In 2015, Jet launched a members-only, online shopping venue and heralded the venture’s beginnings by treating the public to a twelve-month-long, $100 million television advertising campaign. In this campaign, the heads of online users exploded with clouds of purple smoke as they browsed through “mind-blowing” deals on the Jet.com website.
The top of my head did not blow off, and there was no puff of purple smoke, but I do have a vivid recollection of the first time it became clear to me that Jesus is God. I can recall being at the university, the time of day, the weather outside the window, and the exact classroom and seat in which I was sitting. To date, that remains one of my life’s most profound moments. It was not that I had pondered and rejected the idea that Jesus is God. It was the case that I never pondered it at all. Jesus was Jesus, God was God, and the Holy Spirit was some vaporous cloud thing that floated around doing magical stuff to people. I just never gave it much thought.
Son of God
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
– Matthew 16:13-16, ESV
Peter is recorded as the one responding to Jesus’ question, but I wonder if the entire band of disciples did not nod in agreement. They certainly did not dispute the issue with Peter. We are not told so, but it may even be that they were once disciples of John the Baptist and, as such, knew of John’s testimony regarding the identity of Jesus.1 Neither did Jesus debate this answer with Peter but rather commended him for his insight, stating that it was something revealed to Peter directly from the Father.2
Unquestionably, Jesus claimed a unique identity and equality with the Father. He frequently referred to him as “my Father,” which incited the indignation of the Jews who were already irritated at Jesus for healing on the Sabbath.
But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
– John 5:17-18, NASB
The Jews knew exactly what Jesus was claiming in saying what he said and it stunk to them of blasphemy, or at least that is what they claimed. As if that were not enough, later in the same gospel, Jesus says this, “I and the Father are one,”3 to which the Jews responded by picking up stones with which to execute him.4 Jesus is clearly claiming deity; a reality confirmed by the exchange that followed.
Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”
– John 10:32-33, NASB
Notice that, as in the exchange with Peter, Jesus did not argue the point with the Jews who accused him. They were correct in saying that he was claiming to be God, and he was correct in making that claim. The only option left for the Jews was to bow at his feet in worship, as others had done, or to stone him as a blasphemer. They could not humble themselves to fall at his feet, so they collected their stones.
In other places, Jesus says, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him,”5 to which Philip, rather oddly, replied, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”6
I note the slightest bit of exasperation in Jesus’ answer to Philip.
Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
– John 14:9, NASB
Later in that same discourse, “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.”7 Jesus closed out another confrontation with the Jews by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham existed, I Am.”8 There is only one I Am and the Jews knew that, so again, they picked up stones.
Having been told to put his finger in the scar of Jesus’ hand, and to put his hand into the spear gash ripped into Jesus’ side (of which Thomas did neither), Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”9 Even the Roman Centurion, following Jesus’ death, said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”10
Jesus is the Son of God – God the Son. Next week we will look at Jesus, the Son of Man.
1. John 1:19-42
2. Matthew 16:17
3. John 10:30, NASB
4. John 10:31
5. John14:7, ESV
6. John 14:8b, NASB
7. John 14:11a, NASB
8. John 8:58, my paraphrase
9. John 20:28
10. Matthew 27:54, ESV