Dear members and friends of VP,
Christmas is devoted to celebrating the birth of Jesus and rededicating ourselves to serving Him as our risen Savior and Lord. This is a reflection of our commitment to Jesus as God incarnate. “Incarnation” is the belief that God dwelt among us. Last month’s Voice article addressed this as the conclusion of the Apostle John in the Gospel of John. John introduces his gospel with these words:
“In the beginning was the Word, … the Word was God. … All things came into being through Him, … and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-14
Why do we believe that Jesus is God? Do we really believe this is true? Let’s admit that it is illogical to say that the God who created us actually became one of us. And it is equally as illogical to say that a man who lived among us is the one who created us. Can a man be both the creator and the created? For those who have assessed the sound reasoning behind this statement, it is a paradox. I have the habit in my life, particularly when celebrating the birth of Jesus, of reexamining why I accept this paradox.
1. Jesus used the name God as expressed to Moses in reference to Himself.
“The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:13-14
Jesus, in debate with the Jews, referenced Himself with the same name God gave Moses. Those listening to him clearly understood the reference. “So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. John 8:57-59
Did Jesus make this reference in ignorance of the connection or did He know exactly what He was saying? My sense is that He knew what He was saying and He was speaking the truth. He was the God who spoke to Moses and gave him instructions as the great prophet of Israel.
2. Jesus repeatedly referenced himself as possessing Divine authority.
“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. John 8:28 “I speak the things which I have seen with My Father.” John 8:38
“I told you, … the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.” John 10:25
“I and the Father are one. The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” John 10:30-33
It is not just one thing that Jesus said that suggests He was God. He talked consistently as though He knew God intimately and eternally. He asserts everything He did was representative of God and that His life was in complete and absolute harmony with God. Jesus represented Himself as no mere man and the Jews accused Him of blasphemy for making himself out to be God.
3. Jesus did things ONLY God could do.
“And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. … They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?” Luke 8:23-25
“The man answered and said to them, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes.” John 9:30
“And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Luke 7:22
I often ask myself what I would expect God to do that Jesus could not do? The “acts” of Jesus duplicate everything I would anticipate to be the “acts” of God. Jesus and God appear to be “one.”
4. Jesus fulfilled multiple Old Testament prophecies referencing the fact that God would become a man. (see, Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; 11:1-10; Micah 5:2-4)
The words and wonderful deeds of Jesus affirm his self-understanding as deity. Prophecy affirms His life and nature are predetermined. Thus, when prophecy states “the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14), we see clearly that a human child would be “God with us (the meaning of Immanuel).” When we read the prophecy that states “a child will be born to us, … His name will be called … Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-7)” we see God’s intent to become a man and He let us know in advance.
Christmas is a wonderful time every year to reconsider why we are devoted to following Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Let us, together, rededicate ourselves to worship and service of Jesus Christ.