The Jews had a natural hesitancy to accept a person’s Messianic claim. Jesus made the audacious claim that he was the bread that came down from heaven – comparing himself to the Old Testament manna. To this claim, the Jews responded, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he says, I came down from heaven” (6:42).
The Jews asked a legitimate question. Why should they accept Jesus’ claim? Like us, they would be foolish to accept a claim simply because someone was capable of verbalizing it. There would have to be concrete evidence. Just as the Jews did 2000 years ago, people in our culture naturally struggle to accept Jesus as God in human flesh. Thus, I am not offended if people ask, “Why should I accept the proposition that Jesus is God in human flesh?” They deserve a full and complete answer.
First, remember that an earthly perspective binds you. The Jews knew Jesus’ earthly parents. It was, therefore, proper for them to question his messianic assertion. People throughout history have made Messianic claims. No person would or should accept that kind of bizarre claim at face value. At the same time, people must not absentmindedly reject the supernatural. People worldwide sense the need to worship something, and people sense that life does not end with physical death. There is another dimension, and it is important to understand it.
Although an earthly perspective binds us, we have the capacity to consider the evidence. What is that evidence?
- Jesus’ fulfillment of Scripture. After his resurrection, and while traveling with two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Luke tells us, “beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, he explained to them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27). The implication is that Jesus showed how he fulfilled the Old Testament messianic prophecies. However, simply fulfilling prophecy is not sufficient evidence to verify a messianic claim.
- Jesus’ command of the natural and spirit world. In John 6 Jesus multiplied five loaves and two small fish to feed five thousand people. A few verses later Jesus walked on water, calmed a storm, and instantly arrived at their destination. Examples are replete of Jesus’ command of the spirit world. In Mark 5, the demons addressed Jesus as “Son of the Most High God.” He effortlessly commanded the demons to depart, and they did precisely as he instructed.
- God’s supernatural confirmation. Numerous Christmas plays will portray the angels announcing the birth of Jesus, a providential census, wise men being led to a specific location by a star, angels protecting a young child, and additional otherworldly confirmations that Jesus was not just another baby. He was a special gift from heaven itself.
People struggle to accept Jesus as God in human flesh, but the evidence is overwhelming. Jesus fulfilled prophecies separated by hundreds and even thousands of years, he demonstrated complete command of the natural and spirit worlds, and the Creator offered supernatural confirmation that this was his gift to a fallen world. Concluding that Jesus is the Son (the Savior) may make this the best Christmas you have ever experienced.
Doug Wright is pastor of Keystone Baptist Church, Berryville, VA.