Part 4- What Makes Jesus So Different?

You can talk about God, and people don’t necessarily get upset, but mention Jesus, and people want to stop the conversation. Why don’t the names of Buddha, Muhammad, or Confucius offend people the way the name of Jesus does?
I think the reason is that these other religious leaders didn’t claim to be God. It didn’t take long for people who knew Jesus to realize that this carpenter from Nazareth was making astounding claims about himself. It became clear that those claims were identifying him as more than just a prophet or teacher. He was obviously making claims to deity.
While I was lecturing in a literature class at a university in West Virginia, a professor interrupted me and said that the only Gospel in which Jesus claimed to be God was John’s Gospel, and it was the latest one written. He then asserted that Mark, the earliest Gospel, never once mentioned that Jesus claimed to be God.

that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him.

John 5:23

In response I turned to Mark’s Gospel. “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven’” (Mark 2:5; see also Luke 7:48-50). According to Jewish theology, only God could say such a thing; Isaiah 43:25 restricts forgiveness of sin as the prerogative of God alone.
This concept of forgiveness bothered me for quite a while because I didn’t understand it. One day in philosophy class, a graduate student pointed out that he could forgive people without the act’s demonstrating any claim to be God. People do it all the time. As I pondered what the man was saying, the answer suddenly struck me. Yes, one can say, “I forgive you,” but only if he is the one who has been sinned against. If you sin against me, I have the right to forgive you. But if you sin against someone else, I have no such right. The paralytic had not sinned against the man Jesus; the two men had never even seen each other before. The paralytic had sinned against God. Then along came Jesus, who under his own authority said, “Your sins are forgiven.” Yes, we can forgive sins committed against us, but in no way can anyone forgive sins committed against God except God himself. Yet that is what Jesus claimed to do—and why there is such a big difference between him and other religious leaders.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralysed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’

Mark 2:5

Taken from More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell

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