Summary: Who is Jesus? He is fully God in every way.
January 24, 2010
To the Dalai Lama, Jesus was an enlightened guru, likely a fully enlightened being. To the Mormons, Jesus is an exalted man who made his way to godhood—just as we can; some versions of New Age mysticism have this view of Jesus in common with Mormonism. To the Jehovah’s Witnesses, he was a man, the first created being by God the Father—but not God come in the flesh.
And then, we can look at two “equal, but opposite” views about God popular in our society today. One is the viewpoint that one Christian researcher attributes, sadly, to a significant percentage of today’s young people: deism. To be more specific, Christian Smith and his researchers, having interviewed over 3000 teenagers (many who were professing Christians), identified the worldview as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”, consisting of the following tenets:
1. "A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth."
2. "God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions."
3. "The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself."
4. "God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem."
5. "Good people go to heaven when they die."
Needless to say, this is not the God of the Bible. Neither is the opposite, increasingly-popular Near Eastern conception of God: pantheism, which sees in everything “God”. Focusing on a “god” that is immanent as opposed to a God that is distant and uninvolved (a la Deism), pantheists see the divine as being simply one aspect of everything that can be seen or experienced. You’re divine, I’m divine, all God’s children are…god! Interestingly, as N.T. Wright points out, both of these bogus conceptions of God lead via different paths to the same conclusion: anyone making any distinctions between religious faiths is intolerant, divisive, and arrogant, particularly if one claims that his particular brand of faith is the only one. But as Wright says, “few who embrace one or the other of these beliefs…stop to consider how remarkably arrogant and imperialistic these rejections of the supposedly arrogant and imperialistic religions really are.” By embracing the viewpoint that they have discovered what all the religions of the world have missed—that really, all the religious viewpoints in the world are ultimately and underneath the same—these “tolerance advocates” give away the arrogance of their own position.
But I digress: we as Christians proclaim that God is manifest in the flesh in the Person of Jesus Christ, that when we see Jesus, we are not only seeing some ethereal “essence” of God, but we are seeing very God of very God Himself. Everything we believe is predicated upon this; without it, any professed “Christian” faith is mere counterfeit.
How do you answer the person who says, “I can accept that Jesus was a good man, but I cannot believe He was God”?
The Big Idea:
Jesus is fully God in every way.
As last week, we can’t possibly say nearly all that needs to be said on this subject; there could be many more points made, and much more material given under each point! Look with me at John 14:8-11.
I. What Jesus Claimed about Himself
Quick: what do all of these folks have in common?
• Jayne Seymour
• Peter Sellers
• Elizabeth Taylor
• Sharon Stone
• Larry Hagman
• Gary Busey
• Tony Bennett
• Burt Reynolds
• Chevy Chase
• George Lucas
• William Peterson
They join with Ozzy Osbourne in claiming to have “near death experiences”. Osbourne claimed to see “a white light shining through the darkness, but no…angels, no one blowing trumpets, and no man in a white beard.” Then there are those who claim NDEs, but instead of seeing Jesus, they claim to have seen another individual, and there are so many of these folks that one man, Raymond Moody, was prompted to write a book he entitled, Elvis After Life. Thank ya, thank ya very much… but that’s not what Jesus said; He claimed something wholly other than a “near death experience”.
A. He Said He Came Down from Heaven
Jesus said in John 6:38 – “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” He claimed to have existed there prior to coming to earth, the original Alien. This world was not His home, He made clear. Now this set off quite the reaction; if you read the rest of John 6, you will see that making statements like this would have caused Him to royally flunk Church Growth class. People said, “we know this cat, where he comes from; he lives down the road a little ways; we know his parents, and he’s a construction worker, for goodness’ sake! Where’s he get off saying that he came down from heaven?” And a lot of people called “His disciples” hung up their sandals on this one. They couldn’t grasp the idea that before He was born, Jesus existed. But what is the Scriptural witness?