-Is JESUS God?
Absolutely! Jesus is “God over all, forever praised! Amen” (Rom. 9:5 NIV). That’s the short answer to the question. Yet to many, Jesus’ true identity is still in question. So let’s explore the broad biblical basis for Paul’s terse answer. The Bible is the Word of God – inspired, authoritative, without error and utterly trustworthy. It has withstood every attack, the test of history and historical-proofs criteria like no other literature in history – and has never been disproven. The Bible plainly and repeatedly affirms Jesus’ deity; He is one with the Infinite Creator, who reveals Himself constantly and progressively in the Scriptures. God is there from the first sentence: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). The New Testament makes nearly the same declaration: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made” (Jn. 1:1-3). But who is this Word? The same context that declares this Word to be God, to be “in the beginning ... with God,” and to be creator of all that has been made, also declares that “the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” here on earth (Jn. 1:14). There is only one person in the Bible of whom all these statements are true: the Word is Jesus Christ.
This title for Jesus is unique to John’s writings. In his first epistle he also said “from the beginning,” testifying of the apostles’ personal experience and interaction with Jesus as a real human person whom he called “the Word of life” (1 Jn. 1:1). In Revelation 19:11-13 John described one who can only be the triumphant Lord Jesus riding on a white horse, leading the armies of heaven, and “His name is the Word of God.”
In Genesis 1:26, the Creator said: “Let us make man in Our image,” clearly implying a plurality of persons co-creating; for Genesis to say that God created, and for John to say that the Word created, is in no way contradictory. The Son, Jesus Christ, is fully and essentially God.
Genesis 1:2 also shows us the Spirit of God active in creation. Thus, in a few brief statements the Trinity is avowed. Though the word “Trinity” never occurs in Scripture, its reality is a clear key to biblical theology. Belief in the Trinity necessarily requires belief that Jesus is one of the three Persons of the Godhead. And to deny the Trinity is to deny Jesus Christ’s deity.
God revealed Himself in the Old Testament as “Jehovah.” Most Bibles print “LORD” (in large and small capital letters) for Jehovah, due to the Jewish custom of never speaking that most sacred name for fear of taking that name in vain, a violation of the third commandment. Blasphemy against the name of Jehovah was punishable by death (Lev. 24:16). Isaiah 42:8 quoted Jehovah thus: “I am the LORD (Jehovah); that is My name! I will not give My glory to another.”
God defined His name when He appeared to Moses in a burning bush. When Moses asked, “What is Your name?” God answered, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’ … This is My name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation” (Ex. 3:1-15). According to Exodus 6:2-9, God had not previously revealed Himself by the name Jehovah.
The name “I AM” is a definition of the name “Jehovah” – it “proclaims God as self-existent, self-sufficient, eternal, and sovereign” (MacDonald’s Believer’s Bible Commentary). It speaks of a God who is supreme over all, absolutely independent, beyond all causes and effects: the Ultimate, the Almighty.
Jesus used that name as His own in His seven “I am” statements in John: “I am the bread of life” (Jn. 6:48-51); “I am the light of the world” (8:12; 9:5); “I am the gate for the sheep” (10:7); “I am the good shepherd” (10:11,14); “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25); “I am the way and the truth and the life” (14:6); and “I am the true vine” (15:1-8). By these He identified Himself as Jehovah, our Almighty Resource.
On several other occasions Jesus even more remarkably claimed to be “I am.” After He fed the five thousand and prior to the next day’s bread of life discourse, He startled His disciples in the middle of the night by walking to them on the stormy Sea of Galilee. They cried out, thinking they were seeing a ghost. He responded: “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Bible scholars agree that these words could be translated, “I am; don’t be afraid” (6:20). What greater comfort than to know the Almighty I AM is near to protect and save us!
Later, in discussion with His adversaries who continually looked for a fight, Jesus simply said: “If you do not believe that I am (the one I claim to be), you will indeed die in your sins” (8:24). That’s pretty clear! At the end of chapter 8 he made this startling statement to them: “Before Abraham was born, I am” (8:58) – not “I was”, but “I AM”! These Jews had no difficulty understanding this as His claim to deity, and they immediately “picked up stones to stone Him” (8:59), the penalty for taking Jehovah’s name in vain (Lev. 24:16).
Perhaps the most striking demonstration of the force of Jesus’ name occurred when Judas came to betray Him, accompanied by Roman soldiers, Jewish leaders and temple police. Jesus stepped forward and asked whom they were after. When they answered “Jesus of Nazareth” He simply said, “I am.” At this those who came to arrest Him “drew back and fell to the ground” (Jn. 18:1-6). Someone has suggested that the impact of His Name knocked them over.
The New Testament often applies Old Testament declarations about Jehovah to Jesus. The inspired writer of Hebrews quoted Psalm 45:6-7, and attributed it to “the Son,” to Jesus: “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of Your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has set You above Your companions by anointing You with the oil of joy” (Heb. 1:8-9).
He likewise attributed Psalm 102:25-27 to the Son: “In the beginning You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing You will change them and they will be discarded. But You remain the same, and Your years will never end” (Heb. 1:10-12).
Isaiah frequently declared Jehovah’s sanctity and integrity. In 43:11 he quoted Jehovah thus: “I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from Me there is no Savior.” Jesus, at His birth, was also heralded as the Savior (Lk. 2:11), and the angel of the Lord told Joseph that Mary’s child “will save His people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21). Are there two Saviors? That would contradict Isaiah 43:11. Jesus actually is Jehovah Savior. In Isaiah 44:6 Jehovah stated: “This is what the LORD says – Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the First and I am the Last; apart from Me there is no God.”
In Revelation John fell down as though dead at the sight of an awesome figure “like a Son of man” (Rev. 1:13) who told him, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!” Clearly, Jesus again claimed Jehovah’s identity as “the First and the Last” (Rev. 1:17-18).
Jehovah said, “I will not give My glory to another” (Isa. 42:8). Yet Hebrews 1:3 says, “the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.” The Son is not “another”; He is the same God. And Colossians says, “God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him … in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Col. 1:19; 2:9).
In Isaiah 45:23 Jehovah said: “By Myself I have sworn … Before Me every knee will bow; by Me every tongue will swear.” But then Paul wrote of Jesus that “God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).
Notice, “the name that is above every name” is “Jesus”! To bow in worship to Jesus and confess Him as Lord glorifies God the Father. Thus, to deny Jesus’ equality with God is to defy God the Father, dishonor Him and detract from His glory. There can be no salvation when the Almighty Savior is denied. “If you do not believe that I am … you will indeed die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24).
Jesus makes strong demands of those who follow Him: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be My disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple … Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple” (Lk. 14:25-33). And to this Matthew adds, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Mt. 10:37-39).
Jesus is God. And He alone has the right to demand such total allegiance and absolute surrender. Only God has the authority to require such commitment and devotion. Do you know the blessing, peace, satisfaction, joy and confidence that come with surrender to the authority and control of Jesus? He “earned the right” to our allegiance by a sacrifice more demanding than anything He demands of us: “Jesus Christ … being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:6-8).
By Bill Van Ryn
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org
Leave a comment