I remember the student’s quizzical expression as she absorbed what I’d just said: “Jesus is God.” Wait, what?
I could almost hear her thoughts. Jesus isn’t God, he’s God’s son! Father, Son, Holy Spirit. How can Jesus be God? Huh?
Even though she attended Sunday school regularly, this was the first time she’d heard that Jesus is both God and God’s son. Try explaining this to a ninth grader.
A very simple and incomplete explanation is that Jesus’ role within the Trinity is the human Son to the Father. But all three members of the Trinity are God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Mind blowing, I know. We sing about three in one but contemplating the concept hurts my head.
The Trinity has built in community, built in love.
I love teaching this and watching student minds swirl with the notion! Within God’s very being is loving relationship. I’ve spent years in seminary wrapping my brain around this so if you’ve never pondered the both/and of Jesus, please join our confused student…
How do we know Jesus is God?
Any crazy man can claim to be God. I’ve heard some argue that Jesus was just a man who knew the Messianic prophesies and was careful to fulfill them. In fact, other men led revolutions claiming to be the Messiah but none (to my knowledge) claimed to be God.
We know Jesus is God because He says so.
There are many times when Jesus claims to be God that our 21st century eyes don’t recognize. The most familiar are the seven ‘I AM’ statements in the Gospel of John. Jesus said I am the bread of life. I am the light of the world. I am the way, the truth, and the life. Can you name the others?
Each of these is a claim to be God. How so? ‘I AM’ is the name God reveals to Moses at the burning bush. Moses asked God how he should answer when the Israelites want to know who sent him to free them from slavery:
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM’ has sent me to you.
Thus became the name of God throughout the rest of scripture. We might miss the implication when Jesus says I am the true vine, but His audience recognized the radical claim. I AM the I AM.
There is an eighth I AM statement in John that’s easier to miss because of the claim’s mind bending nature. The Jews ask Jesus:
“Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “Before Abraham was born, I am.”
John 8:53, 58
Jesus not only self-identifies as I AM, the name of God, but also claims pre-existence. The Jews immediately tried to stone him for speaking blasphemy.
We know Jesus is God because He does things only God can do.
You might say that Jesus’ miracles prove he’s God. But many biblical characters performed miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament Moses brought on the plagues of Egypt and parted the Red Sea for the Israelites’ escape. Elijah and Elisha both multiplied a woman’s food supply and restored a dead son to life (1 Kings 17, 2 Kings 4). Jesus’ disciples also exorcised demons and healed in his name (Luke 9:6, 10:17; Acts 3:1-10). And the list goes on.
Jesus does two things only God can do.
First, Jesus forgives sin. Only God can forgive sin.
Think about it. If I hurt my brother, doesn’t forgiveness come from my offended brother? Forgiveness can’t come from any other person. But every sin primarily offends God, so God can forgive all sin. We may need to let that sink in, but the Jews of the first century knew this.
When Jesus heals the paralytic who had been lowered through the roof by saying, “Son, your sins are forgiven,” the teachers of the law thought, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus reads their thoughts and says, “The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” (Mark 2:5-12)
Who can forgive sins but God alone?
Second, Jesus saves. Only God can save.
Isaiah 43 recounts God’s calling the Israelite people, saving them from Egyptian slavery, and guiding them even when they were unfaithful. “For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” and “I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.” (Isaiah 43:3,11)
And finally the author of Hebrews says, “[Jesus] became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” and “[Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him” (Hebrews 5:9, 7:25).
Apart from me there is no savior.
Wow! We’ve been all over the Bible today and I could have added so many more references. Do you know you can dig into the scriptures I used by clicking on the links?
Only God can forgive sin. Only God saves. Jesus is God.
- Let me know in the comments if I’ve clarified this or confused you?
- What scriptures do you rest on to know that Jesus is God?
- What are the implications for your relationship with Jesus?
#SeedsofScripture #biblestory #scripturestudy #readthebiblebetter #JesusisGod #threeinone #godsaves #godforgives #forgivinggod #onlygodforgives
I’ll reveal more instances that Jesus claims to be God when I preach on July 9th.