Ready to Answer - Lesson 11

By Jim Baird

Is Jesus Really the Christ, the Son of God?

Background Information for the Teacher


  1. Students will build on lessons nine and ten to be able to show that the case for Jesus includes supernatural evidence as well.
  2. In particular, they will be able to explain some of the way sin which Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament.
  3. They will see the evidence that Jesus performed miracles and learn a little about how to deal with modern objections to that idea.


  1. It is important not just to read these notes to the class. The teacher should be very familiar with the outline and choose how to present the material, making notes in the margins as needed. Practicing the lesson a few times will allow the teacher to look at the students’ eyes while making the presentation.
  2. Some find it helpful to underline the key words that will spark their memory of what to say and do next.
  3. A teacher who is new to this subject would be wise to get copies of the resources listed at the bottom of this outline and study them as well.
  4. Blackboard should be provided, clean with chalk and erasers.
  5. Students should have access to Bibles, or have overheads of all scriptures.
  6. If you are going to use the handouts associated with this lesson, give them out after the introduction. The underlined material in these notes appears in the handouts.


God has given several kinds of supernatural evidence that Jesus is truly the Christ, the Son of God.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class.

Introduction: (about 5 minutes).

  1. Draw the ICHTHUS symbol on the board.
  2. Explain that this symbol goes back to the days of persecution. It is simply the outline of a fish, with the Greek word for fish written inside, but it is also an anagram representing the early faith of the Christians in Jesus. In this way, the symbol of the fish expressed the phrase “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.”
  3. So the early Christians believed that Jesus was truly both the Christ (God’s messiah) and the Son of God. But what about us? Can we believe the same?
  4. In the last two lessons we looked at some of the evidence that makes Jesus stand out from other great teachers and movement founders. This week, we will look at some of the evidence that helps us see Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God and our Savior.

Learning Experiences: (about 45 minutes)

  1. Jesus Fits Many Specific Prophecies of the Old Testament.
    1. The claim that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection fulfill prophecy was a foundation of the early Christian case for Christ.
    2. [Important point to clarify for students] The argument is not that these prophecies can only refer to Jesus and nothing else. In many cases, it was well known that some of these prophecies had been fulfilled in lesser ways earlier in Israel’s history.
    3. But it was common for the Jews to look for deeper meaning in scripture and to see God’s hand in the repetition of patterns which had been before.
    4. So the argument which the early Christians made was that so many prophecies had such striking similarities to the life of Jesus that it was beyond the power of coincidence to explain.
    5. The following are some examples. [Judge the time on this. You may only want to do a few, and hand out a list of the rest for students to study on their own. Prophecies marked by * are the most profitable ones to use.].
      1. Daniel 2 & 7 foretell that Jesus will come during the third empire after the Babylonians (apparently the empire of Rome) and establish a kingdom unlike all earthly kingdoms, which will never pass away.[May omit a) and b) for time sake.]
        1. NOTE: The date and intention of this prophecy is one of the most controversial in the OldTestament.
        2. But there is evidence that at least by the time of the first century, it was viewed as referring to the kingdom of the Romans. One strong piece of evidence for this is recorded by the second century Roman historian Suetonius, in The Twelve Caesars, telling about Vespasian’s rise to power in A. D. 70, wrote, “An ancient superstition was current in the East, that out of Judea at this time would come the rulers of the world.” Daniel is the likely basis for this belief.
      2. Micah 5:2 matches his birth in Bethlehem.
      3. Isaiah 9:6&7 speaks of an expected child that will not only be the Prince of Peace and the king of an ever-ending kingdom, but also Everlasting Father and Mighty God.
      4. Isaiah 29:18 & 35:5&6 match his healing of the blind and lame.
      5. Isaiah 61:1 matches his preaching of good news to the poor.
      6. Isaiah 42:1-3 is a striking description of his gentleness with the weak.
      7. Psalms 69:9 fits Jesus’ zeal for God’s house which was manifest in cleansing the Temple.
      8. Zechariah 9:9&10 matches the shouts of praise as he entered Jerusalem, riding on a donkey’s colt.
      9. Zechariah 10&11 indicates that Jesus will act as the good shepherd for Gods flock. But this passage also predicts that his goodness will be despised, and he will be considered worth only thirty pieces of silver.
      10. Isaiah 53:4-7 fits his suffering for our sins.
      11. Psalms 22 matches Jesus’ very words from the cross and many of his physical and emotional experiences as he was crucified, and even more strangely, the very words with which his enemies mocked him while he died.
      12. Isaiah 53:8-12 fits his death to forgive sins and also his resurrection to life. [compare vs. 8 & 9 with vs. 11 & 12].
      13. Isaiah 49:6 predicts that God’s servant will not only minister to Israel, but will also be a light to the Gentiles.
      14. *Jeremiah 31:33&34 predicts the coming of a new covenant, marked by personal knowledge of God and an inner witness to His will.
    6. Of course, one may choose to interpret any of these prophecies in other ways.
    7. But the cumulative effect of these prophecies is strong evidence that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament.
  2. Jesus Answers the Questions that the Old Testament Leaves Unanswered.
    1. Probably more important to early Christians than specific prophecies was the way that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus seemed to complete the unfinished business of the Old Testament.
      1. There is a growing recognition among scholars of the high level of frustration that Jews felt in the first century that the promises of the Old Testament had not been fulfilled.
      2. The Jews were looking for some kind of answer to the questions that were left unanswered as the Old Testament era drew to a close.
      3. Jesus did not bring the political deliverance that the Jews were expecting, but the early Christians found that when you started to look at Jesus as the Christ, the promises of the Old Testament fell into place around him in an unexpected but very compelling way.
      4. Listed below are some of the questions that are left unanswered at the end of the Old Testament, but which find a satisfying answer in Jesus.
    2. When will God restore His Kingdom and make it fill the whole earth?
      1. Prophets such as Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel had predicted the worldwide spread of the kingdom of God.
      2. But the Old Testament ends with Israel a small and insignificant bit of the massive Persian Empire.
      3. If that were the end of the story, then it would be most reasonable to reject the prophets of the Old Testament as frauds.
      4. In fact, if someone in 400 B. C. were to guess which of the world’s religions/philosophies would be the most common belief in the future, they would never have bet on the strange monotheistic faith of the tiny nation of Israel.
      5. But today, the monotheistic faith of Israel is the most common belief system on the planet, and the most common religion is Christianity, which claims to be the kingdom of God.
      6. So Christ has fulfilled the predictions of the Old Testament in an unexpected but astonishing way.
    3. How can the Holy God have fellowship with people who are never perfect?
      1. One of the problems of Jewish monotheism was that their God was not only all-powerful, but also morally perfect.
        1. The pagan gods and goddesses were limited and often immoral, so there was always the hope that they might not know about evil, or might be convinced not to punish by sufficient sacrifice and piety.
        2. In contrast, the God of the Jews was too holy to even look on evil. He was so holy that the best actions of humans looked like filthy rags to Him.
      2. This created a profound problem: How can we ever really hope to have fellowship with such a holy God?
      3. The perfect obedience and cleansing blood of Christ provides a satisfying answer. While we can never convince ourselves that we deserve the love of God based on our own actions, we can believe that the blood of God’s own Son does have the power to make us pure in God’s eyes.
    4. How can the Kingdom of God that fills the whole earth and lasts forever be built on the Law of Moses, which Israel failed to keep over and over?
      1. Acts 15:10&11 Peter acknowledges this point: .Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.
      2. But Jesus supplies the answer. Jesus is the righteous servant of Isaiah who, as the representative of Israel (and us, the spiritual Israel), offers to God perfect obedience to the law (Rom.8:1-4), and a better sacrifice than the sacrifices of the law (Heb.9:12-14; 10:10-12).
    5. The Old Testament claims that the restored kingdom of God will last forever. But if the Messiah is another David, who builds yet another kingdom on blood and death, how can it endure any longer than other such kingdoms? By its violence it creates the seeds of its own destruction.
      1. Kingdoms that are built on violence, even violence in a good cause, seem doomed to be overthrown by violence.
        1. As we discussed in the lesson on the moral teachings of Jesus, force breeds resistance and counter-force.
        2. History shows that all kingdoms built on force eventually succumb to internal or external enemies.
      2. But Jesus’ kingdom is not built on violence. He does not rule by shedding the blood of his enemies, but by shedding his own blood for his enemies.
      3. His subjects are won by gratitude, not by force, and they obey out of love, not out of fear (I John 4:17 &18).
      4. This is truly a kingdom that can last forever.
    6. In this and many other ways, the most basic themes of the Old Testament find their best fulfillment in the life and kingdom of Jesus Christ.
  3. Jesus performed miracles.
    1. In the sermons in Acts, and in the gospels themselves, the miracles of Jesus are presented as primary evidence that his claims about himself are true.
    2. Jesus’ miracles are incredibly well documented compared to other events in the ancient world.
      1. Jesus’ miracles are attested to in all four canonical gospels.
      2. Sometimes the gospels tell the same miracle story, but each gospel contains unique references to miracles, and so each is an independent witness to miracles.
      3. Miracles are considered a part of God’s testimony to Jesus in other parts of the New Testament, such as:
        1. Acts 2, 10.
        2. Heb. 2:4.
        3. II Pet. 1:17-18.
      4. The first century Jewish historian Josephus ascribes miracles to Jesus.
        1. Even though some of his statements about Jesus are thought to be additions by later Christian editors, the mention of Jesus’ miracles is usually thought to go back to Josephus.
      5. Even the Jewish Talmud does not deny the miracles, but tries to explain them away. (The Talmud is very late evidence, but it is possible that it preserves some oral traditions of the Jews).
        1. According to the Talmud, Jesus worked miracles through sorcery.
        2. Jesus was killed for his sorcery according to one passage.
      6. This evidence taken together make the claim that Jesus did miracles as well documented as just about anything in ancient history.
      7. It is possible to doubt it, but it seems that if one does, the honest thing to do is to doubt all the rest of ancient history as well.
    3. [If time is short, you may have to skip this, or just use it to answer questions if they come up. Try not to skip the conclusions and application.] Of course, it is common in the modern world to dismiss all miracle accounts, no matter how good the evidence. There are three common kinds of objections that are used to do this.
      1. Objection 1: Miracles violate the standards of historical research.
        1. We always reject accounts from history for which we have no current similar experience.
        2. By definition, miracles are the farthest thing from our current experiences.
        3. Therefore, we should always reject miracle accounts. [This form of the argument is from Ernst Troeltsch “Historiography,” Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, ed. James Hastings, vol. 6 (New York: Chas. Scribners & Sons, 1913), pp. 716-723, according to Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-VarsityPress, 1987) p. 79].
      2. Response to Objection 1: This is an important argument, but the case it makes is actually too strong. Taken literally, it would rule out all sufficiently unusual events.
        1. Some events may be very common in certain localities while uncommon in ours, and a literal application of this principle would forbid us to believe those who report them.
          1. In the 19th century, it would not have been reasonable for those who live in hot climates to believe that water could freeze and become hard enough to walk on.
          2. Should rain forest Indians believe in cars, airplanes, etc. if they have never seen them?
        2. These problems lead us to think that this principle is not the real principle that we should use in historical research.
          1. A lack of experience alone can never be conclusive in history.
          2. Our skepticism is not raised so much by a lack of similar experience, as by repeated experience of fraud and error in some area.
            1. It’s not lack of authentic photos of the Loch Ness monster, but repeated experiences of faked monster photos that makes us skeptical whenever we see a alleged photo of the beast.
          3. We disbelieve the dial-a-psychics because we have seen so many that were fakes.
            1. Solution: Surely we should treat miracle stories with some level of skepticism, but allow that they might be proved, given sufficient evidence.[Attributed to Wolfhart Pannenberg, BasicQuestions in Theology, vol. 1 (Philadelphia:Fortress, 1970), pp. 48&9 in Craig Blomberg,The Historical Reliability of the Gospels(Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press,1987) pp. 79&80.].
      3. Objection 2: Miracles are Useless as Evidence.
        1. We could only have grounds for believing thatGod raised Jesus from the dead if we already knew that there is a God who might do such things.
        2. So we could never use the resurrection of Jesus to convince someone who is not already a believer.
      4. Response to Objection 2:
        1. This ignores the common condition of real uncertainty about what to believe.
        2. For a real agnostic, an authentic miracle could well be the thing that makes up his mind for him.
        3. Even if the only thing you get out of the rest of this series up to now has been “I don’t know,”the miracles of Jesus, and especially the resurrection of Jesus that we will look at next, can be the evidence that helps you make up your mind.
      5. Objection 3:
        1. Some will say - Even if Jesus did do miracles, other religious leaders did too, so miracles don’t provide us with any real evidence that our beliefs are true and others are false.
        2. This seems like a killer objection at first, because the religions of the world are filled with miracle stories of every description.
      6. Response to Objection 3:
        1. The question that we should always ask is, “How does the evidence for other miracles compare with the evidence for the miracles of Jesus?”
        2. There are miraculous stories about Alexander the Great, but they come to from books written over three hundred years after Alexander lived.
        3. There are many miracles attributed to Buddha, but they likewise do not show up in the earliest records of Buddha, and are not recorded until about six hundred years after his time.
        4. Apollonius of Tyana is a particular favorite of skeptical scholars.
          1. He is by far the best ancient parallel to the miracle-working side of Jesus.
          2. He was a traveling teacher like Jesus, and according to the biography written by Philostratus, he performed several healings, and even appeared to one of his disciples after his death, according to our only record of his life.
          3. The book by the skeptical research group, the Jesus seminar, used him as a foil for Jesus in their book, The Five Gospels. They include a brief essay [p. 437] comparing his resurrection of a young girl to Jesus’ raising of Jairus’ daughter.
          4. The first line of the essay is key “Other sages in Jesus’ world were apparently able to raise people from the dead.” The implication to the reader who is very likely unfamiliar with the story of Apollonius is that the evidence for this miracle is about as good as the evidence for Jesus’ raising of Jairus’ daughter.
          5. We are told that the life of Apollonius was written by Flavius Philostratus (170-245) so clearly more than a century removed from the events. (Apollonius was a contemporary of Jesus.)
          6. We are not told the following difficulties of the Apollonius stories:
            1. He is said to have made trips to Nineveh and Babylon, and had conversations with the kings of both, even though both were in ruins in the first century.
            2. The alleged eyewitness source, Damas, has left no other trace. He was said to be from Nineveh, which makes it unlikely that he even existed.
            3. No other witnesses or evidence of the miracle claims survive. [These last points are mostly from Gary Habermas, “Did Jesus Perform Miracles,” pp. 123-124 in Michael J. Wilkins and J. P.Moreland, Jesus Under Fire,(Zondervan, 1995).]
          7. While the Apollonius stories are interesting, they cannot be considered nearly as well supported as the claim that Jesus did miracles.
        5. It is safe to say that so far, skeptics have not turned up any miracle accounts from ancient religions which have the same kind of timely and diverse evidence as do the miracles of Jesus.
    4. These objections aside, that Jesus performed miracles is as well attested as just about any fact we have from thefirst century.
      1. In the 18th and 19th Century skeptics hoped that they could uncover a non-miraculous Jesus, by stripping back the layers of tradition and legend.
      2. But this search has led to no scholarly consensus at all.
      3. A non-miraculous Jesus just will not come into focus.
      4. Given this state of the evidence, the most reasonable conclusion is that Jesus actually did miracles.


  1. As we saw in previous lessons, it is just not honest to say that there is no evidence that sets Jesus above the other great teachers of history.
  2. In this lesson we have seen some additional,supernatural reasons, to believe in him.
    1. Jesus fits a remarkable number of specific Old Testament prophecies.
    2. Jesus provides the answer for many questions which are left unanswered at the end of the Old Testament.
    3. We have superb evidence that Jesus did miracles.
  3. All of these taken together would have to put Jesus at the top of the list of someone who was looking for a leader to follow.

Application: (about 5 minutes)

  1. It is a fact of human life that we will follow someone.
  2. We may or may not admit this, but human beings are built to trust.
  3. Some will trust Jesus, others will trust Buddha, while others may trust Freud, or Greenspan, or Einstein, or the Republican Party, or the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Small, Cute Animals.
  4. If we have to put our final trust in someone (as we do, whether we admit it or not), Jesus is more worthy of this trust than any other human in history.
  5. All of this is true even without looking at the strongest evidence of all for Jesus - God’s personal testimony to Jesusin the resurrection. We will consider this in the last two lessons.

Further Resources:

  1. Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels,Inter-Varsity Press, 1987, chapter 3.
  2. Rubel Shelly, Prepare to Answer, 20th Century Christian,1990, ch. 10.
  3. Gary Habermas, “Did Jesus Perform Miracles,” pp.117-140in Michael J. Wilkins and J. P. Moreland, Jesus Under Fire,(Zondervan, 1995)

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