Friday, October 3, 2008

Is Jesus The Messiah? Is Messiah God?

So why is it so important to know if Jesus is God in the flesh? I mean, why don't we just believe in Jesus as a great teacher, a great prophet? Is it really so important to prove who He is?As we looked at in the last post, with Jesus' own claims, He is either who He said, or He's a liar and a nut, and that's no one to follow as a moral and great teacher. In this post, we need to look at why Jesus as Messiah is God, and how is that possible.
First of all, if Jesus really is who He claims, that He is God- that makes Biblical Christianity unique in our beliefs and authorative. If one the other hand Jesus was not who He claimed, there would be no difference between Christianity and any other religion, and it would mean we as Christians are following after a lie.Let's take a quick review of the basic logic for Christianity- In past posts, we've looked at evidence which proves that the New Testament is a historically reliable record of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus taught that He is God Incarnate, and He proved this by fulfilling Old Testament prophecies regarding His birth, life, teachings, death and resurrection. From this, we can see that Jesus clearly is God. If it's still unclear. Let's go over more of the past evidence again quickly. The eye witnesses of Christ passed down contemporary accounts of Jesus' words and actions, and more importantly, His Words were not only memorized but also written down by qualified witnesses. The New Testament authors, disciples of Jesus, made it clear between their words and Jesus' words - this is where we get the term Red Letter Bible from, as Jesus' words are written in red. Now, Jesus' claims and deeds that show He claims to be God. He accepted titles and praise which is only to be given God. This is part of why so many of the Pharisees were wanting to stone Him, because they believed Him to be a blasphemer. They knew exactly what He was saying and claiming. The Jehovah God of the Old Testament refuses to share worship and glory with any other. When one looks at the Old and New Testaments, we can see how Jesus did accept worship, praise and glory- a right only to God alone. Another instance is in the Old Testament, when Moses kneels in front of the burning bush, while God is talking, He says, "Tell them, I Am have sent you." Later, in the New Testament, Jesus tells the Jews, "Truly, truly I say to you,.before Abraham was, I Am." In this case, the Jewish leaders know that Jesus is not only claiming preexistence before Abraham, but also equality with God. In other parts of the Gospels, we see Jesus make the same claim, only instead of people cursing Him and picking up stones in which to throw at Him, people fall to the ground in awe and worship.By assuming the same titles given to God, Jesus in many way made Himself equal to God. He forgave sins, He told leaders He had authority to heal, and He warned that He had power to raise and judge the dead. Since Jewish Orthodox belief is in the Old Testament, where only Jehovah God has the authority to forgive sin, raise the dead, and make judgements, they made plans to stone Him for the claims He was making.Another way that Jesus claimed He is God, is when He said, "Honor the Son, even as they honor the Father," later adding, " believe in God, believe also in Me." The Jews knew that no man should claim honor and belief with God.Now- is Jesus the Messiah, and is the Messiah God?The Old Testament foretold of Messiah and also told of His Deity. When Jesus claimed to have fulfilled the Old Testament messianic prophecies, He also claimed the deity attributed to the Messiah. In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, the prophet speaks of Messiah as "Mighty God". In the Psalms, the reference is made between God the Father and God the Son, "Jehovah saith unto my Lord (Adonai), sit thou at my right hand." In the Book of Daniel, the prophet Daniel has a vision in which the Son of Man is also called the "Ancient of days", which is a phrase that is used twice in the same passage to describe God the Father. In the Gospels, when Jesus appeared before the high priest, He was asked specifically whether he is the "Christ (Messiah), the son of God" Showing that the high priest left no doubt that he knew what Jesus had been claiming. In a nutshell, the Old Testament not only shows that the Messiah is to come, but also that He is God. Jesus in all of His words and testimony laid claim to the Messianic title and also to the deity of the Messiah, and removed any doubt when He answered the high priest, "I am; and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power,and coming with the clouds of heaven". At this, the high priest tore his robes and yelled, "Why do we still need witnesses? You have all heard this blasphemy!"As I said earlier, the Old Testament shows that worship is forbidden to anyone but God. Men were not to accept worship, and even angels refuse to be worshipped. Jesus did receive worship over half a dozen times without once telling the people not to do that.Jesus not only accepted worship, but also placed His own words on par with God. He requested men pray in His name. If someone accepts Jesus as a good teacher and a moral leader, yet rejects the way that Jesus not only accepted attitudes and actions due only to God, but He often Himself affirmed by words and actions only appropriate to Deity, they are in a word- rejecting God.The Jews of the time knew What He was claiming. Bible believing Christians understand today what He is claiming.Now, sometimes people will assume that the Bible is contradictory when Jesus seems to deny His equality with God. Phrases such as, "My Father is greater than I", and the time when Jesus said that He doesn't know the time of His second coming, that only the Father knows, and the most famously misunderstood, from His words on the cross, " MY God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" do seem contradictory.On a closer look however, none of these is contradictory. One needs to understand the Trinity to understand such passages. In the Trinity of God, the Father is greater than the Son in "office" or position, but not in the nature- because as Jesus says, "I and the Father are one", He was speaking of in nature or essence.It is only the function, as the Son that He is less than the Father. In Jesus not knowing the time of His second coming, it is because when He spoke this, He was speaking as a man. As a man, Jesus ate when He was hungry, slept when He was tired. As God, He never slumbers or sleeps. Jesus the person had two distinct natures- one wholly divine, the other, wholly man. Some things He understood from a human nature, other times He understood and taught from His divine nature.Now, it is one thing to claim deity, and another to have something to back up a claim like that. Jesus did both. He offered three miraculous and totally unique facts as evidence to His claim. He fulfilled prophecies made hundreds and thousands of years before His birth, he had a uniquely miraculous life, and His resurrection from the dead. All of these events are uniqu only in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.In past posts here, we have looked at how Jesus fulfilled prophecies, how His birth was a miraculous and factual fulfillment of prophecy- and totally unique. We looked at how He died, and facts of His resurrection. We looked at the changes that took place in His followers- from a group of pathetic and scared men, cowering in a hidden room- to proclaiming His Gospel message, even to death, none of which were painless. Now we have seen just a portion of the claims He made concerning Himself, and His diety.In the next posts, I would like to give answers to some of the hard questions, disagreements and disbeliefs concerning God and His Word, The Holy Bible. See you next time.
Further Bible references which were covered in this post:
The I Am
Exodus 3:14, John 8:58 and 10:31-33
Power and Authority Jerimiah 31:34, Mark 2:10.11
Messiah as Mighty God Isaiah 9:6,7 , Matthew 22:42-44, Luke 24:25-27
Messiah sitting at the Right Hand of God Psalm 110:1, Mark 14:61-64
Son of Man, Ancient of Days Daniel 7:13-22,
Forbidden to Worship any other/Jesus Accepts Worship
Exodus 20:1-3.
Deuteronomy 5:6-9, Matthew 14:30-33, Matthew 28:16,17

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