Jesus is one of the world's most popular and most influential people in history. More books, magazine articles, website, etc., have been written about Him and His life than any other person including Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, Moses, etc.... Almost anybody you ask in this world has an opinion about him. This taken into account, you would think we would all be in agreement about who Jesus really was. But, in fact, this is far from the truth.
Much debate and discussion has been had on the subject of who Jesus was. Many different religions and cults include Jesus in their belief system, whether as a god, a prophet, a teacher, or a wise man. Some of the religions that include Jesus are: Christianity, Islam, Baha'i, Mormonism, Church of Scientology, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Unification Church. My objective in this paper is to try to identify who Jesus really was and is.
To get the answer of who Jesus was and is, we must first look at the Bible, the primary source that includes Him and focuses on Him. From the Bible, we can get a very accurate recording of what He really said, since the Bible has been well recorded throughout the ages. I will note what He said to people and how the words He said show His divinity. Next, I will describe what He did throughout His lifetime. Third, I will discuss the nature of Jesus. These three areas will be the basic points that I will use in my paper.
What He Said
By looking at what He said, I have found an extremely unique phrase that shows His deity. At least 10 times, He uses the phrase, "I am", to describe himself. In other words He spoke with authority. In the Old Testament of the Bible in the book of Exodus 3:14, God says, "I AM THAT I AM." He said, "Thus shall they say unto the children of Israel, I AM has sent them unto you." And, in John 8:58 Jesus says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am." The Jews understood Jesus perfectly when He said, "I am." They understood that He was calling Himself God, and they thought He had committed blasphemy for ascribing the name of God to himself. By reading further you see that the Jews tried to stone Jesus, but Jesus slipped away in the crowd. Other "I am" sayings by Jesus include: "I am the way," "I am the truth," "I am the door," "I am the bread of life," and "I am the good shepherd." Jesus also says in the gospel that "no man cometh to the Father, but by me." He says in another place, "He that believeth on the Son has eternal life: and He that believeth not the Son shall see life; but the wrath of God abidest on him."
In other words, Jesus claimed equality with the Father and the Holy Spirit. This is evident in the baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19 where He said, "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." This is also evident in the benediction of 2 Corinthians 13:14, where the names of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all linked together. Another verse where Jesus tells the people that He and the Father are equal is in John 5:17. He says, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." Again, He claims equality with God in John 5:23 where He says, "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him." In John 10:30 Jesus said, "I and the Father are one." These are all claims of deity since He is making a claim of equality by calling God, His Father. By showing His equality with the Father, Jesus showed His divinity.
By He said alone, I would have to conclude that He was God in the flesh. He spoke the way God did and spoke with the authority that only God could. One of the Gospel writers records that many were amazed and one man said, "Never man spake like this man." In fact, the Jews and other people were amazed at how He talked because it was like one who talked with authority. By what He said, it would be blasphemy and inaccurate to call him just a prophet, a teacher, or a wise person.
What Jesus Did
Jesus not only talked and said things like God, but He also did things that only God could do. Jesus allowed people to worship him; this would be a blasphemous act if He were not God. In fact, the same Greek word for worship, proskuneo, is used in verses that refer to worshipping God (Jehovah) and Jesus. Furthermore, although Jesus allowed people to worship him, Paul and Barnabas would not allow people to worship them (Acts 14:10-18), showing that Jesus was like God while they were not. Another quality Jesus had that only God had was that He had the power to create. Jesus also had power over the elements--wind, mountains, etc. He also claimed that He alone would judge the world, He claimed all authority, and He also claimed to be the way to salvation.
One of the most outstanding things that Jesus did that only God could do was forgive sins (Mark 2:1-12; Luke 7:48; John 8:2-11). After He had forgiven somebody their sins, the teachers of the law said He was blaspheming. They thought that Jesus was basically calling himself God. In fact, blasphemy was the charge that led him to death by crucifixion. Of course, though, it's not blaspheming if you aren't lying. He saw His death as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrew 8:8- 12; Mark 14:24). Through His prophesy-fulfilling death, forgiveness is available for everyone who truly repents (Luke 23:39-43; John 8:2-11).
The scripture is clear that only God is to be worshiped. "For thou shall worship no other God for the Lord (Jehovah), whose name is jealous, is a jealous God" (Ex 34:14). "O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our maker" (Ps.95:6). But, the Bible also teaches that Jesus was not only worshiped but also called God by Thomas in John 20:28 where Thomas sees the resurrected Jesus for the first time and says, "My Lord my God." Instead of being rebuked for this statement which would be blasphemy if false, He is commended and blessed, something no true prophet would do unless it was correct. In fact, Jesus is worshipped at least 6 different times. These include:
The wise men who worshiped Jesus as a child. (Matthew 2:11)
The leper who worshiped Jesus. (Matthew 8)
The ruler who bowed and worshiped. (Matthew 9:18)
The blind believer who worshiped him. (John 9:38)
The women who worshiped him. (Matthew 15:25)
Mary Magdalene who worshiped him. (Matthew 28:9)
The disciples worshiped him. (Matthew 28:17)
And, all God's angels worship him. (Hebrews 1:6)
God and Jesus both Create
God and Jesus both had the power to create. The Bible says that Jehovah created man (Genesis 2:7). Jehovah of hosts created heaven and earth (Isaiah 37:16). Job says that the Almighty gives Him life (Job 33:4). God alone is the maker of all things; He stretched out the heavens by Himself, and spread out the earth all alone (Isaiah 44:24). The creator is the Everlasting God (Isaiah 40:28). Jehovah, who created the Heavens, is the God who formed the earth and says "I am the LORD and there is none else" (Isaiah 45:18-22). One God created us (Malachi 2:10).
Jesus is called the creator in many places. All things were created through Christ (John 1:3). The world was made through Him (John 1:10). All things were created by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:15-17). The heavens and earth are the work of His hands (Hebrews 1:10-12); this a direct reference to Psalms (102: 25-27).
Jesus/God both are Savior/Redeemer
It seems that both God and Jesus are the Savior. The most high God is rock and redeemer (Psalm 78:34,35). They forgot God their Savior (Psalm 106:21). Jehovah is Savior (Isaiah 43:3-11). And there is no other God besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; There is none except me (Isaiah 45:21). Jehovah is your Savior (Isaiah 49:26). Maker, Jehovah of hosts, Redeemer, Holy One, called God over all the earth (Isaiah 54:5). Mary rejoices in God my Savior (Luke 1:47). Glory, "to the only God our Savior" (Jude 1:25).
I then found as many passages that say that Jesus is the Savior. Jesus was named the Savior by many people. Christ proclaimed as Savior by the angels (Luke 2:10,11). Testified of as Savior of the world (John 4:40-42). We "wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phillipians 3:20). Sent to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). God our Savior, Christ Jesus our Savior (Titus 1:1-4). God our Savior, our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds (Titus 2:10-14).
God and Jesus both Judge
"For God will bring every act to judgment" (Ecclesiastes 12:14). The day of judgment is called the day of Jehovah (Joel 2:31-3:2). See also Isaiah 2:12, 13: 9-13, Jeremiah 46:10.
Jesus says that He will judge. Jesus enthroned in glory, judges the nations (Matthew 25:31-46). "For not even the Father judges everyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Son" (John 5:22-30). We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). Jesus judges (2 Thessalonians 1:7-12).
Nature of Jesus
With more than three hundred prophecies about Jesus, we can find out His deity from just looking at some of the prophecies. Some of the prophecies that I found are clearly and without a doubt talking about Jesus. Of course, these prophecies telling of the divinity and nature of Jesus are only a few but I think they will be more than enough.
Probably the most read prophecy that is in the Bible is Isaiah 7:14, which says that a virgin will bear a child and His name is to be called Immanuel, which literally means, "God with us." This unique prophecy was fulfilled in Matthew 1:22-23. In Isaiah 9:6 Jesus is called, "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God." Another clear prophesy is in Psalm 110:1 where David says, "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Jesus referred to this passage in Matthew 22:44, Mark 12:36, and Luke 20:42, and Peter referred to it in his message to the Israelites and Jews in Acts 2:34. This prophecy is important because it shows that the Messiah would not be just a man, but He would be the Lord. David would never call a man "Lord." In fact, Jesus uses this argument when speaking to the Jews who thought the Messiah would just be a man. Another prophesy that tells of the nature of Jesus is Psalms 110:4, where He would be a priest. This was fulfilled in Hebrews 5:5-6. He would be a Judge in Isaiah 33:22; this was fulfilled in John 5:22-23. He would be King in Psalms 2:2; this was fulfilled in John 18:33-37. He would be anointed by the Spirit in Isaiah 11:2; this was fulfilled in Matthew 3:16-17. He would be begotten as Son of God in Psalm 2:7; this was fulfilled in Acts 13:32-35. He would be raised from the dead in Psalm 16:8-11; this was fulfilled in Acts 2:24-31.
Evidence that Demands a Verdict
There are six attributes of God that are convincingly ascribed to Jesus. These six, without a doubt, show His divinity. The first one is that Jesus had the power to create. The second one is that He had the power to forgive sins. The third one is that He had the power to raise the dead. The fourth one is that Jesus had the power to judge people. The fifth one is that Jesus was worshiped. The sixth and final one is that Jesus ascribed the saying "I am" to himself at least ten times.
By studying what Jesus said and did and how He talked, I have come to the conclusion that not only did Jesus claim to be God, he also showed His deity and divinity. His pre-existing nature also proves His divinity. In the Bible and especially the gospels, I have noticed that Jesus speaks and does things with authority. Even the people who were around him were amazed because He didn't talk like a teacher but rather as one with authority.
Jesus Christ has had more of an impact on the world than any other person in the history of mankind and it can be argued that Jesus changed the course of time. That is incredible in itself. Jesus' words 2,000 years ago changed peoples' lives when He was living and still change peoples' lives today. I am proof of that.
The Bible says that "No other man spoke this way," in referring to Jesus. That is a fair statement, for not even Budda, Mohammed, or Confucius could ever claim or could ever do the things that Jesus Christ did.