Who is Jesus?

There are many religions in the world claiming millions of followers, and each of them begins with a person. Muhammad, Siddhartha (Buddha), Joseph Smith and many others have all changed history by their lives and teaching. But none of them ever claimed to be God. Only Jesus, a rough, plain-looking Jewish carpenter from an obscure corner of Roman-occupied Israel, had the audacity to call himself God's eternal Son sent from heaven, the Christ (or Messiah, "the anointed one") (Matthew 16:16-17; John 10:30; John 4:25-26). He even claimed God's authority to forgive sins (Luke 5:18-25). More than that, his followers recorded numerous instances of miraculous healing (Mark 3:10; Luke 4:40), transforming substances (John 2:7-11; Matthew 14:19-21), and controlling the elements (Matthew 8:23-27).

Jesus repeatedly predicted that he would be executed in order to pay the penalty of the sins of the world, and that he would rise from the dead (John 3:14, Mark 8:31). Shortly after his crucifixion, his followers who had scattered in fear after his arrest, were suddenly proclaiming boldly in the streets that he had risen (Luke 22:54-57; Acts 2:14,23-24). Dozens of them went to their own executions claiming to have seen the resurrected Jesus ascend into heaven. But the message of forgiveness and salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus has never stopped spreading.

For those who read the first-person accounts of his life and teachings, Jesus doesn't leave any room for a moderate view: either he was telling the truth about who he really was, or he was a lunatic (with the inexplicable ability to heal diseases and walk on water). If his followers were lying, they certainly never profited from it. Historical sources tell us that all but one of Jesus's apostles were put to death for what they said about him; the last was exiled. We believe that Jesus' followers recorded his life and teaching accurately, and that his claims about himself were true. Who do you say he was?