May 24, 2012

Was Jesus Really God? Or Just a Good Man?

This question really goes to the heart of the Christian faith.  It is what separates orthodox Christianity from every other religion and cult.  Fundamental to our faith is the Deity of Christ, that Jesus is both God and man.  From the prophecies of His immaculate conception by the Holy Spirit, his earthly “step-father” Joseph was told by an angel in a dream in Matthew 1:23 (NLT) “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”  When His own disciple, Philip ask Jesus to show them the Father, Jesus responded in John 14:9-11 (NLT)  “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. 11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.”  

Even Jesus own critics, the religious leaders understood Jesus claim to be God and sought to crucify Him for it as blasphemy.  In Matthew 26:65, the High Priest used this accusation to condemn Christ.  Matthew 26:65 (CEV) The high priest then tore his robe and said, ‘This man claims to be God! We don’t need any more witnesses! You have heard what He said.’”

We also have the witness of the Apostles who accepted the claim that Jesus is God and proclaimed that message to their own deaths.  Colossians 2:9 says, “For in Him (Christ) the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form, giving complete expression of the divine nature.”  There are many other passages of Scripture that would bear witness to the Deity of Christ as well.  Hebrews 1:3 (NIV) tells us The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

As God, Jesus was able to make God known to man.  As man, He was able to make Himself a sacrifice for our sins and represent man before God as our High Priest.  The clearest picture the world has ever seen of God is in the face of Jesus Christ.

This is part of the mystery of our faith; the incarnation, that Jesus could be both God and man at one and the same time.  As man He is called “the second Adam” because He came to show us what man could become when he is rightly related to God.  Not that we could become God for there is only one God, but that we as God’s creation could be re-inhabited by our Creator so that by virtue of His presence within us we could once again reflect His image and likeness and put His glory on display through everything that we do and say and are!  Any teaching that rejects the Deity of Christ is false and should be avoided.