Evidence that Jesus is God

John 10

22It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah. 23He was at the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s Colonnade. 24The Jewish leaders surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is what I do in the name of my Father. 26But you don’t believe me because you are not part of my flock. 27My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them away from me, 29for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. So no one can take them from me. 30The Father and I are one.”

31Once again the Jewish leaders picked up stones to kill him. 32Jesus said, “At my Father’s direction I have done many things to help the people. For which one of these good deeds are you killing me?”

33They replied, “Not for any good work, but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, have made yourself God.” (John 10:22-33, NLT)

Acts 14

8While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. 9He was listening as Paul preached, and Paul noticed him and realized he had faith to be healed. 10So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking.

11When the listening crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, “These men are gods in human bodies!” 12They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus and that Paul, because he was the chief speaker, was Hermes. 13The temple of Zeus was located on the outskirts of the city. The priest of the temple and the crowd brought oxen and wreaths of flowers, and they prepared to sacrifice to the apostles at the city gates.

14But when Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting, 15“Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings like yourselves! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. 16In earlier days he permitted all the nations to go their own ways, 17but he never left himself without a witness. There were always his reminders, such as sending you rain and good crops and giving you food and joyful hearts.” 18But even so, Paul and Barnabas could scarcely restrain the people from sacrificing to them. (Acts 14:8-18, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

A number of years ago, I had some conversations with two Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to my door seeking to proselytize me. I wrote about that encounter in a previous post here.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses are a religious group that has its roots in Christianity but is not Christian in their theology. That’s because they deny both the traditional Christian doctrine of the trinity, which they believe is rooted in paganism, and the doctrine of the divinity of Christ, which they assert was not the belief of the early church but was introduced as a false doctrine by Constantine at the Council of Nicea.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is a created being and they argue that Jesus never claimed deity for himself and nowhere in Scripture does it even hint at this “false” teaching.

In my conversation with the Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to my door, I referenced this passage in John 10 and asked, “what do you make of John 10:30, where Jesus says, ‘I and the Father are one?’ Isn’t this an evidence of Jesus’ divinity?”

Their response was interesting. They said, “Jesus was only claiming to be one in purpose with God the Father. He was not claiming divinity.”

My response was, “the context doesn’t support your view. Look at verse 31. It says that the Jewish leaders picked up stones to kill him. Why would they want to kill him if he was simply stating that he was one in purpose with God the Father? Aren’t you one in purpose with God the Father?”

They responded by saying that the Jewish leaders had misunderstood what Jesus was saying. Yes, they picked up stones to kill him but it was because they THOUGHT that Jesus was asserting equality with God but he really wasn’t.

If this was really the case, that the leaders simply misunderstood what Jesus was saying, then why didn’t Jesus correct their false understanding?

Think about it.

Jesus makes a statement about being unified with God in purpose and suddenly a mob is trying to kill him. Jesus asks, “why are you trying to kill me?” and they tell him it’s for blasphemy…that he, being a mere man has made himself God!

If Jesus WASN’T God, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses assert, why did Jesus not correct their misunderstanding?

Interestingly, in Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas heal a crippled man and the crowd is so amazed at the miracle they had performed that they determined Paul and Barnabas must be gods in human form. They are prepared to make sacrifices to them at the city gates when Paul and Barnabas realize what’s happening. What do they do?

They don’t allow their misunderstanding about who they are to go uncorrected. They plainly and directly explain that they are NOT gods and that they should not be worshiped. Instead, they tell their audience that they are simply messengers sent to explain to them about the God they SHOULD worship – Jesus.

So the Jehovah’s Witness argument doesn’t make sense. They say that Jesus was only claiming to be one in purpose with God but the religious leaders misunderstood what Jesus meant and so they decided to stone him for blasphemy. If Jesus were not God he would have corrected their misunderstanding just as Paul and Barnabas did with those who mistook them for Greek gods. Yet Jesus didn’t correct their supposed misunderstanding. The simple explanation for why He didn’t is because they DIDN’T misunderstand what He was saying. He really was claiming equality with God the Father.

The context of this passage clearly communicates that Jesus believed He was equal with God and He communicated that belief to others. That is why the Jewish leaders picked up stones to kill him. They clearly didn’t believe Jesus was God but they clearly understood Jesus was making the claim. That is why they picked up stones to kill Him. They believed He was guilty of blasphemy.

To reach the Jehovah’s Witnesses understanding of this passage requires one to add details to the narrative that simply are not there. The text doesn’t say anywhere that the leaders had misunderstood Jesus. The Jehovah’s Witnesses though are forced to embrace this false narrative because it is the only way to hold to their preconceived view of Jesus – namely, their belief that Jesus is no God and never claimed to be.

The Jehovah’s Witness’s understanding and explanation of this passage fails. It fails because they deny what the passage clearly and plainly teaches and they add details that aren’t there in order to change the meaning of the passage  so that it fits their preconceived theological bias..

Reflection

What do you think Jesus meant when He said “I and the Father are one”?

How likely do you think it is that the religious leaders simply misunderstood what Jesus was saying?

If Jesus was simply misunderstood. what reasons can you think of to explain why He didn’t correct this misunderstanding?

What is your view of Jesus? Do you believe He is God, as traditional Christianity teaches or do you think He is simply a created being as the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach?

Do you think it even matters what we believe about Jesus? Why do you think our understanding of the nature of Jesus is important? What difference do you think it makes?

 

Photo by Tim Hüfner on Unsplash

When Someone DEMANDS Evidence!

Matthew 16

1One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus’ claims by asking him to show them a miraculous sign from heaven.

2He replied, “You know the saying, ‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow, 3red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’ You are good at reading the weather signs in the sky, but you can’t read the obvious signs of the times! 4Only an evil, faithless generation would ask for a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Then Jesus left them and went away. (Matthew 16:1-4, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

A few weeks ago, I was engaged in an online discussion with an atheist regarding the existence of God. It started off civil but at one point, even after I had presented several sound scientific and logical arguments for God’s existence, the atheist chirped back that I needed to present IRREFUTABLE evidence for God’s existence, otherwise, his assertion that all gods are imaginary would stand. (Yes, the word “irrefutable” was typed in all caps)

I’ve conversed and debated with a fair number of atheists over the years and it is not uncommon for them to demand evidence, even after evidence is presented.

One person with whom I was recently conversing told me I needed to provide “evidence” for God’s existence. I responded by asking, “what would constitute evidence to you?”

Their response was that the evidence they required was the kind I likely could not provide, as they rely on science for their evidence. It was a subtle back-handed jab that implied I must not be smart enough or scientific enough to provide the “real” kind of proof that educated people who have advanced beyond the childish fairy tale stage engage in.

I proceeded to lay out an argument for God’s existence that is based on the scientifically accepted fact of the Big Bang, which states that all matter, space, time and energy came into existence at a point around 13.7 billion years ago. Since the universe is not eternal, it must be created. Anything that is created must have a creator. That creator must be something that exists outside of space, time matter and energy. In other words, the creator must be immaterial and timeless. These qualities of this creative entity accurately describe God.

What was the person’s response to my argument, which included the kind of evidence they required? This person rejected my argument and asserted that the universe itself must be eternal.

What is the point of all this and how does this relate to the passage above?

The point is that when people demand evidence and resort to arguing, yelling, and name-calling while expecting unreasonable levels of proof in order to even consider your position to be reasonable, that is a clear sign that they actually require NO evidence because they have already made up their mind on the matter.

People like this are not actually looking for honest debate or civil discourse. They are more likely looking for an argument in which they can embarrass the other person or trap them in a faulty line of reasoning.

This was the situation Jesus was in with this group of Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 16. Their issue wasn’t belief in God but whether Jesus was the Messiah. They came to Jesus, asking him to show them some miraculous sign despite the fact that they had first hand knowledge of all of Jesus’ teachings and miraculous deeds up to that point.

Jesus often spoke of the stubbornness and hard-heartedness of the religious leaders and this was just another example. Their request is the same as the atheist who declares to his audience, “if God exists, he will appear right here and right now before us on this stage”, and then when it doesn’t happen, wryly concludes, “Well there you have it folks; God must not exist!”

How does Jesus respond to these hard-hearted leaders?

Jesus tells them that just as people have the tools that enable them to predict the weather for that day, so they have all the tools to make a determination concerning Jesus and His identity. After all, they are the religious leaders and they have the Law and the prophets which give them all the signs regarding when the Messiah would come, where He would be and what He would do.

Jesus rebukes these leaders for their faithlessness and capricious demands and he tells them that the only sign they will get from him is the sign of the prophet Jonah.

Now if you don’t know who Jonah is, Jesus’ words might be lost on you.

The short version of the story is that Jonah was an Old Testament prophet who ran away when God commanded him to go to the city of Nineveh and preach a message of judgment for their wickedness. In the course of fleeing God, Jonah got thrown off of the ship he was on which was going in the opposite direction. God caused a big fish to swallow Jonah, thus sparing his life and redirecting him to the mission God had called him to.

Jonah spent 3 nights in the belly of the fish. So when Jesus says he will give them the sign of Jonah, he is referring to his death and the 3 days he would spend lying in the ground before being resurrected on the third day.

Jesus wasn’t going to respond to their request as if he were a genie who just emerged from 1000 years in a lamp. If you want evidence, look around you, there’s plenty of evidence for you to examine. But if you require evidence on demand, well, sorry, there is no dog and pony show for you. You get the same evidence everyone else gets. Jesus’ death and resurrection should be enough evidence for anyone.

Sadly though many of the people of Jesus’ day rejected this evidence just as people today still do.

Notice what Jesus did next. He left them and went away. There is no point in engaging those whose only aim is to entrap you.

When a person has already decided what they think about an issue and it’s obvious from their tone and their rhetoric that their heart is not open for discussion, then there is no point in debating or trying to reason.

As Jonathan Swift once famously said, “Reasoning will never make a Man correct an ill Opinion, which by Reasoning he never acquired.”

Reflection

When is a time in your life when you were stubborn and proud and wouldn’t listen to reason? What were the circumstances? What caused your heart to change (assuming it did)?

What are some qualities or indicators that a person has a hard heart and is not really interested in honest, open discourse? (Tone, actions, words, etc)

What do you think is the reason some people demand evidence even when it is presented? What causes a person’s heart to become hard?

What do you think are some ways we can and should respond to people who are not open to reason and demand irrefutable evidence?

 

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash