There is a popular argument made by some skeptics that Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God. They say He was a good teacher and that only generations later did the Church make up that He was divine.
First we have to realize that the earliest available manuscripts of the New Testament have not been edited and changed over time as some claim. While there have been various translations of those manuscripts, the documents in the ancient languages themselves have not been altered. But if the only source we have documenting Jesus’ moral teaching are the Gospels, we need to consider the other content of those Gospels.
Jesus declared himself in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The skeptics say this statement by Jesus refers to his example of living a good life; as in following His way, His truth and his sacrificial life as the path to God.
However when Jesus famously asked his disciples who they think He is, Peter spoke up and said that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus didn’t correct him, He affirmed him: (Matthew 16:17) “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”
When put on trial with the threat of death, Jesus did not deny this claim to save himself. Mark 14:61-62:
“Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Not good enough? The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote about Jesus and His followers in his “Jewish Antiquities”:
“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named for him, are not extinct at this day.”
When you also consider that Jesus’ followers suffered and died for their belief in Jesus being the Christ, the claim doesn’t make sense: they made up those facts about Jesus’ divinity so they could be put to death? That doesn’t hold up.
The message of Jesus has endured generations of attacks, skepticism, controversy and claims that it’s false. And yet, He endures.
John wrote in his first letter to address early claims of falsehood. 1 John 1:1 states:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”