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Session 5: Is Jesus Really God?

Lord? Liar? Lunatic? Jesus actually claimed to be God. How can we possibly know if he was telling the truth? The Curiosity Collective brings together subject matter experts, pastors, and theologians to examine the question of if Jesus is God.

Watch the Pulse of the World video above, pause to consider the questions displayed on the screen, and then continue on to The Curiosity Collective video by pressing play. Below, you will find questions for discussion and reflection related to The Curiosity Collective video.

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

  1. In what ways can you identify with any of the stories in The Curiosity Collective? What did you find intriguing or compelling?
  2. Was Jesus a historical figure, in your opinion? Why or why not?
  3. What did Leonce mean when he said, “Religion says ‘I do, therefore I’m loved.’ Jesus says, ‘You’re loved, therefore you do’”?
  4. Christians believe that sin separates humanity from God. Yet Jesus, through his death, bridges that gap. Why do you think Jesus had to die in order to accomplish this?
  5. In the video, Bryan says “[Jesus] was resurrected—rose up from the dead—with over five hundred witnesses. They saw him and, based on that encounter, were willing to die in order to testify as to what they saw.” What do you think about his claim?
  6. What do you think about Jesus’s claim to be God?

I'd like to think Jesus is a great person. Uh, I just, I— It's just, it's— To me, it's a silly story. 

Jesus was the shepherd who basically was the leader of the pack and told people what to do. 

He would probably be the guy that I walked by and thought He was a homeless bum and ignored Him honestly. I'm sure that He would be saying something really profound, and I'm afraid I might be ignoring it. 

I don't necessarily believe that any one person is God. I don't think that Jesus may have been God. However, I do believe that we all have divinity within us. 

I'm just trying to do the best I can down here. I, I, I believe that, that uh, the teachings of Jesus, uh, they ring true to me. That's the— It makes sense to live that way, to, to love people instead of hate people, to, to look out for your fellow man instead of always trying to beat him down. 

Jesus wasn't white, so I don't think that you could say that he's just here for white, middle-class people. 

Um, if he really existed, I'm all for it, um... Too bad that there is no other people like, like Him nowadays. 

Jesus, I believe, was a liberal. And I think, looking at where we're going, I think he'd be happy to see that people are becoming more and more accepting. 

Sure, I believe that Jesus was a historical person, um, but I don't believe the, uh, the other things that have accrued around the story of His life. 

He's, he's like the pinnacle of love. 

It's idolization basically, the idea that there's a human being that can be viewed as a god is, is, is... is a tough, um, tough proposition for me to accept. 

Jesus— he loves people, and he wants people in his family, and he's not someone that pushes people outside. He's always inviting people in. 

I think I'm, I grow more curious about that every day, um... uh, and, and how I can be a better person um, maybe by following his teachings. And, and maybe it will be a fit for me, and maybe it won't, but, you know, I have a lifetime to figure that out.

(Pause)

Maybe not. 

Figure it out right off the bat. 

You guys would much rather have a girl here, wouldn't you? 

May I see your glasses? 

Set. 

I kind of worked through the, the theme of having a lot of different ways to God, and God sitting on a mountain, and it depends on which path up the mountain, uh, you take. But, uh, as I looked at that, there were so many different contradictions among, uh, the paths up the mountain, and there was different types of gods that they were starting. And then I kind of came to the realization, uh, one time, when I said, "You know, if you're really going to be serious about this, somewhere along the line, no matter what you learn about 'Does God exist?' and other religions, you've gotta come back and ask the question, 'Who is Jesus?'" Because of all the religious leaders in the world, Jesus is the only one who claimed to be God. 

What the Bible talks about is that, you know, Jesus revealed what God is like in a way we could comprehend— this unseen, infinite God that we can't even fathom. And, you know, people would say, Well, yeah, that's a, that's a great thought, but, uh, it's just probably myth. But actually, God put into history signs and markers so that we could know it really was true, that it really was from Him. You know, the Old Testament is, is not one book. It's actually 39 books written by about 40 different authors over a period of about 1,500 years. And, and all throughout, God was foretelling when He would actually send this Messiah, this one who would reveal the unseen God in a, a way we could relate to. And it foretold when that would happen, um, I mean, to, to the, to the time and the place. Like, it'll happen in Jerusalem and before, uh, the, the temple is destroyed. Well, that's real history, uh, because the temple was destroyed by the Roman General Titus in 70 A.D., and it still hasn't been rebuilt, to this day. So there are lots of reasons like that to, to realize this isn't just myth. You know, and I thought— that's what I thought. I thought it was myth, but I just hadn't taken the time to really look. 

You know, Jesus claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life. He announced a new order of things, a new way that the world would work, uh, that was going to look, going to look very different than how the religious leaders of the day had sort of set things up. Uh, he was somebody who was going to set people free, who had felt captive. And I think many of them had felt captive to religion, had felt captive to a list of to-dos and a, a big moral rule book that they felt like they had to live by, otherwise, they couldn't be in a relationship with God, and He was breaking through that. 

Religion says, "I do, therefore I'm loved." Jesus says, "You love, therefore you do." And I think that is the demarcation, that is the line in the sand, so clearly expressed through His character. 

I think Jesus is a different sort of king and a different sort of savior because He doesn't express His message through power or making an enemy or success. He displayed His power through suffering and a crucifixion and dying and losing on the cross. But then the, the kicker on the story is that, uh, He rose again. 

If Jesus actually rose from the dead, nobody else, no other religious figure, nobody else in all of humanity has ever done that. You look at the fact that, you know, we know Jesus lived 2,000-ish years ago. There was a man named Jesus, lived in Nazareth, was crucified by the Romans. We know that, like, not just, not just from the Bible, but other sources have testified to that. 

Three days later, He comes back to life, and the authorities are so freaked out by this reality that they pay off the guards, and they come up with some ways to obfuscate what's happened. But the reality is, there was an empty tomb, and all they'd have had to have done is hauled out the broken body of Jesus Christ, but they couldn't produce it. 

He was resurrected, rose up from the dead— with over 500 witnesses that saw Him— and based on that encounter, were willing to die in order to testify to what they had saw. 

They truly were so convicted that this— that they saw a dead guy rise that it m— you know, it made history. 

I would speak to my friends who are atheists, agnostics. Um... I have not had a moment where they would shut me down because I talked about Jesus. People throw rocks at me for talking about the church, but not Jesus. Oftentimes, I, I find Jesus there. Uh, he's already there before me in the studios and in the backstages, um, with dancers and actors. He's already there in the conversation. He's already in, in their bones, and my practice has been to go and look for him. I realized this historic figure of Jesus was no longer just a historic figure, but he was the one who was calling me all along, through my creativity. And he wanted to reveal Himself to me into a way that I could understand. When Jesus says, "I am the, I am the truth. I am the way, truth, and the life," actually to me, as an artist, he is actually claiming to be the author of life. And he's, he's actually not only doing that, but he's saying that we are his artwork. 

Imagine that there were a man who's making all these claims about himself. And then imagine that, okay, uh, he's not God, he's not, you know, the Messiah, so it kind of makes him crazy. Uh, but he doesn't sound crazy. But why would he make these claims that he can forgive sin, that he can do all these amazing things, that... Okay, he's not crazy, well, then what? Then he's a liar? Uh, he doesn't sound like a liar. He's saying these beautiful things. He sounds like a beautiful, authentic person with incredible wisdom, so... it feels like the only option is to say, he is who he says he is. That's where your logical thoughts take you, but this is, there's more to this than logic. Believing that Jesus is God is one of those things that at the end of the day, God has to sort of reveal it. At this point, I do know that it's true, but I don't expect other people to accept it. I think that they have to think it through for themselves. I would encourage them to think it through, because it's kind of important. 

As you look at the men and women in the Bible, they all come back to this one simple statement: The love of Christ compels me. Not their love for Christ, Christ's love for them. The love of Christ compels. That's the spectacularness of who he is, and that's what He wishes to do in and through each of us.