Very few people question whether Jesus Christ existed. The debate begins when the subject of Jesus’ full identity comes into play.
Most credible historians agree that Jesus was truly a man who walked on the earth in Israel about 2,000 years ago. Many religions talk about Jesus being a prophet or a good teacher or a godly man.
The Bible doesn’t give us that option.
C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity writes the following:
I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.
If we look at Jesus’ words in John 10:30-33 and the reaction from the Jews at what he’s saying, it’s clear that Jesus is saying something radical and that the Jews do not approve. What does Jesus say? “I and the Father are one.” What do the Jews say? “We are not stoning you […] for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God”. John 8:58 is another example of a similar claim and a similar reaction.
The apostle Paul describes Jesus as “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). The apostle Peter says the same in 2 Peter 1:1: “our God and Savior Jesus Christ”.
Jesus clearly claimed to be God. If Jesus isn’t really God, then he’s either a crazy person or a liar – not a prophet, not a good teacher, and not a godly man.
The good news for those who put their faith in Jesus is, because Jesus is God, he’s able to save us from the cosmic debt created by our rebellion against God. A cosmic debt requires cosmic payment, and the only one who can pay that is God himself.
Why does it matter if Jesus is God? Because if he’s not, there is no salvation and we’re all doomed. But Jesus is who he says he is then we can know the way and the truth and the life and be reconciled into God’s family (John 14:6).