How Can We Know Jesus is God?
December 1, 2023, 5:21 PM

Question: How can we know Jesus is God? Jesus said He was, but throughout the years so have other people, so why should we believe Jesus? Also, God the Father never confirmed Jesus was also God, they just had a father-son relationship.

Answer: Greetings and thank you for your question. The question you ask is one of the most important, if not the most important question anyone can ask. At the end of John’s Gospel, John writes this: “But [this Gospel was] written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31 NKJV). The center piece of the gospel message is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him (His life, His person, His work), we may have life (eternal, everlasting life) in His name. The entire Gospel of John was written with this singular purpose in mind, to tell you who this individual named Jesus was. It’s not enough to simply believe a man named Jesus existed 2,000 years ago. It’s not enough to believe that He was a prophet or a miracle worker or a good teacher. We must believe Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God.

Before I answer your question, we need to establish some ground rules for the answer. There are basically two presuppositions that, as a Christian, I hold to. First, that there is a God that exists who is the eternal, immutable, and infinite Creator of all things. Second, this eternal, immutable, and infinite Creator God has revealed Himself in the Bible. When I say these two propositions are presuppositions, what I mean by that is I am not going to spend too much time (if any at all) attempting to prove the existence of God or the divine inspiration of Scripture. I am going to presuppose them as given, as axiomatic (i.e., self-evident, unquestionable). The reason behind this is if we cannot even agree that God exists and that He has revealed Himself in Scripture, it doesn’t matter whether Jesus is God or not. If the Scriptures teach that Jesus is God, then it’s as if the very voice of God is declaring it to be so, and we must acknowledge it.

Your question is somewhat divided into three parts, and I want to look at the second one first. Why should we believe Jesus is God when people throughout the years have also claimed to be God? The answer to this is quite simple. Jesus is God and they are not because Jesus backed up His claim through word and deed. The Gospel of John (which is so key in this discussion) is broken down into two major parts. The first part is often referred to as the book of signs. In John 1-12, Jesus performs seven signs that demonstrate His divine character. They are: (1) The turning of the water into wine (John 2); (2) the healing of the official’s son (John 4); (3) the healing of the lame man by the pool of Bethesda (John 5); (4) the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6); (5) the crossing of the Sea of Galilee (John 6); (6) the healing of the man born blind (John 9); and (7) the raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11). John goes on to say that Jesus “did many other signs…which are not written in this book” (John 20:30), and the other Gospels record some of these. The purpose of these signs was to make the reader believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that he might believe. The most important miracle was, of course, the resurrection from the dead. The Apostle Paul says, “[Jesus Christ was] declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4 NKJV). None of the other so-called “Christs” ever did what Jesus did. None of them were resurrected from the dead.

So, how can we know Jesus is God? Jesus Himself made that claim. In John 10:30, Jesus says, “I and My Father are one.” This doesn’t just mean they are one in purpose (it does mean that), but it also means Jesus and the Father are one in essence. How do I know? Because the context of John 10 is Jesus “Great Shepherd” speech in which He says He knows His sheep by name and calls them. He lays His life down for the sheep so that can life “more abundantly.” He closes that speech by saying, “I give [My sheep] eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28). Then in the very next verse Jesus says, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” No one can snatch the sheep out of Jesus’ hand. No one can snatch the sheep out of the Father’s hand. Jesus and His Father are one. They are both divine. Later in the upper room discourse, Jesus answers Phillip’s request to see the Father by saying, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). No ordinary human being in his right mind can make this statement.

Secondly, we know the Bible prohibits the worshipping of any other gods except the One, True God (Exodus 20:3, the first commandment). This is why the Apostle Paul, when on his first missionary journey in Lystra, forbade the residents of that city from worshipping him and offering sacrifices to him and Barnaba (Acts 14:8-18) saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God.” Peter also had to refuse the worship of men (Acts 10:25-26). Even the angels, as glorious as they are, refuse worship for they too are mere creatures (Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). It is never right to worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator (cf. Romans 1:25). Yet Jesus never forbade anyone to worship Him (Mark 5:22; Matthew 2:11; Luke 5:8). In fact, note the words of Thomas after seeing the resurrected Jesus: “And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28 NKJV). Thomas calls Jesus “God,” and Jesus does not correct him.

Let’s also not forget the NT’s four great Christological passages: John 1:1-18; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:15-18; Hebrews 1:1-4. These four passages stand as “mountain peaks” in the NT because of their high Christology. In the prologue to John’s Gospel, we learn of the Word who was in the beginning and was with God and was God. This Eternal and Divine Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He was in the bosom of the Father but had come to make the Father known. Paul, in Philippians 2:5-11, teaches us that Jesus was in the form of God and was equal with God. He left the glories of heaven to come in the form of a servant to be obedient to the point of death. But then the Father will exalt Jesus that at the feet of Jesus every knee will bow, and every tongue confess (worship, which is only rightly given to God). Similarly, we learn in Colossians 1:15-18 that Jesus is in the image of the invisible God. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him they consist. Finally, in Hebrews 1:1-4, you have similar words about Jesus being the “exact imprint” of the Father. He also upholds all things by the word of His power. You cannot say these things properly of any human being.

Finally, let’s look at the claim that Father never confirmed that Jesus was God, but simply stated they had a Father-Son relationship. With all due respect, this is probably the weakest part of the objection to Jesus being God. What precisely does it mean to have a Father-Son relationship with God? Does it not mean to be of the same substance with God? That is precisely the point behind verses such as John 1:18 and John 3:16 when they refer to Jesus as the “only begotten Son.” The phrase “only begotten” translates the Greek word μονογενá½µς (monogenÄ“s). The word means “single of its kind, only.” Paul may say that Christians are “sons of God” because of the indwelling Holy Spirit who cries out “Abba, Father” to our spirits (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6), but Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father. Read Hebrews 1:5-14 and see the author’s argument for how Jesus is superior to the angels. He begins by quoting from Psalm 2:7 and saying, “For to which of the angels did He ever say: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You?’”

One final piece of evidence along this line of argumentation. In John 5, Jesus has a confrontation with the Jewish religious leaders. At one point, Jesus says, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working” (John 5:17, in reference to Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath). We’re told in the next verse that the Jews “sought all the more to kill Him because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” In other words, the Father-Son relationship between the Father and Jesus is a way of describing the relationship between the First and Second Person in the Holy Trinity; it is a Father-Son relationship. When the voice of the Father is heard at Jesus’ baptism saying, “This is my Beloved Son,” this is the Father calling Jesus “God.”

So, Jesus is God because He claimed to be, the Bible bears witness to that, His resurrection bears witness to that, God the Father bears witness to it, and (finally) the history of the Church bears witness to this. This has been the consistent testimony of the Christian Church for nearly 2,000 years as evidenced in the great ecumenical creeds (Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed, Chalcedonian Creed). It’s codified in every single confession and catechism of the churches that emerged from the Protestant Reformation (Augsburg Confession, Belgic Confession, Westminster Confession, Second London Baptist Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms). This is one of the few areas where even Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox all agree. Jesus is God, Jesus is divine.

I think C. S. Lewis said it best when he said regarding Jesus Christ, “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse…. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

I hope this helps.

~Pastor Carl

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