Summary: Study 4 of a series setting out Christian Belief in Jesus as God.
The J.W`s say that nowhere in the Bible do you find any statement that Jesus is God. They are wrong. The Bible says that Jesus is God right through the Old Testament and on to the end of the New. In these next studies I intend to show that very clearly.
Let`s look at the claims of Jesus.
a) I AND MY FATHER ARE ONE. (John 10.30). That seems a very clear claim to be God! Obviously the Jews believed that He was claiming to be God , because they immediately accused Him of blasphemy. That was a very serious charge to a monotheistic Jew like Jesus. The J.W. replies that the verses that follow this claim make it clear that Jesus denied that He was making such a claim. They are wrong. What Jesus is doing in these verses is what He frequently does in the Gospels, and especially in St. John. He tells them not to take His WORDS as the validation of His claim, but to test His DEEDS to see if they prove the truth of His words.
Others have come making great claims, but their deeds never lived up to their words. He has made an astounding claim - He has stated that He is God! The Jews say, "Is that what you are really saying - that you are God? That`s blasphemy!". Jesus replies I don`t ask you to take my WORD for it, but I do ask you to accept my DEEDS". You can`t argue with a man`s deeds, although you can argue till the cows come home over words (as the J.W. knows only too well). The only true test is that Jesus` deeds substantiate His words.
b) There are other reasons why Jesus, having made great claims, does not give a direct answer to His accusers. In Mark chapter 11, for instance, we Him purging and cleansing the Temple. The Jews religious leaders challenge Him over His authority to do such a thing, hoping to put Him in a dilemma. If He says He is acting on His own authority, they might well arrest Him as a madman. On the other hand, if He says He is acting on God`s authority, they would arrest Him on the obvious charge of blasphemy, on the grounds that God would never give to a mere MAN authority to create a disturbance in God`s House. Only God could cleanse and purge His Temple. Was THAT what He was claiming to be?
Jesus saw the dilemma, and walked around it by asking them an equally loaded question of His own. When they refuse to answer out of fear, He refuses to answer their question. Why? Why did He side-step their questions? St. John`s Gospel makes it quite clear. There would be an `hour` when it was right to proclaim Himself quite openly in front of everyone, saying exactly who He was. He had been aiming for that hour through the whole of His life. Any other time would be premature. Therefore, before that `hour` came, He refused to satisfy them. It was as if He was saying, "You believe I am claiming to be God. Right then! Test it! Find out whether I am God or not. I will not answer your questions for you".
That is why, when He was faced with a questioner who said to Him, "GOOD TEACHER....." He replied, "Why do you call me `GOOD` - there is none good but God". And yet we have to acknowledge that He WAS Good, that He was PERFECTLY GOOD! Even the J.W. would say that. Was He then rebuking the man for giving Him a title which should only be given to God? Not at all! He was testing the man, just as He was testing the Pharisees. "Think what you are saying, man. If you call me GOOD you are also calling me GOD, for only God is good. Is that what you believe that I am?".
Yet He claimed to be the GOOD Shepherd (although the J.W. Bible translates that term as the `FINE` Shepherd. But what does that mean, anyway. It`s the same term as is used when Jesus speaks of bringing forth `good` fruit, in contrast to `corrupt` fruit. In either case it means `perfect!).
Time and again Jesus made people think out who He was. He asked them questions to make them see where their attitude towards Him was leading them. His whole bearing, His whole authority, all His deeds, even the claims He made, were of those of One who was more than a man - they were the claims of One who pointed to Himself as God. However, when He was pressed by His enemies to make an outright declaration that He was God, He would not - NOT because He wasn`t God, but because His `hour` had not yet come.