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The Divinity of Jesus

April 6, 2017

In the Scriptures at daily Mass this week (the fifth week of Lent) we have pondered the lengthy debates that the Jewish leaders pressed upon our Lord. They are recounted in John’s Gospel as well as elsewhere.

At the heart of the debate is Jesus’ divinity and His appropriation of divine actions and authority unto Himself. Although he offers four proofs of His divinity and His identity as Messiah and Lord, the Jewish leaders steadfastly refuse to believe Him. The four proofs are these: He fulfills the prophecies of the Messiah; He works miracles; John the Baptist testified to Him; and the Father testifies in their hearts (see Jn 5:31-40).

I have written more elsewhere on these four proofs (here), but in today’s post I will consider some of the biblical evidence of His divinity.

The biblical evidence of Jesus’ divinity is remarkably rich and consistent throughout the New Testament. Although I provide many Scripture citations below, I cannot include most of the texts, because doing so would dwarf the rest of the post. Perhaps at some point in the future I will publish a version containing all of the detailed citations and/or hyperlinks. For now, though, let these suffice to show forth a glorious scriptural affirmation of the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

1. As a premise, we should recall that the divinity of Christ is clearly a dogma of the Faith (de Fide). The divinity and divine Sonship of Jesus is expressed in all of the creeds. It is perhaps most clearly stated in the Athanasian Creed (Quicumque): “… we believe and confess that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is God and man. He is God begotten of the substance of the Father before all ages and man born in time of the substance of His Mother. He is Perfect God and perfect man.”

2. There are many passages in the Old Testament that express the qualities of the coming Messiah, among them are some very exalted titles:

  • a prophet (Dt. 18:15,18)
  • a priest (Psalm 109:4)
  • a shepherd (Ez 34:23ff)
  • King and Lord (Ps 2; Ps 44; Ps 109; Zach 9:9)
  • a suffering servant (Is. 53)
  • the Son of God (Ps 2:7; 109:3)
  • God with us (Emmanuel) (Is 7:14; Is 8:8)
  • Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Father of the world to come, Prince of Peace (Is 9:6)
  • Eternal King (Dan 7:14)

3. In the New Testament, the Father attests to the divine Sonship of Jesus (Mt 3:17; 17:5; Mk 9:7; Lk 3:22; 9:35; Jn 1:34; II Pt 1:17).

4. In the Gospels, the Lord Jesus gives testimony to His own divinity and self-knowledge. He is of noble stature. He knows of His dignity and power, expressing it often in the following ways:

  • Jesus indicates that He transcends the prophets and Kings of the Old Covenant.
    • Jonah and Solomon – (Mt 12:41ff; Lk 11:31ff)
    • Moses and Elijah – Matt 17:3; Mk 9:4; Lk 9:30
    • King David – (Mt 22:43ff Mk 12:36; Lk 20:42ff)
    • He says that the least born into His Kingdom will be greater than John the Baptist who, until that time, was considered the greatest man born of woman (Mt 11:11; Lk 7:28).
  • Jesus teaches that He is superior to the angels.
    • The angels are His servants and minister to Him (Mt 4:11 Mk 1:13; Lk 4:13).
    • The angels are His army (Mt 26:53).
    • The angels will accompany Him at His second coming and do His will (Mt 16:27; 25:31; Mk 8:38; Lk 9:26).
  • Jesus appropriates divine actions unto Himself and thus sets forth an assimilation unto the Lord God.
    • He declares that it was He who sent the prophets and doctors of the Law (Mt 23:34; Lk 11:49).
    • He gives the promise of His assistance and grace (Lk 21:15).
    • He forgives sins, which power belongs to God alone (e.g., Mt 9:2).
    • He, by His own authority, completes and changes some precepts of the Law (Mt 5:21ff).
    • He declares Himself to be Lord of the Sabbath (Mt 12:8; Mk 2:28; Lk 6:5; Jn 5:17).
    • Like the Heavenly Father, He makes a covenant with His followers (Mt 26:28; Mk 14:24; Lk 22:20).
  • Jesus makes divine demands upon his followers.
    • He rebukes some for lack of faith in Him (Mt 8:10-12; 15:28).
    • He rewards faith in Him (Mt 8:13; 9:2; 22:29; 15:28; Mk 10:52; Lk 7:50; 17:19).
    • He demands faith in His own person (Jn 14:1; 5:24; 6:40,47; 8:51; 11:25ff).
    • He teaches that rejection of Him and His teachings will be the standard of final judgement (Lk 9:26; Mt 11:6).
    • Jesus demands supreme Love for Him, which surpasses all earthly loves (Mt 10:37,39; Lk 17:33).
    • He accepts religious veneration by allowing the falling to the feet, a veneration due to God alone (Mt 15:25; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 28:9,17).
  • Jesus is well conscious of His own power (Mt 28:18).
    • He works many miracles in his own name.
    • He transfers this power to His disciples.
  • Jesus knows and teaches that His own death will be an adequate atonement for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole human race (Mt 20:28; 26:28).
  • Jesus appropriates to Himself the office of Judge of the World, which according to the Old Testament (e.g., Ps 49:1-6), God would exercise (e.g., Mt 16:27). His judgment extends to every idle word (Mt 12:36), and will be final and executed immediately (Mt 25:46).
  • Jesus is conscious of being the Son of God.
    • Jesus clearly distinguishes His claim in this regard from His disciples’ relationship to the Father. When He speaks of His own relationship with God He says, “My Father.” However, when He addresses the disciples, He calls God “Your Father.” He never unites Himself with them in the formula “Our Father,” thus maintaining a distinction (Jn 20:17).
    • Jesus first reveals Himself to be the Son of God in the temple, when He remarked to Mary and Joseph that He must be about His Father’s business (Lk 2:49).
    • Jesus claims to be both Messiah and Son of God in the presence of the Sanhedrin (Mk 14:62). The Sanhedrin perceive this as blasphemous.
    • Jesus tells a story of himself in the Parable of the Evil Husbandmen, thus confessing himself to be the only Son of God.
    • Jesus is aware of being one with the Father (“The Father and I are one” (Jn 10:30,38). The Jews respond by accusing Him of blasphemy.
  • In John’s Gospel, Jesus indicates that
    • He is eternal “Before Abraham was, I am” (Jn 8:58);
    • He has full knowledge of the Father (Jn 7:29; 8:55; 10:14ff);
    • He has equal power and efficacy with the Father (Jn 5:17);
    • He can forgive sins (Jn 8:11 et sicut supra);
    • He is Judge of the World (Jn 5:22,27 et sicut supra);
    • He is rightly to be adored (Jn 5:23);
    • He is the light of the world (Jn 8:12);
    • He is the way, the truth, and the light (Jn 14:6);
    • His disciples may and ought to pray to the Father in His name (Jn 14:13ff, 16:23ff);
    • His disciples may pray to Him (Jesus) (Jn 14:13ff, 16:23ff);
    • the solemn confession of the Apostle Thomas, “My Lord and my God,” is acceptable and in fact an act of faith (Jn 20:28).
  • Other Scripture passages on the divinity of Christ:
    • And we know that the Son of God is Come and has given us Understanding that we may know the true God and may be in His True Son; this is the True God and Life Eternal (1 John 5:20).
    • In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God (Jn 1:1-14).
    • Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped … and every tongue must confess to the Glory of God the Father that Jesus Chirst is Lord (Phil 2:5-11).
    • … to them, (the Israelites) belong the patriarchs and of their race, according to the flesh is the Christ, who is God over all blessed forever (Rom 9:5).
    • Looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).
    • But to the Son (God says): Your Throne, O God is for ever and ever (Heb 1:8).
  • Scripture attributes divine qualities to Jesus:
    • omnipotence, manifest in the creation and the conservation of the world (Col 1:15-17; 1 Cor 8:6; Heb 1:2ff)
    • omniscience – In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3)
    • eternity – He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Col 1:17)
    • immutability (Heb 1:12; 13:8)
    • adorability (Phil 2:10; Heb 1:6)

Well, I hope you get the point. Those who claim that Jesus didn’t know He was God or that He never made divine claims just haven’t read the Scriptures. Jesus is Lord. He is God. All things came to be through Him and He holds all creation together in Himself. Those who have denied His divinity will one day fall to their faces before His glory (Rev. 1:17).

Here is a powerful clip from the movie The Gospel of John. The words you will hear are taken directly from Scripture; there is no “Hollywoodization.”

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Comments (1)

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  1. Maureen says:

    I have heard a number of people, some of them daily communicants, say that Jesus did not know He was God because he was fully human. I have never known how to respond to that claim except to say “that is not true”. Thanks, Msgr Pope, for this post.