Is Jesus God?
Many wonder, “Is Jesus Really God?” Here Stephen March looks at some of the possibilities and arguments for and against the deity of Jesus.
Is Jesus God?
In Matthew’s gospel, chapter 16, we can find another great conversation between Jesus and His disciples. Jesus begins by asking who the people were saying that He was. The disciples answered “Some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” Jesus then takes the question a bit closer to home for the disciples and asks very directly, “But who do you say that I am?” And that is our topic for today, who is Jesus? Did He really claim to be God, and if so, is it true, Is Jesus God? Just for closure, Simon Peter answered the Lord and said “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
The People of Jesus’ Day
The people of Jesus’ day, those who followed His works and miracles and teachings, believed Him to be all manner of things. We have several accounts of Jesus being referred to as a good teacher, or Rabbi, or a prophet. Nicodemus who was part of a group of Jewish religious leaders called the Pharisees, most of whom opposed Jesus with much hostility, called Jesus a teacher come from God. On the other hand, there were those that said He had a demon, or called Him a blasphemer.
Today, some say Jesus is God, some still say He was just a good moral teacher, others say he was nothing more than a fictional character. There are more than enough historical references to Jesus, from sources within Christianity and without, to know that Jesus was in fact a real historical person. The claim that He was a good teacher and person is also true, and there are even religions that are opposed to Christianity and yet acknowledge the goodness of Christ. Still, this thought is incomplete as it only addresses a specific aspect of His nature and doesn’t speak one way or the other to His deity. As for the claim of Jesus being possessed by a demon, whenever it was brought up in scripture the immediate response was that a demon can’t do the good works of God, and the idea was disqualified.
Jesus a Blasphemer?
Now, the argument that Jesus was a blasphemer is actually a very important one, but not in the context it was made by His accusers. Some will point out, even today, that Jesus never claimed to be God. It is a weak argument, but I will concede that Jesus never once came out and said “I am God.” Not that directly anyway. However, if we look at the Jewish culture of the time, and the nature of the charge, we begin to see that Jesus was actually making the claim, just in a more specific way.
The Christ, the promised Messiah, was for the Jew first. In saying that, for a person to come out and say “I am God” leaves the statement open for interpretation, in that he could be claiming to be any god or even a new god. Jesus wanted to make it very clear to the Jews that He was THE God, their God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Most High God. So, he would make this claim using terminology like “I and the Father are one” or “Before Abraham was, I Am”.
Did Jesus Claim to be God?
In one instance he said to a paralytic who was brought to Him for healing, “Your sins are forgiven”, to which the Jews responded who can forgive sins but God, then to show them that He has the authority to forgive sins, he healed the paralytic, which was the more difficult thing from an earthly perspective for Him to do. So yes, Jesus did claim to be God, and the Jews knew what He was claiming, and that’s why those who did not believe in Him called Him a blasphemer and tried to stone him. If He wasn’t claiming to be God, there would have been no need for those accusations.
The Bible does indeed teach that Jesus is God, In John 20:28 Thomas says to the risen Christ,
“My Lord, and my God”,
and in Colossians 2:9 Paul reminds us that
“in Him (that is Jesus), the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”
And this is a good thing, because if Jesus isn’t God, He would not have been able to pay the penalty for our sins.
Was Jesus Just a Man?
One claim still made today is that Jesus was just a man, and that the Spirit of God came upon him to allow him to do the works that he did, and then left him again once the works were complete. The problem with that is that if Jesus were in fact born a human without the fullness of God, He would carry original sin, just like all other people and therefore being imperfect would not be qualified to carry the sin of the world to the cross. The only way our sins could be atoned for would be for a perfect substitute to take our place, and that perfect substitute was God, the Son, who became fully human in the person of Jesus Christ, gave himself up on the cross that we could be forgiven, and rose again that we could be saved.
If you would like to know more about who Jesus is, and what He has done for you, please contact us. You can do so by email to [email protected] or by phone at 1-800-567-1218.
Stephen March is the President of FBH International and HopeStreamRadio. He graduated from the Broadcasting Program at Niagara College in 2001, and has previously worked in television production and post-production. Stephen lives in St. Catharines, Ontario, with his wife Corinne and their four children. He serves as an elder at Scottlea Gospel Chapel.
Read and hear more from Stephen Marchon his contributor’s page.
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