First of all let me state this, Jesus never said anywhere in the gospels that he is God. He didn’t. He didn’t have to. Actions they say speak louder than words. The people who often claim that the deity of Jesus is a doctrine Christians later on conferred on Him are of the view that His deity cannot be proven from his own words. They love to call it the ‘red letters of the gospel’: the recorded speeches of Christ in red ink found in the gospels. But is this true? The veracity of the deity of Jesus Christ is the very foundation of Christianity, that is why we even decided to talk about it in this series. Its significance cannot be paralleled by any other reality about Jesus. We will find out shortly whether or not Jesus is God.
The deity of Jesus Christ is a controversial topic especially in inter-religious debates. Mostly because he didn’t state it categorically that he is God but he implied it in so many ways that one cannot help but accept that fact in all honesty. It is even pathetic when some Christians doubt it too. Obviously the reality is a bit absurd. God, became flesh and dwelt amongst men? Well, yes. In Christian doctrine, Jesus is said to be fully man and fully God. Hence people assume that this reality is evident in two of the names used to refer to him in the gospels: Son of man and Son of God. This may appear to be the logical implication of both names, but it isn’t. Anytime Jesus referred to himself as the Son of God, the Jews and Pharisees almost stoned him, because he was making himself equal with God by saying that. People need to get this fact, by calling himself Son of God he wasn’t referring to the same level of sonship to which David, Adam, the angels or we lay claim to. He was expressing equality with God. If it weren’t so, the Pharisees wouldn’t have accused him of being blasphemous. Also, he used to call himself the Son of Man. Don’t get it wrong, he wasn’t referring to his humanity here either. He was simply making reference to the highly exalted Divine personality in Daniel 7. This being that Daniel talks about shares similar attributes with God. Daniel said that He (The Son of Man) has been given an everlasting dominion and that all people, nations and languages should serve him. We see the Son of Man in the very presence of The Ancient of Days in this verse. Ha! This makes a strong case for the trinity too. I dare say this vision Daniel saw is probably one of the pre incarnate appearances of Jesus in the Old Testament. Preincarnate, meaning, he made an appearance before he was birthed into this world finally in the new testament. Guess what, there are so many instances of this in the Old Testament. All I am saying is Son of God and Son of Man both point to the deity of Jesus. He is God.
On several occasions, Jesus used the personal, sacred Old Testament title of God, Yahweh (YHWH), when referring to Himself. Permit me to refer you to the time He incited anger among the Jews after saying ‘Before Abraham, I AM’ in John 8. YAHWEH, which means ‘I AM’ or ‘He who is’, is the exact name the God of the Old Testament used in His self-revelation to Moses at the burning bush. I want to draw your attention to something really important over here. Jesus wasn’t merely saying He was some god that pre-existed even before Abraham became a clot of blood in his mother’s womb. That would have easily been laughed off. A surge of indignation rushed over the Jews because Jesus actually implied He was The Eternal One, just like the God of the Old Testament they worshiped. According to the Jews, Jesus wasn’t fifty years old yet His statement implied that from ‘once upon a time’ to ‘thy kingdom come’, He is God. As if that isn’t enough, Jesus’ use of YAHWEH (‘I AM’) added more fuel to the fire because it was strongly prohibited to use that name then. The Jews understood the significance of names. They understood it to be something worth more than a random combination of letters. A simple ‘What is your name?’ required information such as the historical background and reputation of the person or thing being queried. This is why the use of God’s sacred name was a big deal to them. According to some Rabbinic teachings, anyone caught using the YAHWEH title was a serious crime offender and had to be put to death. Oh wait, there’s more! While the Jews feared the name of the Lord so strongly, Jesus went ahead and authorized His disciples to cry out Abba Father when praying to God. Abba Father? Who do you think you are to relate to God on such intimate terms? And secondly, what makes you think this kind of relationship is only possible through your permission? I’m pretty sure the Jews were intellectually and emotionally overwhelmed by His remark because they [the Jews] could only go as far as addressing God as ‘The Holy One, blessed he be’. But here is Jesus initiating a new covenantal relationship (a very intimate and personal one)…by His own authority. So for Jesus to press this as far as referring to Himself as YAHWEH or setting new laws on how people could relate to God can only mean one thing: Jesus is equal to God in all nature and essence!
If you think He went too far, wait till you hear Him say that He shares the same glory and honour that is given to God. Code Red Alert! This was purely antagonistic to the Old Testament teachings which emphatically stated that God didn’t franchise His glory. God was the only one to be worshiped according to Jewish culture. Was Jesus increasing the number to two? To them, Jesus was way out of line to not have considered it robbery to be equal with God by making such an outlandish statement. But the reality of the matter is, Jesus was only corroborating a transcendent truth (John 17:5). Before the mountains were brought forth and the world was formed, Jesus shared (and still shares) a unique glory with His Father that makes Him equally honored with the Father. It then comes as no surprise that Jesus said or did nothing whenever He was worshiped by people. What say do you have when the Father Himself has decreed that His son be worshiped by every creature in Heaven and on Earth? In effect, one’s dealings with Jesus is same as dealing with God: to have knowledge about Jesus is to have knowledge about God, to love/hate Jesus is to love/hate God, to believe/reject Jesus is to believe/reject God etc. In simpler terms, Jesus is claiming to be God just as the Father is God.
What intrigues me is that Jesus never denied, not even once, any of the accusations of He claiming to be God. In a system where equating one’s self to God was punishable by death, we expect Jesus to have said something like ‘Hey folks! Don’t try to get me killed by putting words into my mouth. I never said I’m God!’, if truly He was being misconstrued. But what do we see every time such allegations were made? He either ignored them or provided proof the more that He is God. Every thinking reader of the Bible cannot escape the fact that scripture confirms without doubt Jesus did make reference to His deity several times. Jesus’ words may not have been as direct as those of us in the 21st century might have expected them to be but Jesus’ original audience got the message very clear. And that is why His opponents were itching so much to end His life for blaspheming under the Jewish legal system–for claiming to be God.
One of the most outstanding events that consolidates the deity of Jesus Christ is his resurrection from death. This is the final capper of the foundation of the gospel. The empty tomb shall forever point to the deity of Christ. If you say he didn’t die, how come the Roman Soldiers couldn’t ransack the whole city in search of his body? Trust me, the disciples had gone into hiding, except John, so they couldn’t have gone to steal his body. Many people believe in the Swoon Hypothesis: a bunch of ideas that assert that Jesus never died but he survived the cross. That isn’t true. According to historical accounts, not many even survived to carry the cross. The beatings Jesus was subjected to killed many others. The whips tore the flesh on the culprit’s belly. Though the criminal had his back turned against the Roman soldier, yet the weight of the spikes at the tip of the whip made it possible for it to all the way to the tummy. The spikes rip open the criminal’s flesh. Many spill their intestines there and die immediately. They don’t make it to the cross. Jesus did. So imagine the state in which he was in even on the cross. The amount of blood loss. The only human contact he had since being take off the cross was 3 days after. He did die. Some say, it is easier to believe that God saved him from death than to believe he was resurrected. It isn’t about which is easy to believe but which matches with the entire counsel of Scripture. Which of the scenarios makes sense so far as God’s purpose for the incarnation of Jesus is concerned? He died. He rose again and was seen of his disciples. When we read the gospels, we aren’t reading some concocted stories. We are reading a historically reliable account documented within the lifetime of eyewitnesses to the event.
Jesus Christ is God. He is the express image of the father in heaven and in him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. The bible is the last book anybody should try to use to debunk the reality of the deity of Christ. It was prophesied in the Old Testament, materialized in the Gospels and revealed in glory in Revelations.
Written by: Elvis Sampson and Elikplim Sabblah
References: John 10:30-33, Luke 11:20, Exodus 8:19; Exodus 3:14, Matthew 14:27, John 8:58, Luke 11:1-4, John 14:6, Daniel 7:13 – 15, Matthew 9:6, John 10:18, John 5:20-23 Isaiah 42:8, The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi.