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Day 6: Jesus: God and Man

John 1:1 "The Word was God".


“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

- C.S. Lewis


The Deity of Christ

B.B. Warfield once said about Jesus, "Every word that is spoken of himself is spoken on the assumption that he is God." And this is exactly what John opens up with in his Gospel. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Overwhelmingly, John makes it clear in his Gospel that Jesus, the Word, is God. He is not a god but God Himself. How do we see this?

  1. Grammar: The New Testament was written in the Greek language. In the Greek language, there is a noun that does not have the definite article in front of it called "anarthrous". The New World Translation, which is the translation used by Jehovah's Witnesses, translates John 1:1 as saying "the Word was a god". This is wrong on a number of levels but the most compelling comes from their own inconsistency within their translation of "anarthrous" nouns. As one person says, "In the New Testament there are 282 occurences of the anarthrous [God]. At sixteen places [the New World Translation] has either a god, god, gods, or godly. Sixteen out of 282 means that the translators were faithful to their translation principle only six percent of the time." In other words, the translators for the NWT are only 6% consistent with their translation of anarthrous nouns. That's not a good percentage. It is safe to say that this is not a reliable translation merely from this argument.
    1. Example: John 1:49 says, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" As Sinclair Ferguson notes, "In the Greek text, Son has the definite article (ho), but King does not. Yet Nathanael clearly means that Jesus is the King, the One God had promised. Thus, even the New World Translation renders this verse, 'You are King of Israel'--not, notice, a king! Jehovah's Witness translators cannot avoid the principle that context determines the translation of an indefinite noun--and should have recognized that in John 1:1.
  2. Context: Whenever we read any book, context is key. Without a context you have no idea what the author is trying to say. It is clear that John is telling us that this Jesus, the Word, is God Himself. The seven "I Am" statements make this clear. Any original recipient of this Gospel would have understood the magnitude of what Jesus was saying. After all, so did the people in Jesus's day because they tried to kill Him for blasphemy.
  3. Theology: John's entire theology is showing the glory of God in Jesus Christ. Ferguson says, "In a sense, John is saying, 'When you read my Gospel, look for this kind of Savior.'" From Jesus' teachings, miracles, and conversations with people, John is clearly pulling back the veil for us to see that Jesus is not merely a man but that He is "very God of very God".


The Humanity of Christ

Almost all heresis about the Person & Work of Christ come about from an extreme emphasizing of one thing against another. The Nicene Creed says that Jesus is, "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made." What a statement! 

But, if Jesus is not just like us in every way yet without sin (Heb. 4:15) then He cannot be our Savior. He must be God to reconcile us to God but He also must be Man if He is to reconcile us to God. This is why the Athanasian Creed says, "He is God from the essence of the Father, begotten before time; and he is man from the essence of his mother, born in time; completely God, completely man, with a rational soul and human flesh; equal to the Father as regards divinity, less than the Father as regards humanity."

St. John of Damascus, the 8th Century theologian, agrees with the creeds when he says, "Confessing the same to be perfect God and perfect man, we say that [Jesus] has everything that the Father has, except unbegottenness, and everything that the first Adam had, with the exception only of sin, that is to say, [he had] a body and a rational and intelligent soul."


Theology In Action

Why does this matter? How does this theology actually change us?

  1. Because Jesus is God and Man, He can perfectly reconcile God and us without any need to have someone add to His work. In other words, to gain a right relationship with God we need nothing but Jesus! Don't add any of your works or efforts. Trust wholly in Jesus. This means that we don't live for acceptance with God. We live from acceptance with God.
  2. Because Jesus is God and Man, He can make sufficient atonement for His elect. Because He is Man, He can be my substitute. Because He is God, the worth of His atonement is infinite. Jesus gives me a greater righteousness than I could ever earn on my own even if I were somehow "perfect". Horatius Bonar said, "It was the only perfect thing which had ever been presented to God in man’s behalf; and so peculiar was this perfection, that it might be used by man in his transactions with God, as if it were his own."
  3. Because Jesus is God and Man, we can be comforted that Jesus knows what we're going through. We can never say, "Well, that's Jesus. That's different." Again Ferguson is helpful, "His sinlessness did not immunize Him against the effects of sin, either during His life or on the cross. In fact, He tasted our temptations with a senstivity none of us has known precisely becaus He resisted them.