Good evening, this is Cathy Merritt your host for “Simple Faith.” God bless you my friends and I hope you will enjoy tonight’s lesson entitled – “Wasn’t Jesus a Carpenter?”
I take my material from Josh McDowell one of the bestselling authors of our time with a book called “More Than a Carpenter” and Don Merritt’s writings on Non-Biblical records of Jesus
Have you heard people talk about Jesus and it turns people off and gets them upset just mentioning the name of Jesus – but if you talk about Buddha or Muhammad or Confucius people don’t seem to get upset.
People seem to be more offended by the name of Jesus
But you see – it is because Jesus is different – these guys never claimed to be God – but Jesus did.
This carpenter from Nazareth was making a claim that was beyond their understanding. He was making claims that salvation could only come through him.
The words Jesus Christ are not a first and last name; they are actually a name and a title. The name Jesus is derived from the Greek form of the name Joshua, meaning “Jehovah-Savior” or “the Lord saves.” The title Christ is derived from the Greek word for Messiah and means “anointed one.” Two offices, king and priest, are indicated in the use of the title Christ.
(Titus 2:13; see also John 1:1; Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:20-21).
We as people can forgive someone – like we talked in our study a few weeks back, Jesus claimed more than that he – claimed he could forgive our sins and only God could claim to do that.
19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”
“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”
They knew this guy was a carpenter from Nazareth – how can he now claim to be God and then forgive people’s sins…
These folks were Jewish and they believe in 1 God, but example after example shows they recognized him as God – incarnate
Because of the apostle Paul’s extensive Jewish training, he would be an unlikely person to attribute deity to Jesus, to worship a man from Nazareth and call him Lord. But this is exactly what Paul did. He acknowledged Jesus as God when he said, “Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders” (Acts 20:28). After Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was, Simon Peter confessed, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Jesus responded
to Peter’s confession, not by correcting the man’s conclusion, but by acknowledging its truth and source: “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being” (Matthew 16:17). Martha, a close friend of Jesus, said to him, “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God” (John 11:27). Then there is the plainspoken Nathanael, who didn’t believe anything good could come out of Nazareth. He admitted to Jesus, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!” (John 1:49). While the first Christian martyr, Stephen, was being stoned, he cried out and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59).
There are many accounts in the bible of people becoming believers in Christ and knew he was the Messiah.
In the Gospel of John we have a confrontation between Jesus and a group of Jewish Leaders. It was triggered by the fact that Jesus had cured a lame man on the Sabbath. (Jews were forbidden to do any work on the Sabbath.) “So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. But Jesus replied, ‘My Father is always working, and so am I.’ So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God” (John 5:16-18).
Lord, Liar, or Lunatic? If you were to Google the name Jesus today, you’d instantly get about 181 million hits. Search for Jesus at Amazon.com and you’ll find 261,474 books about him. Given the smorgasbord of competing views, can we still have confidence in the historical Jesus? Many people want to regard Jesus not as God but as a good, moral man or as an exceptionally wise prophet who spoke many profound truths.
Jesus claimed to be God, and to him it was of crucial importance that men and women believed him to be who he was. Either we believe him, or we don’t. He didn’t leave us any wiggle room for in-between, watered-down alternatives. One who claimed what Jesus claimed about himself couldn’t be a good moral man or a prophet. That option isn’t open to us, and Jesus never intended it to be.
Famous Christian writer, C.S. Lewis wrote that Jesus has to be who he claims to be your he is a liar, he cannot be a great moral teacher or prophet, because he claimed to be God. So you cannot say he was someone to study or listen to his teachings, but not believe them as truth – otherwise Jesus was Liar and possibly a Lunatic. Or is he Lord – 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 l. 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 up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Jesus never intended to have himself and his message separated…. He lived what he taught and taught what he lived. So what are the possibilities of this Jesus
First, consider that his claim to be God was false. If it were false, then we have only two alternatives. He either knew it was false, or he didn’t know it was false. We will consider each possibility separately and examine the evidence for it.
Was Jesus a Liar? If, when Jesus made his claims, he knew that he was not God, then he was lying and deliberately deceiving his followers. But if he was a liar, then he was also a hypocrite because he taught others to be honest whatever the cost. Worse than that, if he was lying, he was a demon because he told others to trust him for their eternal destiny. If he couldn’t back up his claims and knew it, then he was unspeakably evil for deceiving his followers with such a false hope. Last, he would also be a fool because his claims to be God led to his crucifixion—claims he could have backed away from to save himself even at the last minute.
How could he be a great moral teacher and knowingly mislead people at the most important point of his teaching—his own identity? To conclude that Jesus was a deliberate liar doesn’t coincide with what we know either of him or of the results of his life and teachings. Wherever Jesus has been proclaimed, we see lives change for the good, nations change for the better, thieves become honest, alcoholics become sober, hateful individuals become channels of love, unjust persons embrace justice. Think of the effects of true Christianity has had. Think about the record of Jesus’ ministry – 3 short years – it showed throughout the last 20 centuries inspire the heart s of men with an heartfelt love; has shown itself capable of acting on all ages, nations and temperaments, and conditions, has been not only the highest pattern of virtue, but has done more to regenerate and soften mankind than all philosophers and moral teachers.
If someone lived as Jesus Lived and taught as Jesus Taught – and died as Jesus died – they could not have been a liar then what is the next alternative
Was he a Lunatic?
Could he have thought he was God but was mistaken? He had to be crazy in that society – preaching the things he was preaching – Someone saying they were God would be like someone standing up and saying they were Abe Lincoln or Santa Claus – They might be locked up. But it is hard to believe that Jesus was that – he spoke some of the most profound things ever recorded. He could not have delivered such life changing accounts as the Sermon on the Mount if he was a lunatic – and so many other lunatics followed him!!!
So my conclusion like our authors is that Jesus can only be Lord. He cannot be a Liar or a Lunatic as described… so there is only one conclusion and that is he is who he says he is.
So you can ask people – Muslin and Jewish friends the question of Jesus and they will say he was not a liar, and he was no lunatic, but if you ask them if he is God – they will say absolutely not – but there is no other answer .Jesus is Lord the evidence is abundant enough to show us that.
Today we have many people who are unchurched and even claim to be Atheist but believe me that even in King David’s day there were people who did not believe in the existence of God. You have to also believe that really there is nothing new under the sun – only old ways with new eyes looking at things.
If you’ve read any of the New Atheists, it’s important to keep the words of King Solomon in mind: “The first to speak in court sounds right—until the cross-examination begins” (Proverbs 18:17). In other words, when only one side of a case is heard, the evidence often seems convincing. Then we heard the cross examination and story is in, the initial case often crumbles. The New Atheists are convincing—until the other side is heard. Is Atheism More Reasonable? AnAtheists firmly believe that atheism holds the rational higher ground. According to these folks, religion is based upon “faith alone,” whereas atheism requires no faith commitment since it relies primarily upon the practical evidence of science.
Remember that Jesus doesn’t try to argue his way into an unwilling mind or soul. He simply loves unconditionally, forgiving sin of believers by God’s grace, through faith, not of works lest any should boast; it is the gift of God. Rather than trying to convert someone to religious beliefs, simply love them unconditionally, realizing Jesus said: “Neither do I condemn you — go and sin no more!” It’s that simple kind of concept that can introduce Jesus’ non-condemning approach to life. Then as you need to show Bible based good news to other people, here are some step-by-step approaches. Avoid working straight through a religious agenda.
- Put yourself in your friend’s seat. First, they don’t have your concept of salvation, as “to be saved from The Law of Sin and Death”, or that “all have sinned and deserve judgment”. One may hold his or her beliefs as settled and true, so pushing conversion will be resisted as if protecting ones life. You cannot press new understandings onto anyone. If they are interested in talking about the Gospel, then do it graciously, taking occasional, convenient opportunities to interject Christ’s love into daily events. Also choose the place and the extent to do so carefully. It is inappropriate to lead someone into any serious discussions on nonprofessional matters at the workplace
Be knowledgeable about Christianity. If you are a Christian and you believe that the Bible is the direct word of God, then have you read most of it and the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? If not, you may find the person you are trying to convert is better versed in the Bible than you. Remember that atheists live in a world that is mostly religious. They may have hardened their beliefs more than a Christian who lives in a mostly Christian society.
The Bible is reliable
We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 JOHN 1:3) This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also can believe. (JOHN 19:35) During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God. (ACTS 1:3)
Here is even more evidence outside the bible
There are fifteen facts about Jesus from sources outside of the Bible. That Jesus was an actual figure is beyond doubt. That much is known about Him is also beyond doubt. If the Bible did not exist, the following facts could be built from historical sources.
1. Jesus lived. (Tacitus 112AD) Tac-it – us – Roman Orator and Public official
2. Jesus lived in Judea. (Tacitus, Lucian, Joe-fee us 82 AD)
3. Jesus was a wonderful Teacher. (Lucian, Josephus)
4. Jesus had a following of people. (Seutonius 120 AD; Pliny) Sue tonius – roman historian
5. He was executed as a criminal. (Tacitus, Justin Martyr, Josephus)
6. Darkness descended at His death. (Tallus 52 AD) Secular author
7. Lots were cast for His garments. (Justin Martyr)
8. His judge’s name was Pilate. (Tacitus, Josephus et al)
9. Jesus died by crucifixion. (Babylonian Talmud San 43. et al)
10. There was a controversy over His “legitimacy”. (Babylonian Talmud)
11. He was a “lawgiver” and leader of a new “cult.” (Lucian) A Greek Writter
12. James, His brother, was stoned to death. (Josephus) Jewish scolars
13. Jesus dies for our “sakes”. (Polycarp in Phllippians 9) Early writer 69-160 AD
14. Jesus predicted His own death, and baptism was in existence. (Papias)
15. Jesus rose from the dead. (Josephus, Justin, Irenaeus, Clement, Barnabas, Ignatius)
“There was at that time a man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such as receive the truth with pleasure. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of principal men among us had condemned him to die on the cross, those who loved him from the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them on the third day.”
Josephus, “Antiquities of the Jews”, XVIII:33
Is the New Testament a Reliable Historical Text?
This is a question often asked, and just as often misunderstood. In answering it, we need to ask whether or not it should be judged according to the same tests as any other historical document. Very often the answer from skeptics is that we should not use the normal and accepted methods of verification, and that some other test should be used. That such a position is intellectually dishonest is obvious. If we accept Julius Caesar as reliable but not Matthew in the light of overwhelming evidence is absurd, and can only result from a closed mind, or at least one the fears the outcome. There are over 20,000 ancient New Testament manuscripts known to exist, and the oldest was copied 20 years after the original. By this test, the New Testament is not only reliable history, but the most reliable of all.
An examination of the New Testament quickly shows that there are no internal contradictions or inconsistencies. A larger examinations of the large body of ancient histories of the period reveals that there are no texts that are inconsistent beside the New Testament, therefore its contents are deemed accurate by the standard of the Internal Evidence Test.
While much has been written on this subject, no other history that is known to exist is contradicted by the New Testament, and thus the New Testament passes the final test with flying colors.
The men that followed Jesus – were they dying for a lie???
Those who challenge Christianity often overlook one area of evidence: the transformation of Jesus’ apostles. The radically changed lives of these men give us solid testimony for the legitimacy of Christ’s claims. Since the Christian faith is historical, our knowledge of it must rely heavily on testimony, both written and oral. Without such testimony, we have no window to any historical event, Christian or otherwise. In fact, all history is essentially a knowledge of the past based on testimony. If reliance on such testimony seems to give history too shaky a foundation, we must ask, How else can we learn of the past? How can we know that Napoleon lived? We have eye witness accounts.
I can trust the apostles’ testimonies because eleven of those men died martyrs’ deaths because they stood solid for two truths: Christ’s deity and his resurrection. These men were tortured and flogged, and most finally suffered death by some of the cruelest methods then known:1 1. Peter, originally called Simon, was crucified. 2. Andrew was crucified. 3. James, son of Zebedee, was killed by the sword. 4. John, son of Zebedee, died a natural death. 5. Philip was crucified. 6. Bartholomew was crucified.
7. Thomas was killed by a spear. 8. Matthew was killed by the sword. 9. James, son of Alphaeus, was crucified. 10. Thaddaeus was killed by arrows. 11. Simon, the zealot, was crucified. The perspective I often hear is, “Well, these men died for a lie. Many people have done that. So what does it prove?” What Do You Think? Is there anything or anyone that you would die for? Why do you feel that way? Yes, many people have died for a lie, but they did so believing it was the truth. What was the case with the disciples? If the Resurrection had not happened, obviously the disciples would have known it. I can find
no way that these particular men could have been deceived. Therefore they not only would have died for a lie—here’s the catch—but they would have known it was a lie. It would be hard to find a group of men anywhere in history who would die for a lie if they knew it was a lie. Let’s look at several factors that will help us understand the factual truth of what they believed. 1. They Were Eyewitness that the four Gospels provide reliable testimony that can be traced back to the eyewitnesses themselves.2 The apostles wrote and other disciples spoke as actual eyewitnesses to the events they described. Peter said: “We were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus own sibling – who scoffed him became a believer – James his brother – something happened.
After Jesus was crucified and buried, James was preaching in Jerusalem. His message was that Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected and is alive. Eventually James became a leading figure in the Jerusalem church and wrote a book, the Epistle of James. He began it by writing, “James, a slave [servant] of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1). Eventually James was stoned to death on orders from the high priest.3 What could have changed James from an embarrassed scoffer to a man willing to die for his brother’s deity? Was James deceived? No. The only plausible explanation is what we read in 1 Corinthians 15:7: “Then [after Christ’s resurrection] he was seen by James.” James saw the resurrected Christ and believed.
What Good Is a Dead Messiah? Many people have died for causes they believe in. In the 1960s many Buddhists burned themselves to death in order to bring world attention to injustices in Southeast Asia. In the early seventies a San Diego student burned himself to death protesting the Vietnam War. In September 2001 several Muslim extremists hijacked airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon to inflict damage on a nation they consider an enemy to their religion. The apostles thought they had a good cause to die for, but they were stunned and disillusioned when that good cause died on the cross. They believed him to be the Messiah. They didn’t think he could die. They were convinced that he was the one to set up the Kingdom of God and to rule over the people of Israel, and his death shattered their lives
Many laid in fear until Pentecost day. Then something happened – The holy spirit came upon these men.
The biggest reversal is the conversion of Paul
The story of the apostle Paul is one of the most significant testimonies to Christianity. Saul of Tarsus, perhaps the most rabid enemy of early Christianity – he became the apostle Paul, the most energetic and significant spokesman for the new movement.
To understand Paul’s conversion, it is necessary to see why he was so violently anti-Christian. It was his devotion to the Jewish law that triggered his firm opposition to Christ and the early church. His conversion on the Road to Damascus was amazing. When he saw Jesus it became irresistible.
He didn’t proclaim the gospel out of choice but from necessity. “Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it” (1 Corinthians 9:16).
that Christianity was not a myth, not a fantasy of wishful dreamers, not a hoax played on the simple-minded, but rock-solid truth
I know the truth, yet like many I was pulled in two directions. I didn’t want to give up my pleasure and my control . I thought that becoming a Christian meant giving up the good life. I could sense Jesus Christ at the door of my heart, pleading, “Look, I have been standing at your door and constantly knocking. If you hear me calling and will open the door, I will come in” (paraphrased from Revelation 3:20). I think many of us wanted to believe, but only enough to take Jesus off the shelf when we needed him. Finally I was convicted and the ride I was on was stopped. The Roller Coaster was quiet and my heart was healed. The transition has been obvious, with my ability to teach and talk about Jesus Christ and the truth he has shown us.
I think once you become a Christian you really see the difference. How you live – now you work – now you do everything is different. – You do not stop having fun or enjoying life – but you really do look at things totally outside of this world. God teaches love and that is what we are all supposed to be about. We are not a heap of crying babies – we should be proclaiming the love of God to all.
Not in judgment but in love. You may stay that loving some people is difficult, but God teaches us to love. We need to love those in the body of Christ, but also outside the body. We need to show love to the stranger, the drunk, the mentally ill, the people who live a different lifestyle, the people who hate us and our enemies.
God prepares a table in front of our enemies in Psalms 23, but we will not fear them.
Psalm 23:1: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psalm 23:2: He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters.
Psalm 23:3: He restores my soul; he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psalm 23:4: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psalm 23:5: Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anoints my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Psalm 23:6: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I want to thank you for listening tonight and pray that you will be back next week.
This is Cathy Merritt, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s end in prayer . Amen – Good night