Who is Jesus?
Recently, I read a blog that listed “65 Apologetics Questions that Every Christian Parent Needs to Learn to Answer”. Wow – that’s a long list! I agree that there are multitudes of questions and challenges to faith that our children will encounter. How do we even begin addressing these and where do we stop? I believe the answer is to focus on core questions, such as the five questions in the Thinking Series by Apologetics Canada (listed below). Knowing how to answer each of these core questions will better prepare us to face the numerous other challenges that may come. I also believe that these core questions lead to one ultimate question, that once answered, will guide our children’s lives in answering all others: “Who is Jesus?”
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13 NIV) Imagine Jesus asking that question today and the responses he would receive! Though there are many different ideas about who Jesus is, I like how C.S. Lewis famously narrows it down to 3 options: Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. In his book Mere Christianity, Lewis argues that Christ’s claims about his own divinity were so bold that He cannot possibly be construed as a great moral teacher and nothing more. Either his claims were false, making Him a horrible liar or a complete lunatic, or they were true, making Him God Incarnate and worthy of Lordship. As parents, we can walk through Christ’s claims about Himself and these three options with our children and discuss their thoughts and conclusions. Lee Strobel’s ‘Case for Christ for Kids’ is a good resource for walking through this together.
Ultimately, our consideration of who Jesus is must lead to investigating the claim of the resurrection. If Jesus rose from the dead, then He is God and we must believe all He taught. The Apostle Paul writes that our faith is useless if Christ is not raised (1 Cor 15:12-19). I like how Sean McDowell defines faith as ‘trusting in what you have good reason to believe is true.’ We build confident faith in our children by demonstrating that we have good reasons to believe that Jesus rose from the dead.
I encourage us as parents to share with our kids why we believe Jesus rose from the dead and how we have come to believe He is Lord. We may share from personal experience or historical evidence or both. Our testimony will be powerful in our children’s lives.
In our testimony, we have the opportunity to model the importance of seeking out and finding good reasons to believe in Christ. We live in an awesome time with access to many excellent apologists who can walk us through compelling evidence for the resurrection. I will provide some suggested resources below that can help us articulate why we believe in the historical resurrection of Jesus. Some of these resources explain a strategy called ‘minimal facts’ which is focussed on creating a strong case for the reliability of the resurrection while only using those facts that are nearly unanimously agreed upon by all historians, even those that are skeptical or hostile to Christianity. This strategy can be particularly valuable in a culture that is largely skeptical of the Bible, as it makes a compelling case for the resurrection outside of the gospel accounts. I also value how Timothy Keller challenges the skeptic to answer historical questions regarding the rapid emergence of Christianity and willingness of the disciples to die for what they believed.
May God bless you and your family as you seek truth and the answer to this important question:
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15 NIV)
Five Questions Worth Thinking About from The Thinking Series, by Andy Steiger
What is the meaning of life?
Does God Exist?
Do all religions lead to God?
Why is there evil?
Is there life after death?
Family Discussion Starters
- When you hear different stories, how do you decide who is telling the truth? What kinds of things do you consider? [Strobel]
- If age-appropriate, view a short video clip on YouTube such as ‘Who Is Jesus?’ by BlueFish TV to hear different people’s ideas about Jesus. Have you heard some of these ideas before? How do you feel about these ideas? This is an opportunity to expose our kids in a safe environment to what the culture and society is saying, rather than waiting for the culture to do it for you.
- What story in history do you like to read about? How would you investigate to find out if the story really happened?
- According to early church historians, all of Jesus’ disciples were killed for what they believed and preached except John. Imagine you were one of the first disciples. Would you have died for something you didn’t believe in or that you knew wasn’t true? What does history tell you about what the disciples believed? [Strobel]
- Why do you think the resurrection is so important to Christians? What hope did they hold to in the first century that we can continue to hold to today?
- Lee Strobel. Case for Christ For Kids. Zonderkidz, 2010.
- Timothy Keller. The Reason for God Belief in an Age of Skepticism. Dutton, 2008.
- J.P. Moreland & Tim Muehlhoff. The God Conversation Using Stories and Illustrations to Explain Your Faith. Intervarsity Press, 2007
- J. Warner Wallace. “Why Should I Believe the Resurrection?” www.str.org January 1, 2013.
- William Lane Craig. “The Resurrection of Jesus”. www.reasonablefaith.org/the-resurrection-of-jesus
- Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Kregel Publications 2004.
- J. Warner Wallace. Cold-Case Christianity A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. David C Cook, 2013.
- C. S. Lewis. Mere Christianity. HarperCollins, 1952.
p.s. We have an awesome opportunity at this year’s Apologetics Canada conference March 7-8, 2014, to hear Dr. Gary Habermas, a leading authority on the issue of the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. He will speak on ‘The Case for the Resurrection.’