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Christ Is Necessary for You
MILLIONS OF MEN have lived in this world yet only one Man could say in His own right and back up His words with proof: "Which of you can convict me of sin" (John 8:46)? Hundred of men over the ages have been teachers of their fellowmen, hundreds have pointed out the way life should be lived, hundreds have led others of their fellow beings, but not one of them dared say of himself as did this Man: "I AM the way, and the truth and the life" (John 14:6). Many claimed to be sent by God, some truly, some falsely. Yet not one of these men sent by God or claiming to be sent by Him, heard a voice that said: "Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased" (Mark 1:11).
This man was JESUS CHRIST! He made claims for Himself that drew down upon Himself either the love of men or their hatred. In his Gospel, St. John records these opposite reactions to his beloved Master (7:12-13): "And there was much whispered comment among the crowd concerning him. For some were saying, 'He is a good man.' But others were saying, ' No, rather he seduces the crowd.' " There were the thousands who followed Him into the desert, forgetting to bring food and water with them, so enthralled were they with His teaching and His presence (cf. Mark 6:34-44). But "the chief priests and the Pharisees therefore gathered together a council, and said, 'What are we doing? For this man is working many signs. If we let him alone as he is, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.' But one of them, Caiphas, being high priest that year, said to them, 'You know nothing at all; nor do you reflect that it is expedient for us that one man die for the people, instead of the whole nation perishing' " (John 11:47-50).
Of all His claims there was one that ultimately brought Him to His death on the cross; that claim was: THE SON OF GOD ! When Christ uttered these profound words, "I and the Father are one," we are told by St. John in his Gospel (10:30-33) that "the Jews therefore took up stones to stone him . . . 'not for a good work do we stone thee, but for blasphemy and because thou, being a man, makest thyself God.' " Again we are told by St. John (5:16-18) that the "Jews kept persecuting Jesus . . . because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal to God."
THE DIVINE SON
Before the Sanhedrin, the Great Council of the Jews, Jesus Christ proclaimed His divine filiation. When asked by the high priest, "Art thou the Christ, the SON OF THE BLESSED ONE?" He answered, "I AM" (Mark 14:61-62).
Such then was Christ's claim: I AM THE SON OF GOD. From the human viewpoint we understand without any difficulty the stumbling block that this claim was to those who saw and heard Him. They saw a man, one like unto themselves. They heard Him speak as they spoke. Many of them knew His background and His family. When He returned to Nazareth, St. Mark records the astonishment of those who heard Him as He taught in the synagogue (6:1-3): "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary...?"
Of all people in the world the Jews should have been better acquainted with things divine than other nations. Even they, as they reviewed their glorious history, did not find any of their great Prophets, no, not even Moses and Abraham, claiming to be God or the Son of God. They were men of God, they were close to God. He spoke through them; but they were not divine. But this man calmly announced "I and the Father are one" and He accepted as the truth the statement of Peter: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
If then Jesus Christ claimed to be divine and proved it, we in this modern age must pause and consider this claim. Of what importance is it to us that a man living so long ago called Himself the Son of God? We believe that as men we have an eternal destiny. We believe that there is nothing in all the world so important as the eternal salvation of our souls. This same Jesus Christ put it very bluntly and concisely: "For what does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but suffered the loss of his own soul?" (Matt. 16:26). If the value of the soul is not accepted, then the very foundation for the importance of Jesus Christ to the individual is snuffed out. He may still be a great teacher. He may even be the Son of God as He claimed, but Jesus Christ in this supposition has lost all reason for coming into the world, for He came to redeem men (cf. John 11:51-52; 1 Tim. 1:15).
Herein precisely is the significance and importance of the claim of Jesus Christ to be divine. He must be what He claims to be, otherwise men are not saved. God could not save men through an imposter. God is Truth itself; He cannot tolerate lies. It would be blasphemy to think that He accepted the death of an imposter to redeem the souls of men from sin. St. Paul stated in explicit terms that God "set forth (Jesus Christ) as a propitiation by his blood through faith, to manifest his justice . . ." (Rom. 3:25). St. Peter is no less explicit: "Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
It does not make any difference then whether a man lived before Christ or was living at the same time of Christ, or is living now, or will live many thousands of years hence. Christ is the Savior of all; all men have souls. These souls can be saved in only one way, through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. "For there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
SALVATION THROUGH CHRIST
Let this be accepted: there is nothing so important as the salvation of my soul. This salvation comes through Jesus Christ, Who claimed to be the Son of God. At once it is seen that acceptance of Jesus Christ and His claim to be the Son of God is capital, nay, necessary, for the salvation of souls.
Not only then is it important to believe in Jesus Christ as divine, it is necessary! There is no harm in being without important things, but it matters a great deal to be without necessary ones. It may be important to have the right clothes for the right occasion, but it is not a matter of life and death. But it is necessary to have food and drink, for this is a matter of life and death. As we have seen, nothing is more important to us than the salvation of our souls; to save our souls Jesus Christ is necessary. This means that we cannot be saved without Him (cf. John 15:5). He is necessary to salvation.
When He gave His Apostles their commission to go and teach, He indicates this necessity (Mark 16:15-16): "Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned." Now the gospel or good news is this: that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world to save souls (cf. Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 1:15).
There is then no question of being indifferent to Jesus Christ and His claim to be divine. There is no question of accepting Him as an important figure in our lives. There is no question of believing in Him, and accepting Him, as the necessary means of salvation. As we cannot live without food and drink, as we cannot breathe without air, so neither can we save our souls without Jesus Christ. To hear Him or of Him, and not to believe in Him is to incur God's wrath. "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; he who is unbelieving towards the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him" (John 3:36).
NECESSITIES OF LIFE?
Modern progress has caused many things to seem necessary for life, not merely to live, but for life! Life without all the modern conveniences of the home seems intolerable. These things have assumed a necessary aspect in our daily life, and more, to life itself. The result has been a dulling of the appreciation of what is really necessary to life and to living.
A moment's reflection will make us realize that what is often considered to be necessary is not so at all. A man shaves every day until it seems to be a necessity. If some morning shaving is found inconvenient, he realizes that the necessary element was due only to his habit. He realizes too that he is no less a man with a stubble of beard on his face!
On one occasion (Matt. 10:27) our Lord told His Apostles to preach "on the housetops" what He had whispered to them. "On the housetops" as well as in every possible place the necessity of Jesus Christ should be preached. In every possible place men should reflect on the salvation of their souls, a salvation that comes to them through Jesus Christ, the Son of God and equal to the Father in all things. Such preaching and reflection would make men realize what is really necessary. St. Paul has linked up Jesus Christ and salvation in these words (Rom. 10:9): "For if thou confess with thy mouth that Jesus is the Lord, and believe in thy heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
Jesus Christ Himself came into this world to teach and to preach His divinity. He went up and down Palestine, gathering crowds around Him, to imprint on their hearts the plan of God for their salvation. He went further. He allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross, there to preach salvation from sin through His death. When He ascended into Heaven, He sent others to preach and teach His gospel, His good news. He left His Church to carry on this same mission of saving souls. That Church, the Catholic Church, has never ceased to preach and to teach that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world as the Savior of all men. That Church has never ceased to preach belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It continues to preach that He died for all men, because His Father "so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that those who believe in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting" (John 3:16).
The question of the divinity of Christ therefore is not a question to be discussed only in dusty theological volumes or by learned scholars of the Church. It is THE vital question of every man. "Who do men say the Son of Man is?" is the most important question anyone can ask himself. It is the necessary question everyone must ask himself, for the answer is the answer of eternal salvation.
Necessity is not always regarded as a "nice word" today. In matters of daily life necessity is accepted without too much reflection to live means the necessity of eating and drinking and working and resting. The necessity of saving one's soul must be faced; what is necessary to save one's soul must also be faced. Otherwise the consequences must be accepted. To have the opportunity to save one's soul through belief in Jesus Christ is a God-given boon. To reject this opportunity is to invite the consequences.
This is the necessity for all men in relation to the divinity of Christ. It cannot be shrugged off with indifference, any more than it could be when Christ lived. Either He is accepted for what He is, the Son of God, or the consequences must be suffered. There is no middle of the road. He Himself has put it in language that cannot be misunderstood (Matt. 12:30): "He who is not with me is against me."
The necessity then to accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God is one that brings with it a duty. That duty is one of conscience, a moral duty then. True, man is free; he has the right of choice. But this privilege of freedom, of right of choice, brings responsibilities. Man has no right to say to God: I'll worship you as I will, or I'll do as I please and as I want to do. Yes, man is free and he may say this; but if he does, he must suffer the consequences for he is responsible for the use of his freedom. Adam used his freedom and tried to be like unto God in his own way; he, you and I, all of us are suffering the consequences.
God sent His Son into the world to redeem us. God the Father told us (Luke 9:35): "This is my beloved Son; HEAR HIM." This Son told us in plain language that He was the Son of God, and that those who believed in Him would be saved. There is a choice then: a choice between accepting Christ and rejecting Him. Man is free; yes, he may make this choice, but he should not make it the wrong way. If he does, he must accept the full responsibility.
Because man has an eternal destiny, he must strive to attain it. No one knows better how to attain it than God Who has destined man for eternal life. No one knows what God the Father wants better than His Son. God the Father told us to listen to His Son (cf. Matt. 17:5). But who is this Son? This is the question of questions. Peter's answer was: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16). Christ's own answer rings in our ears. In answer to the question "tell us whether thou art the Christ, the Son of God," He said that He was (cf. Matt. 26:63-64). This was blasphemy to those who heard Him, because to them this meant that He claimed to be GOD. Those who listened to Him on another occasion attacked Him because He "called God his Father, making himself equal to God" (John 5:18). He was claiming to be God; such was the conclusion of those who heard Him. He was claiming to be as divine as God the Father: such was the challenge hurled at Him. He accepted it because it was true.
The question of the divinity of Jesus Christ then is not an indifferent one, to be pushed aside with the remark that it is a question for theologians and not for the ordinary lay person. This is a question for all men to answer; and all men must face their conscience with the answer they gave.
Catholic Information Network (CIN)