Is Jesus God?
Many religions cast doubts on the deity of Jesus. For example, Jehovah's Witnesses claim that Jesus is the first creation of God. Muslims see Jesus as nothing more than a significant prophet, much like Moses. To answer this question, let us turn to the book of John which deals with this important question.
John begins his book with this statement, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men" (John 1:1-4). John claims that the Word was both with God and was God. In order to be "with" requires multiple beings; hence, we conclude that God is composed of more than one being. We also see that the Word was completely involved in all creation; therefore, the Word cannot Himself be created.
Continuing in John, we read, "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. ... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:10-12, 14). Here we read that the Word came in the flesh to dwell among men. The Word is Jesus Christ.
John doesn't just leave us with a blunt claim that Jesus was God. His book details evidence of the fact. "Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!" Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"" (John 1:45-49). Jesus presented two pieces of evidence as to whom He was. Before being introduced, Jesus stated his basic nature and also demonstrated knowledge of where Nathaniel was at when Philip found him. Nathanael understood the significance of what Jesus said. He understood that Jesus was omnipresent -- that He saw events where he was not physically present. This same ability was demonstrated to the disciples at the death of Lazarus. "Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick." When Jesus heard that, He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again." The disciples said to Him, "Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?" Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. "But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." These things He said, and after that He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up." Then His disciples said, "Lord, if he sleeps he will get well." However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. "And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him"" (John 11:3-15). Even though Jesus was not present, He knew precisely when Lazarus died.
Jesus even demonstrated the ability to heal without being physically present and to know the result of His healing. "When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe." The nobleman said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies!" Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your son lives." So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, "Your son lives!" Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your son lives." And he himself believed, and his whole household" (John 4:47-53).
John, too, notes that Jesus had the ability to know the hearts of men. "But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man" (John 2:24-25). This is a claim of omniscience. Jesus knew the past of people He only just met, as we saw with Nathanael. It also happened with the woman at the well. "The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly." ... The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"" (John 4:17-18, 28-29). The woman understood the significance of Jesus' detailed knowledge of her past and present history. No man could have perceived so much.
We are so used to hearing Jesus being called the Son of God, that we forget the significance of what that title means. "But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God" (John 5:17-18). Jesus not only claims that God is his father, but that He is involved in the same line of work as God, the Father. It is much the same as what Paul wrote, "And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist" (Colossians 1:17). Even while on earth, Jesus was continuing to hold the universe together. The Jews understood what he had said and sought the death of Jesus for what they perceived to be blasphemy.
The book of John also records the power of Jesus. In John 6:1-14, Jesus feeds 5,000 men plus an unknown number of women and children with five loaves of bread and two fishes and still had twelve baskets of leftovers. Such a feat is a physical impossibility. Later in the same chapter, Jesus is walking on water in the middle of a storm (John 6:16-21). Again, the physical laws of this universe have been overridden. Then in John 11, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. All of these events tell us that Jesus was omnipotent -- He was all powerful.
Then, too, we should note Jesus' claim of coming from heaven. "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. ... The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven." And they said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, 'I have come down from heaven'?"" (John 6:38, 41-42). What man could honestly state that they came to earth from heaven? Yet, Jesus made this claim. In addition, Jesus makes the stronger claim that He has seen God and had the power to give life. "Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. "I am the bread of life. "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. "This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world" (John 6:46-51). A similar claim by Jesus causes the Jews to again attempt to kill Jesus. "Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple, saying, "You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me." Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come" (John 7:28-30).
Yet, the strongest evidence for Jesus' deity, is the name that Jesus ascribes to Himself. When Moses was before the burning bush, concerned that no one would believe that he had spoken with God, Moses asked, ""Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?" And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you"" (Exodus 3:13-14). The name "I AM" indicates God's eternal self-existence. No created being can rightly claim to be "I AM." Yet, we find in John, "And He said to them, "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am [He], you will die in your sins"" (John 8:23-24). The pronoun "He" is not in the original text. The translators supplied it to make the translation read more smoothly in English, but I believe they missed the point that Jesus was making. Unless we believe that Jesus is "I AM," we will die in our sins. Later in chapter 8 is an even clearer example. ""And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. "Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death." Then the Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.' "Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Whom do You make Yourself out to be?" Jesus answered, "If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. "Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, 'I do not know Him,' I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by" (John 8:50-59). The Jews understood that Jesus claimed to be "I AM" and for that statement sought His death.
Later, Jesus makes the same claim to His disciples while washing their feet. "I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, 'He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.' Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am [He]" (John 13:18-19). Once again, the "He" is not in the original text. Jesus is telling His disciples about future events so that when those events did happen, they would be convinced that Jesus was "I AM."
The use of the name "I AM" also explains what occurred in the garden of Gethsemane when the mob came to arrest Jesus. "Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, "Whom are you seeking?" They answered Him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I am [He]." And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, "I am [He]," they drew back and fell to the ground. Then He asked them again, "Whom are you seeking?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus answered, "I have told you that I am [He]. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way" " (John 18:3-8). Unless you notice that the "He"s are added to the text, it can be puzzling as to why the mob fell on their faces. After all, they were searching for Jesus and told them they had found the right man. There is nothing terrifying about that. But, if you realize that Jesus responded with the name of God -- "I AM" -- then we can understand the terror these wicked people felt. The very statement of Jesus' name, "I AM," caused even the wicked to bow before Him. "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11).
Truly, Jesus was the fullness of deity come to earth in bodily form. "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9). Thus He was appropriately named Immanuel. "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."" (Matthew 1:23).