The Deity of Jesus Christ
Who is Jesus Christ? That question, and the way one answers that question, has major bearings on the individual's eternal fate. Jesus promises, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24). You and I will die in our sins unless we believe that Jesus is who He and the Bible claim Him to be. So, who is Jesus? Jesus is the bread of life (Jn. 6:35). He is the true vine (Jn. 15:1). He is the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6). But, is He also God? Let’s examine the Scriptures together.
One thing that Christ claims about Himself is that He existed and possessed glory with God the Father before the world existed. At the end of His earthly ministry, He prayed to the Father, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (Jn. 17:5). Jesus obviously did not begin at His earthly birth. Instead, He gave up His heavenly position to come in the form of a man, bring salvation to the world, and provide the perfect example of humility and obedience (Phil. 2:5-11).
One of the best Scriptures to go to in order to answer the question about the identification of Christ is John 1:1-4. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” Therefore, The Word is equal to God. The Word was present at the creation of all things, and all things were created through the Word. A few verses later, we read, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14). John is teaching about Jesus’ appearance on the earth. Jesus Christ’s coming to this earth in the flesh was the fulfillment of prophecy (Mt. 1:22-23). Jesus is mentioned many times in the Old Testament, just not by name, because He wasn’t given the name, Jesus, until He was born (Mt. 1:21). Similarly, John doesn’t mention Jesus’ name in his gospel until John 1:17, which is after Christ’s birth. Before the world existed, the Word existed; this Word created the world and was equal to God. The Word came in the flesh as Jesus Christ. He was also called Immanuel, which is translated, “God with us” (Mt. 1:23). Therefore, Jesus, the Word, is equal to God.
Jesus claims, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” (Jn. 8:58). This statement is huge. Jesus doesn’t have bad grammar, but instead, claims to always exist. There is no past tense with Christ (Heb. 13:8). He simply is. In this verse, Jesus puts Himself in the position of God when He approached Moses in the form of a burning bush. “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you'’” (Ex. 3:14). Jesus claims to be the same as the God who commissioned Moses.
Jesus also claims to possess the authority of God on several occasions. “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth’” (Mt. 28:18, emphasis added). When He called Himself the Son of God during His earthly ministry, the Jews sought to kill Him, because doing so He made “Himself equal with God” (Jn. 5:18). “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes” (Jn. 5:21).
On several occasions, Jesus also claims to have the glory and power that only God possesses. God is called the Judge of all in many passages of Scripture (Heb. 12:23). However, in John 12:48, Jesus claims to be the Judge. “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.” “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10). Christ’s judgment on all people is only possible because Jesus also has the ability to forgive sins, which is another attribute exclusive to God (Isa. 43:25; Mic. 7:18). “And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?’” (Mk. 2:5-7).
During Jesus’ prayer in the garden, He claims unity with God: “...that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (Jn. 17:21). In John 10:30-33, Jesus claims, “‘I and the Father are one.’ The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?’ The Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.’” “For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (Jn. 5:18). The fact that Jesus is the Son of God makes Him equal to God.
In prophecy, Isaiah calls Christ by several names. Some, for example, are, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace,” and “Immanuel" (Isa. 9:6; 7:14). If the rest of Scripture did not harmonize with these names, Isaiah would be a blasphemer! But we know that Scripture does harmonize. “‘She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us’” (Mt. 1:21-23).
Concerning worship, Jesus believed and taught one of the major messages of the Bible: only God is to be worshiped. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only” (Mt. 4:10). However, in the rest of the New Testament, we see that Jesus is worshiped without protest. “And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean’” (Mt. 8:2). “And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God's Son!’” (Mt. 14:33). “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful” (Mt. 28:17). When people worship the apostles out of impulse, the apostles rebuke the worshipers (Acts 10:25-26, 14:14-15). However, Jesus never rebukes anyone for worshiping Him. Likewise, Jesus accepts Thomas when he calls Jesus, “My Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28). Thomas isn’t alone. Even God the Father refers to Jesus as God. “But of the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom’” (Heb. 1:18).
Convinced yet? I’m not just trying to prove my point. I see the urgency in Jesus’ saying, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24). We must believe He is who He says He is. Do you believe Him? It is pretty obvious that one must heavily distort the Scriptures in order to deny the Deity of Christ. “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col. 2:9). This discussion could continue for pages and pages. We could discuss His miracles. We could discuss His fulfillment of prophecy. We could discuss the intricacies of the Bible’s usage of the Hebrew and Greek languages. We could discuss what it means if someone denies Jesus’ Deity.
Truthfully, it’s hard to understand the Deity of Christ. While we are on this earth in the flesh, we are physical beings bound by time. Sometimes it’s difficult for us to understand spiritual, eternal matters. If the Bible were written to make us fully understand all spiritual and eternal matters, “I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (Jn. 20:25). The Scriptures teach that the Godhead/Godhood (often called the Trinity) includes three beings in one God: the Father, Jesus (the Son), and the Holy Spirit. They are three beings in one, which is a concept that is admittedly difficult to explain. Perhaps an illustration will help. Water has the chemical symbol, H2O, although it can be found in three forms: liquid, solid, and gas. The chemical makeup of water is H2O. The chemical makeup of ice is H2O. The chemical makeup of steam is H2O. All three are technically water, but exist in three forms. Similarly, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three beings of the same Deity and authority of God (Mt. 28:19). There was an astonishing moment in earth’s history witnessed by men where all three were present. “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased’” (Mt. 3:16-17). Jesus was in the water, the Spirit was in the form of a dove, and God’s voice was heard from heaven. Imagine seeing/hearing this event first-hand! I can’t help but marvel at the idea of heaven, where those in Christ will spend eternity in situations like this- surrounded by God! Be sure you’re on God’s side on the Day of Judgment.