GLEANINGS FROM THE SCRIPTURES
Jesus, the Great, "I Am"
By Keith L. Estes
History is crowded with men who claimed to be gods. Christianity is unique in that it reveals that the one God became man, in the person of Jesus Christ. That is the dramatic import of Jesus' words, "Before Abraham was I Am." By contrast consider others in history who wanted their followers to regard them as gods, or who were given such adulation after they died:
King Tutankhamen- Was the boy King of Egypt, who reigned during the fourteenth century B.C., was regarded as a god. We know a lot about him since the discovery in 1922 of his tomb of gold. He died at age eighteen.
Siddhartha Gautama- The first "Enlightened One," or Buddha, was born into royalty (563-483 B.C.) However, he renounced all luxury and became a wandering ascetic searching for and later teaching a "middle way" to transcend the human condition. After his death, the Buddha was deified by his followers, who spread his teaching from India to southern and eastern Asia.
Alexander the Great- When the great military general of Macedonia overthrew the Persian Empire (334--323 B.C.), he became a legend bigger than life. He attempted to fuse the Macedonians and the Persians into one master race of which he would be the supreme being. He demanded the same divine recognition from his subject people that they gave to the Greek gods, Heracles and Dionysus. Nevertheless, an illness claimed his life at age 33.
Julius Caesar- A Roman general and statesman, Caesar changed the course of the Graeco-Roman world by conquering Gaul and winning the Roman Civil War. Crowned emperor, he had military and literary genius that was matched only by his carnal appetite. After his murder in 44 B.C. he was granted status as a god.
King Herod Agrippa 1- The grandson of Herod the Great executed James the apostle and tried to do the same with Peter. Later, his subjects in Tyre and Sidon, weary of his anger, attempted to make peace with him. Listening to one of his orations, they humored him by shouting, "The voice of a god and not of a man!" Apparently pleased with this sudden elevation in his status, he failed to correct their theology. God struck him for his arrogance so that he was eaten by worms and died.
Vladimir Lenin- A militant Marxist, Lenin led the Bolshevik Revolution and became the first head of the former Soviet Union. His writings vastly expanded and promoted the Communist World view, and he hoped they would stimulate other proletarian revolutions. He died at the age of 54 after a long, paralyzing illness. he was the closest thing to a "god" that the Soviets would allow. His body was put on view in Moscow.
Adolph Hitler- The mad dictator of Nazi Germany (1932-45) was unequaled in his ability to wield hypnotic power over masses of people. He knew how to manipulate events and people to his own ends, But his attempts to build a master race resulted only in a holocaust of evil. He died by his own hand in 1945.
Many more pretenders could be listed. But only Jesus Christ demonstrated that He was God by His words and actions. He healed the sick, raised the dead, forgave sins, and lived by the moral precepts that He taught. In fact, He fulfilled every code of righteousness without ever sinning. Most importantly, He backed up His claim of being God by conquering death. No one else in history has ever done that. Others have been regarded as divine, but all have fallen short of God's glory- except Jesus Christ- "The Great I Am".
References: Jn. 8:58, Acts 12:20-23, KJB- The Word In Life Study Bible