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Is Jesus God?
The emotionally-charged debate focuses specifically on whether Jesus was God incarnate who died and then bodily rose from the dead the third day following His crucifixion.
Some Say He Was a "Good Man"...
Jesus of Nazareth said:
The statements above are just a few of the claims Jesus of Nazareth made concerning His eternally-existent deity. I know! I know! Most people don't like to think of Jesus that way. It makes them uncomfortable.
They prefer to think of Him as "a good man", or "a prophet among many prophets" and some will even go so far as to say, "He certainly had God's hand on him!" But, they just can't or rather, won't believe He was the long-awaited promised Messiah, God incarnate.
Stop and think about that. Jesus being only a "good man" is logically impossible. Here's why: If He is not God, then He must have been a liar, deliberately misleading the multitudes; or He was a lunatic, sincerely believing Himself to be God, when He was really just a man. However, how can Jesus possibly be a "good man" and crazy, or a "good man" and a liar? Really, there is only one logically-consistent alternative: He was telling the truth.
In addition to the logical inconsistencies noted above, the historical evidence of His remarkable acts shows that Jesus was neither a liar nor a lunatic. Again, the only position left is that His claim is true. Jesus is Lord and God!
Of course, while perfectly logical, that argument is seldom sufficient to answer most skeptics. So, let's delve into the Bible which we know to be the best-preserved record of historical data among all ancient writings/manuscripts.1
What Does the Bible Say Concerning His Deity?
"And Jesus said, 'I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.'" (Mark 14:62)
See also Matthew 8:20; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8,32,40; 13:37,41; 16:13,27-28; 17:9,12,22; 18:11; 19:28; 20:18,28; 24:27,30,37,39,44; 25:31; 26:2,24,45,64; Mark 2:10,28; 8:31,38; 9:9,12,31; 10:33,45; 13:26; 14:21,41; Luke 5:24; 6:5,22; 7:34; 9:22,26,44,58; 11:30; 12:8,10,40; 17:22,24,26,30; 18:8,31; 19:10; 21:27,36; 22:22,48,69; 24:7; John 1:51; 3:13,14; 5:27; 6:27,53,62; 8:28; 9:35; 12:23,34; 13:31.
This unique phrase has its background in the vision recorded in Daniel 7:13-14 where Daniel saw one "like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." (emphasis added)
The ruling priests and council of Jesus' day fully understood what He was saying every time He called Himself the "Son of Man". But they refused to believe it and, thinking it to be blasphemy, they added it to their reasons for wanting to kill Him.
He Received and Accepted Worship
To be clear, whatever or whomever we put first in our lives becomes our object of worship, whether we actually bow down to it/them or not. To put Jehovah/YHWH God first means to worship Him and to love Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds more than we love our spouses or baseball or cricket or soccer or fishing or golf or Facebook or.... Therefore, to put anything or anyone ahead of God is to "worship" it/them. And to worship anyone other than Jehovah/YHWH God is to break God's commandment, in fact, the greatest commandment (see Matthew 22:37-38), and under the Law was punishable by death (cf. Exodus 22:20; Leviticus 26;30; Isaiah 10:10-11).
The disciples' actions clearly indicate that they acknowledged Him as deity. And Jesus did not correct them! As a devout Jew, if He were not God, He would have immediately commanded them to stop [as the angel did with John in Revelation 19:10 and 22:9], but instead, He accepted their worship because He knew He really was God in human flesh.
Because of Jesus' physical resurrection, Thomas acknowledged who Jesus really was, declared His true identity, and humbly worshiped Him. Jesus not only accepted Thomas' declaration and worship, but He blessed him and the other disciples for their belief.
"And when they saw him they worshiped him..." (Matthew 28:17)
Jesus, Himself, Claimed to be God
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
"I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture." (John 10:9)
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11)
"I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live" (John 11:25)
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser." (John 15:1>
Could it be any clearer? Two thousand years ago, thousands of men and women heard His voice, looked into His eyes, and wondered at the commanding authority of His words. Unlike the skeptics of today, the Jewish rabbis never denied that Jesus claimed to be God. Not everyone believed, but they all knew He was claiming to be equal with God. If those who lived at that time drew that conclusion, how can anyone today presume differently upon their understanding?
The people of Jesus' day, like us today, had only two possible responses: to humble themselves and bow before Him or to reject His claim and judge Him a blasphemer. Unfortunately, the leaders chose the latter. (Even though they judged Him wrongly, we must never think that the leaders of that day made some horrible mistake. No! While they thought they were doing God's work, it was God who used them to carry out His wonderful plan of salvation!)
Authority as Lord
The dictionary defines "Lord" as "a person who has general authority over others". Another dictionary defines it "master or ruler". The word "Lord" actually comes from Old English, meaning "bread keeper" or "loaf" "ward". The Greek word that's translated "Lord" in the Bible is Kurios, a title of authority. People used to say it to show respect, such as the word "sir". The head of a family was often referred to as the lord of his house, slaves called their master "lord", and subjects of monarchies recognized their ruler as their "lord".
Kurios was also a title of worship given to the gods of other religions, especially to Zeus, the chief Greek god. And of course, it was a title of worship given to Jehovah/YHWH, the one true God. In this sense the Bible uses the title "Lord" for both God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. To call Jesus "Lord" is to recognize His deity, His union with His Father, His supreme authority over the universe, and His right to rule our lives.
Jesus Proved His Authority in His Teachings
Jesus Proved His Authority over Nature
Jesus Proved His Authority over Disease and Death
Some people claim that Jesus' miracles were no more than the power of the Holy Spirit working through Him and that the same power is available to any believer today who prays in faith. However, when Jesus changed water into wine, or fed the 5,000 with a few small loaves of bread and fish, or calmed the storm, His followers didn't exclaim, "How great is the power of the Holy Spirit working through this prophet!" Rather, on the Sea of Galilee, the Disciples wondered, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?" (Matthew 8:27)
Jesus Proved His Moral Authority
"...and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out" (Luke 8:2)
"And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.'" (John 8:11)
See also Luke 7:37-48; John 4:7-39.
Jesus Proved His Spiritual Authority
See also Luke 7:21
Recognition of Christ's Authority
On earth today, the universal Church recognizes Jesus as Lord. "...Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior." (Ephesians 5:23b)
The laws that govern the physical body's functions also apply in the spiritual sense. The body does not guide the head, but the head guides the body. And just as the physical body has many different members [fingers, toes, arms, legs, skin, fingernails, heart, lungs, etc.], so the spiritual Body of Christ has many members. And each member has its own place and function in the Body. As we all work together for the good of the Body, then we are able to more efficiently carry out the purpose of Christ, our Head.
"so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." (Romans 12:5-6)
"And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent." (Colossians 1:17-18)
And some day the whole world will acknowledge Him as its rightful Ruler and Lord. "Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11)
But before Jesus sets up His kingdom on earth, He will take His Church to Heaven and prepare us to rule with Him. He will deal with our faults and failures and reward us for whatever we have done for Him. His rule must be firmly established in every area of our lives before we can rule with Him in His everlasting kingdom. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ2 [not the same as the Great White Throne judgment3], so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil." (2 Corinthians 5:10)
"For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, 'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.' So then each of us will give an account of himself to God." (Romans 14:10b-12)
After Christ judges the Church, there will be a great celebration in Heaven known as the marriage supper [wedding feast] of the Lamb. The word "Lamb" is a designation of honor for what Christ accomplished on earth as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. In Revelation, Jesus is called the "Lamb" 27-34 times [the number varies depending on the Bible version one uses]. The Church shares that honor as the Bride of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
"And from the throne came a voice saying, "Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great. . . . it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure" for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints." (Revelation 19:5,8)
King of Kings and LORD of Lords
"Wail, for the day of the LORD4 is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come! . . . Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it." (Isaiah 13:6,9 emphasis added)
"For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." (1 Thessalonians 5:2 emphasis added)
See also Isaiah 58:13; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 13:5, 30:3; Daniel 2:44-45; Joel 1:15, 2:1, 2:11, 2:31, 3:14; Amos 5:18, 5:20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7, 1:8, 1:14; Malachi 4:5; Acts 2:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Peter 3:10.
He Is Alpha and Omega
Alpha (A) and Omega () are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, the beginning and the end.
In calling Himself "the Alpha", Jesus is saying He is the One who initiates, who begins all things, the One who brings all things into being [see "God's Names: YHWH/Jehovah"]; and as our "Omega", He is God's final Word and assurance of fulfilling God's eternal purpose.
As Alpha, He created all things and nothing exists that He didn't create (cf. John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16); and as Omega, He will bring all things back into their right relationship, subdue all evil, and reign forever as the King of kings and LORD of lords!
He Is Coming as Judge
"And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne." (Matthew 25:31-32)
"...but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked." (Isaiah 11:4)
He Will Make All Things New
"The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus . . . Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert . . . And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." (Isaiah 35:1,5-6,10)
"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.' And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.' Also he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'" (Revelation 21:3-5)
9"And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.'"
1 "Introduction to the Bible", My Redeemer Lives Christian Ministry, np. <http://www.myredeemerlives.com>
2 Judgment Seat of Christ
3 Great White Throne Judgment
4 Day of the Lord: The idea is a common Old Testament one. It denotes the consummation of the kingdom of God and the absolute cessation of all attacks upon it. The entire conception in the Old Testament is dark and foreboding. In the New Testament, however, the idea is pervaded with the elements of hope and joy and victory. It is eminently the day of Christ, the day of His coming in the glory of His Father. The entire conception of that day centers, therefore, in Christ and points to the everlasting establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven, from which sin will be forever eliminated, and in which the antithesis between nature and grace will be changed into an everlasting synthesis. [Internatinal Standard Bible Encyclopedia Copyright © 1979. W.B. Eerdmans]