In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says, "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 the level with a man who says he is a poached egg--or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us."
Jesus could only have been one of four things: a legend, a liar, a lunatic, or Lord and God. There is so much historical and archeological evidence, especially considering how long ago he lived, to support his existence that every reputable historian agrees he was not a legend. If Jesus were a liar, why would he die for his claim, when he could easily have avoided such a cruel death with a few choice words? If he were a lunatic, how did he engage in intelligent debates with his opponents or handle the stress of his betrayal and crucifixion while continuing to show a deep love for his antagonists? Christ said he was Lord and God. The evidence supports that claim.
Here are some of the key claims Jesus made about himself.
Many people were angry with Jesus’ claims that he was one and the same with God, but he was. No one could point to anything he had ever done wrong in his life. No human being has ever lived a sinless life, except for Jesus Christ.
John 8:46-47 "Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."
Jesus said he was not just one way to God, but the only way. He did not come to teach the way, but to be the way to God. Nobody had ever made claims like that before and backed them, but Jesus did through his love, balanced life and miracles.
John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me."
Note: No other world religious leader, such as Buddha, Confucius, or Mohammed ever made this claim.
Jesus said he existed before the very people he spoke with. The apostle John wrote that Jesus was with God in the very beginning, and that "all things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being." (John 1:1-5)
John 17:5 "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."
One of the reasons the Jewish leaders were so angry with Jesus was how he forgave people's sins. The religious leaders knew that since sins were rebellion against God Himself, only God could forgive sins.
Luke 5:20-21 "When Jesus saw their faith, he said, 'Friend, your sins are forgiven.' The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, 'Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?'"
Luke 23:1-3 "Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, 'We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.' So Pilate asked Jesus, 'Are you the king of the Jews?' 'Yes, it is as you say,' Jesus replied."
Jesus didn't just show the way to everlasting life. He actually claimed to give life himself.
John 10:28-30 "I give [my followers] eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."
Luke 18:31-33 "Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, 'We are going up into Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.'"
Matthew 25:31-32 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep and the goats."