Understanding the Deity of Jesus
Written by: Weston Schnetz
When thinking of the foundation of Christian faith, what comes to mind for you? Personally, I think of the deity of Jesus. As believers we are called to believe in and rest upon the truths of who Jesus is. It’s likely that those around us might question why we live with this assurance, and it’s important for us to know biblically why we can.
Why is the deity of Jesus necessary?
First let’s define what we mean by the deity of Jesus. The dictionary defines deity as: a god and the creator and supreme being.
By this we mean that Jesus is 100% God. Not just a god, but that He is equal with God the Father and creator in every way because they are the one and only true God.
We need the help of someone else to make us right in the eyes of God. We believe that to be Jesus. If Jesus was not God, then our faith rests on a mere man who is unable to save mankind as you or I am unable.
God is eternal and perfect. That means we need an eternal and perfect sacrifice on our behalf to wash us of all unholiness. No human has this ability. No created being of any sort has this ability because it wouldn’t have the eternality or perfection of God.
A perfect and eternal sacrifice is needed to perfectly and eternally satisfy God. But to then apply that to the rest of mankind, the sacrifice had to conquer sin and death by beating the grave. Perfect, eternal, power of death. Those are pretty high standards. Does this sound like anyone you know? You probably weren’t thinking of yourself, or any other human in your life. I certainly don’t know anyone like that! As humans, we just simply can’t do it. As much as I may try, I can never do enough good to save myself, let alone anyone else. There is however one who fits this description. Do you know who that is? God Himself. That means that God Himself has to be the sacrifice to save us.
This also means that either Jesus was indeed one with God Himself and able to bear the weight of our transgressions or He was not God and unable to wash us of sin. The necessity of a divine sacrifice is present, but how do we know that applies to Jesus? Let us look at both what Jesus said of Himself and what others said of Him.
What Jesus says about Himself
Throughout His life, Jesus claimed to be one with the Father and proved it through His actions.
“I and the Father are one” John 10:30
You can’t be more clear than this. In this passage Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees. They had just asked Jesus to tell them plainly if He was indeed the Christ. Jesus goes on to explain that He has the ability to give eternal life and save mankind from perishing. He then explains that only one who is greater than all others could have given Him this ability on earth— that being God the Father. Jesus doesn’t leave it at that though. Not only does He have the same abilities as God the Father, He finishes by saying He and the Father are one. No one other than God Himself could grant eternal life, and Jesus claims that ability. Because of this ability, He is indeed one with God the Father.
Later in the book of John, Philip asked to be shown the Father. This would be proof to him that Jesus was who He said He was. Seeing the Father would be enough for him to believe in the deity of Jesus. Jesus answers him this way:
Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has been the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? John 14:8-10a
Philip was asking to see someone who was before his eyes. Jesus makes it clear that asking to see the Father was asking to see Himself. Why? Because the Father is in Him and He is in the Father. They are the same God. They are one with each other.
Jesus claimed that He and the Father are one and in such a united way that by seeing Him you are seeing the Father. There to be no question of His meaning. Jesus is not just claiming deity as a god amongst gods, but as being the one and only true God. I believe that Jesus’ words are very clear. The question lies not on His clarity, but on whether we believe Him.
What others say about Him
We saw what Jesus said about Himself, but what did His followers say about Him? Did they understand His claims and agree with them?
In Colossians 1 Paul says:
He is the image of the invisible God. . .For in Him all the fullness of God as please to Dwell. Colossians 1:15a, 19
Once again, we see Jesus as God in the flesh. Paul takes this point further and goes on to say that all the fullness of God dwelt in Him. Jesus isn’t just a God look-a-like. The fullness of God was within the walking man of Jesus. Only God has the fullness of God within Him, so Jesus must be God.
One could make such a bold claim about themselves, but here we have another who was compelled that the truths surrounding Jesus were evidently true and that only God Himself could do the things He did.
John also makes it clear what he thinks of Jesus:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. John 1:1-2
The Greek word for “he” here is “οὗτος”. It is a pronoun that refers to a subject immediately preceding it. That subject being “Word”. So, what we have here is a “He” who was not only in the beginning with God but also God. That man is Jesus. After having walked with Jesus, John wholeheartedly believed it. Jesus was the walking, breathing, visible God. One with the Father and Creator.
We are in need of a divine savior—an eternal and perfect one who has power over sin and death. Jesus claimed to be just that. He claimed to be one with the Father, coming as the visible savior and sacrifice. John walked with Him and accepted Him as being the one and only God. Paul later saw the unmistakable evidence and proclaimed this message as well. It’s now up to us to look at the evidence laid before us and decide whether we believe Jesus to be one with God and able to save us of our transgressions, or to not believe it and go on looking for another way to make us right with God. Please don’t do so lightly. Take the time to really see all that the message of the Bible has to say about Jesus.
For me, the deity of Jesus is one of the most important discussions we could have. I am so unable to save myself. I see my imperfections and know that I couldn’t live a life worthy of God. It would be an impossible task that would leave me exhausted to no avail. Through the divine sacrifice of Jesus, it doesn’t have to be this way. I can have rest in the assurance that His divine life, death, and resurrection are enough for my salvation. I can live a life of worship, rather than unending struggle. I pray that you too can find the rest and assurance that is only found in Jesus Christ, the one and only living God that has sacrificed Himself for all who will trust in Him.