Does Jesus stand out, like a chosen representative of God?

“Yes, after all…
  • Jesus is the famous centerpiece of human history

      Jesus is the most influential human being who has ever existed; his birth-date divides the timeline of the modern world. (His impact on culture, religions, empires, art, music, literature, architecture, human relations, charity medicine, education, holidays, etc. is unparalleled. No one even comes close.)1

      1. Jaroslav Pelikan (History professor at Yale): “Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western culture for almost twenty centuries. If it were possible, with some sort of super magnet, to pull up out of that history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of his name, how much would be left?” [Jesus through the Centuries (Yale, 1985) 1. ]
        Thomas Schultz: “No one recognized religious leader not Moses, Paul, Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius etc. has ever claimed to be God; that is, with the exception of Jesus Christ. Christ is the only religious leader who has ever claimed to be deity and the only individual ever who has convinced a great portion of the world that He is God.” [The Doctrine of the Person of Christ with an Emphasis upon the Hypostatic Union (DTS dissertation, 1962), 209.]
        William Robertson: “If one takes a historically objective approach to the question, it is found that even secular history affirms that Jesus lived on earth and that he was worshiped as God. He founded a church which has worshiped Him for 1,900 years. He changed the course of the world's history.” [Our Lord (Eerdmans, 1937), 29.]
        E.P. Sanders (Jewish NT scholar, professor at Duke): “On a spring morning in about the year 30 C.E., three men were executed by the Roman authorities in Judea. Two were ‘brigands’… the third was executed as another type of political criminal. He had not robbed, pillaged, murdered, or even stored arms. He was convicted, however, of having claimed to be ‘king of the Jews’―a political title. Those who looked on… doubtless thought that… the world would little note what happened that spring morning… it turned out, of course, that the third man, Jesus of Nazareth, would become one of the most important figures in human history.” [The Historical Figure of Jesus (Penguin Books, 1995) 1.]
        • I have not verified this, but two authors write:
        James Kennedy & Jerry Newcombe: “Despite its humble origins, the Church has made more changes on earth for the good than any other movement of force in history. To get an overview of some of the positive contributions Christianity has made through the centuries, here are a few highlights:
        • Hospitals, which essentially began during the Middle Ages.
        • Universities, which also began during the Middle Ages. In addition, most of the world's greatest universities were started by Christians for Christian purposes.
        • Literacy and education of the masses.
        • Representative government, particularly as it has been seen in the American experiment.
        • The separation of political powers.
        • Civil liberties.
        • The abolition of slavery, both in antiquity and in modern times.
        • Modern science.
        • The discovery of the New World by Columbus.
        • Benevolence and charity; the Good Samaritan ethic.
        • Higher standards of justice.
        • The elevation of the common man.
        • The high regard for human life.
        • The civilizing of many barbarian and primitive cultures.
        • The codifying and setting to writing of many of the world's languages.
        • The greater development of art and music. • The inspiration for the greatest works of art.” [What if Jesus Had Never Been Born (Thomas Nelson, 1994), 3-4.]
  • Jesus fits Messianic (King & Savior) prophecies
  • Jesus fits Jewish symbols/prefigurings
  • Jesus is a moral exemplar/light for humanity

      Jesus is a moral exemplar and moral light for humanity.1

      1. History testifies to this in several ways [Forthcoming]. For now, consider some influential sayings of Jesus:
        Luke 6:32, 35 -- If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.... But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
        John 15:12 -- “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
        John 13:34-35 -- A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
        Or in his actions (eg. in Jn 13:1-7 when he washes the feet of his disciples), or his frequently encouraging others to give to the poor. Consider also:
        Mark 10:42-45 -- Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
        Matthew 7:12 -- “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
        Luke 14:13 -- But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind
        Luke 4:18 -- he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
        Mt 25:40 -- The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
        Mt 6:3-4 -- But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
  • Jesus communicated that he was God incarnate

      Jesus was God incarnate (he certainly claimed to be divine)1 This is relevant because if Jesus accurately claimed to be God incarnate, then naturally Jesus will stand out in a way relevant to divine favor.

      So what? Couldn't it simply be that…
      • …He was lying for selfish reasons.2
      • …He was lying for non-selfish reasons.3
      • …He wasn't lying, and he wasn't insane.4
      • …He wasn't lying, but he was insane.5

      1. Among other reasons to believe Jesus thought himself divine, consider his claim to be the divine “Son of Man” (Jesus's favorite title for himself). This comes from a famous passage in Daniel:
        Daniel 7:13-14 -- In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
        Now compare this to some of Jesus's best attested sayings:
        John 5:26-27 -- For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
        Mark 13:24-27 -- At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30) So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time. But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
        Luke 21:27 -- At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
        Matthew 26:63-66 -- The high priest said to him, ‘I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.’ ‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied. ‘But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ ‘He is worthy of death,’ they answered.

        Note also how Jesus saw the Son of Man as having existing prior to his birth by Mary:
        John 3:13 -- No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
        John 6:62 -- What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! >
        In conclusion,
        Craig Blomberg: “Jesus may even be indicting His interrogators by this way of phrasing things, But He does not stop here. He goes on to add, "and you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of Heaven: (Mark 14: 62b). This reply combines the allusions to Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1. In this context, 'Son of man' means far more than a simple human being. Jesus is describing Himself as the 'one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of Heaven' who 'approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His Presence' and given authority and power over all humanity, leading to universal worship and everlasting dominion (Daniel 7:13,14). This claim to be far more than a mere mortal is probably what elicited the verdict of blasphemy from the Jewish high court.” [Jesus and the Gospels 2nd ed. (B&H, 2009), 397.]
        F.F. Bruce: “It is implied, if not expressly stated, that in Daniels vision this Being was enthroned… [Jesus] linked these two scriptures when the high priest of Israel challenged Him to declare His Identity". [The Real Jesus; Who is He? In The Jesus Library. Ed. by Green (Hodder & Stroughton, 1985), 64-65.]
        Robert Stein: “On the lips of anyone else the claims of Jesus would appear to be evidence of gross egomania, for Jesus clearly implies that the entire world revolves around himself and the fate of all men is dependent on their acceptance or rejection of him.” [The Method and Message of Jesus' Teachings (Westinminster, 1978), 118.]
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  • Jesus's life plot-twists history into the best story

      Jesus's life turns the formative events in Jewish history (i.e. the formation of Israel) into brilliant foreshadowing. (It looks like he completes an masterful story).

      5 examples of this to discuss are…
      • …Jesus is the greatest protagonist known to man (inside/outside of fiction).1
      • …Jesus enacts the greatest act of love/greatness known to man (inside/outside of fiction).2
      • …Jesus's incarnation-atonement is the greatest reversal of evil (inside/outside of fiction).
      • …Jesus and Isaac (their being sacrificed) are parallel to one another.
      • …Jesus and the Passover Lambs are remarkably parallel to one another.
      1. The greateness of a protagonist is captured in part by the protagonists virtues, abilities, and accomplishments. Jesus has the greatest possible virtue (omnibenevolence), the greatest possible power and ability (omnipotence), and performs the greatest possible accomplishment, namely the greatest act of love. See below.
      2. As an act of love to save you and me, Jesus sacrifices all his rights as the maximally-worthy, all-powerful, all-knowing God of the universe, and if that's not enough, went to die an excruciating death on the cross to save his murderers as they tease Him (God of the universe) and spit in His face.
  • Jesus rose from the dead