Last Sunday, I was talking through the question “Is Jesus Really God?” and to be honest, I’m really challenged and yet appreciative of the Explore God series for giving us these very stripped down raw questions to deal with. This one about the deity of Jesus is especially challenging because I don’t think that a high percentage of Christians—people who would say that they have a faith in Christ and desire to follow Him—would be as clear about this.
Many friends whom I talk to say, “Well, Jesus is the son of God. And he’s the way to God… but I don’t think he himself is God.”
Adding to the confusion are all the places in scripture where Jesus is heard speaking to God, the Father, praying to Him and even confessing his own limits to understand the ways of God. Later, the writers say that Jesus has ascended to the right hand of the Father and there they reign.
Another factor that lends to the confusion, is that there are people who will knock on your door all day who will talk about God and salvation—and if given enough opportunity will eventually try to reveal to you that Jesus never claimed to be God. And that the scriptures that demonstrate that are falsely doctored from their original meaning.
In the end, does it matter what we think of the deity of Jesus? Can we believe in Him for salvation and not really understand who, biblically-speaking, He is represented to be?
As of today, Amazon.com lists 7,379 biographies about Jesus. Still, we could probably say that the most reliable accounts we have about him would those that sources eyewitness accounts. This would be the gospels. The gospel writers, in at least 3 out of the 4 were penned by people who literally walked with Jesus and knew him intimately. (*Next week, we talk more about the reliability of the Bible.)
Looking at John’s account, I was struck by how he begins his memoir. I was thinking about someone I know well and who I love. Say my wife or one of my children. If I had to sit down and write a retrospective on my time with them. It seems I’d really consider how I began.
Many times, writers start with a story or reflection that compels the whole narrative, if the don’t just start at the first moment, say a birth or the first time they met the person.
John says this:
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 was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-4
What John is saying here is that before he can start giving some of the details of what happened, he wants the reader to understand that this story is more than a special kind of rabbi who had some extraordinary powers. He’s saying, “Jesus, my friend who I walked with for while… I believe, and you can arrest me or even kill me if you want to… but I believe that He is more than what people are saying about him right now. He is God. And he was here with us.”
You can believe John or not at this point. And it’s okay, not everyone did back then or does now. But you’ve got to see is that he is at least clear about what he’s trying to say…
Jesus is God.