The Reflection Series for this month is adapted from Reasoning the Rest, which you can read or download from the main menu. This month, we’re reflecting on the divinity of Jesus Christ.
If you profess faith in the Christian message, yet lack this belief about Jesus’ identity, you expose a complete lack of understanding of the very Bible wherein you find the figure of Jesus in the first place. The Gospel narratives leave no possibility to reject the deity of Jesus. Rather, they appreciate, rely on, and believe in the message that he spoke.
We can better understand this vital truth about Jesus with these four points concerning Jesus and his teaching.
- The man of “The Name”
- The man of Authority
- The man of Unity
- The man of Forgiveness
For the next several weeks, we’re going to reflect on these indicators that support the divinity of Christ Jesus.
The Man of “The Name”
As we have discussed in previous reflections, the question concerning the historical existence of Jesus is a question that at the present has more or less been answered by believers and non-believers alike. Such is our hard-heartedness to the Word of God that the moment one question is answered we seek protection behind yet another wall of objection. Thus, with history proving the existence of Jesus with the passing of time, the more common debate over Jesus more or less concerns his identity. Was he just a good teacher? Was he a prophet? Was he simply a rabbi? Did he view himself as anything more than any of these things? The fact that the Christian church survived, grew and continues to flourish is a testimony to the deity of Jesus and his oneness with the Father that we will soon discuss in further detail. However, since the current debate concerning Jesus not only calls into question who Jesus was to his followers, but who Jesus himself professed to be, the best source for His words is in the Gospels themselves.
What we find is that there are many times that Jesus clearly refers to himself as God. No words of his are more conclusive in this matter than the two words he uses frequently throughout the Gospel of John in settling any doubt as to who he knew he was. The two words are “I am.”
The words “I am” when translated reference the Hebrew name that God applied to himself, by himself, for himself in Exodus 6:11-15:
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.”
In Hebrew, the name is “Yahweh,” which translates into English simply as, “I am.” While the translation in English fails to capture the weight behind such a name, upon a closer look at the origins of the name in Jewish history and the Hebrew language, it is complete madness that Jesus chose to use the name the way he did and that his followers chose to include this detail in the Gospels.
According to the Jewish people, the name of God was so holy that it was illegal to say in public. So holy that scribes writing out the scriptures were required to cleanse themselves and destroy their writing utensils after writing the name due to its divine holiness. This was a Word that if uttered in public was punishable by death. In Israel, no one spoke this name aloud. Yet, the Gospel writers openly include the historical fact that Jesus chose to use this name not once, but many times, in public, to those he conversed with.
“I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger.” John 6:35
“I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12
“I am the gate; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.” John 10:11
“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.” John 11:25
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” John 14:6
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1
This behavior was unprecedented before Jesus. Jesus took it upon himself to use this illegal, holy name for one reason and one reason alone. He used it because it belonged to him.