In This Lesson
Is Jesus God? | What Does the Bible Say?
Authority as LORD | King of Kings and LORD of Lords
Is Jesus God?
No legitimate scholar or historian today denies that Jesus is a real historic figure. All agree that He lived about 2,000 years ago and that He performed many remarkable feats and acts of charity. And all, except Muslims, agree that He died a horrible death by crucifixion just outside Jerusalem. [Islam teaches that the historical Jesus ascended to Heaven without dying, like Enoch (cf. Genesis 5:21-23), and that an imposter died in His place and was buried secretly.]
The emotionally-charged debate focuses specifically on whether Jesus was God incarnate who died and then bodily rose from the dead the third day following His crucifixion.
Some Say He Was a "Good Man"...
Many have intellectualized Jesus as a great man, a great teacher, or a great prophet. But how does this intellectual compromise hold up under closer scrutiny? Consider this: There really are only three legitimate options for the identity of Jesus:
- He was a crafty and manipulative liar;
- He was a self-deceived and self-obsessed lunatic; or
- He is what He Himself claimed to be: both Lord and God.
Jesus BarJoseph of Nazareth said:
- "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me." (John 14:6)
- "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12)
- "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM." (John 8:58)
["I AM" is the name God used for Himself in the Old Testament(cf. Exodus 3:14).]
The statements above are just a few of the claims Jesus of Nazareth made concerning His eternally-existent deity. I know! I know! Most people don't like to think of Jesus that way. It makes them uncomfortable.
They prefer to think of Him as "a good man", or "a prophet among many prophets" and some will even go so far as to say, "He certainly had God's hand on him!" But, they just can't or rather, won't believe He was the long-awaited promised Messiah, God incarnate.
- This man claimed to have lived 3000 years prior to the day He walked in Galilee!
- He claimed to have a direct connection to the Father that no one else had!
- And, He actually claimed to be GOD!
Stop and think about that. Jesus being only a "good man" is logically impossible. Here's why: If He is not God, then He must have been a liar, deliberately misleading the multitudes; or He was a lunatic, sincerely believing Himself to be God, when He was really just a man. However, how can Jesus possibly be a "good man" and crazy, or a "good man" and a liar? Really, there is only one logically consistent alternative: He was telling the truth.
In addition to the logical inconsistencies noted above, the historical evidence of His remarkable acts shows that Jesus was neither a liar nor a lunatic. Again, the only position left is that His claim is true. Jesus is Lord and God!
Of course, while perfectly logical, that argument is seldom sufficient to answer most skeptics. So, let's delve into the Bible which we know to be the best-preserved record of historical data among all ancient writings/manuscripts.
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What Does the Bible Say?
What does the Bible tell us about Jesus and His true identity? Following is a brief discussion of a few of the prophecies concerning the deity of the Messiah. For an in-depth discussion of Bible prophecy, especially messianic prophecy, refer back to "Who Is Jesus: Messianic Prophecy".
- The Deity of the Messiah Was Prophesied in the Old Testament
Prophecy: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)
Fulfillment: Matthew 1:23
Note: In the Hebrew, "Immanuel" literally means "with us God".
- A Human Child Would be "Born", but the Eternally-Existent Son Would be "Given"
Prophecy: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given" (Isaiah 9:6a)
Fulfillment: Luke 1:31-32
- The Divine Son Would Have a Higher Nature
Prophecy: "the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)
[The prophet Isaiah was a monotheistic (worshiping one God) Jew. The improbability of him writing about a divine Being, apparently apart from YHWH, who would be born as a human and be called the "Mighty God" and "Everlasting Father", is further evidence of the Bible's divine Authorship. It would simply be impossible for Isaiah to write such a radical and perhaps even blasphemous statement, except under divine inspiration.]
Fulfillment: One of the primary titles Jesus used for Himself during His earthly ministry was "Son of Man".
"'But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,'..." (Matthew 9:6)
"And Jesus said, 'I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.'" (Mark 14:62)
(See also Matthew 8:20; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8,32,40; 13:37,41; 16:13,27-28; 17:9,12,22; 18:11; 19:28; 20:18,28; 24:27,30,37,39,44; 25:31; 26:2,24,45,64; Mark 2:10,28; 8:31,38; 9:9,12,31; 10:33,45; 13:26; 14:21,41; Luke 5:24; 6:5,22; 7:34; 9:22,26,44,58; 11:30; 12:8,10,40; 17:22,24,26,30; 18:8,31; 19:10; 21:27,36; 22:22,48,69; 24:7; John 1:51; 3:13,14; 5:27; 6:27,53,62; 8:28; 9:35; 12:23,34; 13:31.) Write at least two verses where Jesus refers to Himself as the "Son of Man" from this list of Scripture references:
This unique phrase has its background in the vision recorded in Daniel 7:13-14 where Daniel saw one "like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed."
The ruling priests and council of Jesus' day fully understood what He was saying every time He called Himself the "Son of Man". But they refused to believe it and added it [thinking it to be blasphemy] to their reasons for wanting to kill Him.
He Received and Accepted Worship
Jesus, His disciples and other followers were well-familiar with God's Law: "You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3 & Deuteronomy 5:7) "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." (Deuteronomy 6:5)
To be clear, whatever or whomever we put first in our lives becomes our object of worship, whether we actually bow down to it/them or not. To put Jehovah/YHWH God first means to worship Him and to love Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds. Therefore, to worship anyone other than Jehovah/YHWH God was to break God's commandment, in fact, the greatest commandment (see Matthew 22:37-38), and was punishable by death (cf. Exodus 22:20; Leviticus 26;30; Isaiah 10:10-11).
- The Disciples Worshiped Him Matthew 14:32-33
The disciples' actions clearly indicate that they acknowledged Him as deity. And Jesus did not correct them! As a devout Jew, if He were not God, He would have immediately commanded them to stop [as the angel did with John in Revelation 19:10 and 22:9], but instead, He accepted their worship because He knew He really was God in human flesh.
- A Formerly Blind Man Worshiped Him
"Jesus . . . 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." (John 9:35-38)
- Thomas Worshiped Him after the Resurrection
Because of Jesus' physical resurrection, Thomas acknowledged who Jesus really was, declared His true identity, and humbly worshiped Him. Jesus not only accepted Thomas' declaration and worship, but He blessed him and the other disciples for their belief.
- The Disciples Worshiped Him Just before His Ascension
"And behold, Jesus met them and said, 'Greetings!' And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him." (Matthew 28:9)
"And when they saw him they worshiped him..." (Matthew 28:17)
- The Disciples Worshiped Him after His Ascension Luke 24:52
Jesus, Himself, Claimed to be God
Many unbelievers today insist that Jesus never claimed to be God. But Jesus' listeners, especially those educated in the Scriptures [our Old Testament], understood that He claimed on many occasions to be divine. That is precisely why they wanted to kill Him!
- Jesus Claimed to be "I Am"
"Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.' So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple."
This is a powerful statement. First, He claimed to exist before His earthly birth; and second He took on the name of God, "I AM", which is the same title Jehovah/YHWH God used in Exodus 3:14 when He told Moses: "...'I AM WHO I AM.' And he said, 'Say this to the people of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you."'"
There was no doubt in Jesus' listeners' minds that this Man standing before them was claiming to be God! So, in obedience to God's Word (cf. Leviticus 24:16, they picked up stones to kill Him!
- Jesus Used Other "I Am" Statements Seven Times
"I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." (John 6:35)
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
- Jesus Claimed to be One with the Father
"'I and the Father are one.' The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, "'I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?' The Jews answered him, 'It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.'" (John 10:30-33)
"...Jesus answered them, 'My Father is working until now, and I am working.' This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God." (John 5:17-18)
Could it be any clearer? Two thousand years ago, thousands of men and women heard His voice, looked into His eyes, and wondered at the commanding authority of His words. Unlike the skeptics of today, the Jewish rabbis never denied that Jesus claimed to be God. Not everyone believed, but they all knew He was claiming to be equal with God. If those who lived at that time drew that conclusion, how can anyone today presume upon their understanding?
The people of Jesus' day, like us today, had only two possible responses: to humble themselves and bow before Him or to reject His claim and judge Him a blasphemer. Unfortunately, the leaders chose the latter. (Even though they judged Him wrongly, we must never think that the leaders of that day made some horrible mistake. No! While they thought they were doing God's work, it was God who used them to carry out His wonderful plan of salvation!)
Authority as Lord
What did the people of that day mean when they called Jesus "Lord"? Why did Paul use this title for Jesus more than 200 times in his epistles? What does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved? Why does God say that every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord?
The dictionary defines "Lord" as "a person who has general authority over others". Another dictionary defines it "master or ruler". The word "Lord" actually comes from Old English meaning "bread keeper" or "loaf" "ward". The Greek word that's translated "Lord" in the Bible is Kurios, a title of authority. People used to say it to show respect, such as the word "sir". The head of a family was often referred to as the lord of his house, slaves called their master "lord", and subjects of monarchies recognized their ruler as their "lord".
Kurios was also a title of worship given to the gods of other religions, especially to Zeus, the chief Greek god. And of course, it was a title of worship given to Jehovah/YHWH, the one true God. In this sense the Bible uses the title "Lord" for both God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. To call Jesus "Lord" is to recognize His deity, His union with His Father, His supreme authority over the universe, and His right to rule our lives.
Proof of His Authority
Jesus Proved His Authority in His Teachings
He amazed people by the absolute confidence with which He revealed truths about God and man:
- Matthew 7:28-29
- "And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes." (Mark 1:22)
- "and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority." (Luke 4:32)
Jesus Proved His Authority over Nature
- He walked on the stormy sea. (Matthew 14:25-31)
- He "rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Peace! Be still!' And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." (Mark 4:39)
- He changed water into wine. (John 2:7-10)
- He fed more than 5,000 people [5,000 men + women and children] with five loaves of bread and two small fish. (Matthew 14:17-21; Mark 6:41-44; Luke 9:14-17; John 6:10-13)
Jesus Proved His Authority over Disease and Death
- At His very word, the deaf heard, blind eyes were opened, diseases were healed, the crippled were made straight, paralytics walked, and lepers were cleansed. [See the "Miracles of Jesus" chart for a list of all of Jesus' miracles.]
- He raised the dead back to life with just a word. (See Matthew 9:18-26; Luke 7:11-17; John 11:38-44)
- He died and bodily rose again!
Some people claim that Jesus' miracles were no more than the power of the Holy Spirit working through Him and that the same power is available to any believer today who prays in faith. However, when Jesus changed water into wine, or fed the 5,000 with a few small loaves of bread and fish, or calmed the storm, His followers didn't exclaim, "How great is the power of the Holy Spirit working through this prophet!" Rather, on the Sea of Galilee, the Disciples wondered, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?" (Matthew 8:27)
Jesus Proved His Moral Authority
- He lived a sinless life. "...one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15b)
- He made ruined lives beautiful, pure, and useful.
"...and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out" (Luke 8:2)
"And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.'" (John 8:11)
(See also Luke 7:37-48; John 4:7-39.)
Jesus Proved His Spiritual Authority
- He forgave sins. "And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.'" (Matthew 9:2)
- He drove evil spirits out of their victims.
- Luke 7:21
- "And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 'What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are the Holy One of God.' But Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'Be silent, and come out of him!' And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, 'What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.'" (Mark 1:23-26)
Recognition of Christ's Authority
The Bible says that the ascended Lord is seated at the Father's right hand [of authority] above all other spiritual powers. "...when he [God] raised Christ from death and let him sit at his right hand in heaven. There Christ rules over all forces, authorities, powers, and rulers. He rules over all beings in this world and will rule in the future world as well. God has put all things under the power of Christ, and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything." (Ephesians 1:20-21 CEV)
On earth today, the universal Church [those who accept Jesus as Savior and Lord] recognizes Jesus as Lord. "...Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior." (Ephesians 5:23b)
The laws that govern the physical body's functions also apply in the spiritual sense. The body does not guide the head, but the head guides the body. And just as the physical body has many different members [fingers, toes, arms, legs, skin, fingernails, heart, lungs, etc.], so the spiritual Body of Christ has many members. And each member has its own place and function in the Body. As we all work together for the good of the Body, then we are able to more efficiently carry out the purpose of Christ, our Head.
"And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent." (Colossians 1:17-18)
And some day the whole world will acknowledge Him as its rightful Ruler and Lord. "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." (Philippians 2:9-11)
But before Jesus sets up His kingdom on earth, He will take His Church to Heaven and prepare us to rule with Him. He will deal with our faults and failures and reward us for whatever we have done for Him. His rule must be firmly established in every area of our lives before we can rule with Him in His everlasting kingdom. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ1 [not the same as the Great White Throne judgment2], so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil." (2 Corinthians 5:10)
"For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, 'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.' So then each of us will give an account of himself to God." (Romans 14:10b-12)
After Christ judges the Church, there will be a great celebration in Heaven known as the marriage supper [wedding feast] of the Lamb. The word "Lamb" is a designation of honor for what Christ accomplished on earth as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. In Revelation, Jesus is called the "Lamb" 27-34 times [the number varies depending on the Bible version one uses]. The church shares that honor as the Bride of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
"And from the throne came a voice saying, "Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great. . . . it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure" for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints." (Revelation 19:5,8)
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King of Kings and LORD of Lords
To see Jesus as the Lord, we must also look into the future via the prophecies contained in God's Word. Although Revelation is the only prophetic book in the New Testament, it is not the only book that contains prophecies of Christ's future Kingdom. (See Isaiah 13:6, 13:9, 58:13; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 13:5, 30:3; Daniel 2:44-45; Joel 1:15, 2:1, 2:11, 2:31, 3:14; Amos 5:18, 5:20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7, 1:8, 1:14; Malachi 4:5; Acts 2:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Peter 3:10.)
He Is Alpha and Omega
"Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. 'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'" (Revelation 1:7-8)
Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, the beginning and the end.
In calling Himself "the Alpha", Jesus is saying He is the One who initiates, who begins all things, the One who brings all things into being [see "God's Names: YHWH/Jehovah"]; and as our "Omega", He is God's final Word and assurance of fulfilling God's eternal purpose.
As Alpha, He created all things and nothing exists that He didn't create (see John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16); and as Omega, He will bring all things back into their right relationship, subdue all evil, and reign forever as the King of kings and Lord of lords!
He Is Coming as Judge
"Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." (Matthew 24:30)
"...but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked." (Isaiah 11:4)
He Will Make All Things New
"The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them." (Isaiah 11:6)
"The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus . . . Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert . . . And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." (Isaiah 35:1,5-6,10)
"And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.'
"Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, 'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!'
"And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!'" (Revelation 5:9-13)
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1 Judgment Seat of Christ
This refers to Christians, not unbelievers. The Judgment Seat of Christ involves believers giving an account of their lives to Christ. The Judgment Seat of Christ does not determine salvation; that was determined by Christ's sacrifice on our behalf and our faith in Him (see John 3:16, 1 John 2:2, Romans 8:1) All of our sins are forgiven and we will never be condemned for them. We should not look at the Judgment Seat of Christ as God judging our sins, but rather as God rewarding us for our lives. Yes, as the Scriptures say, we will have to give an account of our lives. Part of this is surely answering for the sins we committed. However, that is not going to be the primary focus of the Judgment Seat of Christ.
2 Great White Throne Judgment
The Great White Throne Judgment is found in Revelation 20:11-15 and is the final judgment prior to the lost being cast into the lake of fire [the place of eternal punishment commonly known as hell]. This judgment will take place after the millennium and after Satan, the beast, and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7-15). The "books" that are opened (Revelation 20:12) are probably symbolic, as God knows everything that has ever been said, done, or even thought and has no need of written records. Whatever the source, these are accounts of everyone's deeds, whether good or evil; and He will reward or punish each one accordingly (see Psalm 28:4; 62:12; Romans 2:6; Revelation 2:23; 18:6; 22:12).