Does the Bible Say, That Jesus Is God? [Part 3]

One more remark that didn't fit really into my discussion on Jesus' use of the "Son of Man" title for himself.

All through his ministry Jesus hardly ever calls himself a prophet. He does only compare himself to the prophets in the context of rejection, i.e. just as the prophets of God have been rejected and killed, so he is rejected by Israel and going to be killed. Just as they rejected the prophets of God, he seems to say, they will even reject God himself. See also, John 1:10-11.

And in Luke 1:76 it is said prophetically about John the Baptist by Zechariah, his father:

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the LORD to prepare the way for HIM.

And John is the forerunner of announcer of JESUS. See for this: Luke 3, John 1:23 in the context of all of chapter John 1 and Isaiah 40:3. Preparing the way for the LORD, is the same as preparing the way for Jesus it seems.

Furthermore in Matthew 5-7 and many other places, Jesus does not - as all the other prophets - speak with the phrase "Thus speaks the Lord: ..." but he instead uses "I say to you: ..." What does that tell us about the sort of authority he assumes about himself?

There is a Christian song where it is sung about Jesus "He is all for me: Priest, King and Prophet" (Well, the song is in German, so I don't know if it has been translated or not). And yes, we believe that Jesus was all that, but more. And I hope from the discussion above you could understand a bit of WHY we believe so.

When the Bible talks about Jesus being King, Priest and Prophet, then it is in the sense that he is the real, ultimate, final one [sorry, again, no place for Muhammad left in there], and the others have only been shadows of what God intended this office to be.

God is the King - but concedes to give Israel a king and promises that the Messiah, who will come, will be the true king.

1 Samuel 8 (read the context, where when Samuel, the prophet, judge, leader of Israel becomes old, the people come to him and ask him to appoint a king. Then Samuel goes with this request to God):

4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, "... now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have." ...

7 And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do."

(Meaning, you cannot substitute God's Kingship with a human kingship without loosing in the end.)

But after the people had Saul, as the king after THEIR own heart and suffered for it, God appoints a king after HIS own heart: David. And He promises that finally, the Messiah, the real king from God will come as a descendent of David. And David in many aspects of his life is an image of how the Messiah will come and reign. David is the shepherd king (2 Samuel 7:8). He is anointed long before he will be able to publically reign. It will be many years until Saul will finally "leave the scene" and the kingdom is given to David. So, the Messiah came, he is the anointed and rightful king, but will assume public rule only in his second coming. David himself was never called a son of God, but in 2 Samuel 7:12-17 God through the prophet Nathan gives a revelation to David.

11 "`The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.'" 16 Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.

I am not completely sure how to interpret verse 14, but it probably is a combined prophecy of immediate promise about David's son Solomon, who in many respects is a symbol and pre-image of the true king who is to come. And Solomon definitely did many things wrong.

But, although Jesus did no wrong, he became sin for us [2 Cor. 5:21], and was counted by God as one who had sinned (bearing in fact the sins of the whole world). As it is also prophecied in Isaiah 53:12:

he... was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

But mainly this is a prophecy about the Messiah king for whom God will establish an eternal kingdom. And: This future king is called by God "my Son" and "I will be his Father". That kings sometimes get this title of "son of God" has its origin in this prophecy of the Messiah, who truly IS the Son of God. Others are only symbols of the Son to come. ... Back to the description of the meaning of 'king' now.

The role of the King is both, the representative of God as the leader of the nation and the representative of the people before God in what is going on in the nation. The King is carrying the responsibility. But it is more a 'secular' representing in both ways. But know also, that secular and sacred are not easily separated. It is a matter of 'spirituality' also, if you lie or steal from your neighbor and it is the king who stands for justice in the nation.

Jesus is also the true High Priest after the model of Melchizedek. This is elaborated upon in great detail in the letter to the Hebrews. The Priest is another representative for the people before God, in that he is the one to intercede for the people. He is performing the sacrifices for sins etc. And the imagery of both priest and sacrifice are united in Jesus, who is the final and true High Priest, and who does not sacrifice animals, but gave himself as the final sacrifice, without blemish, so removing the sin and guilt of his people.

And Jesus is THE 'prophet' of the new covenant (Deuteronomy 18:18, Jeremiah 31:31, but read the complete chapter 31),

The expression of the first covenant was the law given to Israel through Moses at Mount Sinai. The expression of the new covenant is the grace of a totally new relationship of God with his people. Against this background John 1:14 says:

For the law was given through Moses;
truth and grace came through Jesus Christ.

Notice the difference of 'given' and 'came'. This does indicate a difference in the 'nature' of the mediators of the two covenants.

In the case of Moses, the law was something that was handed to him by God and he only transmits it to the people. In the case of Jesus God's truth and grace come in his very person. It is not just something he talks about, it is something he IS.

What did all these many prophecies do? The Jews have been in a dilemma. There are so many prophecies about the Messiah to come which don't seem to fit together.

* Messiah will come as a triumphant king (Psalm 2)

* Messiah will come as a suffering servant to take away sins (Isaiah 53)

Then also, it says that

* God himself will come (Ezekiel 34: as shepherd - we looked at that already)

* God will come and a messenger will go before him (Isaiah 40, we have looked at this also briefly in respect to the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus and the prophecy about the two in Luke 1)

* God will be "pierced". And this is an incredible passage in the book of the Prophet Zechariah chapters 12 and 13:

12:1 This is the word of the LORD concerning Israel. The LORD, who..., declares:
2 "I am going to ...
10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace {remember "grace came through Jesus"} and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

God speaks in the whole chapter in the first person, and says that Israel will PIERCE him and then LOOK at him. These are very tangible words of the physical world. And what is happening at this day when they pierce him?

13:1 "On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

And that is the message not only of the whole New Testament, but also in the Old Testament of Prophet Zechariah, who lived about 500 years before Christ. The message is, that God himself will come, and that He will be rejected and even killed and that that will somehow be the source of forgiveness and cleansing.

I do not blame the Jews for not understanding. It is confusing if you look at it before the solution is known. Something like a puzzle. If you have only the 5000 little pieces it might be impossible to get them all together. But if you also have the picture you are trying to make from them, it is suddenly much easier. Knowing the picture you are aiming for, you can fit the pieces to their right place.

In Jesus, God gave us the picture and suddenly all those concepts and prophecies in the Old Testament are united in him and fit perfectly. He is God incarnated in the flesh. He is God and the descendant of David. And he comes in humility to take away our sins the first time and will come back in glory as the king in power at His return.

In Jesus now, none of the prophecies given has to 'overrule' the other. He no longer has to be EITHER the one OR the other. He is it all. Messiah, suffering and triumphant, God and seed of David, and each of the 'contradictions' is solved and he fulfills each of the prophecies literally.

How do you read Zechariah 12 when you can not yet see that God really can become human? Well, you 'allegorize' it. 'Piercing pain' about the rejection by his own people. No 'spirit being' can be physically pierced, or can it? Now that the real picture/explanation is there, God's word is again literally true, and there is no need to allegorize it.

And that happens to many verses in the Old Testament talking about "God himself coming". When you know the picture behind it, when you have seen the solution, then everything suddenly makes sense.

Let me give you another illustration, from the 'fairy tale world': If a prince goes out into his country and clothes himself as a normal man, takes no signs of his position nor much money with him. And then he falls in love with a poor girl. He might decide to not give her all the details of who he is, because he wants her to love him for his person not for his position of wealth and power, which might bring out the greed in her instead of her love. So, he is rather secretive of what he says. But in one instant he can't help himself and shouts out, "I will share all my kingdom with you!". What would the poor girl think? She would not understand it. She would allegorize it and think: "He does not have much, but it is like a kingdom to him, and he is willing to share all he has with me" She would not really understand, but she would see his sincerity in it. When she thinks, this man is really serious and accepts his request of marriage, THEN she will find out the true meaning of his statement, and much more that might have been 'cryptic' in their love relationship will suddenly make perfect sense.

In a similar way, many things can only be understood when I accept the offer of Jesus and entrust my life and future to him on the basis of WHAT I already understand. That might not be all there is to it. But even if I don't understand everything, it should be amply clear from what we read about Jesus both in the Old and New Testament, that he deserves our trust.

Many things we will only begin to understand when we take the first steps of faith based on the trustworthiness of Jesus that we can already clearly see from the scriptures. There is NO concept of blind faith in Christianity. We are asked to respond to the invitation of the one who gave his life for us and has shown himself worthy of our trust, but we will not understand all before we take this step either. We know all we need to know to give our lives to him and follow him. Then we are promised (the followers in total on Pentecost and each one who decides to follow Jesus):

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. -- John 16:13

And talking about Israel and why they do not understand (yet) the Apostle Paul writes in 2 Cor. 3:

14 ...for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because ONLY in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

And this above verse 17 is another passage to show that the 'Spirit' IS God (the Lord).

Jesus, the Messiah is the center of the whole Bible. In the Old Testament he is the Messiah who is GOING TO come and in the New Testament he is the Messiah who HAS come. And yes, after Jesus there are other Apostles (=Prophets) or Messengers of God. There is no doubt about that, but just like the old prophets talk about the Messiah to come, the new ones talk about the Messiah who has come. The Messiah of God is the center of all the Bible. There are several thick volumes where Messianic prophecies are discussed (e.g. Lockeyer: 'All the Messianic Prophecies in the Bible' has 600 pages and discusses around a thousand Messianic prophecies).

With this Biblical background, what do we have to say about Muhammad? IF Muhammad had been SUCH an Apostle, called to bring God's message to the Arabs [even talking in his own words about HIM as long as the meaning is preserved], Christians would have had no problem calling him a messenger/prophet. But for him basically to be saying: Well, Jesus was JUST a prophet and the Messiah - and Muhammad seems not to have a clue about the real Biblical meaning of 'Messiah' -, and to say, no big deal, Jesus was only of 'local and temporal' significance, and now I am the prophet for all mankind and the final one, means that there is NO way that he is in agreement with the Biblical prophetic message. And that means by Biblical standards, that he is not a prophet of God, because God does not contradict himself. All true prophets confirm the earlier message and maybe extend it, but NEVER subtract from it. God didn't make any 'mistakes' in his earlier messages.

And as we have seen, Muhammad denies the very center of the message of the earlier prophets. Can his message really be thought of as originating from the same source/God? Even a little 'corruption theory' won't save it. It is not about a few verses here and there that have to be changed, to get the Bible and Muhammad in line. The two are so far apart that you have to throw the Bible away in total if you want to accept Muhammad.

Why, IF Muhammad was so important, did God give more than a thousand Messianic prophecies and none about Muhammad that would be clear?

Show me just 10 prophecies about Muhammad that do not need major 'reading into the Bible' instead of just reading what is there in its plain meaning!

Another verse which says it is hard to fully understand the Biblical message if you ONLY apply your mind to it and do not seek the guidance through God's Holy Sprit and let Him illumine your mind:

1 Corinthians 2:14

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that comes from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, an he cannot understand them, because they are (to be) spiritually discerned.

If you really want to understand God's truth, then you do need to use your brain and reasoning. Yes, God gave it to us to use them. But they will NOT be enough to understand God and His will and plan. I want to implore you to pray earnestly as you search these matters, do PRAY to God, that HE will show you His truth. That no former attitudes of yours will veil the truth He wants to show you. Pray to Him and tell Him that you want the truth He has for you. Even if it means that you will have to change everything you have believed so far. If you ask God with the intention to obey what He will reveal to you, then God will honor your prayer. God says through the Prophet Jeremiah:

You will seek me and find me,
when you seek me with all your heart. -- Jeremiah 29:13

I know this is totally against all you have been taught your whole life. It is in your very nature that God is not a trinity and that God did not become man, and that Jesus was just a prophet.

But, for the sake of the salvation of your soul, consider at least the _possibility_ that Muhammad was mistaken, even if you then reject it. You should not risk your eternal fate by rejecting something you have not earnestly considered.

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. -- James 5:16

If your heart is right and yearns for the truth, then your prayer to God will be effective even against the teaching of the "falsehood of the Christian Faith", which is already so much second nature to you, probably from earliest childhood where you have taken them in without thinking through them yourself. Currently you might be unable to even imagine that you might ever be able to believe something so "disgusting". But you might have seen that here is something deeper than you ever imagined. Do not walk away from it without making sure you know what you reject and why.

True, Jesus did not say the SENTENCE "I am God", but as we have seen, time and again, he uses names, attributes, characteristics of God and claims them for himself. And the Jews around him understood his language and were outraged at his claims, that he a 'mere man' would claim to 'be God'.

But when Jesus cast out demons, who acknowledged him to be the Holy One sent by the Most High God, he also commanded them to be quiet, as it was not yet time for his true nature to be unequivocally revealed. This casts light on the reason why he didn't just explicitly say "I am God".

And we have seen, that, though 'hard to understand' without the picture of the New Testament solution, there are a number of Old Testament passages (puzzle pieces), which suggest that God would come as a human being at some time in the future.

The Jews who rejected him knew what he was talking about. And also those who believed him knew what he was talking about. And they believed he was God. Let me list you just a couple of verses in the New Testament where they state this explicitly. And those were all written by Jews, who accepted the Old Testament completely.

Jesus is God:

I already quoted and discussed John 1:1,18 and 20:28;

Romans 9:5 reads:

... from them is traced the human ancestry of
Christ, who is God over all, for ever praised. Amen.

Titus 2:13-14 says:

... while we wait for the blessed hope, the glorious appearance of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Sadly, many Christians do not seem to be so eager to do much good. But that is our shortcoming, and not detracting from the fact, that the Bible calls Jesus God.

Hebrews 1:8 is:

But about the Son he says,
"Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, ..."

The Apostle Peter states in the introduction to his second letter (1:1-2):

To those who through the righteousness of
our God and Saviour Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the
knowledge of God [the Father] and of Jesus our Lord.

The above verses are partly taken from my earlier list, and partly additional verses from the list below.

An Outline of the New Testament Testimony to the Deity of Christ

This outline does not purport to be in any sense an exhaustive analysis of the NT witness to Christ's deity. Rather it is a sketch of one approach - a rather traditional approach - to this theme. Other complementary or supplementary approaches abound, such as the creative treatment of Jesus' implicit claim to deity in his parables by P. B. Payne or R. T. France's documentation from the Synoptic Gospels of Jesus' assumption of the role of Yahweh (Jesus and the Old Testament p.150-59). For a brief discussion of the NT verses that seem, at first sight, to call Jesus' divinity into question, see R. E. Brown, "Does the New Testament Call Jesus God?" (Reflections 6-10).

A. Implicit Christology

 1. Divine functions performed by Jesus

  a. In relation to the universe

   (1) Creator (John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2)
   (2) Sustainer (1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3)
   (3) Author of life (John 1:4; Acts 3:15)
   (4) Ruler (Matt. 28:18; Rom. 14:9; Rev. 1:6)

  b. In relation to human beings

   (1) Healing the sick (Mark 1:32-34; Acts 3:6; 10:38)
   (2) Teaching authoritatively (Mark 1:21-22; 13:31)
   (3) Forgiving sins (Mark 2:1-12; Luke 24:47; Acts 6:31; 
       Col. 3:13)
   (4) Granting salvation or imparting eternal life (Acts 4:12; 
       Rom. 10:12-14)
   (5) Dispensing the Spirit (Matt. 3:11; Acts 2:17,33)
   (6) Raising the dead (Luke 7:11-17; John 5:21; 6:40)
   (7) Exercising judgment (Matt. 25:31-46; John 5:19-29; 
       Acts 10:42; 1 Cor. 4:4-6)

 2. Divine status claimed by or accorded to Jesus

  a. In relation to his Father

   (1) Possessor of divine attributes (John 1:4; 10:30; 21:17; 
       Eph. 4:10; Col. 1:19; 2:9)
   (2) Eternally existent (John 1:1; 8:58; 12:41; 17:5; 
       1 Cor. 10:4; Phil. 2:6; Heb. 11:26; 13:8; Jude 5)
   (3) Equal in dignity (Matt. 28:19; John 5:23; 2 Cor. 13:14; 
       Rev. 22:13; cf. 21:6)
   (4) Perfect revealer (John 1:18; 14:9; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:1-3)
   (5) Embodiment of truth (John 1:9, 14; 6:32; 14:6; Rev. 3:7,14)
   (6) Joint possessor of the kingdom (Eph. 5:5; Rev. 11:15),
       churches (Rom. 16:16), Spirit (Rom. 8:9; Phil. 1:19), 
       temple (Rev. 21:Z), divine name (Matt 28:19; cf. Rev. 14:1), 
       and throne (Rev. 22:1, 3)

  b. In relation to human beings

   (1) Recipient of praise (Mat 21:16-16; Eph. 6:19; 1 Tim. 1:12;
       Rev. 5:8-14)
   (2) Recipient of prayer (Acts 1:24; 7:59-60; 9:10-17,21; 
       22:16,19; 1 Cor. 1:2; 16:22; 2 Cor. 12:8)
   (3) Object of saving faith (John 14:1; Acts 10:43; 16:31; 
       Rom. 10:8-13)
   (4) Object of worship (Matt 14:33; 28:9,17; John 5:23; 20:28;
       Phil 2:10-11; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:8-12)
   (5) Joint source of blessing (1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3;
       1 Thess. 3:11; 2 Thess. 2:16)
   (6) Object of doxologies (2 Tim 4:18; 2 Pet. 3:18; Rev. 1:5b-6;

B. Explicit Christology

 1. Old Testament passages refering to Yahweh applied to Jesus

  a. Character of Yahweh (Exod. 3:14 and Isa 43:11 alluded to in
     John 8:68; Ps. 101:27-28 LXX 1MT 102:28-291 quoted in 
     Heb. 1:11-12; Isa 44:6 alluded to in Rev. 1:17)
  b. Holiness of Yahweh (Isa 8:12-13 [cf. 29:23] quoted in 
     1 Pet.3:14-15)
  c. Descriptions of Yahweh (Ezek. 43:2 and Dan. 10:6-6 alluded to
     in Rev. 1:13-16)
  d. Worship of Yahweh (Isa 45:23 alluded to in Phil. 2:10-11; 
     Deut. 32:43 LXX and Ps. 96:7 LXX [MT 97:7] quoted in Heb. 1:6)
  e. Work of Yahweh in creation (Ps. 101:26 LXX [MT 102:27] quoted
     in Heb. 1:10)
  f. Salvation of Yahweh (Joel 2:32 [MT 3:5] quoted in Rom. 10:13; 
     cf. Acts 2:21; Isa 40:3 quoted in Matt. 3:3)
  g. Trustworthiness of Yawheh (Isa 28:16 quoted in Rom. 9:33;
     10:11; 1 Pet. 2:6)
  h. Judgment of Yahweh (Isa 6:10 alluded to in John 12:41; Isa 8:14
     quoted in Rom. 9:33 and 1 Pet. 2:8)
  i. Triumph of Yahweh (Ps. 68:18 [MT v. 19] quoted in Eph. 4:8)

2. Divine titles claimed by or applied to Jesus

  a. Son of Man (Matt. 16:28; 24:30; Mark 8:38; 14:62-64; Acts 7:56)
  b. Son of God (Matt.11:27; Mark 15:39; John 1:18; Rom. 1:4; 
     Gal.4:4; Heb. 1:2)
  c. Messiah (Matt. 16:16; Mark 14:61; John 20:31)
  d. Lord (Mark 12:36-37; John 20:28; Rom. 10:9, 1 Cor. 8:6-6; 12:3;
     16:22; Phil. 2:11; 1 Pet. 2:3; 3:15)
  e. Alpha and Omega (Rev. 22:13; cf. 1:8; 21:6, of the Lord God)
  f. God (John 1:1,18; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 
     2 Pet. 1:1)

Taken from the appendix of
Murray J. Harris, Jesus as God, Baker Book House, 1992, ISBN 0-8010-4370-0,
(A very scholarly book, with lots of discussion of the Greek text, it might not be much of a joy to read if you can not understand or at least be accustomed to read scholarly theological books and are able to read a bit of Greek)

Scholarly discussion of the Greek grammar in regard to "Jesus called God" in Titus 2:13 and 2 Pet. 1:1 is given on these pages: [1], [2], [3].

Now, that I hope to have established to everybody's satisfaction, that the Bible teaches the Deity of Jesus Christ, we have to turn to the remaining problem of the relationship of God, the Father, to God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit. This will occupy us in the following parts.

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