Explore God: Is Jesus Really God?

Once establishing that God exists, it then becomes imperative to determine how to have a relationship with God. Recognizing that we are incapable of relating to a holy God as sinful people, Jesus chose to come down in as a human being to relate to us in every way and to point us to the way of God. Paul told the Philippians, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very natureGod,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothingby taking the very natureof a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest placeand gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:5-11). Hence, Jesus took on human likeness to come to earth to show us how to live in fellowship with God, ultimately dying so we could have a personal and vibrant relationship with the God who created us.

Not only does the Bible attest to this truth, but extra-biblical sources do as well. In fact, Jesus is referred to as a historical figure in the Jewish Talmud, the historical writing of the Jewish historian, Josephus, the Greek historians, Thallus, Pliny, and Tacitus, and even in the Muslim Qur’an. If Jesus was a historical figure, then the question comes as to whether his claim to be God is verifiable. New Testament scholar, Robert Stein, has created the following criteria to evaluate the New Testament claim that Jesus was the Son of God:

  • The Criterion of Multiple Attestations (Ex. Jesus teaching concerning God as Father – Mark 11:25, Matthew 7:11, Matthew 6:18, Luke 12:32, John 5:36-47)
  • The Criterion of Embarrassment (Ex. Peter’s denial of Jesus, Jesus being betrayed by one of his own disciples, the disciples routinely being confused by Jesus)
  • The Criterion of Dissimilarity (Ex. Jesus’ frequent use of “Son of Man” as a title, which only is in the OT in Daniel 7:13)
  • The Criterion of Aramaic Language and Palestinian Environmental Phenomena (Ex. Frequent Aramaic expressions in Mark [3:17, 5:14, 7:34, 8:12, 9:1, 14:36, 15:34], Jesus’ parables fit 1st century Palestinian context)
  • The Criterion of Tradition Contrary to Editorial Tendency (Ex. Jesus words in Matthew 11:13 seem to conflict with Mathew’s overall emphasis on the role of the law, meaning he kept it as an authentic saying in spite of his overall literary goals)
  • The Criterion of Frequency (Ex. There are 76 separate sayings of Jesus about the kingdom of God in the Gospels, pointing to the fact this must have been a teaching of the historical Jesus)
  • The Criterion of Coherence (Ex. A general criterion in light of the previous six and covering the many similarities that exist between the 4 Gospels)

The acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God remains a statement of one’s trust in whom he claims to be. As C.S. Lewis states, Jesus must be a liar, a lunatic or the Lord. You must decide for yourself.