A League of His Own

     A  League  of  His  Own

       by Chris Messina    ( Dec. 2023 )


Well, we’ve reached the time of the year in which it is difficult to go anywhere without being reminded of what time of the year it is. It seems as if wherever we go during the month of December — supermarkets, department stores, doctor’s offices, hotel lobbies—we are seeing symbols that tell us which season we are in.


Once Thanksgiving has passed, we are surrounded by decorations and songs that bring our attention, once again, to the birth of Jesus. For instance, perhaps you’ve noticed that once the holiday season begins, all of a sudden, the type of songs that us Christians sing all year round — meaning, hymns and spiritual, or religious songs — once the season begins, these songs are being played all over the place! The name of Jesus Christ is heard everywhere!


In fact, if right now, I were to go downstairs to the first floor of the apartment building I live in, I would hear this little electronic device playing hymns such as “Joy to the World”, “What Child Is This?”, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and many other all-time favorites.


But I often wonder, how many of the people out there in the general public actually know who Jesus is and what differentiates Him from all the other religious leaders throughout history?  If we were to ask most people, who are singing all these songs about Jesus, would they know what it is about him that makes him so unique? Would they know what puts Jesus in a “league of His own”?


I believe that if someone were to go out into the local neighborhoods right here in Queens and ask people, “Who is Jesus and what makes Him different from all the other famous religious leaders in history?”, there would be some very interesting answers.


I was in the Jackson Heights area this past week, not too far from the church I attend. There is a Muslim community over in that area. There was a big banner that someone had hung up and it said, “I love Muhammad—peace be upon him”. Well, that’s not uncommon, but underneath that, it listed a bunch of names of people...and the last two names were “Jesus and Muhammad”...and it then said that they were all “prophets of God”.


So, according to our Muslim friends, Jesus was merely a prophet, just like many others that they consider to have been prophets.


Others might say that Jesus was a great “philosopher”, like Aristotle and Plato. He taught some nice lessons about life, and he promoted peace and happiness...but that’s just about it. Nothing more.


Still others insist that He was just a “good man”; they say He was a good person, a humanitarian, who went around helping others, and encouraging others to do the same.


Countless others would say, “No, He’s the Son of God”. Okay...but what does that really mean?


Well, that’s the question we’ll be answering today...and we’ll be getting those answers from the Bible itself. We will dive right into God’s Word, and this way, the next time someone asks us, “Who is Jesus? What places Him in a category that’s so distinct from all the others? What makes Him so special? What puts Him in a league of His own?” ...the next time we get those questions, we’ll be able to answer them.


So, that’s our goal today, to search the Scriptures and see what is it that sets Jesus apart from all the rest. Let’s get our Bibles ready.


      His  Divinity

Let’s begin by looking at an important feature that distinguishes Jesus from all of the others throughout history: and that feature is “His divinity”.


Let’s open up our Bibles and take a look at John 6: 38. Jesus says:

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me”.


Please notice that Jesus pointed to heaven as His place of origin. He did not simply say that He came from Bethlehem, although we all know that was where His earthly birth took place. But He claimed to have existed in heaven prior to being born in the manger on that special night nearly 2,000 years ago.


Folks, this is significant. We need to remind the world where Jesus claims to be from. He was always an eternal Being who claimed to have been sent by our heavenly Father.


Even the story of Jesus’ birth affirms His divinity quite clearly. Let’s look at what the Bible says just before He was born. Please turn to Matthew 1: 23. It says:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, ‘God with us.’”


Christianity is not based on some story of some “holy man” who came along, taught some nice things, told everyone to love one another, and then just walked off of the stage of history. No! Christianity is based upon the truth of the incarnation.


Maybe you’ve heard some people say that Jesus never claimed to be God. Many seem to believe that only Jesus’ followers claimed He was God, but that Jesus Himself never actually indicated that this was the case.


Yet, if we examine His life and teachings carefully, we see that He did make this claim many times in various ways.

Turn to John 8: 56-59. Jesus says:

“’Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”

Then the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’ Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by”.


This was simply one of many occasions in which Jesus referred to Himself in such a manner. The title “I AM” was the same title that God used when He spoke to Moses from the burning bush back in Old Testament times.

If He were not God, then Jesus would have been guilty of blasphemy. The Jews knew exactly what He was trying to say, which is why they picked up stones to kill him. They didn’t believe His claim, but they definitely understood what He was saying. Such a sacred name can only be applied to the Lord Himself.


Jesus was also constantly forgiving people of their sins—which would mean He was exercising the prerogatives of God. None of us would have the right to do anything like this. Sure, we can forgive somebody who has sinned against us personally...I can certainly forgive somebody who walks up to me and steps on my foot. But, let me ask you something: do I have the right to forgive somebody who steps on someone else’s foot? No!


Folks, Jesus is the only One who ever walked this earth who had authority to forgive people for stepping on other’s people’s feet! Who other than God has that privilege? Absolutely nobody!


Right here, we see evidence that Jesus would have to be much more than simply “a good man”. After all, He claimed to be God. If He were not actually God, then why did He say He was God? Was He lying? If He was lying, He could not have been a good man, because, of course, good men do not lie.


Was He mistaken? No, folks. A person can be mistaken about where they left their glasses or where they parked their car, but someone who mistakenly thinks he is God would not be classified as “normal”...and we don’t see anything in the life of Jesus that would fit the description of an “identity crisis”.


This shows that there was nothing ordinary about His mission and His ministry. This was the living God coming down from heaven to dwell among His creatures. This puts Him in a league of His own.

           His  Sinless  Life

   Another feature of Jesus Christ, which stands out in stark contrast to every other founder of every other religion that this world has ever seen, is “His sinless life”.

Folks, the originators of all of the other major world religions admitted that they were imperfect. Mohammed (the founder of Islam) and Buddha both claimed to have sinned. Neither of them intended to leave anyone with the impression that they had a spotless record.


But Jesus affirmed that He had nothing that anyone could legitimately use against Him. His life was as clean as clean could be!


Let’s turn to John 8: 46. Here Jesus gives the religious community of His day a challenge. He says:

Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell you the truth, why do you not believe Me?

And His critics were silent! There was no response to that challenge.

Let me ask you a question: Do you know anybody personally who can stand before their enemies, and boldly ask a question like that and get a positive answer? “Which of you convicts me of sin?”...I’d be afraid to ask my enemies that question. I’d even be afraid to ask my friends! I would never expect to get a good response after asking someone if they could try and find any sins that I’ve ever committed. I’d be scared they’d pull out an Excel spreadsheet with times, and dates and places! I’ve messed up just like everyone else.


You know, many attempts were made by Jesus’ enemies to attack His character; yet every effort failed miserably! No smear campaign was successful. The religious leaders watched closely, and examined Him day in and day out; they hid behind the trees to listen carefully to His every word, hoping that perhaps, just perhaps, they could find something they could use against Him. Yet, nobody found even one weakness in His character! That’s why He’s referred to as the “Spotless Lamb of God”!

My mind often goes back to the night in which Jesus was put on trial. That was, by far, one of the strangest trials ever to take place in history.

After all, trials generally take place during the daytime—not in the middle of the night. The religious leaders who wanted Jesus to be crucified actually had to wake Pilate up just so He could preside over the trial! Why did all of Jesus’ trials take place at night?


Well, of course, if they tried Him during the day, many people would notice that these men really did not have a case against the Savior. So they arranged for it to happen at a time when everyone was asleep.

How often in history were there trials in which the judge sentenced someone to death after publicly declaring him to be “innocent”? Pilate made it clear several times that there was no fault found in this Man, yet he put him to death anyway just to please the crowd.  Christ was no ordinary Man!

Let’s look at Luke 23: 46, 47. It says:

And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last. So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, ‘Certainly this was a righteous Man!’”


Wow! “Certainly this was a righteous Man”! These were words coming from a rough, tough Roman soldier! He most likely participated in this crucifixion. Yet, even he saw the character of this Man from Nazareth.


Down through the ages, people have examined the life of Christ, and have marveled at how one Individual could have been so kind to others; so obedient to our Heavenly Father; so perfect in every way. Yes, even non-Christians have had positive things to say about Him.


Here’s a quote from Napoleon Bonaparte. Listen to what he said about Jesus:

Everything in Christ astonishes me...the nearer I approach, the more carefully I examine, everything is above me—everything remains grand, of a grandeur which overpowers...neither history, nor humanity, nor the ages, nor nature offer me anything with which I am able to compare or explain it. Here everything is extraordinary”. (From “Come Search With Me: Let’s Look for God” by Subodh Pandit, p. 92).


And so His perfection is unparalleled, and this puts Him in a class by Himself. Nobody before, nor anyone since has been sinless as is the Divine Son of God.

                        His  Role  As  Savior   

   The next aspect of Jesus’ ministry that I’d like for us to consider is His Role as our Savior. If I had to think of one of the key elements that sets Him apart from all the rest, it would have to be this: Jesus pointed to His death not as simply a “martyr’s death”, but one that would pay the penalty for all the sins ever committed in the world. His death on the cross was to provide forgiveness to all of those who will accept it as a free gift.


This places Him on a level that nobody can even come anywhere close to.


Let’s take a look at John chapter 10: 11. Jesus says:

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep”.


Or how about John 14: 6? We know this verse:

Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”.


Other religious leaders throughout the centuries said they came onto the scene to show people the way to eternal life. Yet, Jesus had something even better in mind. He didn’t simply come to show us the way to God, but rather, He said, “I am the way!”


              There’s  a  huge  difference  there!   

   It’s like if you have a man driving down the road and his car suddenly breaks down. He realizes he cannot do anything until the morning, so he starts looking for a place to stay overnight. He walks down the street looking for someone to direct him to a hotel.

He sees a guy there, and asks him if he could point him to the nearest hotel.

The guy says, “Well, I’ll do even better than point you to the nearest hotel...I’ll drive you to one about a mile away. I’ll get you to your destination myself!”


Folks, Jesus does much more than simply point us to the door that leads us to salvation; He is the door!

His is the only name under heaven through which we can receive eternal life, and never perish. I’ve never found anyone else who can seriously make that claim other than Christ Himself.


It is only through His shed blood that we can stand before the Father and be accounted righteous. It is only because of what He accomplished that we can be called sons of God. There’s no other way.


That Friday afternoon, in which the crucifixion took place, something big was happening, even though it went unnoticed by many. It was the means through which a provision was made through which anyone can be forgiven for their sins if they will come to the Savior and repent. Nobody else in history has accomplished anything anywhere nearly as significant as that.


                  His  Resurrection

   The fifth thing that puts Jesus in a class by Himself is this: His resurrection. Even if He accomplished all of the other things we mentioned previously, but remained in the grave, it would not have mattered. But since we know He did come forth from the grave, we can see it changed history. This aspect of His ministry was a dominant theme in the writings of the apostles.


Let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 15: 3,4. It says:

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures”.

Folks, Mohammed and Buddha are still in their tombs. Aristotle and Plato and all of the great philosophers are sleeping in the grave, having absolutely no idea as to whether their ideas are being discussed...or whether they’ve been long-forgotten.


Yet, our Lord and Savior is risen! He points to an empty tomb as evidence that He has conquered death and that He will one day eradicate it altogether. None of the other founders of any of the other religions, nor anybody else has escaped the clutches of death. Only Jesus was able to raise Himself from the grave.


There’s a story that’s told about Michelangelo who was observing many of the famous art galleries in Europe one day. He noticed that there were several paintings of Christ hanging on the cross. He was kind of concerned about this.

He asked, “Why are so many art galleries filled with paintings of the crucifixion? Why do artists concentrate on Christ’s death as if it were the last word—the final scene? Christ’s dying on the cross lasted for only a few hours, but to the end of unending eternity, Christ is alive! Christ rules and reigns and triumphs!”

Michelangelo then went ahead and fashioned his famous sculpture “The Resurrected Christ”. (From “The Thought-Makers” by Mark Finley, p. 47).


Jesus coming out of that grave, by the way, also guarantees that He will raise us from the grave so that we would be able to live and reign with Him forever. This is a promise that we can take to the bank!


          His  Priesthood

   The next feature that distinguishes Jesus from all the others is His Priesthood. When He ascended up to heaven, His work did not come to an end. His sacrifice was complete, but now He went on to enter into another phase of His ministry, and that is His role as our Priest.


Let’s turn to Hebrews 7: 22-25. It says:

By so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.  Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.  Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them”.


I find this news to be absolutely exciting! Jesus has a much greater ministry than any of the priests who ever lived throughout Old Testament times. Why?

As the text says, the earthly priests could only serve in that capacity until they died. We’re told that “they were prevented by death from continuing”. But Jesus, who will never die again, “always lives to make intercession” for us. Isn’t that a wonderful promise?


Yes, we have Somebody who is an Advocate who stands before the Father, and represents us, sort of like a heavenly Attorney.


            His  Kingship

   The final thing that distinguishes Jesus Christ from everyone else is His Kingship. Yes, He’s the Divine Son of God; yes, He’s the Spotless Lamb of God; yes, He’s the Savior; yes, He’s the Risen Lord; yes, He’s our High Priest; but He’s even more than that: He’s our Coming King!


We’ve been adopted into His royal family. And He will be returning to this earth very, very soon, so that He’ll be able to gather His children from all over the earth. He’ll soon bring us to our eternal home. Are you ready? Talk about exciting!


Let’s turn to our final verse. It’s Matthew 25: 31. It reads:

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory”.


This world won’t end because of a nuclear war...it won’t end with a meteorite crashing into the earth...it won’t end because of a pandemic. It will end when our triumphant King comes back to rescue us from this planet, which has been bruised and battered by sin. What a great day that will be!


Folks, this holiday season will draw attention to one very important part of the life of Jesus Christ, and that is His miraculous birth. Yet, don’t let the world just leave it at that. Don’t let this time of the year pass without proclaiming to the world that there are specific characteristics which set Jesus apart from everyone else.


It’s a great time to begin sharing who the Savior is to a world that needs this Savior desperately. The One who can restore broken lives and broken hearts is the one we should be uplifting to this planet, and it will be a breath of fresh air.


Now, having said all that, I would just like to wish you all a very happy and safe holiday season. May God bless.


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