Jesus Christ – The God Who Became Man
This article owes its existence to a discussion Jannie DeVos and I have had here for the past several months. Among the topics that we discussed, and disagreed on, is that Jesus is God. At Jannie’s suggestion we have agreed to write articles stating our own views of this, with me taking the position that Jesus is God. I will quote some of the Bible’s teaching on Jesus; explaining briefly why Christians believe that Jesus is God. To any doubters who might be reading this, the proofs that I use are exclusively from the Bible. This is not a problem for me, since Jannie and I are each writing from our own bias and mine is that the Bible can be trusted. If this is a problem for you I suggest you stop reading; you’re not going to find anything here that hasn’t been written elsewhere and there’s no point in your getting all angry and stuff on account of another person who believes that the Bible is true.
Any discussion of Jesus being God must begin when God creates man: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” (Genesis 1:26) God’s use of the words “let us” at this point, while not naming Jesus in particular, are the first hint in the Bible that the person of God is comprised of more than a single individual. Throughout the Old Testament it is fleshed out that the Messiah will also be God; the apostle John summarizes Old Testament theology by writing of Jesus that: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-3) In writing this, John proclaims that a) Jesus is the Word of God; b) Jesus is God; c) Jesus was instrumental in the creation of all that exists and d) Jesus is one of the individuals comprising the person of God.
Jesus spoke of Himself in such a way as to identify Himself as God, both directly and indirectly, on many occasions.
- “He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (Matthew 27:43) - The observers at Jesus’ crucifixion ridiculed Him by quoting His own words, showing that they had heard Him say of Himself that He was the Son of God.
- “And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” (Mark 2:5-7) - In forgiving sins that were not committed against Himself as a man, Jesus shows that they were committed against Himself as God; as no one has the power to forgive any sins that were not committed against their own person and all sins are committed against the person of God. (Additionally, addressing the idea of Jesus being merely a “good teacher,” anyone who believed that they could forgive sins that were not committed against themselves would not be a person that would have been taken as seriously as people were taking Jesus.)
- “Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ And the high priest tore his garments and said, ‘What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?’ And they all condemned him as deserving death" (Mark 14:61-64) - In referring to Himself as “The Son of Man” Jesus was appropriating for Himself a title that the Jews regarded as being equivalent to saying “I am the Son of God.” It was His use of that title the Jewish leaders used as justification to have Jesus executed; since He, in their view a mere man, was making Himself equal to God.
- “But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I am working.’ This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” (John 5:17-18) - Jesus claims equality with God and uses God’s own continual maintenance of creation as justification for His healing a lame man on the Sabbath.
- “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’” (John 8:58) - Jesus does two things here: a) He claims that He existed before Abraham was born and b) He claims for Himself the title “I Am,” which God used as His own name when He confronted Moses in Exodus 3:14.
- “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) - Jesus claims equality with God
- “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) – Jesus claims that those who have seen Him have seen God
Many of the prophecies of the Old Testament are filled with reference to the Messiah; several of which I list below:
- “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7) - Each one of the titles in Isaiah’s prophecy is a title that could only be applied to God. That they were given to the Child born in Bethlehem show Him to be God as well.
- “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the LORD. And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.” (Zechariah 2:10-11) - Through Zechariah’s prophecy God tells Israel three facts about the Messiah: a) He, God, the Messiah, would live among the people of Israel; b) Many other nations would be numbered among the people of God because of Him and c) God Himself would send the Messiah, Himself God, to His people.
- “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2) - In addition to prophesying that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, Micah also prophesies that He would be eternal.
Many today claim that Jesus was a good moral teacher, that His words are among the greatest ever spoken by a man. Yet among His words are those quoted above where He claims to be God. If He were merely man then His claims of being God were false and if His claims that He is God, which offend many, were false then of what value are His teachings, which do not offend? Jesus said some very beautiful words but His claims to be God; regardless of His position as a respected teacher, would be enough to discredit Him were they not true; and if it were not true then how can He be considered a respected teacher? C. S. Lewis addresses this conflict in this way:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the 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 – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of god: or else a madman or something worse. you can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (C. S. Lewis – “Mere Christianity”)
God, the prophets, Jesus and His followers all testify that Jesus is God. If Jesus is God then all that He said is of the highest value. If Jesus is not God, then nothing He said is of any value.