The Moral Glory of Jesus As Evidence of His Deity
The number of unbelievers in America seems to be increasing every year. Whether the greater majority of those who no longer attend worship services are real infidels or only practical infidels, I cannot tell. However, there is always a need to present evidences of the deity of Jesus that men might believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God. We could consider this subject from a variety of viewpoints, such as: the miracles, prophecy, His teaching, or His resurrection. However, a little used evidence of the deity of Jesus Christ is His moral glory. Jesus was the sinless Son of God.
His Relationship To Sin
When we consider the relationship which Jesus had to sin, we are impressed with His moral glory. Jesus condemned self-righteousness in His parable about prayer as He criticized the Pharisee who went up to the Temple to pray (Lk. 18:9-14). Yet, although He condemned self-righteousness, He never once confessed a sin, prayed for forgiveness of a sin, or apologized for any of His conduct. Even when the Jews came to Him saying that He made Himself to be equal with God, He never apologized for it or withdrew the claim.
Indeed, He went a step further; He challenged anyone to point to a sin in His life. He said, "Which of you convicts me of sin?" (Jn. 8:46). No one has yet to lay a sin at the feet of Jesus. He stood above the race as the only sinless man to ever live. He "was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15). Jesus Christ, our High Priest, is "holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens" (Heb. 7:26). He was offered in sacrifice for sin as a "lamb unblemished and spotless" (1 Pet. 1:19); He "offered Himself without blemish to God" (Heb. 9:14). He was guilty of no sin.
Furthermore, He claimed to have the power to forgive sin. The miracle which He performed in healing the paralytic borne of four was done to demonstrate that the "Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (Mk. 2:10). He was either the most egotistical person on earth or the sinless Son of God. No one but God alone has the authority to forgive sins. The fact that Jesus claimed to have that authority must be reckoned with; He was either the Son of God or an egotistical blasphemer.
The Testimony of His Enemies
1. The Jews. When the Jews presented Jesus to Pilate for crucifixion, they had so few charges that even Pilate could recognize that Jesus was a just man. This fact cannot be ignored as it points to the moral glory of Jesus Christ.
For three long years the Pharisees were watching their victim. As another writes, "There was the Pharisee mingling in every crowd, hiding behind every tree. They examined His disciples, they cross-questioned all around Him. They looked into His ministerial life, into His domestic privacy, into His hours of retirement. They came forward with the sole accusation they could muster-that He had shown disrespect to Caesar. The Roman judge who ought to know, pronounced it void" (W. G. Morehead, The Fundamentals, Vol. III, p. 47).
2. Pontius Pilate and His wife. The Roman procurator who sentenced Jesus also testified to the innocence of Jesus. The records state:
When he (Pilate) was set down on the judgment-seat, his wife sent unto him saying: Have thou nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him (Mt. 27:19).
When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying: I am innocent of the blood of this rust person; see ye to it (Mt. 27:24).
Both Pilate and his wife pronounced that Jesus was a just person. In order to avoid guilt with reference to Jesus, Pilate washed his hands of the matter. Indeed, he washed his hands but not his heart.
3. The Roman centurion in charge of crucifying Jesus. As this Roman soldier witnessed the events of the death of Christ, he uttered these two statements as reported by the evangelists:
Now when the centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying: Truly this was the son of God (Mk. 27:54).
Now, when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man (Lk. 23:47).
Not even the Roman officer who executed Jesus was able to accuse Him of sin. No doubt, the seven sayings of Jesus while hanging on the cross were impressive to him.
4. Judas. The disciple who betrayed Jesus could not live with himself after committing that horrible deed. Judas had opportunity to be with Jesus day in and day out for three years; he knew whether or not Jesus could be charged with sin. After committing his horrible deed for thirty pieces of silver, Judas returned the money to the Jews who bought him saying, "I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood" (Mt. 27:4). He recognized the innocence of Jesus. Not being able to live with himself, he went out and hung himself.
We could add to this list the testimony of many others who are enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even those today who deny the deity of Jesus testify to His moral glory. The Jews who deny that Jesus is the Son of God recognize Him as a good moral man. The modernists who reject the deity of Jesus say that He was the best man who ever lived. Many of those who have written atheistic books still recognize that Jesus was morally clean.
The Moral Balance of Christ
Jesus was also unique in that His life was' not morally lopsided. I have seen men so full of love that they had no appreciation for disciplining their children; others with whom I have had contact cared so much for discipline that they manifested no real love for their children, although I am sure they loved them dearly. Jesus did not manifest these lopsided attributes in His moral character.
There have been those who have displayed distinguished traits of character; those who by reason of extraordinary gifts have risen to heights which are inaccessible to the great mass of men. But who among the mightiest of men has shown himself to be evenly balanced and rightly poised in all his faculties and powers? In the very greatest and best, inequality and disproportion are encountered . . . . In Jesus Christ there is no unevenness . . . . His justice and His mercy, His peerless love and His truth, His holiness and His freest pardon never clash; one never clouds the other. His firmness never degenerates into obstinacy, or His calmness into indifference. His gentleness never becomes weakness, nor His elevation of soul forgetfulness of others . . . . "He never speaks where it would be better to keep silence, He never keeps silence where it would be better to speak; and He always leaves the arena of controversy a victor" (Ibid., p. 50).
He is justly compared with the lion in strength, and with the lamb in meekness. He equally possessed the wisdom of the serpent and the simplicity of the dove. He brought both the sword against every form of wickedness, and the peace which the world cannot give. He was the most effective, and yet the least noisy, the most radical, and yet the most conservative, calm, and patient, of all reformers. He came to fulfill every letter of the law; and yet he made all things new. The same hand which drove the profane traffickers from the Temple blessed little children, healed the lepers, and rescued the sinking disciple; the same ear which heard the voice of approbation from heaven was open to the cries of the woman in travail; the same mouth which pronounced the terrible woe on hypocrites, and condemned the impure desire and unkind feeling as well as the open crime, blessed the poor in spirit, announced pardon to the adulteress, and prayed for his murderers; the same eye which beheld the mysteries of God, and penetrated the heart of man, shed tears of compassion over ungrateful Jerusalem, and tears of friendship at the grave of Lazarus (Philip Schaff, The Person of Christ: The Miracle of History, pp. 87-89).
A Cause Without An Effect
Those who deny the deity of Jesus Christ are in the unenviable position of admitting the effect, the moral glory of Christ, without believing in a sufficient cause to have produced it. They deny that Jesus was the Son of God. If the moral purity of the character such as Jesus can be produced without supernatural causes, why has it not been produced in others than Jesus. The truth is that no other man has even touched the hem of the garment of Jesus' moral perfection. No other man can because no other man is God incarnate.
Conclusion to closing, I would like to append this exceptional tribute to our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
His greatness is singularly unostentatious, modest, and quiet; and, far from repelling the beholder, it attracts and invites him to familiar approach. His public life never moved on the imposing arena of secular heroism, but within the humble circle of every-day life, and the simple relations of a son, a brother, a citizen, a teacher, and a friend. He had no army to command, no kingdom to rule, no prominent station to fill, no worldly favors and rewards to dispense. He was an humble individual, without friends and patrons in the Sanhedrin or at the court of Herod. He never mingled in familiar intercourse with the religious or social leaders of the nation, whom he had startled in his twelfth year by his questions and answers. He selected his disciples from among the illiterate fisherman of Galilee, and promised them no reward in this world but a part in the bitter cup of his sufferings. He dined with publicans and sinners, mingled with the common people, without ever condescending to their low manners and habits. He was so poor, that he had no place on which to rest his head. He depended, for the supply of his modest wants, on the voluntary contributions of a few pious females; and the purse was in the hands of a thief and a traitor. Nor had he learning, art, or eloquence, in the usual sense of the term, or any other kind of power by which great men arrest the attention and secure the admiration of the world. The writers of Greece and Rome were ignorant even of his existence, until, several years after the crucifixion, the effects of his mission, in the steady growth of the sect of his followers, forced from them some contemptuous notice, and then roused them to opposition.
And yet this Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science, and learning, he shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, he spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of any orator or poet; without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and sweet songs of praise, than the whole army of great men of ancient and modem times. Born in a manger, and crucified as a malefactor, he now controls the destinies of the civilized world, and rules a spiritual empire which embraces one-third of the inhabitants of the globe. There never was in this world a life so unpretending, modest, and lowly in its outward form and condition, and yet producing such extra-ordinary effects upon all ages, nations, and classes of men. The annals of history produce no other example of such complete and astounding success, in spite of the absence of those material, social, literary, and artistic powers and influences which are indispensable to success for a mere man. Christ stands, in this respect also, solitary and alone among all the heroes of history, and presents to us an insolvable problem, unless we admit him to be more than man, even the eternal Son of God (Ibid., pp. 47-50).
Truth Magazine XXII: 23, pp. 371-373