Affirming The Importance of Affirming The Deity of Christ
You hear it all the time now…Jesus was a good person and a skilled teacher. But, to refer to him as divine is downright wrong. In fact, it is too exclusive for our modern sensibilities. Why would Jesus be divine and another god not? How can we refer to Jesus as God but not Muhammad? These are important questions and ones that will be raised more and more frequently as the melting pot of the world continues to churn. It is therefore necessary for us to consider and be familiar with the Biblical evidence for the deity of Christ.
In John 1:1, the “word” is said to literally be God. What was the “word?” In Greek, the word is logos. In culture, the Greeks believed the logos to be the divine ordering principle for the entire universe. Therefore, when John (who is writing to Greeks by the way) says that God is the logos, he is saying he is the ordering principle for the way the entire universe works. There is not a plan B, he is it. This point is so important that it is the first sentence in his Gospel as if to say, “Before we go any further, let’s at least get this point straight.” So, if we claim the deity of Christ (that he is in fact God), then we must affirm that Jesus is indeed the way, the truth, and the life. There is no plan B. He is the divine logos, like it or not. So, you run into right into the issue of whether to accept Jesus as God right off the bat. You either have to reject him completely or embrace who he claims to be, otherwise the principle of divine logos is not true. And, you better have a boatload of evidence before you go overturning such a bold claim. To claim equality with God was to claim death, so Jesus’ claim should not be taken lightly.
Let’s now look at a few of the texts that in fact affirm Jesus’ equality with God.
John 5:18 presents a scene where the Jews are trying to kill Jesus. He was doing “blasphemous” things such as healing on the Sabbath. The Jews did not understand his divinity and that the Sabbath was made for man, not God (Mark 2:27). Jesus was not just a man, he was God. In fact, another reason they wanted to kill him was that he was, “…calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” Jesus was claiming divinity. This divinity had several implications. He does the Father’s will (v. 19), has direct communion with God (v. 20), is able to give life (v. 21), judges people (v. 22, 27), deserves honor just as the Father does (v. 23), and speaks words of eternal significance (v. 24).
In John 8:58, Jesus claims a title. This title is one that God claimed throughout the Old Testament beginning in Exodus 3:14, “I am.” Jesus says that, “…before Abraham was born, I am.” The Jews immediately picked up stones to begin to pelt him because they realized the divine title Jesus was claiming.
The Jews finally get to Jesus and kill him for his claim to divinity…a point that should not be overlooked. If Jesus were only halfway serious about being divine, he would not have risked his life for it. However, it was who he was and he was willing to go all the way to death for that claim. Someone who was not divine would probably not have done that. He was able to die because he knew he would be raised again. After Jesus’ return, in fact, Peter affirms in Acts 2:36 that Jesus is indeed both Lord and Christ.
Likewise, Peter again affirms the deity of Christ in 1 Peter 2. The divine titles of the Old Testament are applied to Jesus. He is the “precious cornerstone” of Isaiah 28. He is the “stone the builders rejected” in Psalm 118. Later, in 1 Peter 2 he claims that Jesus is the divine Shepherd of Psalm 23, giving him yet another divine title that was already secured in John 10:10.
It is important that we affirm the deity of Christ in a world that would rather throw the “good person” or “good teacher” label on Jesus and be done with it. Certainly, he was the only righteous, good person. He was the best teacher the world has ever known. But these descriptors are secondary to his divine nature. If it we not for his divinity, there would be no perfect, spotless lamb. There would be no resurrection. There would be no forgiveness for sin.