Is Jesus God?

Is Jesus God? It is one of the great questions of religion and one of the fundamental tenets of Christianity. Recently popular literature has highlighted the question (Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code) and a whole host of supporting literature was either reinvigorated or newly written. The deluge of argument led many to question other elements of the Christian scriptures and beliefs without examining the argument itself.

The issue of the deity of Jesus begins early in Jesus’ ministry. One of the earliest of his recorded miracles is the healing of the man sick of the palsy (Luke 5:18-26, Matt. 9:2-7). When Jesus heals it is not by saying “be clean” as he did to the leper, it is not “I will heal him” as with the centurion’s servant but “Man, thy sins be forgiven thee.” It is this statement which is immediately recognized by the scribes and Pharisees as belonging to God only and therefore blasphemous if Jesus is not God, which first identifies Jesus as God.

Some will counter that later in Luke 18:18-19 the conversation shows that Jesus denies being God, but they misunderstand the statement that Jesus makes. “And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is, God.” The answer that Jesus gives is something of a rebuke, this man does not believe that Jesus is God but he calls him good. There are many today who call Jesus good but deny he is God (or make him A god which is equally wrong), they too are rebuked by this statement, Jesus knows what it takes to inherit eternal life, he is the answer to the question, but only to those who accept that he is God.

The approach of the Gospel of John is very different, Jesus is proclaimed God from the beginning. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,…). John 1:1,14 It would appear that John’s Gospel was intended to counter Gnostic teaching, which contrary to popular literature, taught that Jesus physical appearance was only an apparition not real. John makes clear that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, Jesus had a real physical being and was still God. The Gnostics suffered from that common human failing of holding their opinion of God to be more important than what was taught about God, therefore God was too holy to become flesh let alone dwell in a physical body among sinners and a sinful corrupted earth. We must be careful of letting our opinion become more holy than God. If we could fully comprehend God then he would be an invention of our imagination, that we cannot comprehend such statements about him makes him a God of wonder to be held in awe.

The Jews fully understood that Jesus declared himself God. In John 5:18 we read, “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” Later in John 10 we find the Jews again questioning Jesus and again interpreting his statements as declaring that he is God, “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shown you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou,, being a man, makest thyself God.” John 10:31-33.

Throughout the epistles we find statements which are absolutely clear as to Jesus being God. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16 God was manifest in the flesh, an absolutely clear statement that Jesus was God in the flesh.

The Epistle to the Hebrews also makes clear that Jesus is God, “…his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds: Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power,… Hebrews 1:2-3. These verses show that Jesus is the essence of God. A similar statement is made in Colossians 1:15-17. The Son of God is shown as not merely possessing attributes of divinity but as being those very attributes. He does not merely have divine characteristics he is those divine characteristics. A more powerful statement is found in the Epistle to the Philippians, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,…” Phil. 2:6 NIV.

We can therefore say that Jesus acted as God in forgiving sins (Luke 5:18-26) and in receiving worship (Matt. 8:2). Jesus made clear statements that he was God (John 5:17, John 10:30). Jesus used a divine title in reference to himself (John 8:58). The apostle Thomas confessed Jesus as God (John 20:27-29). We can say then that Jesus in his actions showed himself to be God, Jesus in his teachings taught that he was God, the apostles in their actions showed that they believed Jesus to be God, the apostles in their teaching taught that Jesus is God. The opponents of Jesus understood that he was claiming to be God. Whether it is in the Gospels or in the Epistles we find that in the New Testament that Jesus is God, and that teaching is one of the fundamental aspects of Christianity.

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