Provocative Bible Verses: Is Jesus God?

Posted: March 6, 2009 in Provocative Bible Verses, Theology thoughts
Tags: , , , , , ,

It seems that in the past few weeks I have come across a number of people who claim to be Christians but do not think Jesus was God. The real question I suppose is, “Did Jesus think that he was God?”. The short answer to that question is clearly yes. In fact, that is the reason why the religious leaders wanted to have him crucified. Consider this encounter with the religious leaders in John 8:54-58

54Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. 56Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

57“You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

58“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

Jesus claimed that Abraham, who had died twenty centuries earlier had actually seen and been seen by Jesus. The religious leaders mock Jesus by pointing out that he is not even fifty years old so there is no way he and Abraham could have seen one another. They were convinced that Jesus was a demon possessed nut job. Jesus responds by saying, “Before Abraham was born, I AM”. What would have made sense from a word tense standpoint was for Jesus to say, before Abraham was born, I was. But he says, I AM. At that point they pick up stones in order to stone him to death. Why?

The reason they want to kill him right then and there is because in their minds, Jesus has just committed blasphemy. He has claimed an equality with God that in their eyes is as sinful a thing as there is. By using the term I AM, he is reminding them of the name God used for Himself when He spoke to Moses on Mt Sinai in Exodus 3

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am . This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”

That story and the name I AM was ingrained in the mind of every first century Jew. It was God’s name for Himself. By using that phrase in the way he did, Jesus was saying as clearly as he possibly could, “I am divine”. I am the same one who spoke to Moses on the mountain. That is why they wanted to kill him.

There are numerous other places where he makes the case for his divinity in other ways. The Gospel of Mark, chapter 2, is nearly as blatant as John 8. In that event Jesus tells a paralytic that his sins are forgiven. The religious leaders are shocked and murmur among themselves that no one can forgive sins except God. Jesus then shows them that he is God, can forgive sins, and the proof that he has forgiven this particular mans sins is that he then heals the man of his paralytic condition.

In addition to Jesus own understanding found in the Gospels, the rest of the New Testament is crystal clear that he is God in the flesh as well. The second chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians makes the case that Jesus who was equal with the Father and in fact divine. He did not let his divine status keep him from also becoming a man. He did that in order to secure salvation for everyone who would believe in him.

Okay, so what? Jesus claimed to be God. What difference does that make for you and me? The so what is that you have to do something with Jesus and who he claimed to be. C.S. Lewis popularized the dilemma and the choices with his Lord, Liar, Lunatic options. Jesus claimed to be God. His claim is either true or it is not. If is is not true, then he either knew it was not true and thus he was a liar, or he thought it was true and thus he was a lunatic nut job with a divinity complex. The other option is that it is true that he is God, the Lord, and as such, we must devote ourselves to following Him, where ever He leads and no matter what. The command that He gave his followers right before He left them in Matthew 28:18-19 is that they were to make disciples, followers of Jesus who would obey everything He commanded. That is the implication for us. Jesus claimed to be the Lord and demonstrated that He is. We are then called to follow, love, and obey Him with everything we have and everything we are.

Comments
  1. Matt says:

    What I can’t understand is people who don’t think in terms of those three categories. They don’t want Jesus to be God – just a good teacher. But who would want to follow a guy who was completely delusional?

  2. Storms says:

    Yeah. Jesus is very clear that he believed he was God. When he said “Before Ambraham was I am” they must have shuddered.

    I think the answer to why people who don’t believe Jesus is God even though he says he is comes down to sin. I think its completely subconsious, but if we say we agree that Jesus is God, then that has some serious ramifications on our lives. It means we aren’t God and it also means we can’t create the invisible God into the image we want him created in, because Jesus was that very image.

  3. This is one of those areas, within the realm of Christendom, that divides people. I feel this is mainly due to the complex nature of the concepts involved. You did a good job of referencing scripture and illustrating the timeless quality of Jesus’ being.

    We have a hard time, as people, wrapping our minds around the idea of a being that can exist in every point in time, simultaneously. Jesus exists in every moment as well as outside of it. We can only perceive our existence in a straight line, based on the senses God gave us. So, we try to place Jesus’ nature within the confines of those senses.

    The fact, is that Jesus is very God as well as very man. Just because we have difficulty in parsing that fact does not eliminate its truth. The Bible, as you have shown, is very clear about it.

    T. Michael Cart
    T.R.U.T.H. In Ministry

  4. Jemima says:

    Can I ask one question here? (well, several actually) I know that this is a very touchy subject for you all here, but I’d like to put forward a few arguments in defense of those who reject the whole idea of the Trinity. (Just so the discussion is balanced.)

    If Jesus is God, can you tell me why it is that he deferred to the will of his Father in all things? If he were a co equal, co eternal part of a godhead, would he not operate according to his own will? (which if he was God would have been the same as his Father’s anyway.)
    On the night before his death Jesus prayed that the “cup” he was about to drink be taken from him…then he said “yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39) If the Father and the Son were not two distinct individuals, Jesus would have been praying to himself, and his will would of necessity have been the Father’s will also.
    In Matthew 24:36, Jesus says ““Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father” How can the Father know things the son does not?
    John 8:17, 18 says, “Also, in your own Law it is written, ‘The witness of two men is true.’ ” I am one that bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” Two separate individuals spoken about here too.
    1 Corinthians. 11:3, RS: “I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” (Clearly, Christ is not God, and God is of superior rank to Christ. It should be noted that this was written about 55 C.E., some 22 years after Jesus returned to heaven. So the truth here stated applies to the relationship between God and Christ in heaven.)

    The New Encyclopedia Britannica says: “Neither the word Trinity, nor the explicit doctrine as such, appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the Old Testament: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord’ (Deuteronomy. 6:4). . . . The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies. . . . By the end of the 4th century . . . the doctrine of the Trinity took substantially the form it has maintained ever since.”—(1976), Micropedia, Vol. X, p. 126.

    The New Catholic Encyclopedia states: “The formulation ‘one God in three Persons’ was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century. But it is precisely this formulation that has first claim to the title the Trinitarian dogma. Among the Apostolic Fathers, there had been nothing even remotely approaching such a mentality or perspective.”—(1967), Vol. XIV, p. 299.

    In The Encyclopedia Americana we read: “Christianity derived from Judaism and Judaism was strictly Unitarian [believing that God is one person]. The road which led from Jerusalem to Nicea was scarcely a straight one. Fourth century Trinitarianism did not reflect accurately early Christian teaching regarding the nature of God; it was, on the contrary, a deviation from this teaching.”—(1956), Vol. XXVII, p. 294L.

    This is not a Bible teaching! It was not even introduced into church doctrine until the 4th century, (by the Catholic Church. When The Reformation took place many Catholic doctrines were taken along with them.) The positions of God and Christ are in no way diminished by their not being part of a trinitarian godhead….It simply isn’t taught in the Bible.

  5. Dan Lacich says:

    Jemima,

    Let me respond first to the simple objections you raise

    1) That the Bible does not even have the word Trinity.
    You are right it does not. The word is the name given to the teaching that is present in the Bible about the relationship between the Father, Son, and Spirit. The Bible also does not have the word “rapture”, but no one seems to have a problem with the fact that the word is used to describe and event that the Bible teaches. It is the same with the word Trinity. So your objection on this point has no merit.

    2) This is not a Bible teaching and was not even introduced into church doctrine until the 4th century.
    You need to understand history better. Even though the earliest church fathers did not use the term Trinity, they clearly taught that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were all divine. As early as the 2nd century the term “trias” was used when speaking of them. The reason it was finally written down in the Nicene Creed and Chalcedonian Creed in the 4th century was because a group known as the Arians started to teach that Jesus was not God and the rest of the church needed to make a clear statement against that. It was the Arians who were the late comers. The Encyclopedia Americana is plain wrong and no serious scholar would consider that a source for such a discussion. You need to go back and read the early church fathers for yourself. What the Catholic Encyclopedia is saying is that the formulation of the doctrine as a whole came together in the 4th century. Yet the teachings of Father, Son, and Spirit being divine were present for some time.

    3 You make an issue of the act the in the Reformation much of what the Roman Catholic Church believed was thrown out. What you fail to mention is that those same Reformers where adamant in their belief in the Doctrine of the Trinity

    4) You raise the whole issue of “equality and submission” with the question of how Jesus and the Father could be equal yet he submits himself to the Father. You do not understand the nature of equality and submission. Jesus and the Father are equal in their Deity. That does not mean that they do not have differing roles or functions. My wife and I are equal in Christ, in fact it says the Two have become One. Yet I have a role different from her role. It is like that with the Father, Son, and Spirit.

    Let me ask you a question, If Jesus is not God, then why in Mark Chapter two does he agree that only God can forgive sins and then to prove that he has the authority to forgive sins, he heals the paralytic let down through the roof?

    Dan

  6. Jemima says:

    Thank you Dan for your response.
    You completely misunderstood point 3, and I quote, “You make an issue of the act the in the Reformation much of what the Roman Catholic Church believed was thrown out. What you fail to mention is that those same Reformers where adamant in their belief in the Doctrine of the Trinity”
    My point was that the Reformers ‘didn’t’ throw out a lot of Catholic teaching, ‘including’ the Trinity.

    In writing to the Thessalonian Christians not to expect the return of Christ in their day, the Apostle Paul warned that it would not come before there was an “apostasy”, ( a complete falling away from the true teachings of Christ) This apostasy was already at work in his day and it would spread out after he and others who ‘acted as a restraint’ to it were out of the way. (2 Thessalonians. 2:5, 7, 9, Acts 20:28-30) If such conditions began to manifest themselves while the apostles were alive, what could be expected after the apostles passed from the scene? Full blown error! It was foretold.
    It was during the 1st century that bishops became influential among Christians, subtly shifting into a position of power. This calls to mind what the apostle John had to say about a man named Diotrophes, “who likes to have the first place among them,” and who did not receive ‘with respect’ anything John and the others with him had to say. (3 John 9.)
    In the following centuries the “church” gained more power, until, the Fourth Century, when emperor Constantine was “converted”. (Interestingly, he was not “baptized” until he was on his deathbed) This is when the Church was allied with the State, “when men of rank entered the Church. When Christianity became the religion of the court and of the fashionable classes, it was used to support the very evils against which it originally protested. The Church was not only impregnated with the errors of Pagan philosophy, but it adopted many of the ceremonies of oriental worship.” (quoted from the book “Old Roman World”, by an Historian named Lord.)
    So we see that when apostate Christianity fused itself with pagan philosophy and religion, and in the interests of worldly fame, wealth and political power, it joined hands with the state. That marked the beginning of the Catholic Church as she has been known for the past sixteen centuries. She is the “mother” of the apostate church. All who retained or adopted her teachings are her daughters…the sadly fragmented churches we see today.
    So as not to write another “manuscript”, I will leave it there. But hopefully you get my drift…
    Jemima

  7. 20100228.2220

    The uncorrupted book of Revelation of the Holy Bible clearly reveals who the true God is. He is Jesus Christ. You may read about His deity at http://peacecrusader.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/is-jesus-christ-true-god-and-true-man/ using the book of Revelation.

    With love, your brother in Jesus,
    Aristeo Canlas Fernando, Peace Crusader and Echo of the Holy Spirit
    Motto: pro aris et focis (for the sake of, or defense of, religion and home)
    http://aristean.org/ and http://peacecrusader.wordpress.com/
    “The Internet is mightier than the sword.”

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