One thing separates Jesus from every other religious leaders in history: He claimed to be God!
Jesus didn't say He was like God. But that He was God. When referring to God the father, Jesus said bluntly: "The father and I are one" (John 10:30). Surely Jesus didn't make this bold statement in jest or in a desperate attempt to get attention. He said it because it was true. The religious leader certainly knew what Jesus meant, and they plotted his death because of it (John 5:18).
Jesus wasn't the only one who believed that He was God. John the Baptist recognize the deity of Christ (John 1:29), and the apostle Paul wrote about Jesus: "For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body" (Colossians 2:9). This single distinction – the claim of Jesus to be God – is the foundation of Christianity. And we can believe it for at least three reasons: Jesus had the proof to back up His claim, He fulfilled Old Testament prophecy to the letter, and He had his father's endorsement.
Jesus Had the Proof to Back Up His Claim
Jesus not only claim to be God; He also played the part. He assumed the role that only God could fill when He forgave people for their sins. One day He was preaching in a house to a standing-room-only crowd when several men lowered his paralyzed friend down the roof to be healed by Jesus (Mark 2:1–12). The first thing Jesus did was to tell the man, "My child your sins are forgiven." Some religious leaders when the house were outraged. "This is blasphemy!" they exclaimed. "Only God can forgive sins!" Claiming to possess the power to forgive sins doesn't prove that Jesus is God. Anyone can say He is forgiving sins. That's a good objection, except Jesus then heal the paralyzed man, showing that He had supernatural powers that only God possesses. The healing of the paralyzed man wasn't a fluke. Jesus consistently exhibited supernatural powers that could only belong to God. Other facts:
- He gave sight to the blind (Mark 8:22-26).
- He cured the lame (John 5:1-9).
- He healed the sick (Luke 7:1-10).
- He raised the dead to life (Matthew 9:18-26).
- He fed thousands with only the boy's lunch (Matthew 14:14-21).
- He calmed the raging storm with one command (Matthew 8:23-27).
Besides having these supernatural powers, Jesus had supernatural qualities that only God could possess. Various passages throughout the New Testament describe Jesus this way:
- He is eternal (John 17:5).
- He is all-knowing (John 16:30).
- He is all-powerful (John 5:19).
- He is unchangeable (Hebrews 13:8).
- He is the Creator of the universe (Colossians 1:16).
Jesus Fulfilled Prophecy Concerning the Messiah
Throughout the Old Testament, God promised the Jews that He would send a king who would establish God's kingdom on earth. The King was referred to as the Messiah. He would be God coming down to earth. Although they knew He was coming because God promised, the Jews weren't sure how they would know who He was, and didn't know when He would arrive. But for the predictions of the old testament (called prophecies because the prophets were the ones who would announce them), the Jews had some fairly specific clues about this Messiah. Here's a portion of the checklist they were working from:
- City of birth. He was going to be born in the little town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
- Parentage. He would be a direct descendent of the famous King David (Isaiah 11:1).
- Distinguishing characteristics. As strange as it seems, the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
- Childhood. Although born in Bethlehem, He would spend his childhood in Egypt (Hosea 11:1)
- Notoriety. He would have a ceremonial entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).
- Death. He would die by crucifixion, the method of death reserve for the most hideous criminals (Psalm 34:20).
- Famous last words. Even the messiahs dying words were predicted (Psalm 22:1).
- Resurrection from the dead. As if the immaculate conception weren't enough, the Messiah was predicted to come back to life after his death (Psalm 16:9 – 10).
Over the centuries, as the list of prophecies about the Messiah became longer, full of potential candidates got smaller. That doesn't mean that the Jews didn't have their share of messiah imposters. Similar to Elvis impersonator's, the counterfeits were easy to spot. For example, imposters weren't willing to be crucified, none of them could pull off the "come back to life after death" prediction. But along came Jesus Christ. He claims to be the long-awaited Messiah. And He had the resume to back it up:
- Born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-7).
- He was a descendent of David (Luke 1:31–33).
- He was born of a virgin – which was very hard to fake (Matthew 1:18, 22 – 23).
- He was raised in Egypt (Matthew 2:13-21).
- He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (Matthew 21:1-11).
- He had famous last words (Mark 15:34). He died on the cross (Matthew 27:32-35).
- He came back to life – perhaps the hardest to fake (John 20-21).
No person before after Christ has been able to pass the Messiahship test – only Christ.
Jesus Had the Endorsement of God the Father
With a booming voice from heaven, God the father announced that Jesus was his son when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.
After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, "this is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy" (Matthew 3:16 –17).
This scene is phenomenal for two reasons:
- It reveals the three persons of the Trinity present in one place at one time, distinct yet united: God the Father's voices heard, Jesus Christ the son is being baptized, and the Holy Spirit descends just as dove would.
- The most pertinent is God the father identifying Jesus as His son. You can get a better endorsement than from God himself.
The Mystery of the Trinity
The mysterious concept of the Trinity which is three in one nature of God is an important aspect about God. The word Trinity doesn't appear in the Bible. The Trinity refers to the three distinct persons that make up God: God the father, Jesus Christ the son, and the Holy Spirit.
Trinity doesn't mean that there are three gods who exist together to make up one God. There is only one God, but within that unity are three internal and co-equal persons – all sharing the essence and substance, but each one having a distinct existence.
Now, the doctrine of the Trinity may be biblical but does it make sense? There's no question that the Trinity is a very difficult idea to grasp. In fact, if you use common sense, it won't make sense. But that doesn't mean that the concept is nonsense. The Trinity is hard to think about, not because it is incoherent or illogical, but because it is so dense. Like God himself, it packs a lot of information into one truth. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do your best understand it, because as you come to a greater understanding of the Trinity, you will better understand God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible.
- Jesus made a remarkable claim for Himself-that He was God-and backed it with miracles. Jesus also fulfilled many prophecies made about Him hundreds of years before He appeared on Earth. And He had the endorsement of God.
Reflection and Discussion
- Why is it so important that Jesus claimed to be God? What if He had never made this claim? What proof did Jesus offer to back up His claim?
Bickel, Bruce and Stan Jantz. Evidence for Faith 101:Understanding Apologetics in Plain Language. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008, 149-153