Is Jesus God or just a Prophet?
Author: Fr. Joseph Edattu VC 08 Apr 2021
All across the world, many people still debate whether Jesus is God, or just a prophet. Christianity teaches Jesus is God, whereas Islam accepts Jesus only as a prophet. Muslims also believe that Jesus never claimed He is God, and that the Holy Bible does not mention such a claim. As we are seeking the truth, let us delve into this subject, and examine the scriptural and theological basis for the divinity of Christ.
Did Jesus say that He is God?
YES- Jesus has clearly said that He is God. One of the most significant accusations against Jesus was that He called God His own Father, thus stating He is equal to God: The Jews answered Him, “we have a law, and according to that law He ought to die because He has claimed to be the Son of God” (John 19:7).
Moreover, in John 10:30, Jesus states, “The Father and I are one”, again affirming Himself as equal to God.
Whatever God has revealed to us about Himself in the Old Testament, Jesus says the same about himself in the New Testament. For example, Jesus says He is ‘the First and the Last’ (Rev. 1:17, 22:13) which God the Father calls Himself in Isaiah 44:6.
Jesus also commanded us to honour and worship Him just as we honour our Father God: “The Father judges no one but has given all judgement to the Son, so that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Anyone who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent Him” (John 5:22-23).
Additionally, He categorically ascertained that He is the Messiah and the Son of the Living God: “But He was silent and did not answer. Again the High Priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”, Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:61-62).
Did the Disciples know that Jesus is God?
The disciples did indeed know that Jesus is God; they believed that He was the Messiah. In Matthew 16:16, Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. Thomas the apostle proclaimed: “My Lord, and My God” (John 20:28).
Paul is another apostle who recognised and spoke boldly of Jesus as God. In the book of Titus 2:13, Paul refers to Jesus as “Our great God and Saviour”. He also states that before His incarnation, Jesus existed in the ‘form of God’. “Christ Jesus, who though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God, as something to be exploited” (Philippians 2:6).
Furthermore, when Paul speaks to the Colossians about Jesus, he informs them that Jesus is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe: “He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation, for in Him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers – all things have been created through Him and for Him. He Himself is before all things, and in Him all things hold together… For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Colossians 1:15-19).
In the book of Hebrews, it is written: “But in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, who He appointed heir of all things, through whom He also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being and He sustains all things by His powerful word” (Hebrews 1:2-3).
Did the Disciples worship Jesus during His earthly life?
In various moments of His earthly life, many people, including the Disciples, worshipped Jesus. If Jesus was just a prophet, and not God, He would have prevented them from doing so, but He never corrected them when they worshipped Him. Let us look closer at the numerous occasions mentioned in the Bible where this has happened.
Soon after His birth, Jesus was visited by three wise men, and ‘On entering the house, they saw
the child with Mary His mother, and they knelt down and paid Him homage” (Matthew 2:11). Even in the first few days of His earthly life, Jesus was worshipped.
Later, a man born blind, who received healing from Jesus, worshipped Jesus publicly. Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when He found him, he asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man? He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “you have seen Him and the one speaking with you is He”. He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshipped Him.” (John 9:35 – 38).
In the book of Matthew, when Jesus walked on water towards the Disciples, He proclaimed that He is the ‘I AM’, and as soon as He stepped onto the boat, the Disciples worshipped Him. ‘And those in the boat worshipped Him, saying, “Truly, You are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).
Even after His death, Jesus continued to be worshipped by the Disciples. Soon after His Resurrection, Jesus appeared to a few women, and they began worshipping Him: ‘Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings”. And they came to Him, took hold of His feet, and worshipped Him’ (Matthew 28:9). Again, just before the Ascension, the Disciples worshipped Jesus: “when they saw Him, they worshipped Him” (Matthew 28:17). “And they worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Luke 24:52).
In those days, kneeling and bowing before someone was considered to be an act of worship. John wrote, “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the Angel who showed them to me; but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (Revelations 22:8,9). There are many instances in the Bible where people knelt down and bowed before Jesus. Matthew 8:2, Matthew 9:18, Matthew 15:25, Matthew 20:20 and Mark 5:6.
Finally, the name of Jesus is ascribed much more significance than to just a prophet. The Bible states: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). If Jesus was just a prophet, His name would have been given the same importance as all the other prophets. However, as this is not the case, Jesus is someone greater.
The ‘I AM’ sayings of Jesus
God spoke to Moses from a burning bush and sent him to Egypt to save the Israelites. Moses worried that the people would want to know who had sent him, and therefore, he asked God what His name was. God answered, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). Hundreds of years later, the same words come from the lips of Jesus. He claimed to be the same Lord God who spoke to Moses, who was now speaking again. Thus, the “I AM” statements of Jesus are very important.
I AM He (John 4:26),
I AM the Bread of Life (John 6:25 – 51),
I AM the Light of the World (John 8:12),
I AM the Good Shepherd (John 10:1 1),
I AM the Life and the Resurrection (John 11:25),
I AM the Way, the truth and the Life (John 14:7),
I AM the True Vine (John 15:18),
I AM the Alpha and Omega (Revelations 1 :8)
BY FR JOSEPH EDATTU VC
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