Jesus did indeed claim to be God. Why that matters.

“How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe.  The works that I do in my Father’s name, these bear witness of me.  But you do not believe because you are not of my sheep.  My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me….” (John 10:24-27).

If Jesus Christ is not the God-man, then we’re out of business and the universe is in the dark.

Nothing is more basic to the Christian faith and everyone’s hope than His deity.

Theological liberals like to say Jesus never claimed to be God, that this claim was put in HIs mouth by Christians who came later.

What fun they have with the story of Jesus.

With extremely minor exceptions (e.g., a reference in Josephus), the only historical record we have of Jesus is found in the New Testament, mostly the four gospels.  From different writers at various times and affirmed by the earliest Christians and subsequent generations of believers, this is how it was with the itinerant preacher from Nazareth who died on a Roman cross and was raised the third day.  How someone can come along and say, “Those who wrote the story of Jesus put words into His mouth and made Him out to be more than He was” is beyond me.

How would they know this?

We may as well take something from Plato or Herodotus and, with no justification except our own prejudices, decide they got things wrong and misrepresented one of their characters.

Now, I hasten to admit that much is beyond me, and not just the behavior of liberals. However, I do know how to read and to think about what I read. Take the matter of what Scripture says concerning the deity of Jesus.

Here are a few points to consider on this subject….

1) Anyone who says Jesus never claimed to be God–no matter how He couched it: Son of God, Son of Man, the Messiah or Christ, etc.–has never really read the Bible.

Requiring critics of the Christian faith to actually read the Scriptures might be a little much, but let’s insist anyway.  As C. S. Lewis once said facetiously, “Young atheists must be very careful what they read.”

2) What Jesus did not do, however, was go around like a modern-day shyster calling out, “Look at me, everyone! I’m God! Wanna see some tricks?”

Try to imagine Jesus buying up air-time for late-night television, huckstering His brand of religion, and chartering a 747 to get Him to mass rallies in London and Delhi and Hong Kong, all in order to convince people He is “the One.”

Nothing less than that foolishness would satisfy some of these critics.

3) The Lord gave us credit for being able to think about things and arrive at solid conclusions. 

As He walked the hills of Galilee and Judea, He did the works of a Messiah and asked people to pay attention and figure out what those acts said concerning His identity.

On two different occasions our Lord fed many thousands a full meal starting from tiny morsels and ending up with basketsful of leftovers.  Later, He asked the disciples, “Do you not see and understand?” (Mark 8:17).

“Get the point?” Jesus asked.  Did anyone decide that Jesus was the Bread of Life from these miracles? (See John chapter 6.)

When John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask, “Are you the One?” rather than give a straight answer of “yes indeed” to that–which would have been less than satisfactory–Jesus said, “Go back and tell John what you have seen here. The blind receive sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear and the dead are being raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Luke 7:22).

Interesting how the Lord left John to come to his own conclusions.  Only such a decision satisfies and “works.”  We have to think this out for ourselves and arrive at our own answers.

4) That is not to say, however, that we do not have the Lord Jesus saying time and again that He was indeed the Savior of the world, the Son of God, the Christ.  Here is a sampling….

Matthew 11:27. “All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son–and anyone to whom the Son reveals Him.”  This statement alone–found also in Luke 10:22--should give us fuel for reflection for the next year or more.

Matthew 26:63-64.  On trial before the high priest, He was asked, “Are you the Christ, the Son of God?” Jesus answered, “You said it!” And if that did not suffice, He added, “Hereafter, you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power (referring to the Father) and coming on the clouds of Heaven”.  Nothing could be clearer here than Jesus claiming deity.  Anyone doubting it should not miss the robe-tearing antics of the high priest immediately following.  He knew exactly what Jesus was claiming.

Mark 2:1-12.  When the paralytic is brought into the house for healing, “Jesus seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’ The scribes sitting there took exception to this and reasoned, ‘Why does this man speak this way? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God alone?’”  We read this and think, “Okay, you guys figured it right.  He is God. Why can’t you see that?”

–Then, there is Luke 6:46. “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?”  Or Luke 9:26. “Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

–And The Gospel of John, which literally brims with statements of our Lord’s deity. That’s why we wanted to post some statements from the other gospels, lest someone say–as has been done–that Jesus’ deity is all a fiction of John’s writings.  Hardly. However, in John’s gospel, from the very first chapter, John settles this issue.  “”In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (1:1,14).  Toward the end, this gospel rings with the clearest possible confession: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).

5) The rest of the New Testament is just as clear that the Lord Jesus Christ is divine.

In Acts 4:12 we have: “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”

In Romans 1:4, Jesus “was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead…”

I Corinthians 1:9 gives us: “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

In 2 Corinthians 4:5, “we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord…”

You get the idea. We could do this for hours.

Clarification: By saying “Jesus is divine” or “God,” we are not saying He is the Father.  He is a member of the Godhead (see Colossians 2:9), the Trinity which is composed of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Three in One.  Do not ask us to explain the Trinity. It’s never been done.  The doctrine of the Trinity is truth taught by a ton of scriptures that leave us with no other conclusion.  No one comes into the Christian faith believing in the Trinity. Scripture convinces us.

It’s almost funny the way some reject this–or the doctrine of the Trinity–because “We can’t understand it.”  My response: “Friend, you can’t even understand how you are body, soul, and spirit”–see I Thessalonians 5:23–“so why in the world would you expect to understand God’s makeup?”

6) Does it matter? And why does the deity of Jesus matter? It matters indeed.  Big time.

Here are some reasons it matters whether or not Jesus Christ is God in the flesh.  You’ll think of others.

a) His integrity is at stake.

After all, He claimed to be God.  If it turns out that He is not, He is found to be a liar and thus untrustworthy on everything else he claimed.

b) Our salvation is at stake.

Scripture says He achieved salvation once and for all by shedding His blood on the cross. (See Hebrews chapter 9.)  Only if He were divine could this happen, because if He were only human, He would have to die only for His own sins and could substitute for no one else.

c) His promises are at stake–as well as our destiny.

He claimed to return one day and sit on the throne and judge mankind. He said, “I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).  (He also said, “If it were not so, I would have told you!” I love that.)

d)  The Christian faith–and everything about our eternal hope–is at stake.

In a similar fashion and addressing a similar issue, Paul spelled it out in I Corinthians 15:14ff. “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is in vain; your faith is invalid; we are found to be liars; your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins; the dead are gone forever; and we are of all men most to be pitied.”

Settle it, my friend.

Everything depends on how you answer the question: Who was Jesus?

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