From the Bible
There are many avenues in which the Scriptures testify to the deity of Christ. In a previous post, I discussed how the very names He is called testifies to this fact. In this post, let’s look at His claims.
He claims to be Jehovah
One of the earliest revelations of the nature of God is when He reveals Himself to Moses at the bush. In Exodus 3.14, God reveals Himself as the “I am” – the eternally, self-existent Creator of all.
In John 8.58, Jesus shocks the religious crowd with these words, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Jesus wasn’t simply claiming to be older than Moses – for that He could have simply been put away.
In John 8.59, we immediately understand what Jesus claimed by the way the people responded. They picked up stones to stone Him for blasphemy. It’s not blasphemy to claim to be old…It is blasphemy to claim to be Jehovah if you are not!
This chapter is rich with Christological teaching. Specific to point of this post is verse 11: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”
Growing up in church, I would often hear this verse read, and then the message would go something like this: “We are His sheep…Sheep are dumb…” The message would then typically look at the attributes of sheep and compare them to Baptists… 🙂
I have a feeling that the first audience didn’t think: “Did He just compare us to sheep?” Rather, from their worldview, their thinking would have been more like this: “Did He just claim to be ‘good’?”
There is no one good but God. David had already said that “the LORD is my shepherd.” If Jesus was claiming to be the Good Shepherd, that first-century, Jewish world would have understood that as claiming to be the Jehovah of the Old Testament.
In what is regarded as the High Priestly prayer of Jesus, John provides us the ability to listen in to how Christ prayed. In verse 5, Jesus makes a statement that we may gloss over if not careful – “Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee…”
For those familiar with the Old Testament, Isaiah records something for us about God’s glory. In Isaiah 42.8, we read, “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another…”
In John’s gospel, Jesus declares that He has enjoyed this glory with the Father before the world was even created. Yet, the OT tells us that God doesn’t share that glory. The seeming contradiction is removed when we understand that Jesus was claiming to be God.
This final verse, also from the hand of John, shows us the claims of Jesus. In verse 7, after John has fallen at the feet of Jesus, we read, “…Fear not; I am the first and the last.”
These words are the words of Jehovah in Isaiah 44.6. Yet, Jesus is taking a title of Jehovah and claiming it for Himself. He is claiming to be equal with God in no uncertain terms.
In John 5.17, the people wanted to stone Him because He claimed God was His father, making Himself equal with God. In Philippians 2, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God.
The Deity of Christ was not invented by a church council at Nicaea. It was not an invention by the church over the centuries as an evolving doctrine.
The belief in Jesus’ deity is grounded in Scripture and demonstrated throughout history. As believers, we can rest in His claims: Jesus is God.