The answer to that depends largely on who you ask. Most thinking people would at least agree he was a real person who lived in the first century and made quite an impact on the world. He has been recognized as a good man, a prophet, a sage, and a teacher.
When Christians answer the question “who is Jesus?” They declare Him to be the very son of God. 100% God 100% Man. As the 4th century creed declares:
Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
Christians throughout the centuries have built their answer to the question on the Bible: from the OT (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6 and others,) on the things Jesus said about himself, (John 10:30, 38; 14:8-10, 20) and the doctrines laid out about Him throughout the rest of the New Testament (John 1:1-4, Hebrews 1:3, 2 Cor. 4:4, Col. 1:15,19).
CS Lewis (one time atheist, Oxford Professor and Author) wrote:
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said [about Himself] would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come away with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (Mere Christianity)
The most important question in all of life is this “Who Do I Think Jesus Is?
Josh McDowell (from More Than A Carpenter) wrote:
“I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.”
How you answer that question has consequences for how you live your life, what you place value on, what the meaning of life is and what lies ahead after we die.
Quest for Joy-Six biblical truths
(Used with permission From the ministry of John Piper DesiringGod.org)
Did you know that God commands us to be glad?
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.“ (Psalm 37:4)
1) God created us for his glory
“I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made.“ (Isaiah 43:6-7)
God made us to magnify his greatness – the way telescopes magnify stars. He created us to put his goodness and truth and beauty and wisdom and justice on display. The greatest display of God’s glory comes from deep delight in all that he is. This means that God gets the praise and we get the pleasure. God created us so that he is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.
2) Every human should live for God’s glory
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.“ (1 Corinthians 10:31).
If God made us for his glory, it is clear that we should live for his glory. Our duty comes from his design. So our first obligation is to show God’s value by being satisfied with all that he is for us. This is the essence of loving God (Matthew 22:37) and trusting him (1 John 5:3-4) and being thankful to him (Psalm 100:2-4) It is the root of all true obedience, especially loving others (Colossians 1:4-5).
3) All of us have failed to glorify God as we should
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God“ (Romans 3:23).
What does it mean to “fall short of the glory of God?” It means that none of us has trusted and treasured God the way we should. We have not been satisfied with his greatness and walked in his ways. We have sought our satisfaction in other things, and treated them as more valuable than God, which is the essence of idolatry (Romans 1:21-23). Since sin came into the world we have all been deeply resistant to having God as our all-satisfying treasure (Ephesians 2:3). This is an appalling offense to the greatness of God (Jeremiah 2:12-13).
4) All of us are subject to God’s just condemnation
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.“ (Romans 6:23).
We have all belittled the glory of God. How? By preferring other things above him. By our ingratitude, distrust and disobedience. So God is just in shutting us out from the enjoyment of his glory forever. “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
The word “hell” is used in the New Testament twelve times—eleven times by Jesus himself. It is not a myth created by dismal and angry preachers. It is a solemn warning from the Son of God who died to deliver sinners from its curse. We ignore it at great risk.
If the Bible stopped here in its analysis of the human condition, we would be doomed to a hopeless future. However, this is not where it stops…
5) God sent his only son Jesus to provide eternal life and joy
“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.“ (1 Timothy 1:15)
The good news is that Christ died for sinners like us. And he rose physically from the dead to validate the saving power of his death and to open the gates of eternal life and joy (1 Corinthians 15:20). This means God can acquit guilty sinners and still be just (Romans 3:25-26). “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Coming home to God is where all deep and lasting satisfaction is found.
6) The benefits purchased by the death of Christ belong to those who repent and trust Him.
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19).
“They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31).
“Repent” means to turn from all the deceitful promises of sin. “Faith” means being satisfied with all that God promises to be for us in Jesus. “He who believes in me,” Jesus says, “shall never thirst” (John 6:35). We do not earn our salvation. We cannot merit it (Romans 4:4-5). It is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is a free gift (Romans 3:24). We will have it if we cherish it above all things (Matthew 13:44). When we do that, God’s aim in creation is accomplished: He is glorified in us and we are satisfied in him – forever.
Does this make sense to you?
Do you desire the kind of gladness that comes from being satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus? If so, then God is at work in your life.
What should you do?
Turn from the deceitful promises of sin. Call upon Jesus to save you from the guilt and punishment and bondage. “All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Start banking your hope on all that God is for you in Jesus. Break the power of sin’s promises by faith in the superior satisfaction of God’s promises. Begin reading the Bible to find his precious and very great promises, which can set you free (2 Peter 1:3-4). Find a Bible-believing church and begin to worship and grow together with other people who treasure Christ above all things (Philippians 3:7).
The best news in the world is that there is no necessary conflict between our happiness and God’s holiness. Being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus magnifies him as a great Treasure.
“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psalm 16:11)
What are you waiting on? Run straight to Jesus!