Roughly around 2000 years ago in the region of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus was walking with his disciples and turning to them, he asked them this question, “who do you say that I am?”
Fast forward to 2018 in the Wenatchee Valley, that question is still being asked today.
Who is Jesus? How you answer that question determines whether or not you are a Christian—a follower of Jesus Christ.
There are many ideas concerning who Jesus is. Some say he is a prophet, one of many who spoke true words concerning God. Others say he was Jehovah’s first and greatest creation, once called Michael the Archangel now named Jesus. Many simply consider Jesus just an exalted man, though he did signs and wonders, he was a man nonetheless.
The Christian however, sees the plain and Biblical truth that Jesus is God. The belief in Jesus Christ as fully divine, the second member of the Godhead is essential to the Christian faith. If that truth is denied by an individual (or a church) they are as Jesus puts it, knowing neither the Scriptures nor the power of God (Matt. 12:24), regardless of how sincere they may be.
The Scriptures proving the deity of Christ are far too numerous to properly explain in such a brief article. In fact, one can easily assert that the entire Bible is about the revelation of the person of Jesus. However, John chapter 1 is by far one of the most popular of texts proving the deity of Christ and one that many either twist, try to explain away or outright deny.
John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” There are certain groups that attempt to explain away the divinity of Christ by stating that John is not talking about Jesus or his deity when he references the word “Word” or logos in the Greek.
One attempt is to inject an indefinite article into the verse so that it reads “the word was a god”. They argue that there is no definite article in the original language, therefore, to ascribe Jesus deity is patently false.
Yet there is something we need to remember, especially when certain groups that we engage with, even in our community, try to appeal to the original language. The context of a verse in question drives the interpretation not necessarily the grammatical form.
I say again, context is everything because a verse without context is a pretext for a prooftext and that can be very dangerous.
Another attempt to deny John’s reference to the preexistent and fully God Jesus is to say that the “word” in John 1:1 was an impersonal plan or thought of God, denying not only the deity of Christ but also the distinct personality of the Word.
However, when you read John 1:1 in relation to the following verses, John’s point that Jesus is God is made crystal clear because he ascribes the Word characteristics and activities that are only true of God, himself.
For example, in John 1:2-3 we see that the Word existed in the beginning with God and had the power to create from nothing. In fact, John repeats this point with great emphasis when he writes “…without him was not anything made that was made”. So, if Jesus is in the creature category rather than the Creator, then Jesus made himself. Here is the problem, if you don’t exist how can you bring yourself into existence? You can’t and that is why John forces this point that Jesus is the preexistent Maker, which can only mean that Jesus is God.
Lastly, in verse 4, John says that Jesus is the source of all life. In the Old Testament, we see that Yahweh is the giver of life. Examples of this are found in Deuteronomy 32:39 where it reads “…there is no god besides me; I kill and I make alive” and in Nehemiah 9:6 “You give life to everything”. In other words, what was said of Yahweh in the Old Testament, John and the other Biblical authors say of Jesus in the New.
So, we go back to the question: Who is Jesus? He is God. To deny him as such is to deny clear Biblical teaching and to commit the sin of idolatry. According to the Bible God alone is to be worshipped, not a mere creature because God doesn’t share is glory with another (Isa. 42:8).