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

Is Your View of Jesus Really that Important? (Part 2)

1 John 5

1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

6This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7For there are three that testify: 8the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. (1 John 5:1-10, NIV)


The Daily DAVEotional

There’s a confusing passage of scripture in 1 John 5 that quite frankly, I’ve been in the habit of skimming over for years because I never really understood it and I didn’t have the patience, determination or even knowledge to know how to go about determining its true meaning.

I’m talking about this passage in 1 John 5:7, 8 which states that “there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”

I couldn’t even begin to explain what that really meant, largely because I didn’t have a firm grasp on the larger context of the letter. But once you understand why John is writing his letter and what the background is, the meaning of this passage becomes more clear.

If you read my previous post regarding 1 John 4:1-6, you’ll know that one of the main reasons John wrote this letter was to address and refute a false teaching about Jesus that was circulating within the church.

This false teaching asserted that Jesus was just a man and “the Christ” was a spiritual entity who entered into the body of Jesus at His baptism and left just before Jesus was crucified. Hence, Jesus and the Christ were separate individuals, not the same person. John opposed this teaching so strongly that he not only labeled the teachers as “false prophets” but he referred to the teaching itself as “deception” and even “antichrist.”

It’s interesting to look at this passage from 1 John 5 and see that right off the bat in verse 1, John says that “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”

Notice that John affirms that Jesus IS the Christ. They are one and the same person. Humanity and divinity together, at the same time in the same person. John states that belief in this specific doctrine, that Jesus is human and divine at the same time, is essential to being “born of God.” (verse 1)

In verse 5, John once again affirms the divinity of Jesus as he states that the one “who believes Jesus is the Son of God” is the one who overcomes. Referencing Jesus as the “Son of God” is an affirmation of His divine nature.

But then we come upon the sticky passage, the one that’s talking about water and blood and the spirit and testimonies and witnesses, etc.

What’s he talking about here and how does this relate to anything he’s been saying?

As I mentioned before, these false teachers were teaching that “the Christ” descended upon Jesus (the man) at his baptism and left him just before the crucifixion. Hence, they were teaching that the person who was crucified was NOT the Son of God, but just the normal human Jesus.

John’s reference to water, blood and the spirit makes sense when you understand how he’s trying to combat the view of Jesus that was being promoted.

Do you remember what happened at Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3? I wrote about this in a previous post here.

Jesus was baptized with water by John the Baptist. Immediately after coming up out of the water, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, descends upon Jesus and God the Father audibly affirms that Jesus is His Son, in whom He is well-pleased.

So the water in this passage of 1 John 5 is a reference to Jesus’ baptism, which happens to be the point the false teachers said “the Christ” overtook the human Jesus’ body.

The blood is a reference to Jesus’ crucifixion, which marked the end of Jesus’ public ministry.

The Spirit is a reference to the Holy Spirit, who affirmed Jesus’ identity at His baptism.

By referencing water, the blood and the Spirit, John is directly refuting the false teachers by establishing that Jesus was the Son of God before His baptism AND at His death.

So John is saying that there are 3 witnesses that are all in agreement concerning the identity of Jesus. There is the water when Jesus was baptized and affirmed to be the Son of God, and there was the blood when Jesus was crucified and also affirmed to be the Son of God.

John continues by arguing that the law typically required 2 or 3 human witnesses to establish a fact. Since God is greater than humans, and He has given us 3 witnesses, or facts that establish the identify of Jesus as “the Christ”, and “the Son of God”, how much more should we believe Him?

John concludes by saying that if you do NOT believe that Jesus is the Son of God, you are making God out to be a liar because He has already provided evidence (testimony) to demonstrate this truth about the nature of Jesus.

Understanding and believing these truths is critically important because if Jesus was just a man when he was crucified, as the false teachers asserted, how could his death atone for the sins of the world? It couldn’t.

Good Friday would not be so good. It would be Bad Friday, or at best, Normal Friday because Jesus’ death would have accomplished nothing and it would have been so insignificant that we would probably not even be aware of it 2000 years later!


NOTE: Have you ever wondered what makes Good Friday good? I wrote about this in a previous post and you can read about it here.


Reflection

What do you think the term “Son of God” means? What does it communicate about the nature of Jesus?

If Jesus wasn’t God, how would that impact His mission to save the world from sin? How would you explain to someone why it is critically important for Jesus to be God if we are to have any hope of our sin actually being paid for?

Do you agree with the author John who says that in order to be “born of God” you must believe that Jesus is the Christ? Why or why not? What do you think it means that Jesus is the Christ?

What modern day examples come to mind that demonstrate a false teaching or understanding of the nature of Jesus?

 

Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash