book Jesus of Nazareth. After noting what the Talmud and the Greek, Latin and other sources outside the Bible have to say about Jesus Christ, he summarizes all this testimony by observing that to deny Jesus’ historicity is simply to “deny all historic reality.” As the French philosopher Rousseau observed, if the Gospel writers invented their accounts of Jesus they performed an even greater miracle than those they attributed to him.
What do you know about Jesus Christ? Do you belong to the large “liberal” wing of Christendom that confesses that Jesus was a noble man, a great Teacher and, perhaps, a prophet of God, but that denies that he was the Son of God in any unique sense and that he performed miracles and rose from the dead? Such a belief leaves its adherents without any explanation for the fact that Jesus made “a greater impact upon human history” than any other man that ever lived. By refusing to exercise faith in the claims and miracles of Jesus Christ, they thus confront themselves with an even greater obstacle.
Further, according to the Gospel record, Jesus Christ claimed to be God’s Son in a unique way and to have performed miracles. If he testified falsely in these respects, then either he was a self-deceived dupe, and so not a great Teacher, or he was a charlatan and hypocrite and certainly not a good man. Nor will it suffice to claim that it was merely his followers that attributed these things to him. What kind of good man and great Teacher was he if his own disciples were stupid or dishonest chroniclers of his life? Yes, just as the facts will not permit us to deny the historic reality of Jesus, so reason and logic will not permit us to deny his claims as recorded by his followers.
What do you know about Jesus Christ, the Son of God? What does he mean to you? If you belong to the more conservative wing of Christendom, Catholic or Protestant, you may quote the “Apostles’ Creed” as epitomizing what you know: “I believe . . . in Jesus Christ [God’s] only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost; born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”
All quite true, but these are but the most elementary things. We must advance to an appreciation of his chief purpose for coming to earth and what he requires of his followers in addition to their believing on him. What was the chief purpose for which he came to earth? As he told Pilate: “For this purpose I have been born and for this purpose I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” Witnessing came first with him; providing salvation for man was secondary.—John 18:37.
What does he require of his followers? First of all, as he said in prayer to his heavenly Father: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” “There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” Knowledge of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ are imperative to salvation.—John 17:3; Acts 4:12.
Some stop here, but merely storing these facts in our minds is not enough, for “faith without works is dead.” In addition to believing we must take the steps of repentance, conversion, dedication to God to do his will, water baptism, and then every day of our lives we must live as Christians, following Jesus’ example to the best of our abilities, both as to conduct and bearing witness to the truth.—Jas. 2:26.
Even this is not all. Jesus foretold that he would go away and receive a kingdom to himself and then return. Fulfillment of Bible prophecy shows that Jesus has received that kingdom and has returned and is now ruling from heaven in the midst of his enemies. Now, therefore, instead of looking to human agencies for peace and security we must give our allegiance to Jesus Christ as God’s ruling King, with full faith that his kingdom will destroy all wickedness and bring in a righteous new world. This is the only course of practical wisdom in this space age, for it will mean both our survival during impending destruction of this wicked world and our everlasting life in God’s new world.