Two thousand years ago in the small village of Bethlehem, a baby boy was born contrary to nature. Nine months prior to her son’s birth, Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel who revealed something very special. Out of all the Israelite women from the tribe of Judah, Mary was chosen by God to bear His Son. Mary was confused by the announcement. She was currently betrothed to a righteous man named Joseph but was still a virgin. How could a woman who had not known a man conceive and give birth to a son? Gabriel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Conceived in Mary’s womb by the power of God’s Spirit, Jesus was born nine months later in the city of David. He is the Son of God. In his gospel account, John calls Jesus “the Word.” The original language of the New Testament was Greek, and the Greek word John uses for “the Word” has a deep background in ancient philosophy. In the five centuries leading up to Christ’s birth, Greek and Jewish philosophers sought to understand the structure of the universe. One of their more interesting theories was what they call the Logos. The Logos, they speculated, was an unseen power which bound the universe together, gave order to chaos, determined morality, and enabled the human mind to think or reason. Though the concept varied in detail from philosopher to philosopher, they generally concluded that the Logos was the divine mind expressed by thought, reason, ideas, word, or wisdom. Truth is truth no matter who says it, and philosophical theories about the Logos contained grains of truth. In John’s gospel account, the Holy Spirit confirms the existence of the Logos:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:1-5).
From the beginning the Word existed, or as one man translated John 1:1, “When the world had its beginning, the Word was already there” (William Barclay, Commentary on John, Volume 1, p. 25). The Word was alongside God, equal with God. Through Him everything that exists was created. He is the divine mind, the fountain of life and light. The Holy Spirit contends that the Word was inserted into human history, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). This is the One conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, the only born of the Father. The Word is Jesus, the thought of God incarnate.
Accepting who Jesus is has been difficult for many. In John 8, the Jewish leadership pressed Jesus to openly proclaim His identity. Jesus performed many miracles in the months leading up to this confrontation and His identity could be discerned based on the evidence of these miracles (see John 2:23-25, 5:36-37). Those who challenged Him were reluctant to accept the evidence and instead pressed Him for a direct answer. After a lengthy exchange, Jesus finally declares, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Those familiar with the Bible will recall the Old Testament account of Moses and the burning bush. Communicating through His angel, Jehovah ordained Moses the leader of the Israelites who were enslaved in Egypt. Anticipating his return to Egypt, Moses asked the Lord, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” God replies, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’ ” (Exodus 3:13-14). God identified Himself as “I AM” to Moses. Jesus uses the identical title for Himself. Those who heard what He said knew precisely what He meant. Jesus was declaring His divinity. John tells us, “At this, they picked up stones to stone him,” intending to execute Jesus for blasphemy (see Leviticus 24:16). John 10 records a similar occurrence. After Jesus says, “I and the Father are one” the Jews “picked up stones to stone Him” for claiming to be God (verses 30-33). Jesus claimed He was divine and the Jews understood and rejected those claims.
Though John acknowledges Jesus’ identity in numerous instances, he is not the only New Testament author to assert Christ’s divinity. Paul celebrates Israel’s heritage in Romans 9:5, “and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen” (emphasis added). Later in Colossians 1, he describes Christ as “the image of the invisible God” by whom “all things were created…visible and invisible” and “in Him all things hold together” (verses 15-17). Paul’s greatest declaration of Christ’s deity is when he exhorts the Philippians to imitate the humility of Christ Jesus:
who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8).
Paul acknowledges Christ’s preincarnate existence as God. He was equal with God, the apostle says, but willingly laid aside His station in order to save mankind. He became deity wrapped in flesh and died on the cross. Another outstanding assertion of Christ’s deity is found in the opening statements of Hebrews:
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven (Hebrews 1:1-3).
Jesus Christ is more than a man or any other created being. The universe was created through Him. He radiates God’s glory and precisely embodies the invisible image of the Father. He unifies all creation by His powerful word. Along with John’s testimony, all of these passages assert that Jesus is deity, He is divine, He is the Son of God.
The divinity of Christ is an issue upon which there can be no debate. Confessing one’s belief in the identity of Jesus demonstrates the genuineness of their faith. John says, “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God” (1 John 4:15). In other words, a true Christian confesses the divinity of Jesus and their confession is evidence of a relationship with God. Conversely, the one who denies Jesus’ divinity is not a true believer. In the Holy Spirit’s terminology they are antichrist or oppose Christ (1 John 4:2-3, 2 John 7). It is true that one can believe in God, believe in the historical figure Jesus Christ and follow His teachings without acknowledging His divinity. However, biblical Christianity hinges upon the virgin birth and the manifestation of the Logos in the flesh. To deny these tenets of faith is to deny the faith itself. Why acknowledge the truth of a man’s teachings if the origin He claimed was either an outright lie or delusions of grandeur? The gospel is worth believing and is capable of saving because Jesus is the Son of God.