You are on page 1of 3

The Deity of Christ

14. “Jesus answered, if I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. He who glorifies me is my Father.’” He says this because of that which they said, “Whom do you make yourself?” For he refers his glory to the Father, from whom it is that he is God. (2) Sometimes the Arians misrepresent our faith from this sentence; and they say, See, the Father is greater because, of course, he glorifies the Son. Heretic, have you not read the Son himself also saying that he glorifies his Father? If he glorifies the Son and the Son glorifies the Father, put aside your obstinacy; acknowledge their equality, correct your perversity. St Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John 43 Four classic questions encompass the classic teaching the person of Christ: Quis (who)? Quid (what)? Quomodo (how)? Ad quid (why)? Who assumed humanity in the incarnation? What nature did the eternal Son assume? How are deity and humanity united in one person? Why did the Son become flesh? The Deity of Christ First, as asked by the religious leaders: Who can forgive sin but God alone? When he healed a paralytic, Jesus said: ―Your sins are forgiven.‖ Some asked: ―Who is this man who speaks against God in this way. No man can forgive sins; God alone can!‖ Later when he pronounced as forgiven ―a woman who had lived a sinful life‖ (Luke 7:37), ―the other guests began to say among themselves, ‗Who is this who even forgives sins?‖ (Luke 7:49). Second, as asked by the civil authorities: Is he the beheaded John returning from the dead? Jesus must have made the civil authorities anxious about political succession, legitimated power, order, and authority. Herod jailed and finally beheaded John the Baptist, a relative of Jesus. The theory was being circulated that Jesus perhaps might be John returning from the dead. Herod complained: ―I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?‖ (Luke 9:9, ). The question of his identity became an urgent matter for civil order and ultimately the cause of his death. Third, as asked by the populace: Who is this? Jesus‘ identity perplexed the general populace. This became clear at one decisive point—―When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, ‗Who is this?‘‖ (Matt. 21:11). Fourth, as asked by Jesus himself to the inner circle: But who do you say I am? A decisive moment in Jesus‘ ministry came when he put the question squarely to the disciples: What about each of you? ―Who do you say I am?‖ (Mark 8:29). When he told them that he would soon be betrayed, would die, and be raised again, Mark reported candidly that ―they did not understand what he meant‖ (Mark 9:32; Luke 9:45). It was not until the resurrection that his identity was clearly revealed. Jesus did not ask his hearers to accept his moral reflections or philosophical ideas but simply to believe in him. His ministry confronted every hearer with the same basic decision: are you ready to live in the presence of the coming governance of God? He taught that trusting in him would deliver the sinner from sin. Failing to believe in him would leave the sinner so mired in sin as to miss eternal life (John 3:15–18). He did not merely call for faith in the Father apart from the Son, as if distanced from himself. Rather he understood himself to be nothing less than the living embodiment of the Father‘s Word (John 12:44–50, 15:1–8). Early in his ministry, when Jesus attended the synagogue of his village of Nazareth, he reportedly read this passage from Isaiah 41:1–2, as recorded by Luke: ―‗The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor.‘ Then he rolled up the scroll , gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‗Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing‘‖ (Luke 4:18–21). The point is unmistakable: Jesus, in Luke‘s view, thought that Isaiah was referring to him! The climax of the episode is not Isaiah‘s prophecy but Jesus‘ response to it. All four Gospels hold that he assented to the recognition that he was the expected deliverer of Israel (Matt. 16:15–20; Mark 8:29–32, 14:62–63; Luke 9:20–22, 24:46; John 11:25–

Entrance into the reign of God was thought to depend entirely upon how one answers the question— ―Who is this one?‖ ―Many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it. There can be little doubt that he assumed the title ―Son of Man‖ as particularly definitive of his mission. ‗You have now seen him. Rev. John remembers him saying: ―All things have been committed to me by my Father‖ (Matt. When he preached the coming kingdom of God. and the Similitudes of Enoch. The Scandal of Self-Reference It is characteristic of great religious teachers that they are self-effacing. The most penetrating evidence comes from the earliest written Gospel—according to Mark. or there must have been something utterly unique about him that enabled him to teach from a very different premise of authority than anyone else. He was constantly remembered as saying outrageous things about himself. Jesus explained to Philip: ―How can you say.‖ ―The Kingdom of God is near. and to hear what you hear but did not hear it‖ (Luke 10:23). Either he did not follow his own teaching at all. In doing so he transformed the very notion of messiah in accepting that designation. the disciples . Jesus understood his ministry as a sign of the end time: ―The time has come. 3:8). The text implies mutual. Jesus understood himself to be the messiah of historic Jewish expectations. This is the faith of classic Christianity. he warned his hearers against self-centeredness. and ―warned them not to tell anyone about him‖ (Mark 8:30). he assumed that his own ministry was the inauguration of that Reign of God. No one comes to the Father except through me‖ (John 14:6). sir?‘ the man asked. It was a recognized messianic title from Daniel 7:13. Rather. cf. Ezekiel (2:1. ―I am. John 10:7–9. John 17:6–26). These ring with absurdity unless there is a plausible premise behind them that can help them make sense. He was less a sign pointing to the door of life than the door itself (Mark 13:4–37. there have been alternative explanations about Jesus that have been tested and consensually rejected by the believing community: he was not God but was more like God than most of us (Arius). ―You are the Christ‖ (Mark 8:29). The most remarkable part of Peter‘s confession. The Jesus of Mark‘s Gospel was not just another prophet. Jesus.‘ Jesus said.‖ Jesus said: ―No one knows who the Son is except the Father. 2 Esdras 13.‖ ―The high priest tore his clothes. ―You have heard the blasphemy‘‖ (Mark 14:61–62). ‗Show us the Father‘? Don‘t you believe that I am in the Father. he corrected them (Mark 10:35–45). 10:27). When asked by the high priest before the Sanhedrin: ―Are you the Christ. Matt. such as Elijah or John. Jesus understood himself to have a unique relation of Sonship to God the Father.28). or John‘s account is irreparably flawed and untrustworthy. He accepted the ascription of Son of God. Compounding the irony. with Father and Son assumed to be distinguishable. but the one to whom the prophets attested. He accepted the ascription of Son of Man. ―Why do we need any more witnesses?‖ he asked. After the Pharisees investigated the healing of the man born blind. One of the most shocking aspects of the New Testament is the frequency with which Jesus makes reference to himself. his sonship. coeternal accountability. ―full of joy through the Holy Spirit. his coming kingdom. Either Jesus viewed himself as the Son of Man descended of the Father. 3:1 –10. is not so much that Peter said it but that Jesus accepted the ascription. Jesus seems quite different. Here is the evidence that appears repeatedly in classic sources: He accepted the ascription (title) of Messiah. ―Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me‖ (Matt. It implied descent from above. 28:16–20. the Son of the Blessed One?‖ Jesus broke his previous reserve and replied. The most shocking hypothesis is simply to suppose that he was telling the truth about himself and that reports of him were substantially accurate. living in me. and when they quarreled over who would be the greatest. and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him‖ (Luke 10:21–22. Repent and believe the good news!‖ (Mark 1:15). John remembers Jesus as saying: ―I and the Father are one‖ (10:30). Much of John‘s Gospel focuses upon the intimacy and eternality of that relationship. We have no earlier or more reliable evidence of Jesus‘ proclamation than these Markan sayings. No wonder he is regarded as delusional by some amateur psychiatrists whose naturalistic assumptions rule out taking seriously his own explanation of himself. it is the Father. Defects of Alternative Explanations From the earliest time. all of this was said by one who most earnestly taught humility and urged others to ―become as little children. and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. When the seventy-two returned from their mission. like: ―I am the way and the truth and the life. 8:1–12). Jesus asked him: ―‗Do you believe in the Son of Man?‘ ‗Who is he. he is the one speaking with you‘ (John 9:35–37). ‗Tell me so that I may believe in him. 11:27). one sending and one being sent. in fact. 3. his mission. who is doing his work‖ (John 14:9–10).‖ Preaching meekness.

To love or hate him amounted to loving or hating God. It overlooks passages attesting his sonship and co-eternality and equality with the Father. It is not likely that the unique Father-Son relationship is something that the remembering church later fantasized or manufactured and then projected back upon Jesus after the resurrection. To know him would be to know God. not personal union with God. since the motivation to make it up seems wholly lacking and implausible. he was demon-possessed (Jesus‘ Pharisaic opponents). Trusting Jesus was trusting God (John 8:19. 14:1–9. Jesus as portrayed by John assumed that the encounter with him was indeed an encounter with God. Such an impression cannot easily have been made up. 15:23).projected upon a mere man a messianic identity (Ebionites). 12:44–45. since evidences of the intimate Father-Son relationship appear in the earliest identifiable oral sources that predate the written sources Jesus was distinctly remembered much later by eyewitnesses as having aroused indignation among his adversaries precisely ―because he claimed to be the Son of God‖ (John 19:7). that he merely shared an ethical purpose with God. an agreement with God in moral intent. Did Jesus merely share with God a moral intention? This diluted (watered-down) view of his person. is found throughout liberal culture-Protestantism. .