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Was Jesus God?

October 25th, 2010

The Bible is very clear, in countless places, that Jesus was God. E.g. John 1:1-5; 9-14 – John, who was a close friend and disciple of Jesus, clearly states that Jesus was God. Other Scriptures include Romans 9:5, Titus 2, Hebrews 1, Colossians 2:9. Jesus was understood to be God right at the start of Christianity – it wasn’t added later.

But  was that what Jesus meant? Did Jesus believe that of himself?

1. Did he think he was God?

  • Mark 2 – Jesus heals a paralysed man but more shockingly, pronounces his sins forgiven, despite never having met this man before. Jesus is claiming that he is the one who has ultimately been wronged, that he is God (and only God can forgiven sins. This outraged the religious leaders of the day.
  • Matthew 5, 6 & 7 – when Jesus was teaching the crowds and quoting from the Torah – the holy book – he suggests he has authority to “go one better”, which was shocking in the Jewish culture.
  • Matthew 12 – Jesus says he was greater than the temple, the holy place of worship where men met with God.
  • John 17 – Jesus says that he and the Father (God) are one – claims equal standing with God.
  • When he was being interrogated by the religious leaders before being crucified, Jesus gave them a mind-blowing answer, saying “Before Abraham was, I AM” – claiming that he was God eternal, using the same name that God used to reveal himself to Moses in Exodus (“I AM that I AM”). This is an incredible name – speaks of power, immortality, self-sufficiency – something that commands awe.
  • Jesus was very clear – he was not just a “good man” but God himself. Good men don’t claim to be God!

2. Was he lying?

  • Was Jesus a conman? Is this the biggest hoax in history?
  • Apart from not looking like a conman (being known for his kindness and love and mercy), he didn’t gain anything from claiming to be God. People only con in order to get something – but all Jesus got was trouble, suffering and a gruesome death. There is no logic.

3. Was he insane?

  • Perhaps he had lost it mentally? Maybe he had a divinity complex? Some people have had this.
  • But people like that don’t tend to be gracious, loving, humble, kind, etc. Jesus was obviously a very balanced person. In fact, he was also famous for his wisdom and brilliant mind; huge crowds followed him because they wanted to hear what he had to say – his teaching and insight.

4. Was he a mystic?

  • Some people agree that Jesus was neither lying or insane, but they say that what the real meaning of what he meant and what he said was missed. Was Jesus the first century sage/guru, like Buddha and Oprah Winfrey? Was he just god the same way everything is god and we are all part of god (pantheism) – and that Jesus came to enlighten us that we are all mystically connected to god?
  • But there is no evidence for this – Jesus did not ever teach this.
  • Some say he was just trying to accommodate to Jewish understanding – and yet this doesn’t hold, because Jesus frequently went against people’s expectations and the cultural norms of the day.
  • He was a terrible guru if that was all he was!
  • The only conclusion left is that Jesus really was who he said he was.

5. God became a man

  • God had to reveal himself to us. We don’t like this idea because we have our own notions and preferences of what God should be like – but what makes our ideas right?
  • Jesus is the revelation of God – of what he is like. God is found in Christ.
  • Jesus said he who has seen him has seen the Father.
  • One thing Jesus reveals – that God enters into our suffering and pain, and cares deeply for us and weeps with us.
  • Jesus identifies with us, and carried our sin and guilt and shame on the cross. Because he’s God he can deal with it, and because he’s man he can identify with us and be our substitute.