Jesus often surprised people with His teachings. “Lose your life to save it.” “The first will be last.” “The meek will inherit the earth.” “Rejoice in persecution.” “Pray for your enemies.” “It’s better to give than to receive.” “Turn the other cheek.” These are revolutionary teachings.
But by far the most outrageous assertion that Jesus ever uttered is in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” This claim irritates people like nothing else. It’s been called narrow-minded. It’s been called bigoted. It’s been called snobbish. Why is this claim so controversial?
You’ve probably heard people say “There may be distinctions between various world religions, but if you strip them down to their essentials, all religions fundamentally teach the same thing.” But there are significant differences between the world religions that cannot be reconciled. In fact, with this one assertion: “no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me,” Jesus boldly puts Christianity in a class by itself.
Every other religion is based on people doing things, struggling and striving to earn the good favor of God. But Jesus taught the opposite: He said that we’re all guilty of wrongdoing, and that nobody could do anything to merit Heaven.
Jesus also said that our wrongdoing separates us from our God because God is holy and perfect. Because God is a righteous judge who by His very nature must judge wrongdoing, our wrongdoing has to be paid for. Because He loves us, because Jesus and God are for us and not against us, Jesus voluntarily offered Himself as our substitute to pay the penalty that we owe because of our wrongdoing. When we receive His sacrifice on our behalf, we become reunited with God forever.
There are other fundamental differences. For instance, Christianity says that there is one eternal God who created the universe. But Hinduism says that everything is god; you are god, I am god, this podium is god. Islam denies that Jesus was God and that Jesus died for our sins. All religions are not the same.
While other religious leaders can offer wise sayings and helpful advice and insights, only Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, is qualified to offer Himself as payment for our wrongdoing. No other religious leader even pretended to be able to do that. Theologian R. C. Sproul puts it this way, “Moses could mediate on the Law. Mohammed could brandish a sword. Buddha could give personal counsel. Confucius could offer wise sayings. But none of these men was qualified to offer an atonement for the sins of the world.” Jesus alone was qualified.
How do we know that Jesus was telling the truth? Jesus authenticated His claim of being God by living a perfect life, by embodying the attributes of God, and by fulfilling dozens of prophecies written hundreds of years before He came to this planet. Unlike other religious leaders, Jesus also authenticated who He was by performing great miracles in broad daylight, in front of skeptics. He demonstrated His mastery over nature. He demonstrated His mastery over sickness. He demonstrated His mastery over death by bringing Lazarus back to life after four days in a cold, damp tomb. In the most spectacular demonstration of His deity, Jesus fulfilled His own prediction by being resurrected from the dead, in an historical event that was witnessed by more than 500 people and that sparked a spiritual revolution that has been unparalleled in the history of the world.
Christianity is not just a philosophy; it is a reality. Jesus didn’t just claim that He is the one and only Son of God. He validated His claim with convincing evidence like nobody else in history.
—Lee Strobel, condensed