The God-man: Fully God (According to His Words)
The following is an edited transcript of the TheoTalk episode with the same title.
What if it’s true?
What if the God who made us for himself and had every right to condemn us for our rebellion against him, chose instead to become one of us, in order to lift us from our fall, restore to us a right relationship with him, and re-establish his righteous reign upon the earth, at immense cost to himself? Not only would this guarantee the redemption he promises is sure, it would affirm his intentions toward us are infinitely good, so we can trust him with our lives.
Last time, we saw how the Old Testament predicted Jesus, the Messiah would be the one-and-only God-man: fully God and fully man; one person existing in two natures, without confusion or compromise of either nature. In this lesson, we’ll consider four instances in which Jesus claimed to possess the very nature of the one-and-only, eternal God.
The first is in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus claimed authority over God’s Word; that is, the right to clarify what God’s intentions were for his Word, by repeatedly saying things like, “You have heard that it was said… but I say to you” (e.g., Matthew 5:27-38). Each time, he would expand or clarify God’s intention for the Old covenant Law. Of course, only God can claim authority over God’s Word, but Jesus claimed this authority for himself.
A second way Jesus affirmed He was God by nature was by claiming power over death. For example, in John 2, after rebuking the money changers in the Jewish temple, the Jews said to him,
“…What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “it has taken 46 years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days?” But Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
(John 2:18-22, ESV)
By referring to himself as the temple, Jesus made it clear that, under the New Covenant, he, not the physical temple in Jerusalem would be the center of worship for God’s people — a remarkable claim in itself. But by claiming He would raise himself from the dead, Jesus was making a clear claim to deity by claiming He had power over life and death, even his own life and death, since he claimed he could lay down his life and raise it up on his terms.
Amazingly, Jesus not only claimed authority over physical life, he insisted he was and is the source of spiritual life, since the Holy Spirit comes through him, declaring,
…If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39, ESV)
Notice Jesus claims the water he gives is spiritual water. Specifically, this water is a metaphor for the Holy Spirit, the bringer of life, whom Jesus says comes through him.
A third way Jesus affirmed his deity was by claiming a unique relationship with God the Father, which the Jews of his day understood as a direct claim to equality with God. In addition to referring to himself as the “Son of God,” Jesus declared that God, the Father was uniquely his Father, saying,
My Father is working until now and I am working. “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him because he was calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” (John 5:17-18, ESV)
Again, in John 17:5, while praying to the Father, Jesus recounts the glory he shared with the him before time began, praying “and now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” Not only does Jesus claim pre-existence with God the Father, he claims to have shared the glory of God the Father. But God’s glory is his alone, confirming Jesus knew he was God by nature.
The fourth and perhaps clearest of Christ’s claims to deity is in John 8, where he refers to himself as, “I Am,” the name God gave himself when talking to Moses in Exodus 3:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, as did the prophets. Yet you say, if anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died, and the prophets died? Who do you make yourself out to be? [Jesus replies] “Your father, Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and he was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “you are not yet 50 years old and you have seen Abraham [who died some 2100 years earlier]?” Jesus said to them, [not only have I seen Abraham, but] “Truly, truly, I say to you before Abraham was, I Am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him… [because they rightly heard him claiming to be Yahweh by nature, the one and only eternal God]. (John 8:51-59, ESV; comments added in brackets)
If Jesus wasn’t God, the Jews were right to stone him for blasphemy, since He was clearly claiming to be God. But if Jesus was who he claimed to be, the one-and-only God-man, Savior-King — God who became one of us to lift us from our fall, restore to us a right relationship with him and reestablish His righteous reign upon the earth, that changes everything. Because that means we can be certain the redemption he promises is sure because he is bringing it. And we can be sure that His (God’s) intentions toward us are good and, therefore, trust him with our lives.
In the next lesson, we’ll see how Jesus affirms his deity, not only by his words, but also through his deeds.