A Good Man, Or God?

One of the remarkable facts about Christianity is the deity of Jesus. Well, that and His humanity. I’m sure Jesus’s dual (and yet not divided) nature is one of those issues that causes thinking people to do a double-take. After all, nothing else we know of is all one thing and at the same time all another. It would be like a caterpillar being a butterfly simultaneously.

We’re familiar with mixtures. Brass is an alloy consisting of copper and zinc. Mules are a cross between donkeys and horses. We have hybrid cars, hybrid roses, hybrid breeds of dogs. The tendency, then, is to think of Jesus as a kind of hybrid between God and Man, but that’s not what the Bible says.

That He was a man seems like a given. He walked and talked, ate and drank, lived and died. Rather, the sticking point for people today seems to be the idea that Jesus, while being a Man, was also and equally so, God. In the flesh.

Paul spelled it out a several times in his letter to the Colossians:

  • “He is the image of the invisible God” (1:15a – English Standard Version)
  • “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (1:19 – ESV)
  • “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (2:9 – ESV)

This is a hard one for many people to swallow. Since there are extra-Biblical records authenticating Jesus’s life, it’s pretty hard to deny that He existed, but to believe He is God? That’s where a lot of rational people draw the line. This idea of His deity, they say, was an invention of His followers. He Himself never claimed such a thing.

Really?

More than once He did just that. More than once the gospel of John records Jesus claiming to be the I AM–the very name of God which He revealed to Moses and which was recorded in Exodus. One of the clearest statements comes in John 8 when Jesus says to a group of Jewish religious leaders “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”

Not only did He use the name the Jews considered holy, but He also said He predated their ancestor. Clearly, they understood precisely what Jesus was saying because they picked up stones to stone Him–the penalty for blaspheme.

Besides referring to Himself as I AM, Jesus also called Himself the Son of God. Some people have claimed that this is simply a Jewish reference to God being the Father of all Mankind, that Jesus was in no way claiming any special relationship to God.

But that isn’t consistent with the times Jesus expressly referred to God as His Father. For example, when He was twelve, He was in the temple schooling the religious leaders. When His parents came looking for Him, He said He had to be about His Father’s business. Not Joseph’s carpentry, clearly. He referred to God and the business was that of explaining the Scriptures.

He also said, at his last meal with His followers, that He and the Father were one. Clearly, this was a reference to God, not to Joseph, who may have died years earlier.

Then too, Jesus answered Philip’s request to show His disciples the Father, with this: “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (14:9b).

In addition to Jesus’s own clear statements, several times, God witnessed directly about Jesus’s identity. When He was baptized, for example, “a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased'”(Matt. 3:17).

In the Jewish culture, a fact needed two or three witnesses to be established. Besides the testimony of the Father, Jesus said His works testified about who He was. I think these are often neglected. Jesus acted in ways that were consistent to the attributes of God revealed in the Old Testament.

For example, God the Father is omnipotent and Jesus showed Himself to be the same:

    • He raised a dead man back to life
    • He healed a blind man so that he could see
    • He multiplied five loaves of bread and a few fish so that they fed five thousand men and an untold number of women and children
    • He walked on water
    • He stopped a storm with a word

    At other times He demonstrated His power over the spirit world, casting out demons from various people. He also forgave sins.

    He showed that He was also omniscient, knowing at different times what those who judged Him were thinking, knowing that He would be handed over to godless men and crucified, also that He would raise from the dead on the third day, knowing all about the Samaritan woman’s past when He met her at the well, knowing who would betray Him and that Peter would deny Him three times.

    These instances are not exhaustive, but the key is this: while God made Man in His image, there are certain attributes that are termed incommunicable because God didn’t transmit those qualities to us–He reserved them for Himself. And yet, Jesus clearly demonstrates those traits time and time again.

    Besides His own word, His Father’s word, His works, Jesus had two other witnesses. One was John, a prophet of God, the forerunner of the Messiah. The other is Scripture. Jesus spelled this out: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39).

    In fact, the Old Testament is full of allusion and direct prophecy that reveals Jesus to be God. Interestingly, Jesus spent forty days here on earth after His resurrection. We know from the gospels that one of the things He did was explain Scripture to His disciples. So when Peter preached about Jesus in his first sermon, he peppered it with Scripture, quoting from the prophet Joel and from various Psalms. In his second sermon he quoted from Moses, from the book of Genesis, and again from one of the Psalms.

    Peter, remember, was a fisherman, not a rabbinical priest. He’d never been trained as a scholar, yet here he was laying open Scripture, explaining to others what undoubtedly Jesus had explained to him.

    The evidence is far from circumstantial. To disbelieve that Jesus is God, one would have to come to the question with the foregone conclusion that such a thing isn’t possible; that, in fact, there is no God; or that the documentation of the evidence is unreliable. The good news is, there is a God; Jesus is His Son, God incarnate; and the Scriptures that reveal His identity are reliable.

    This post originally appeared here in April, 2013.

Advertisements

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2019/04/22/a-good-man-or-god-2/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Amen! I’m not sure where people get the idea that “the Bible doesn’t say anywhere that Jesus was God.” I wonder if they’re just quoting someone they’ve heard say that. (If you say something enough times, people start believing it – you start believing it yourself.) Maybe they should take a look at the gospels…
    Another bit of evidence is that when people worshiped Jesus, He never corrected them, although the Old Testament clearly states that people are to worship God alone. Thomas, when seeing the risen Christ close up, placing his fingers in the nail holes, declared, “My Lord and my God!” Again, no correction; none was needed.

    Like

    • I really like your observation about the way Jesus responded to worship, SDP. Very different from the way Paul did, so that also verifies what you’re saying. Really good point. Thanks for passing it along.

      Becky

      Like

  2. Some really great points for some really tough questions! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Was my comment to harsh for you Becky?

    Like

    • What comment was that, Steve? I didn’t realize there was one I hadn’t replied to.

      Becky

      Like

  4. Sorry about that. So many of my comments are immediately regulated on other sites it is hard to know if they were recieved.

    “That He was a man seems like a given. He walked and talked, ate and drank, lived and died.”

    And that would be as far as any evidence suggests that he existed.

    “the sticking point for people today seems to be the idea that Jesus, while being a Man, was also and equally so, God. In the flesh.”

    Partially true Becky, being a divine being or someone from the supernatural world may have been claimed by Jesus and it still claimed in our modern age, but are they genuine?

    If such claims can be made and not believed in today’s world, the same would apply for the past, but what makes the Jesus story more unbelievable is the fact that his unbelievable exploits were written many decades after the events by people of Christianity who claimed divine guidance but are only relying on stories handed down from families and travellers.

    What is even more compelling is the fact the Jews did not believe him, in fact Jesus was simply considered a blasphemer with a loud mouth. If indeed he was a 12 year old and schooling Jewish religious leaders and was preaching for another 21 years, (if he died at about 33) healing people, and doing superhuman feats, why was it he had such a negative impact on the Jewish faith, and why over such a long period of time there are very few accounts of this man Jesus and why did he have an inability to actually write something with his own hand?

    The logical reason suggests that the Jews watched and listened for over 20 years and were not impressed and Jesus would not have done anything supernatural that convinced them he was anything more than a mortal man who preached blasphemy. He may have been the earliest we know about of many such public preaching evangelists and claimants of special divinity who in this case paid with his life.

    I mean to say, if anyone witnessed such amazing feats as walking on water, parting a sea, raising the dead and the other events you have listed who could have denied his claim to God? It appears either the Jews missed everything, or Jesus did nothing of the kind.

    A period of forty years separates the death of Jesus from the writing of the first gospel and therefore writings after such a long time in an environment of many different gods and superstitions cannot realistically be reliable evidence.

    Like

    • Sorry, Steve. I’ve been under deadline. I’ll try to get to all your points.

      You said, “And that would be as far as any evidence suggests that he existed.”

      Actually, that’s not the case. The four writers who penned biographical information about Jesus, and particularly John, said the miraculous things were signs, showing Him to be the Son of God.

      Here’s the quote: “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”

      Steve, you said, ” exploits were written many decades after the events by people of Christianity who claimed divine guidance but are only relying on stories handed down from families and travellers.”

      I’m afraid this shows your unfamiliarity with the Bible. Scholars show that the four accounts of Jesus’s life were written within a much shorter time frame than many “accepted without question” histories. In fact, many of the people who appeared in the accounts were still living. John’s came later, in the 90s AD, but that’s no different than, say Eric Metaxas writing a few years ago about Bonhoeffer who lived during WW2.

      You said, ” why was it he had such a negative impact on the Jewish faith.” Actually every one of those first Christians were Jews. The people who rejected Him were the ones who rejected the truth about who He was and why He came. They wanted 1) to keep their power and position and saw Jesus as a threat (if He was the promised King, they’d lose out; if he started a rebellion, Rome would blame them for not keeping the peace); 2) expected an earthly king who would overthrow Roman rule, and that wasn’t what Jesus was about.

      BTW, Jesus did not start preaching when He was 12. There was one recorded incident about His going to the temple and conversing with the leaders. But other places make it clear He did no public miracles until He was an adult. Most Bible scholars say His teaching years were limited to three.

      The time for the writing of the first gospel doesn’t fit the facts. First, none of the gospels mentions the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Second, “these works were already being cited in other works (such as 1 Clement) before the end of the first century,” so they had to have been written and circulated at an earlier point.

      But even if you were right, there still most likely were eyewitness still around who could have contradicted what was written. I mean, think about all the people who would have had a reason to call them made up stories: the Jews you mentioned, the Romans. They didn’t.

      Why weren’t there other writings? There were! Remember, no printing press then, no digital storage. I’ve laid all this out before in this post – https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/history-and-knowing-the-bible-is-true/

      Later Steve.

      Becky

      Like


Leave A Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: