Is the Divinity of Jesus A Myth or Reality?
By Dr. David Reagan
The divinity of Jesus is the central truth of the Bible. It is so fundamental that Christianity stands or falls on it. If Jesus was not God in the flesh, then His sacrifice for our sins was meaningless, and we have no hope.
Satan is determined to convince Mankind that Jesus was someone other than God in the flesh. In Jesus’ own time, Satan created doubt as to His true identity.
A few recognized Him as “the Prophet” or the Messiah who had been prophesied by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-18 and John 6:14). But most were ambivalent about His identity. Some believed He was simply a “good man” (John 7:12). Others believed He was a reincarnation of John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or “one of the prophets” (Matthew 16:14). Some claimed He was an illegitimate child “born of fornication” (John 8:41). A few wrote Him off as “a Samaritan with a demon” (John 8:48).
The Continuing Attack
Nothing has changed after 2,000 years. The Satanic attack continues to this day. Liberal theologians tend to dismiss Him as either a good man who was self-deceived or a revolutionary who meant well but failed.
All the cults deny His supreme divinity. The Mormons claim He was the brother of Lucifer, one of thousands of minor gods created by the super-god. The Jehovah’s Witnesses identify Him as Michael the Archangel. The Spiritist groups like the Church of Christ Scientists and the Unity Church usually present Him in New Age esoteric terms, claiming He was a spirit without a body or that He was “a medium of the sixth sphere of the astroprojection.” Others argue He was just a man who was able to fully manifest the Christ spirit that is in all of us.
Hollywood presented Him in the movie, “The Last Temptation of Christ,” as a deluded soul who was wrestling with internal demons. And in “Jesus Christ Superstar” the Broadway stage presented a woman in love with Him who sang over and over, “He’s a man, He’s just a man…”
The hottest new book about Jesus, entitled The Jesus Mysteries, goes to the extreme of claiming He is nothing but a myth! Despite the fact that there are few persons in ancient history for which there is more written and eyewitness evidence, these men claim Jesus was nothing but a figment of His disciples’ imaginations. Incredibly, the book was endorsed by some Christian leaders like Episcopal Bishop John Spong of New Jersey.
We can be assured that as we near the time of Jesus’ return, the attacks on Him and His identity will intensify. Satan knows Bible prophecy. He can see the signs of the times that clearly point to the Lord’s imminent return. As those signs intensified throughout the 20th Century, Satan launched an all-out campaign to convince the world that Jesus is a fraud.
For example, he rallied a group of so-called “New Testament scholars” who formed a discussion group known as “The Jesus Seminar.” This group proceeded to vote on the validity of all the sayings of Jesus recorded in the Gospels. Their report, called The Five Gospels, concluded that only 15 statements attributed to Jesus in the Gospels were actually spoken by Him. The title of their report comes from the fact that they decided to grant the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas equal standing with the four traditional Gospels.
The True Message of the Attacks
Actually, there is an irony in these attacks, for they are evidence that Jesus really was God in the flesh. Why else would Satan motivate such attacks?
We don’t see similar attacks on Mohammed or Buddha or Krishna. Nor do we hear their names being used as curse words. Why is it that worldwide the name of Jesus is used as a curse word? The only explanation I can think of is a supernatural one — namely, Satan is actively involved in motivating universal hatred of Jesus because he knows that Jesus is God.
The Biblical Evidence
In 1 Peter 3:15 believers are exhorted to be prepared to make a defense of their faith and hope. Accordingly, Christians need to be acquainted with the biblical evidence of Jesus’ divinity. Let’s consider it!
A. The Witness of Bible Prophecy
1. Genesis 3:15 — God tells Adam and Eve that salvation for Mankind will come through “the seed of woman,” indicating the Messiah will have a miraculous birth.
2. Psalm 2:7 — David states that God has declared to His Son that He is begotten and will one day rule over all the world. This is a clear statement that the Messiah will be of the same nature as God (begotten of the Father) and will relate to the Father as His Son. It also indicates that the Son existed before He became incarnate in flesh.
B. The Witness of the Trinity
1. Genesis 1:1-3 — These three verses present the Creation as the work of God the Father and the Spirit of God through the spoken word of God. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is revealed as “the Word.” And we are told in Hebrews 1:2 that God created the world through Jesus.
2. Genesis 1:26 — On the sixth day of Creation, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” The wording here clearly indicates a plurality of persons who constitute the one God.
C. The Witness of God the Father
1. 2 Samuel 7:13-14 — The “Lord of hosts” promises David that He will raise up one of his descendants (the Messiah) to reign “forever” and that He “will be a father to Him and He will be a Son to Me.”
2. Psalm 2:6-9 — God proclaims that He will one day install “My King” (the Messiah) upon Mt. Zion to reign over all the nations. God refers to this person as His “Son” and says He is “begotten” (that is, He and the Father have a unique, one-of-a-kind relationship).
D. The Witness of Jesus
1. Messianic Claims
a. Messiah — This is a very common title in the Gospels, but it is usually presented in the Greek form of Christ. It means “the Anointed One.” (Mark 14:61-62; John 4:25-26; Mark 9:41)
b. Son of Man — This is the title that Jesus applied to Himself more than any other. It is the Messianic title of Daniel 7:13. This title emphasizes that Jesus was God in the flesh. The title is used in 78 verses in the Gospels. (Matthew 8:20; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:26; John 12:23)
Son of God, Son of David, King of the Jews, The Prophet…
E. The Witness of Angels
1. Matthew 1:20-21 — An angel to Joseph: “That which has been conceived in her [Mary] is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus.” In Hebrew, the name is Yeshua, meaning “Yahweh is salvation.”
2. Luke 1:11-17 — The angel Gabriel appears to the priest Zacharias and tells him that his wife will bear a son [John the Baptist] who will serve as the forerunner of the Messiah.
F. The Witness of Satan and His Demons
1. Matthew 4:1-11 — Satan recognizes the deity of Jesus in a backhanded way by tempting Him to prove His divinity: “If You are the Son of God [which he knew He was], command that these stones become bread” (verse 6)
G. The Witness of the Apostle Peter
1. Matthew 16:16 — “And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘Thou are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (See also Mark 8:29 and Luke 9:20.)
2. John 6:69 — Peter says to Jesus, “We have believed and come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”
H. The Witness of the Apostle John
1. John 1:1-2 — Jesus is “the Word” and “the Word was God.”
2. John 1:18 — Jesus is “the only begotten God…”
I. The Witness of the Apostle Paul
1. Acts 9:20 — Paul preached Jesus as “the Son of God.”
2. Acts 13:23 — Paul preached Jesus as “Savior.” (See also Acts 16:31, 17:18, 20:21, 26:18; Romans 3:22, 8:3, 10:9; Galatians 2:16, 3:13, 3:29; 1 Timothy 1:15-16; 2 Timothy 2:10; and Titus 3:4-6.)
J. The Witness of the Book of Hebrews
1. Hebrews 1:2 — God “made the world” through Jesus and has appointed Him “heir of all things.”
2. Hebrews 1:3 — Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature.”
K. Other Witnesses of Jesus’ Divinity
1. Zacharias — Proclaims that his son, John the Baptist, “will be called the prophet of the Most High” and will prepare the way for the Messiah who will give His people “the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1:67-79).
2. Simeon — Declares the baby Jesus to be “God’s salvation” (Luke 2:25-35).
The Divinity of Jesus – [Download the complete reference list! (PDF)]
As you can see from this voluminous biblical evidence, the divinity of Jesus is not some johnny-come-lately concept that was invented by a group of First Century superstitious peasants who desired to make a god of a man they admired. It was foretold in Hebrew prophecy, affirmed in the life, teachings and miracles of Jesus, and confirmed by God the Father Himself. One would have to deny the Bible as the Word of God in order to deny the divinity of Jesus.
There is one other form of evidence that needs to be mentioned. I have in mind the hundreds of millions of lives that have been radically changed over the past two thousand years through faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Jesus came alive in their lives and gave them supernatural power to overcome the weaknesses of their flesh. Who else but God could have changed a slave trader like John Newton into a beloved pastor and inspired hymn writer when he placed his faith in Jesus?
God became man. That is the central fact of history. It is mind-boggling to conceive a God who would love us that much; but He did, and He continues to do so. Your response to that fact will determine your eternal destiny.
If you have never done so, I pray you will open your heart to the truth that Jesus was God in the flesh; that He died for your sins; that He currently serves as the High Priest of believers before the throne of God; and that one day soon He will return in glory as King of kings to resurrect the dead, judge the world, and reign over all the nations in peace, righteousness and justice.