Having looked at who mankind is and the nature and consequences of sin, it is now fitting for us to move on to looking at who Jesus Christ is. The reason I say it is fitting is because after considering the devastating nature of man’s sin, the next question we must ask is, “Is there hope for redemption?” The Bible’s answer to that question is, “Yes,” and that answer is found in a person – the God-man, Jesus Christ.
Discussing Christ’s identity, however, can be quite a challenge. For one, there are a number of competing voices out there as to who Jesus is. It seems that everyone has an opinion concerning who Jesus is. Even in the days of Jesus’ ministry, those around him had diverse opinions on him. Some were claiming he was John the Baptist, others saying he was Elijah, and still others that he was one of the prophets (Mark 8:27-29). Some thought he had a demon and was perhaps crazy, while many others thought him a liar and blasphemer who was worthy of death. And that was just in the days of his earthly ministry. In the twenty centuries since opinions have only grown, with some thinking he was a liberator of the poor, or someone intent on bringing social justice, or someone who thought the end was coming soon and died a disappointed and disillusioned man. We, of course, with Peter, confess that he is the Christ, the Son of the living God. But the only way to arrive at that conclusion if you’re engaging in a study of who Jesus is, is by starting with an understanding of Scripture as God’s holy, infallible, inerrant Word so that every word written therein is true and trustworthy. After all, it is this book alone that perfectly reveals to us the identity of Christ.
A second reason discussing Christ’s identity can be a challenge is that once we gather all the data of Scripture concerning his identity, we have to put it together in a coherent way, and that can be quite a challenge. On the one hand, you can rightly gather from the Bible that Jesus is God, the Son. Then, we can say, “Well, we know that God knows all things, so that must mean that Jesus knows all things.” Then, we come to a text like Mark 13:32, where Jesus says, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” And there are a number of other texts that we have to explain like Jesus saying in the garden, “Not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39) to his Father or Hebrews 1:5, where the author of Hebrews says that God has said to Jesus, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.” How can Jesus be God and yet say to God, “Not as I will, but as you will” or be begotten at some point called “today”?
You see, it is not enough simply to gather the biblical data concerning the identity of Jesus, which will show us that he is the God-man or God the Son incarnate. We must also be able to explain these findings in a way that makes sense.
This is what we will do over the next few weeks. Each week we’ll add a piece to our understanding of Jesus’ identity, and then we’ll try to put the pieces together in a coherent way. But with every step, we’ll try to make sure that what we’re saying comes from the Scripture and that our conclusions line up with our findings in Scripture. So, with that said, this morning I want us to look at the deity of Jesus Christ—or, we might say, how the Bible confirms that Jesus is God the Son (i.e. shows his divine nature).
The Divine Identity
Before looking at the deity of Christ, it is helpful for us to see how the Scriptures speak of God in the Old Testament. After all, there’s a lot of talk about “gods” in the Old Testament, isn’t there? God himself said to Israel in the Ten Commandments, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Therefore, there is recognition that there were other “gods” that were worshiped. In fact, other peoples outside of the Israelites each had their own gods so that Joshua told the Israelites, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell” (Josh 24:15). Or again, we read in Judges 10:6, “The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammorites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the LORD and did not serve him.”
Therefore, in a world where each people had their own “god” or “gods” whom they worshiped and looked to for protection and care, how is it that Israel distinguished the God they worshiped from all others. What made this God the one true God in their minds?
Richard Bauckham wrote a book titled Jesus and the Israel of God where he explored this question and gave some helpful answers. Looking at how Israel saw their God as the only true God in the Bible, he noted three things that set apart their God (what made up his “divine identity” as Bauckham describes it). Those three things are the fact that: 1) God alone created all things, 2) God alone rules supreme over all things, and that 3) God alone is worthy of worship. It’s worth quoting Bauckham in full here:
God alone created all things; all other things, including beings worshipped as gods by Gentiles, are created by him. God alone rules supreme over all things; all other things, including beings worshipped as gods by Gentiles, are subject to him. These ways of distinguishing God as unique formed a very easily intelligible way of defining the uniqueness of the God they worshipped which every Jew in every synagogue in the late Second Temple period would certainly have known. However diverse Judaism may have been in many other respects, this was common: only the God of Israel is worthy of worship because he is sole Creator of all things and sole Ruler of all things. Other beings who might otherwise be thought divine are by these criteria God’s creatures and subjects.
Therefore, let’s look at some Old Testament texts in which God reveals that he alone is the true God by identifying himself as the one alone who created all things, is the supreme ruler over all things, and who alone must be worshiped.
God alone created all things and is the supreme ruler over all things
Isaiah 40:26 – “Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who
brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. . . . Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”
Isaiah 42:5 – “Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it.”
Isaiah 44:24 – “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.’”
Isaiah 45:12 – “I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.”
Isaiah 45:18 – “For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!),
who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other.’
Isaiah 48:12-13 – “’Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last. My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together.’”
Nehemiah 9:6 – “Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last. My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together.”
Daniel 4:34-35 – “At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’”
God alone is to be worshiped
Exodus 34:14 – “For you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
Isaiah 42:8 – “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”
Isaiah 45:22-23 – “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear allegiance.’”
Other heavenly creatures (knowing that God alone is to be worshiped) refuse worship
Revelation 19:9-10 – “And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’ Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.’”
Revelation 22:8-9 – “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’”
Jesus is spoken of as creator and ruler
John 1:1-3 – “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 anything made that was made.”
Colossians 1:15-17 – “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Hebrews 1:3 – “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
Jesus is worshiped
Matthew 2:11 – “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.”
Matthew 28:16-17 – “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.”
John 5:22-23 – “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.”
John 9:35-38 – “Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.’ He said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.”
Philippians 2:9-11 – “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Especially in light of Isaiah 45:22-23).
Revelation 5:13-14 – “’To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’ And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”
The Father even commands the angels to worship him
Hebrews 1:6 – And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’”
Texts and titles of Yahweh in the Old Testament are ascribed to Jesus
John claims that Isaiah saw Jesus in his Isaiah 6 vision
John 12:36b-41 – “When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled, ’Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them’ [Is. 6.10]. Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.”
Isaiah 40:3 declares that a voice in the wilderness will prepare the way for the coming of Yahweh, but Matthew speaks of John preparing the way for Jesus
Matthew 3:1-3 – “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness; ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”
Jesus identifies himself in terms in which Yahweh identified himself
John 8:58 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (Exodus 3:14).
Revelation 1:17 – “Fear not, I am the first and the last” (Nehemiah 9:6; Isaiah 48:12).
There is much more evidence that could be supplied here. Jesus, for example, claims to be the good shepherd (John 10), when Yahweh is identified as the Shepherd in the Old Testament (Ps. 23; Ezek. 34). And we could go on. But at this point, this will suffice for us to see that the Bible is not shy about identifying Jesus in terms of being God. He is God the Son.
Next week we’ll look at the biblical evidence of his humanity. Then, we’ll try to put this evidence together in a coherent way in the following week. Amen.