This blog is part of a series. You can start the series by going back to the September 1, 2014 Introduction called A Case for Christianity: Why do we need one?
What did Jesus say about himself and did he really claim to be God incarnate?
“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 the 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 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
When a friend of mine gave me an old worn out copy of “Mere Christianity” I was skeptical to read it at first, but it was a small book and a short read, so I thought, and so I dove right into it. I had to read it several times to grasp all of the things Lewis was teaching and it was profound! This was during the time I was really questioning the concept of truth. I had especially become concerned about the truth of who Jesus was. In my mind I had gone through the process of thinking he was unknowable as a real historical figure, then after reading both secular and non-secular scholarly sources I found it to be undeniable that he existed in real time history. But, this still didn’t tell me who he really was. Was he just a good teacher or maybe a prophet of that day? Or, was he really God incarnate?
In last week’s post we looked at the massive amount of Old Testament prophecy that was fulfilled in the person of Jesus. That alone makes a pretty solid case for Jesus being the promised Messiah. But, what about the claim He was God Himself? If he claimed to be God and then gave substantial evidence that he was then this has a tremendous implication.
Let’s look at what Jesus said about himself in the historical documents (and if you don’t believe that the New Testament Gospels are historical documents then stay tuned to upcoming posts):
The Biblical Evidence:
Who is Jesus?
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Genesis 1:1-3
Notice the Trinity: God in Hebrew = Elohim. The noun is plural; the verb is singular.
God = the Father/Creator
God = the Spirit/hovered over the waters
God = the Word/spoke things into existence
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John 1:1-5
Is Jesus the Word?
In John’s Gospel the Word or Logos had significant meaning in the Greek and for the culture at the time. When applied to the universe it meant the rational principle that governs all things. John made it a point for them to know that Jesus was the Word.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Is Jesus God?
He was in the world and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believe his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:10-13
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. Colossians 2:9
What did Jesus claim?
Jesus often referred to himself as “the Son of Man.” What does that title really mean? William Lane Craig, Philosopher and New Testament Scholar explains, “’Son of Man’ is often thought to indicate the humanity of Jesus, just as the reflex expression ‘Son of God’ indicates his divinity. In fact, just the opposite is true. The Son of Man was a divine figure in the Old Testament book of Daniel who would come at the end of the world to judge mankind and rule forever. Thus, the claim to be the Son of Man would be in effect a claim to divinity.” (See Daniel 7:13-14)
In the Gospel of John, Jesus answers his skeptical disciples by saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” John 14:6-9
The Gospel of John focuses on Jesus’ deity being revealed. All the miracles John reports (as do the other Gospel writers) are miracles pointing to Jesus’ Deity:
1. Jesus turns water into wine—power over the chemistry of nature
2. Numerous physical healings—power over the nature of disease
3. Walking on water and multiplying the food supply to feed thousands—power over the laws of nature
4. Forgiving of sins—power only the Creator has
5. Casting out demons—power over principalities in the spiritual world
6. Raising people who had died: Jairus’ daughter, Widow’s son at Nain, and Lazarus who had been in the grave four days—power over physical death
7. Dying and resurrecting himself—power over the permanency of death and spiritual death resulting in a glorified body fit for life eternal
Theologians have said that Jesus’ distinguishing characteristic is how he did miracles on his own authority and tells his disciples to do the same, and in his name. He does give God the Father credit but he does not have to ask permission for what he does. And for that there is just no comparison.
John also provides evidence that Jesus Himself claimed to be God by revealing a series of “I AM” statements. The “I AM” statements refer to God’s identity, YHWH, as given to Moses.
- “I am the bread of life” (chapter 6)
- “I am the light of the world” (chapter 8-9)
- “I am the door” (chapter 10)
- “I am the good shepherd” (chapter 10)
- “I am the resurrection and the life” (chapter 11)
- “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (chapter 14)
- “I am the true vine” (chapter 15)
The most convincing account of Jesus’ claim is found in John chapter 8: Jesus said to them: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” (8:58); and this is what the Jewish Sanhedrin convicted Jesus on: Blasphemy—Jesus claimed to be God.
For further reading I highly recommend: “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis
Join us next week as we continue to examine A Case for Christ, Part 3: Did Jesus really die from crucifixion on a Roman cross and then resurrect three days later?
Let me know what you think: Who do you think Jesus is? We all must answer this question and our answer has eternal consequence.
Over the next several blogs I am going to continue to present logical reasoning and sound scientific evidence not found in the public school textbooks.
Always be ready to give an answer for the hope that you have in Christ Jesus as Lord.
1 Peter 3:15