Once again, this is another paper I wrote for school. But this one was written over a month ago, I am just now getting around to posting it. This is in reference to the belief, “Jesus was a good man, but he was not God.”
I hear it said a lot that Jesus was only a man. People are always looking for ways to disprove that He was God. Some religions even believe this, and some (while believing that Jesus is God to a certain extent) still miss out on one key concept: that Jesus was not created by God like angels and man, but He was God in the flesh.
In scripture we learn that even though Jesus was divine in nature, he was human in form while he was here on earth. He had all of the same needs that the rest of us humans have. The scriptures show us how He had feelings and physical needs, and through them we experience His life and death. (Mark 2:15; 14:33; 15:34; Luke 2:40; 7:9)
We know from the Bible that Jesus existed as God long before He came here (Dan 3:25, John 8:58, Genesis 32:30). He also gives eight claims to His deity, which are as follows:
1: He used the Jehovistic “I AM” which identified Him with the deity (John 8:25, 56-59; 18:6) 2: He claimed to be the Old Testament Adonai (Matt. 22:42-45). 3: He identified Himself with God in the baptismal formula (Matt 28:19). 4: He claimed to be one with the Father (John 10:30) and that who sees Him sees the Father (John 14:9). 5: He claimed to forgive sins (Mark 2:5-7). 6: He allowed people to worship Him (Matt 14:33; 28:9; John 20:28, 29) 7: He claimed to have omnipresence (John 3:13), omniscience, and omnipotence (Luke 7:14, Mark 4:39) 8: Finally, He referred to God as “My Father” (John 5:18). (Towns)
As Christians we have to defend our belief in the fact that Jesus was not just a creation of God, but he was in fact God Himself. To understand this, we have to understand the union of the two natures of deity and humanity in one man (John 1:14).
“In the incarnation of the Son of God, a human nature was inseparably united forever with the divine nature in the one person of Jesus Christ, yet with the two natures remaining distinct, whole, and unchanged, so that the one person, Jesus Christ, is truly God and truly man.” (Elwell)
In the result of this union between deity and humanity; we have a man who experiences all of the human needs and emotions and yet acknowledges His deity as God through the eight claims listed above.
1 John 4:10: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Jesus had to become man so that we could be saved and reconciled with God, since we were separated by our own sinful nature. God always intended for us to be in fellowship and communion with Him, and by Jesus coming to earth and dying, He paved the way for us to be reunited with God. (John 14:6).
Jesus is one person with both qualities of humanity and deity, to deny or overemphasize either of these aspects is to misrepresent or misunderstand who He is. It could cause us to misunderstand His ability to relate to us as human beings, or to dismiss His authority as God.
There are arguments against Jesus’ humanism and deity: Some may view Jesus as a human who was filled with the Holy Spirit at baptism, but scripture says that Jesus was God in the flesh: John 1:14, John 8:58. Additionally, “only God himself, taking on human flesh and dying and rising in our flesh, can effect a redemption that consists in being saved from sin and corruption and death, and in being raised to share the nature of God himself” (Elwell).
Then some say, if He is God, how can He also have complete humanity? It is because these two natures (humanity and divinity) are united in one person completely and without confusion. Some ask; if Jesus is God and man, how do we know He lived by God’s Will? Jesus suffered the same temptations of evil that we as humans suffer (Matt 4:1-11) and he experienced pain and persecution. His life gives testimony to the fact that God’s will overcame all of the evil He suffered, and proves that He did not let His humanity overcome Him (John 19:16-42, John 20:1-18, Acts 1:1-11).
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
– C.S. Lewis
Towns, Elmer. Theology For Today. Mason: Cengage Learning, 2008. 155. Print.
Elwell, Walter. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. second. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company,
2001. 239, 583, 242. Print.