In this lesson, we are going to look at the identity of Jesus – not His historical existence but rather His role in our faith. Different world religions will say Jesus was a good man, possibly a prophet of God, definitely a martyr. Even within self-designated Christian groups, many will question Jesus’ deity and identify Him as a created being – possibly an angel.
In this lesson we are going to look what others wrote about Jesus, what Jesus said about Himself, and how people reacted to and behaved around Jesus.
Other Biblical Views of Jesus
In John 1:1-18, we have an introduction to the gospel, and it begins, “In the beginning…” What was “in the beginning?” The Word – the essence or reason for being (from the Greek), and this word is clearly applied to Jesus later in the chapter. This Word was with God and was God. They stood in equal relationship to each other. (Think 2+2 = 2×2.) Very emphatically, Jesus is put on equal stature with God, and He is identified as Creator of all things, the life-giver. God’s glory is reflected in Jesus (verse 14). John opens His gospel by clearly identifying Jesus as God.
Philippians 2:1-11 records Paul appealing Christians to imitate Christ’s humility – having the mind of Christ. Verse 6 refers to Jesus as a form of God and equal to God. Paul says every knee should bow before Jesus, and all should confess Jesus deity to the glory of God.
In Colossians 1:9-14, Paul speaks of the great gift of redemption, and Jesus is referred to as the image of God. What God is and was, Jesus is and was. Verse 16 again calls Jesus Creator, and verse 19 refers to Jesus as fullness of God. (See also Colossians 2:9.) Finally, Hebrews 1 once more refers to Jesus’ role in Creation. He is called the image and the glory of God – better than angels who are to worship Him.
Jesus On Self
In John 8:12, Jesus states “I am the light of this world.” The Pharisees make the point that He cannot testify for Himself, but He points out that His teachings testify of His position. In verse 24, Jesus calls Himself I AM, and He predicts His crucifixion and resurrection as an indicator of His deity, again calling Himself I AM. This is a direct reference to Exodus 3:14. Jesus equated Himself with Jehovah God. Again, John 8:58: “Before Abraham was, I AM.”
In John 10:30, Jesus claims He and the Father are one and the same, and John 14:8 records Philip asking Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus replies that seeing Him is equal to seeing God. The following verse make it absolutely clear that Jesus was equating Himself with God, and John 17 records a prayer of Jesus where He states He shared glory with Jehovah prior to time’s beginning.
What did Jesus claim? Either He was a lying fraud, or He was everything He said He was. There is no room to interpret His ministry as anything in-between.
How Others React
Jesus use of I AM in John 8 was not lost on His audience. At the end of the chapter, the people took up stones to kill Him. Why? They realized the weight of His claims and what position He placed Himself in. They could not merely pass off what He said. Jesus’ claims were serious.
Matthew 8:1-2, right after the Sermon on the Mount, a leper came and worshipped Jesus. Contrast this with Exodus 34:14 (As well as the Ten Commandments) where it is plainly stated only God may be worshipped. Jesus did not tell Him to stop worshipping. Rather, He healed the man. Again, Matthew 9:18, and John 9:35-38 record instances where people bow down to Jesus in reaction to His actions and teachings.
Finally, in John 20, Jesus was beginning to reveal His existence to the disciples (including the story of doubting Thomas), and Thomas calls Jesus as Lord and God in verse 28.
The Bible writers equate Jesus with God. Jesus equated Himself with God, and Jesus’ audiences realized the implications of His ministry and reacted in result. Some tried to kill Him. Others worshipped, and Jesus accepted the worship.
Was Jesus a prophet? Yes. Was He a good man? He was sinless. Was He a martyr? That was God’s plan. In addition to all these, Jesus is Creator, worthy of worship. He is the glory and image of God. Jesus is God.
lesson by Tim Smelser