How to understand that Jesus is God,
and not just his son.
Jesus was God in human form for a powerful reason.
Jesus is now a person of the Holy Trinity.
A major stumbling block, for many people considering a commitment to Christianity, is the difficulty of accepting Jesus as God himself, i.e. God the Son within the Holy Trinity.
Maybe you would ask, “Can’t we do without this added complication?” Isn’t just believing in God enough? Well, please stay with me … but … unfortunately the answer is “No!” on both counts. That is if we would like to be Christians. Jesus himself – both in print within the Bible and alive spiritually within us – is what makes our religion so different from its siblings (Judaism and Islam). Jesus as God ‘incarnate’, is a dimension that must be there to fully demonstrate God’s absolute love of us and his ‘saving grace‘, and how we should best live in faith.
Primarily, it is easier for us to accept that God the Father and God the Spirit (the other two persons of the ‘Holy Trinity‘) are One. Obviously the concept of the Son, within the Trinity, is a bit harder to understand and accept. In this particular article I have tried to explain the reasons behind the accepted Christian convention that Jesus is God. Another article in this section of the website, “The Word” sheds more light on this issue as well, highlighting Jesus as the ‘Logos’ (that is, the creative power of God).
Note that if you wish to better understand evidence of Jesus from a historical point of view, please see the article, “Evidence of Jesus”. And most importantly, I recommend that you read the first article of this section of the website, “Christianity explained” where all the supporting articles, such as this one, are brought into context.
Summarising, essential beliefs held by the majority of Christianity are that Jesus is one of the three persons of the Trinity, i.e. he is God (The Word), and yet he was also truly human when here on Earth.
Now, if all this seems a bit too much for you … say if you are even struggling with the possible existence of God … please begin by reading the article, “Can I really believe in God?”. Trust me on this one: if you are ready to believe, then you can!
2. OLD TESTAMENT PROPHESIES
The way to begin understanding God’s purpose in it all is to step back and look at the foundations that were laid in the Bible’s Old Testament (the pre Jesus part of the Bible). There is no shortage of information, regarding Jesus, in it. He was a common topic of the psalmists and the prophets. They foretold his birth (to a virgin), and that he would in fact be God:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
The virgin will give birth to a son,
and will call him Immanuel*.
(*Translates as God with us or God amongst us.)
The verse above was written six or seven hundred years before Jesus was born. Other verses proclaimed that: he would bring good news, peace and proclaim salvation to the whole world; he would be rejected, despised, scorned and betrayed in his own day, and amazingly how he would die.
Consider the following statement from the Old Testament Book of Psalms, written in the ‘first person’. Again, it was written hundreds of years, at a minimum, before Jesus’ birth. The timing would have prevented the author from having knowledge of execution by crucifixion, yet he wrote:
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my garments among them,
and cast lots for my clothing.
Indeed much was written, well in advance, to set the scene for the life of Jesus.
3. NEW TESTAMENT STATEMENTS
All the Gospels of the New Testament make mention of how Jesus cured the sick, forgave sins and performed miracles in his own right. That is, he did not call upon ‘God’ to perform those events. The Gospels also made it clear that this was not taken lightly by the religious leaders of the day.
But for clarity on theological matters it is always best to look to the Gospel of John. And that Gospel makes it patently clear:
…the Word was God. [1:1].
And the Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us. [1:14].
And some quotes of Jesus’ own words in the Gospel of John:
I and the Father are one. [10:30]
….that you may know and understand that the Father is in me,
and I in the Father. [10:38]
Before Abraham was, I AM. [8:59]
John really made use of the term “I AM” in his Gospel, when quoting of Jesus. Other examples can be found nearby, to the above, in 8:24 and 8:28. ‘I AM’ of course being the name that God gave as his own to Moses [Exodus 3:14].
Fundamentally, it is obvious that the Gospels intend us to understand that Jesus is God incarnate. The letters of St Paul, within the New Testament, also clarifies the divinity of Jesus, e.g. when referring to Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God.
Further evidence from secular writers, dated to the first and second centuries, also indicate that the early Christians knew that Jesus was truly divine (God).
4. WHY JESUS HAD TO BE ‘GOD INCARNATE’
And now to get to the ‘nitty gritty’. Why do the vast majority of Christian denominations insist that Jesus was the incarnation of God? The answer lies in what God has done for us through Jesus. He could not have achieved it without the relationship between God and Jesus as depicted in the Bible, i.e. God was present on Earth in the form of a human being! It was through the ‘person’ of Jesus that God firstly demonstrated his absolute love for us, and secondly gave us the way to enter into an ideal relationship with him.
4.1 Proof of God’s Absolute Love for Us
According to the Christian Bible’s New Testament (i.e. if we do accept it through faith) Jesus’ own sacrifice on the cross has paid the price for the wrongdoings of each and everyone of us. That is, we will be guaranteed of eternal life by virtue of that faith; we are in fact ‘saved’ through faith. Explained in other words, Jesus has redeemed our sins, i.e. bought them back or recovered their cost for us. Essentially, we are saved from death if we believe it is so, and of course we accept Jesus as our Lord. What more could a loving God personally do for his beloved children?
2000 years ago, God’s directions to us were being severely manipulated by the religious ‘experts’ of the time. The laws provided by God had been given seemingly endless extensions. Writing and interpreting religious law had become a serious occupation. The laws themselves had become the focal point for many of the Jewish masses, rather than God himself.
Synagogues also marketed and sold small creatures to people who believed they had broken religious laws. Those people could then have the creatures sacrificed to pay for that ‘bad behaviour’. Sin had become big business! It was becoming unnecessary, in that environment, for God’s children to develop a loving and personal relationship with him.
So, as foretold in the Old Testament, the timing was right at that point in history and a new covenant, or ‘agreement’, was created between God and us humans. It was based on love and sacrifice. Our side of the contract was to enter into a relationship with him as our Lord. And as such, to accept that he became human to sacrifice himself to us and for us. God placed himself on Earth, and experienced the extremes of physical and emotional pain, to demonstrate that he was truly “God with us” (the prophet Isaiah’s “Immanuel”) and that he loves us absolutely.
This is the ‘bottom line’ of Christianity!
4.2 Our Best Link with God
As well as having his existence within the Logos (The Word), Jesus really was as much human in body and mind as we are. Christian theology then understands Jesus as our best coupling, or link, to a fulfilling life of faith. It is through this link that we can become the human beings that God always intended of us. The Bible asks us to centre our lives on God, and Jesus is our prime example of how to achieve that:
In him was life, and that was the light of men.
I know this article may well seem very ‘Bibley’ and off-putting to the uninitiated, with all its quotes etc. But I meant to make it clear that the Bible really does intend us to understand the relationship between God and Jesus in that manner. I really do recommend that readers have a look at the first article in this section of the website, “Christianity explained” to better understand how it all fits together.
I also recommend the section of this website, titled, “Our faith journey” to you. It begins with that article, “Can I really believe in God?”. This website tries to explain how each of us can come to believe in God, by recognising his presence within the Church and in our lives.
Join our facebook discussions, please.