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 wondering about 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.
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 principle that must be there to fully demonstrate God’s absolute love for us and his ‘saving grace‘. He also made it clear how we Christians should best ‘live in faith’: live as ‘faithful’ Christians.
First of all … yes, 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 harder to understand and accept.
So, in this particular article I have tried to explain the reasons behind the 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 understand Jesus’ existence from a ‘historical point of view’, please see, “Evidence of Jesus”, which is the intro article to the subsection, “The human Jesus?”. You will also find that subsection under the Menu Bar Heading, “Deal with doubts”.
And most importantly, I recommend that you read the first article of this particular section of the website, “Christianity explained” where all the supporting articles, such as this one, are brought into context.
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 (written well before Jesus was born). 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’.)
And then a following verse from the Book of Isaiah:
For to us a child is born,
to us a child is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders,
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Those verses above were 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.
Also please 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, of the following scripture, from having any 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 both as ‘human being’ and ‘God’.
3. NEW TESTAMENT STATEMENTS
All the Gospels of the New Testament (written after the birth of Jesus) 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. No, they knew exactly what his actions and statements meant: Jesus was making it very clear that he WAS God.
But for clarity on theological matters it is always best to look to the Gospel of John. And that Gospel makes it VERY 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] in the Old Testament.
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, again also makes the divinity of Jesus VERY clear, e.g. when referring to him:
Who, being in very nature God.
Further evidence from ancient ‘secular’ writers (i.e. non-religious writers), also indicate that the early Christian Church really did accept 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 just could NOT have achieved it without the relationship between God and Jesus as written 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. A relationship without end, I must add!
Now, as I see it, two major issues underpinned God’s decision to create a ‘new covenant‘ (contract) for his existing and future followers. Clearly God had long known they would come to pass.
4.1 The Jewish religion was under threat
Some 2,000 years ago God’s original agreements with us, as recorded in the Old Testament, were being severely ‘manipulated’ by the Pharisees (religious ‘experts’) of the time. The laws themselves, originally provided by God, had been given seemingly endless extensions. Writing and interpreting religious law had become a serious yet ‘pretentious’ occupation. Indeed, religious laws themselves were becoming the focal point for many of the Jewish masses, rather than God himself.
Synagogues had also begun to market small creatures to people who believed they had broken these laws through their behaviour. Those people could then have the creatures sacrificed to pay for that ‘bad behaviour’.
Yes, it was actually becoming unnecessary in that developing situation for ‘God’s children’ to even hold a personal relationship with him. Sin had become big business for those who ‘managed’ the Jewish religion!
Indeed it is explained in the Bible that Jesus charged through one of these animal markets, upturning tables as he went. You can imagine the noise, as money and animals went in all directions! He was clearly showing God’s disapproval.
4.2 Civilisation was undergoing major change
Bear in mind too, humanity itself was ‘turning a corner’ at this time. Major changes were happening, as the planet was on the verge of worldwide civilisation. And God ABSOLUTELY long knew this was to be the case … that it would indeed ‘come to pass’.
Indeed it was the PERFECT time for God to restructure ‘rules’ and ‘relationships’ through his new covenant. And roll out Christianity – as God’s ideal love-based religion – for the present and coming mega-nations of the world that were literally about to shape up.
4.3 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 if we also accept Jesus as our Lord God. What more could a loving God personally do for his beloved children?
God placed himself on Earth, and experienced the extremes of physical and emotional pain, at that perfect time, to demonstrate that he was truly “God with us” (the prophet Isaiah’s “Immanuel”) and that he loves us all absolutely. All we need do in return is to enter into the relationship with him that he desires.
This is the ‘bottom line’ of Christianity!
4.4 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.
So, as foretold in the Old Testament, the timing was right at that point in history and a ‘new covenant’, or ‘contract’, was created and offered to us humans by God. It was based seriously on both love and sacrifice. Our side of the contract was to enter into a loving relationship with him as our Lord. And as such, we must accept that he became human to sacrifice himself for us.
I know this article may well seem very ‘Bibley’ and off-putting, 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 journey of faith” 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. And that is by recognising his presence ‘within the Church‘ and ‘in our lives‘ as we open ourselves to the faithful relationship he wants with each of us.