To some, Jesus was a human that did many remarkable things. He taught many wonderful things. He even gave His life for a good cause. They have a hard time understanding how Jesus can be God. Well, then, I will spend some time explaining that.
Let’s look at John 1. Something that should be quite evident is the way that “the Word” is described in conjunction with God. We see that the Word existed at the beginning which means the Word is eternal. We also see that the Word was with God which points to what we talked about already, the Trinity. Next, the Word was God. If we skip down to verse fourteen, something else becomes very apparent. It says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” That describes Jesus Christ.
In fact, looking at Jesus being in the beginning we see some things that only could be attributed to God. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said in Colossians “He is the beginning” (Colossians 1:18) and that He created all things (Colossians 1:16). Reading in the context of the entire Bible, we compare this with the creation account from Genesis 1:1 and following, “In the beginning, God created…” This has great implications in that it should show since God created, and that Jesus created, that God and Jesus are one and the same.
If we look at the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17) we see something that actually will present itself in some interesting ways in the New Testament (NT). The first commandment is “you shall have no other gods before me” and the second says of idols “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.” Keeping this in mind, ask the question, “what did Jesus do in response to worship given to Him?” Let’s take a look.
One story of Jesus, taken from the gospel of Matthew, is when He walked on the water (Matthew 14:22-33). This is pretty remarkable for a mere man to do but that is not where I am going with this. Remember when Jesus gave His hand to help Peter? When Jesus and Peter got back in the boat the disciples did something. Verse 33 says “those in the boat worshiped him.” Notice Jesus’ response to their worship, keeping in mind the commandments – He did not stop them! By allowing them to worship He gave evidence of His deity.
Something else that needs to be considered is that God is the addressee of prayer in the NT. That is, people prayed to God. Jesus Himself gave that as a model in the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13. With this understanding in mind, let’s recall the trial and execution of Stephen. (This is in Acts 7.) Stephen recounted a history of Israel and how Jesus fulfilled the OT. When his sentence was pronounced and carried out, Stephen did a remarkable thing – he prayed, not to “God” but to Jesus. Verse fifty-nine says, “He called out, Lord Jesus…” If Jesus were not God then this would be contrary to the teachings of the OT and to Jesus’ own teaching. Since the Holy Spirit inspired the recording of this prayer we can only surmise then that Jesus and God are one and the same.
They ask about the claim that only God can actually bring salvation. The psalmist said “on God rests my salvation” (Psalm 62:7) and Jonah said “Salvation belongs to the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). With this OT backdrop let’s see what happens in the NT. One time Paul was in prison. He was released by a miraculous earthquake but the jailer thought he might be killed if Paul and the other prisoners escaped. When he was stopped by Paul from killing himself, Paul presented the gospel. The jailer asked the question “how can I be saved?” Paul replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31) See the connection? If God alone can give salvation, then Jesus must be seen as being God since it is by Him that the jailer must believe to receive salvation.
Another thing the OT teaches about God is that God is the God of truth (Isaiah 65:16). This is quite remarkable when seen in the NT as it applies to Jesus. Going back to our beginning point, John 1:14 continues, “and we have seen his glory…full of grace and truth.” Recall that we already have seen the Word coming in flesh is the second person in the Trinity. This describes in other terms Jesus and His attributes.
John also records a conversation between Jesus and the disciples the night He was betrayed. He is trying to encourage them because they cannot fathom that He would leave them. Jesus says these remarkable words (keep in mind the equating of the Word and truth), “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6) The Word in John 1 is the truth and Jesus said in John 14:6 that He is the truth. Putting this together with the OT’s testimony that God is the God of truth, we should then see that since Jesus is truth, and God is truth, then Jesus is God.
Does the NT ever explicitly call Jesus “God?” Yes, it does. In fact, after Jesus arose from the dead He made several appearances to His disciples. At one of those appearances there was a disciple called Thomas. He had a hard time believing that Jesus was alive and wanted some proof. Jesus appeared then and offered to Thomas His hands and His side as proof that it was Him that was crucified, dead, buried, and arose. Thomas gave a response that starts to answer your question. He said, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) If we heard someone say that today we might think they were just mumbling expletives. Thomas would not do that as it would be considered a violation of the command to not take the name of the LORD God in vain. Thomas recognized Jesus in the flesh and also recognized Jesus as God.
Paul helped to bring the OT understanding to his readers as well. When he wrote to the Romans he wanted to correlate the relationship of Israel and God with the relationship of the believers he wanted to visit in Rome. Paul draws a brief sketch of the law, the worship, and promises. As he moves along in his letter, he says something that deserves our notice here in this conversation. Paul said, “…from their race is the Christ [Jesus] who is God over all.” (Romans 9:5) Paul just called Jesus Christ, God. He did a similar address to Titus, “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)
This topic of conversation could stretch on for quite sometime. In fact, it has been a topic of theological discussions since the early church in one form or another. Many take these things seriously. Hopefully, they will be used to move them into the realization that God and Jesus are one and the same. Jesus is fully God while being fully human. Because He is fully God and fully human, we have our faith and being, that is, we are truly Christian.