Pitre: Jesus repeatedly acknowledged his divinity
If you measure divinity in mile markers, there is no doubt Jesus knew he was the Son of God.
That’s according to Dr. Brant Pitre, professor of Sacred Scripture at Notre Dame Seminary and keynote speaker at the Catholic Foundation’s Northshore Chapter annual dinner on April 22 at St. Paul’s School in Covington.
Pitre discussed his most recent book, “The Case for Jesus: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for Christ,” offering several scriptural examples that show not only that Jesus was truly divine but also that he was well aware of his divinity.
Walked for miles
One of Pitre’s examples came from Chapter 6 of the Gospel of Mark, when Jesus walks on the water. In the same story from the Gospel of John, Pitre noted, Jesus walked about three or four miles.
“Did Jesus know he was divine?” Pitre asked.
After explaining that he used to commute across the Causeway and was well aware of mile markers, Pitre answered his own question: “If he didn’t know by Mile One, I think he figured it out by Mile Four!”
Book takes on the ‘Four L’s’
Pitre said he wrote “The Case for Jesus” in response to a culture that has tried to turn Jesus into nothing more than a legend.
Fifty years ago, Pitre said, C.S. Lewis laid out the case that we have only three options in regard to Jesus: He was either a liar, a lunatic or the Lord.
In the past 50 years, Pitre added, our secular culture has added another “L”: “Jesus was a legend.”
“There is a skepticism spreading rapidly through society,” Pitre said, adding that many people reject Jesus as divine. “I wrote this book to go back to square one” and lay out the case for Jesus as the son of God.
“The argument goes that of the four Gospels, only in John does Jesus claim to be divine,” Pitre said. “I argue against that.”
In his brief and highly readable book, Pitre points out that if you want to know the New Testament, you have to go back to the Old Testament, and therein lies the key to understanding Jesus’ divinity in the synoptic Gospels.
“Jesus claims to be divine (in Matthew, Mark and Luke),” Pitre said, “but in a very Jewish way,” Pitre said.
He gave four examples, all from the Gospel of Mark, showing that Jesus indeed knew that he was the Son of God. Each example showed how the Gospel writers used Old Testament language to show that Jesus knew of his divine nature.
“It wasn’t blasphemy to claim to be the Messiah,” Pitre said. “It was blasphemy to claim to be divine,” which Jesus did when referencing the “Son of Man” and using language about himself such as “I am,” which is the name God gives himself when speaking to Moses in the Book of Exodus.
“Jesus was put to death for who he claims to be,” Pitre said. “So in the end, Lewis was right. Jesus left us with only three options: liar, lunatic or Lord. ... We should challenge people who say otherwise.”
And we should remember what Jesus reveals to us: “A God who loved us so much he became man.”
KCs thanked for service
In addition to Pitre’s talk, the Northshore Catholic Foundation dinner honored three Northshore Districts of the Knights of Columbus for their charitable work in the area. Districts 12, 13 and 14 received recognition for their support of parishes, schools and the community.
“The foundation is pleased to honor the Knights of Columbus,” said Charles Heim Jr., the foundation’s executive director. “Their love and compassion is displayed in the way they help others in need.”
Archbishop Gregory Aymond thanked the Knights for being, as St. John Paul II said, “the strong right arm of the church.”
“They are generous and loving in many ways,” Archbishop Aymond said. “They are strongly pro-life; they call us together as a family; they are committed to vocations; and they enrich parish life.
“They become, through their charity, the hands and feet of our Lord Jesus.”
The Catholic Foundation also works as the hands and feet of Jesus, the archbishop said, for the foundation touches every ministry in the archdiocese. In fiscal year 2015, the Catholic Foundation helped more than 200 charitable, educational and spiritual ministries.