Waco is now on everyone’s map, but not exactly for the things which our city’s leaders would have liked. No, Waco has caught the attention of the civilized world because of David Koresh and his followers, now hunkered down in “the compound” for over a month.

Questions abound in the media, but answers are few. Most inquiries have centered around the leader of the Davidian cult, David Koresh (formerly Vernon Howell): “Who is he?” “Who does he claim to be?” “What is he teaching his followers?” and on and on the questions go.

But the more important question — the one which has been asked for centuries, the one which has eternal significance — is “Who is this Jesus Christ who David Koresh reportedly claims to be?”

Who is this one, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, and whose death, burial and resurrection we celebrate at Easter?

Today, vast numbers have heard about Christ, and many believe that he was a great moral teacher, or some sort of prophet. Let us now explore a few of the claims made by Christ and his followers, as reported in the Bible.

Christ claimed that he had all authority in heaven and earth; that he had the power to forgive sins; that he was God; that he gives his followers eternal life, and that judgment had been given to him; that he is the resurrection and the life and that anyone who believes in him, though they die, “yet shall live.” Christ also said that he would come again to earth a second time.

John the Baptist claimed that Christ was the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

Peter, one of his followers, claimed that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God — there there is salvation in no one else, and there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

The claims of Christ and his followers are clear: that Jesus was and is God the Son, the Christ or Messiah who died and was resurrected to take away the sins of the world and that the world through faith in him might be saved.

In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis summarizes the matter as follows:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying a really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘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 or else would be the Devil of Hell.

“But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Philip Segrest is a member of the Board of Contributors, 32 Central Texans who write columns regularly for the Tribune-Herald.  He is a Waco attorney.

Read the Tribune-Herald's 7-part investigative series on the inner workings of the Branch Davidians. Hours after Part 2 appeared in print, the ATF raided the group's compound.

Read the Tribune-Herald’s account of the ATF raid on the Branch Davidian compound on Feb. 28, 1993. Four ATF agents and six in the compound were killed in the gunfight.

Read the daily news accounts of the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Elk, which began Feb. 28 and lasted until April.

April 19 and beyond: FBI agents began inserting canisters of tear gas into the Branch Davidian compound in the early morning hours. By noon, it was on fire.

Federal officials left the compound site in late May 1993. As identifications of bodies continued, questions about the survivors, the compound and the cult itself began to emerge.

As the world began to take a critical look back at the events and legal proceedings continue, the ATF's bombshell report forces a shakeup at the top after the raid gone "tragically wrong."

In 1994, the surviving Davidians went on trial in San Antonio. Over six weeks, more than 140 witnesses testified, with the verdict coming just two days prior to the anniversary of the ATF raid.

The Rodenville shootout and the 1988 trial, the end of the world in 1959 and more stories from deep in the Trib archives.