01 May (#33) Did Jesus Really Say He Was the ONLY WAY?
I didn’t make up the claim that Jesus is the only route to God. Neither did some other preacher out to create a job for himself and a market for his message. Jesus Himself was the first to state the essential Christian precept that He is the one and only way to heaven. Given all the different opinions floating around about Jesus, I want us to keep in mind what He said about Himself. Here are a dozen amazing claims Jesus made about Himself compiled in Vintage Jesus, a book I co-authored:
1. Jesus said He came down from heaven.
“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me…At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ They said, ‘Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I came down from heaven”?’” (John 6:38, 41–42 ESV)
2. Jesus said He was more than just a good man.
“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good—except God alone.’” (Mark 10:17–18 NIV)
3. Jesus said He was the Son of Man.
“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.” (Daniel 7:13–14 NIV)
“At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” (Mark 13:26 NIV)
4. Jesus performed miracles.
“‘Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.’ Again, they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.” (John 10:36b–39 NIV)
5. Jesus said He was God.
“Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again, the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ The high priest tore his clothes. ‘Why do we need any more witnesses?’ he asked. ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’” (Mark 14:61–64 NIV)
“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!’ At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.” (John 8:58–59 NLT)
“‘I and the Father are one.’ Once again, the people picked up stones to stone him. Jesus said, ‘At my Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone me?” They replied, ‘We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.’” (John 10:30–33 NLT)
6. Jesus confirmed to others He was God.
“But Jesus remained silent. 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.’” (Matthew 26:63–65 NIV)
7. Jesus said He was sinless.
“Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?” (John 8:46)
8. Jesus forgave sin.
“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” (Mark 2:5 ESV)
9. Jesus taught people to pray to Him as God.
“I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13–14 NIV)
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15:7 NIV)
10. Jesus promised to judge all people as God.
“Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:22–24 NIV)
11. Jesus said He was the only way to heaven.
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6 NIV)
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.’” (John 11:25 NIV)
12. Jesus claimed authority and supremacy over all people, political parties, races, genders, nations, religions, cultures, beliefs, and sexual orientations.
“Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’” (Matt. 28:18 NIV)
LOVING BY SPEAKING TRUTH
Whether we are exploring Jesus for ourselves or attempting to introduce Him to others, we need to ensure we get at the biblical Jesus unfiltered by cultural assumptions or even our own attempts to make Him more acceptable to skeptics.
It is not mean for a Christian to tell others that Jesus alone saves. It is like warning a friend getting sucked into a bad relationship. You see danger, but they have been duped. Speaking up might feel uncomfortable, but it is the only compassionate choice.
Illusionist and atheist Penn Jillette tells about getting handed a Bible after a show. “I wanted you to have this,” the man said. “I’m kind of proselytizing. I’m a businessman. I’m sane. I’m not crazy.” The man likely knew he was talking to a resolute atheist, but he was neither aggressive nor defensive. He just looked Jillette in the eye, said some kind words about the show, and gave his gift. The outspoken Jillette says this about the encounter:
I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell—or not getting eternal life or whatever—and you think that, well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward…How much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?
Jillette concludes, “This guy was a really good guy. Polite and honest and sane—and he cared enough about me to proselytize and give me a Bible.”1