“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God'” (Matthew 16:15-16).”
Daniel Webster (1782-1852) was one of the most celebrated American statesmen of the early nineteenth century. He is most remembered for serving in the US Senate, where his unrivaled oratory made him one of its most influential members.
But Webster first gained national recognition as a young attorney who successfully argued several key cases before the US Supreme Court. Remarkably, some of his legal opponents even withdrew from cases after learning that they would have to contend with the formidable Webster!
This penchant for wowing his audiences started young. When he was just six years old, Daniel Webster won a Bible memorization competition at school. Young Dan spent minutes reciting some seventy or eighty verses, causing his exasperated teacher to tell him he had presented enough and was unquestionably the victor!
Webster would later insist that the best way to become a great public speaker was to read Bible verses aloud, showing that he never forgot the vital role Bible memorization had played in his childhood development.
His love for God’s Word did not fade as he entered adulthood. Webster committed himself to reading through the entire Bible annually, and he made sure his family read scripture and prayed together daily.
Importantly, Webster also concerned his brilliant mind with the question of whether the Bible can be trusted. Was Jesus Christ truly the divine Son of God whose blood could wash away sin? Having memorized much of the Bible as a child and studied it as an adult, Daniel Webster boldly affirmed:
The Gospel is either true history, or it is a consummate fraud; it is either reality or an imposition. Christ was what He professed to be, or He was an imposter. There is no other alternative. His spotless life in the earnest enforcement of that truth—His suffering in its defense, forbid us to suppose that He was suffering an illusion of a heated brain. Every act of His pure and holy life shows that He was the author of truth, the advocate of truth, and the uncompromising sufferer for truth. Now, considering the purity of His doctrines, the simplicity of His life, and the sublimity of His death, is it possible that He would have died for an illusion?
Jesus Christ claimed to be God. He claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life. He claimed that faith in him—faith in his divinity, faith in his willingness to take upon himself the punishment we deserve, and faith that we are made righteous by him alone—is the only way people can be reconciled with God.
As Daniel Webster rightly noted, someone who claimed such an identity falsely would be either a madman or a con artist. Yet the evidence of Christ’s life and the fruit of his ministry and teachings make clear that Jesus is neither crazy nor a liar. The biblical record is true: He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, who upholds the universe by the word of his power and is worthy of both our trust and our worship.
PRAYER: God, thank you for revealing these glorious truths about Jesus Christ. How magnificent is the gospel! May we live today fully confident in the testimony of Scripture that authenticates the identity of the divine Son of God, who came to earth as man so that we could be forgiven and made righteous through his life, death, and resurrection. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.