Les brown once said; ‘Once you open your mouth, you tell the world who you are.’
This by no means refers to the courteous introductions we make when we meet people; rather it speaks of how people tell who they are by the manner and nature of their speech.
You will know this is true when you recall those times when after interacting with certain people, for barely less than an hour, you could immediately tell the kind of person(s) they were.
Even if one were living in pretence, it won’t be long before that is uncovered because pretence lacks the strength of consistency. It may take a while but one’s words will someday give one away, and the true person behind the façade will show up.
The bible also endorses this reality when it says that “the tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness” (Proverbs 15:2).
This means you can know a man by his words – whether foolish or wise.
Over the centuries, the question of who Jesus Christ really is has been perpetually debated.
Various schools of thought have presented him differently: a mere man, a titanic legend, a great prophet, a great moral teacher and a divine personality.
But if it is true that we can know a man by his words, then, we can examine Jesus’ statements closely in order to ascertain his true personality.
In this post, 20 of his most thought-provoking vocalizations in the gospels are x-rayed.
#1. Man, Your Sins Are Forgiven You (Luke 5: 20-24)
20When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you. 21And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God alone? 22But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? 24But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” – He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”
That question, ‘who can forgive sins, but God alone?’ is what would have readily jumped out of any lips considering what Jesus said. But, He says to them, I deliberately told the man his sins are forgiven not for any other reason but that you would know that I have the power to forgive sins.
Now, that is extreme!
And this is after he had asked rhetorically whether it was easier to forgive sins or heal a paralytic. Apparently, the latter is the easier option. With some mystical power any mere man, prophet, moral teacher or legend could do that. But no matter how powerful they are, forgiveness of sin would be beyond them! That exists in the domain of the divine. And we all know that!
#2. One Greater than the Temple and Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12: 6-8)
6Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. 7But if you had known what this means, I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.
The temple is God’s place of worship. And it is the association of God’s name that bestows sacredness on the temple. To desecrate, despise or speak against the temple would be tantamount to sacrilege.
But we see Jesus boldly asserting that he is greater than the temple. This gives something to ponder about. Who is better positioned to make such a claim: a great moral teacher, a great prophet, a legend, a mere man or a divine personality?
He even goes ahead to declare himself lord of the Sabbath day. That sounds more sacrilegious, for the observance of the Sabbath day was an ordinance God himself established! (Exodus 20:1-8).
To claim to be lord over a thing is to claim ownership, superintendence or superiority over such. So, who would be so daring to pronounce himself lord, over what God exclusively established; a teacher, a prophet, a legend, a mere man or a divine personality?
#3. My Words Will Not Pass Away (Luke 21:33)
33Heaven and earth will pass away: but My words will by no means pass away.
This is perhaps the most incredible statement any one could utter! That the whole earth and the entire heaven will (mind this word – it speaks of certainty) pass away but the words of a certain personality would remain true and formidable is overwhelming.
From what pedestal can someone make such audacious utterance? It is instructive that he did not say, ‘God’s words’ rather, ‘my words’.
Readily, three things can be inferred from that statement. First, he knows (and was making it known), that sometime the heaven and the earth would be wiped out; second, when this happens, his words (the truth and reality therein) would remain unrevoked and enduring; third,his words are not mere words; there is something about them – an element of finality and eternity. That is why they can outlive the universe.
This third inference in itself, lends credence to why his statements should not be taken lightly, but given keen attention. Mortals die; and if a man would pass away, why would his words not pass away at the closure of all things?
#4. All Authority Has Been Given to Me (Matthew 28:18)
18And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Who possesses all authority in Heaven and on earth if not God? For God to give all this authority to a man, be it a great teacher, legend or prophet would be tantamount to surrendering his essence – that which makes Him God. But Jesus insists he has received all that authority.
#5. Today You Will Be With Me in Paradise (Luke 23:42-43)
42Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” 43And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.
Here is someone whose life was hanging by a thread with his entire body in excruciating agony promising another hapless man a place in paradise. How does that happen? How can one, while on earth (not in paradise) assure someone else (on earth) of a slot in paradise?
It is like one, with seemingly no evidence of affiliation to a company, promising another an instant job there. This instance thus leaves us two suggestions: Jesus has sovereign authority over paradise or has connections with one who does so that he could admit another in, by mere word of mouth!
#6. One Greater than Jonah and Solomon (Matthew 12: 41-42)
41The men of Nineveh shall rise in the judgment with this generation, and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and, indeed a greater than Jonah is here. 42The queen of the south will rise up in the judgment with this generation, and condemn it: for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, indeed, a greater than Solomon is here.
We know Jonah was a prophet of God whose preaching turned an entire people to God. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. Hear what was said about Solomon’s wisdom:
And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his servants, the service of his waiters, and their apparel; his cupbearers, and his entryway by which he went up to the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her (2 Kings 10:4-5).
So King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. Now all the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart (1 Kings 10:23 -24).
And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. Thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men – than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol; and his fame was in all surrounding nations. He spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five. Also he spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spake also of animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish. And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear to the wisdom of Solomon (1 Kings 4:29-34).
To live centuries after these men and claim to be greater than them obviously means something. And it is definitely not a comparison of physical age. But then what was Jesus talking about? Was he not saying he has greater wisdom than Solomon had and a greater message than Jonas had? Was he not saying he was greater than these king and prophet of God put together, regardless of how great they were?
#7. I Will Give You the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:19)
19And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…
Whatever ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven’ mean, one thing is sure: it was not anything whose source or possession was among men. Recall, that one cannot give what one does not have. Jesus did not say, ‘I will ask the Lord to give you the keys of the kingdom’. He said, ‘I will give you’.
This means he had possession and authority (that is, power over it as to disburse it) such that he could give it to whomsoever he chose. Isn’t that intriguing?
The definite article, ‘the’, used in the statement as in: ‘the keys’, suggests that there was just a type and that’s what he had and was going to give. That is, some other person elsewhere did not have some other keys to the kingdom of heaven, not to talk of giving them to anyone. That, to say the least, is fascinating!
#8. I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)
25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”
To claim to be the definition of resurrection and life is to say that the power for life (to make alive) and resurrection (to bring from the dead) resides with one. What we know is that people look up to the creator for life and its sustenance.
Resurrection, on the other hand, is a reality so transcendent many do not believe it is real. But Jesus speaks with unbelievable audacity about something that is beyond the realm of the natural man.
He is so sure about it, he goes on to say that anyone who believes in him, even though he dies, would live again. Who is more likely to have said a thing like this, a mere man, a prophet, a legend, a teacher or a divine personality?
#9. Before Abraham Was, I Am (John 8:56-58)
56Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad. 57Then the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58Jesus said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
As seen in some other statements, Jesus often spoke about things too wonderful for the human mind. Often, it appears he is reading from a script he alone sees and understands. Or, what can we make of, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad”?
Now, the Jews were talking about fifty years of age; but Jesus stunned them by saying (in effect) that his age could not be quantified; for that in essence, is what it implies when one who is about thirty years of age claims to have been before another who lived 42 generations before (Matthew 1:17). To make it clear, that he meant no joke, He says “Most assuredly”. That’s emphatic!
Note also that he did not say ‘before Abraham was, I was’. “I was” would suggest that he lived and died before Abraham and consequently ‘came back’ to live in that time. But he said ‘before Abraham was, I am’, “I am”, suggests that he has being ever before Abraham and still was, at that material time. Surely, this is the strangest of all!
#10. I Send the Promise of My Father upon You (Luke 24:49)
49Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.
Think about it for a moment. It was the promise of the father but he was the one sending it. How does a man promise to send something and at the appointed time, it is another (his son, in this case) who issues the directive for the actualization of the promise; meanwhile the promisor remains alive?
This means a number of things: first, Jesus was well aware of the promise of the Father, to the extent that he knew the terms and conditions for, as well as the nature of the promise. Second, He occupied a position where he could equally issue the release of the promise. Third, the Father had permitted or ordained that Jesus would implement the sending of the promise.
Whichever one you choose to go with, it is clear that such privilege or standing is not merely ordinary!
11. No One Knows Who the Father is Except the Son (Luke 10:22)
22All things have been delivered to Me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal him.
In this chest of bombshells, Jesus claims such an intimate divine relationship that gives him three unthinkable privileges. First, he has all things; second, he alone (no other human being) truly knows the Father, and as such; he alone can reveal the Father to anyone who desires to know him.
The question is would he have been able to arrogate all these to himself if he were merely a man, teacher, prophet or legend?
#12. The Son of Man Will Sit On the Right Hand of the Power of God (Luke 22:67-71)
67”If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, If I tell you, you will by no means believe: 68And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me, or let Me go. 69Hereafter the Son of man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.
There is no doubt that the ‘right hand of the power of God’ is an exalted supernatural position. Hardly would anyone ascribe such honour to himself – at least not with such tone of certainty or finality. This kind appears to be in God’s prerogative. That Jesus knew about such position, that it is (and he knew it is) his entitlement, and that he could declare it boldly (without fear of revocation) simply confirms that he had access to exceedingly superior knowledge and particularly, unequalled privilege to occupy such exalted place.
#13. God Shows Him Everything that He Does (John 5:20-21)
20For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does: and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21For as the Father raises the dead, and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom he will.
Can it really be possible that a mere man, great teacher, prophet or some personality in his right senses, would come up and say God shows him everything that he (God) does? In fact, one of the things that distinguish the divine from humanity is the inability to always comprehend what God has done, is doing, or set to do.
So, if Jesus could make the bold claim that the Father shows him everything He (the Father) does, what more is needed to verify his divinity?
#14. All Judgement Has Been Committed to the Son (John 5:22-23)
22For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son: 23that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
Here goes another strange word from Jesus.
Mortals and spirit beings live in expectation of God’s judgment; but Jesus says God has committed all judgment to him. Being crazy will not suffice; one would have to be something out-of –this-world to make this kind of claim!
#15. The Dead Will Hear His Voice and Live (John 5:25-29)
25Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26For as the Father has life in himself; so he has granted the Son to have life in himself; 27and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man. 28Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear his voice, 29and come forth…
When it gets to the point that dead people in the graves will hear someone’s voice and come out, you know you have entered a transcendent realm and that person is in a class all by himself. It becomes most striking when we realize He did not say ‘some’, but ‘all who are in the graves’.
#16. I Have Power to Lay Down My Life and to Take it Again (John 10:17-18)
17Therefore my Father loves me, because I lay down My life, that I may take it again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.
It is a no-brainer that taking back one’s life after it has been lost is impossible. Yet, Jesus said he has the power to do so. To begin with, the power ‘to lay it down’ rests solely with him. In other words, it cannot be taken from him if he does not surrender it.
These things are befuddling; because, what he implies is that he has power over his life such that he can do anything he so choose with it.
Is there any other being in the universe that can boldly make this claim?
#17. Where Two or Three Are Gathered in My Name, I’ll be there (Matthew 18:20; John 14:13-14)
20“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them. 13“And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
What is in a name? How much is a name worth? How much power, authority and blessings can a name command? Jesus says if at least two persons come together in his name, regardless of where he is, or where they are located on the planet, he would be in their midst.
You will understand how remarkable this is, when you figure that there are approximately 7 billion people in the world, and there could be countless clusters of twos all over.
He goes further to announce that there is so much embedded in his name to grant whatsoever his followers would ask. How more staggering can Jesus’ claims be? The amazing part of it is that Jesus said these and more, in his right mind!
#18. The Son of Man Will Send His Angels (Matthew 13: 37, 41)
37He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 41The Son of man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness
Not only does he have a kingdom, he has angels who do his bidding. Such kingdom with angels will surely be supernatural. And so will its king. It surely beats the imagination that an ordinary folk would make such huge claims.
#19. I Give them Eternal Life (John 10:26-28)
26But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish: neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
Who can give eternal life? He who will do so must first be eternal. Then he would possess the right and privilege to impart it to someone else. Are these requirements not exceedingly beyond the powers of a mere man, great teacher, prophet or legend?
#20. I am the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
In a world of options and alternatives, Jesus insists he is not merely a way, a truth or a life but the definitive way, truth and life.
He then makes perhaps the biggest claim of all; he is the only means to the Father! Note that he did not say ‘my message is the only way to God’ as a prophet would or ‘my teachings are the only way to God’ as a teacher would.
In other words, he is the definition of access to the Father. Any mere man, great teacher, prophet or legend who (even in a very loose sense), knew or worshipped God, would out of fear and reverence, not be able to make such a claim.
What Do We Make of These?
Many of Jesus’ statements in the gospels catch the interest. But we have only considered 20.
The manner in which he said them and the implication of the utterances are elements to be pondered upon by the curious mind.
If Jesus uttered only one curious claim or statement, then one could discard it with a wave of hand. But he made many mind-boggling claims with all, having far-reaching implications.
If one tries hard, one may explain away one, two or three, but going further, it will not be long before it becomes clear one is only been insincere.
The tone of finality, certainty and authority that accompanies his statements reeks of divinity. Often times, they are too wonderful, unusual and enigmatic – so much that one cannot imagine them been doctored.
Apart from the spontaneity of his statements, many of the things he spoke of belong to the realm of the divine, that even if anyone had set out to make up those parts of the scriptures, owing to the limits of mortal knowledge and imagination, they could never have come out so weighty.
For instance, what would one be thinking about to concoct in its exactitude, ‘Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you’ or ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them?
No doubt, an honest, careful reflection upon his utterances would summarily discard every idea of him being just a prophet, legend, moral teacher or mere mortal.
It is difficult – extremely difficult, to conclude that he was anything other than a divine personality. Just as the Roman soldiers said (John 7:46), no one ever spoke like him!
Ogaga Eruteya is a Nigerian Christian minister, writer and speaker. He writes on Faith, Personal Development, Youth Development, and Life Realities. With his words, he seeks to inspire, motivate, propagate life’s truths and represent a sincere Christian voice. Learn more about Ogaga here.