This post is the (edited) manuscript of my message for Elevate Makati last Saturday (April 18).
You might be convinced that Jesus was fully human. But you shouldn’t just stop there. Many do. For others, He is just another good man, even a great moral person. You might say, “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” To which C.S. Lewis warns: “That is the one thing we must not say.”1
We must believe that Jesus is also God and not just a mere man. So is He really God? In this blog, allow me, in my simple way, to show to you what the Bible says about Jesus’ divinity or, if I may coin a term, “God-ness”. I’ll divide the bulk of the discussion into three parts:
- What did others say of Jesus?
- What did Jesus say of Himself?
- What did Jesus do to prove what He said?
WHAT DID OTHERS SAY OF JESUS?
Let’s take a survey at what the biblical figures claim about Jesus.
Let’s start with Peter, Jesus’ disciple. In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They answered, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (v. 14). In other words, some claim that Jesus is just another prophet or another man. Then Jesus asked them again, “But who do you say that I am?” (v. 15). To which Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16, emphasis added). Then Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (v. 17).
Others have their own opinion about Jesus. But what’s important is what you think about Him. For Peter, Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And he got it right! Jesus is God!2
Let’s turn to another disciple of Jesus whose name is Thomas (or more known as Doubting Thomas). When Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to the disciples. However, Thomas wasn’t there (John 20:24). When the other disciples told him that they had seen Jesus, he wouldn’t believe (v. 25a). He even said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (v. 25b).
But eight days later, Jesus showed up again to the disciples (v. 26). This time, they’re with Thomas. Jesus told him, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe” (v. 27). To which Thomas responded, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28, emphasis added). He believed that Jesus was alive when he had seen His Lord. He believed that He called him his God. But Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (v. 29). Do you believe that Jesus indeed rose from the dead and is really God as did Thomas?
Finally, let’s turn to John the Beloved who wrote the Gospel of John. Why did he write the book of John? He answers: “[T]hese [referring to signs or miracles] are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31, emphasis added).
(The other disciples also claimed that Jesus was God [see Matthew 14:33].)
THE APOSTLE PAUL
Paul used to be a persecutor of the church (see Acts 8:1-3). He did not believe in Jesus. But on his way to Damascus where he will continue his persecution of believers, he encountered Jesus (read see Acts 9:1-9). Eventually, he began proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of God (v. 20) and He was the Christ (v. 22).
Paul also wrote letters (or epistles) to different churches, which eventually constituted most of the New Testament. In some letters, he called Jesus “great God” (Titus 2:13) and also said that “he was in the form of God” (Philippians 2:6). He also wrote that “[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God…For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:15, 19).
Surprisingly, demons had an accurate view of Jesus. We can see this in the following passages:
[When Jesus came] to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:28-29, emphasis added)
[A]ll those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to [Jesus], and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. 41And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” (Luke 4:40-41, emphasis added)
Mark Driscoll (yes, I still quote him) makes an interesting comment:
Interestingly enough, the demons have some of the highest Christology in the gospels, though they themselves do not love Jesus or receive the gift of salvation from him. The demons even have a higher Christology than most present-day cults and world religions, which is, to say the least, tragic.3
Let me add that the demons even have a higher Christology than most Christians these days. Again, it’s tragic.
WHAT DID JESUS SAY OF HIMSELF?
So did Jesus say about himself? In the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly, emphatically claimed Himself to be God. One of the ways He did this was by saying “I AM” statements. There are 7 of these:
- “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35)
- “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12)
- “I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7)
- “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11, 14)
- “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25)
- “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)
- “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser”/“I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:1, 5)
We have to realize that these statements were no ordinary statements. For you to understand, let’s go back to the Old Testament where Moses encountered God via a burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4:17). When Moses asked for God’s name, He answered: “I AM WHO I AM” (3:13).
So when Jesus was saying “I AM”, He wasn’t just declaring another statement. He was declaring Himself to be God! It is because of this “I AM” declaration that the Jews tried to stone Him (John 8:58-59). They thought He was blaspheming. Before the attempt to stone Him, the Jews were already seeking to kill Him, “because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18).
Let’s now go to Jesus’ arrest and trial, when he was before the religious leaders. The high priest Caiaphas questioned Him.
[Caiaphas] the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64Jesus said to him, “You have said so.” (Matthew 26:63-64; see also Luke 22:70-71)
Clearly, along with other evidences, Jesus claimed Himself to be God.
WHAT DID JESUS DO TO PROVE WHAT HE SAID?
There are things Jesus did to prove what He claimed. They are:
JESUS PERFORMED MIRACLES
He healed the sick, exorcised the demon-possessed, and even raised the dead. But while other bible figures also did this, Jesus performed miracles that only He performed and that have no human precedent or comparison. Some examples are:
- Jesus multiplied food and fed thousands (Five thousand: Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-13; Four thousand: Matthew 15:32-28; Mark 8:1-9)
- Jesus calmed the storm (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25)
- Jesus walked on water (Matthew 14:22-33 [The disciples even declared in verse 33: “Truly you are the Son of God”]; Mark 6:45-51; John 6:16-21) [Peter also walked on water, but drowned due to his doubt]
- Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-11)
These and other miracles prove that Jesus is God (John 10:38, 20:31).
JESUS FORGAVE SINS
In Mark 2:1-12, we read of the story about a paralytic who was brought to Jesus. When he saw the paralytic’s faith, as well as his friends, He told him, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (v. 5). The scribes, who were experts in the Scriptures, questioned in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (v. 7). They were actually right. God alone forgives sins. However, they did not recognize that Jesus is God.
So to prove that He is God and can forgive sins, Jesus told the paralytic to rise up. The paralytic stood up.
JESUS RAISED HIMSELF BACK TO LIFE
If Jesus did not resurrect on Easter, then let’s forget everything else that He said. None of His claims were true. But He did resurrect. Thus, everything that He said about Himself is true! So it’s true that He is God, as He repeatedly and emphatically claimed!
LIAR, LUNATIC, OR LORD?
At the start of this blog, I quoted C.S. Lewis. Let me show you the entire quote:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.4
What Lewis was trying to say is that Jesus is a liar, lunatic, or Lord. If Jesus claimed to be God when He knew He wasn’t, then He’s a liar. If He claimed to be God but wasn’t sure if He really was, then he’s a lunatic (crazy!). But if He claimed to be God and was sure about it and even proved it, then He is Lord and that demands our faith and allegiance be placed in Him.
Jesus isn’t just a man or a great moral teacher. “He has not left that open to us” and “did not indend to.” He is God! He is Lord! And we must make our choice.
Is Jesus Your Lord?
1C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2001), 52.
2Peter claimed that Jesus is “the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Paul did as well (Acts 9:20). So what does “Son of God” mean? An article explains: “Jesus is not God’s Son in the sense of a human father and a son. God did not get married and have a son. God did not mate with Mary and, together with her, produce a son. Jesus is God’s Son in the sense that He is God made manifest in human form (John 1:1, 14).” Moreover: “To be the Son of God is to be of the same nature as God. The Son of God is ‘of God.’”
3Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears, Vintage Jesus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books), 16.
4Mere Christianity, 52.