Loud are the voices of those who attempt to prove that the New Testament authors never thought of Jesus as anything more than a great human being. Louder still are those who claim that He never thought of Himself as God. Though it is true that there is nowhere recorded an incident of Jesus calling down lighting from Heaven in a display of, “check me out; I’m God!,” there is a great deal of attestation throughout the New Testament, and the Gospels specifically, to His Divine nature.
In seeking to make a case for the Divinity of Jesus strictly from the Scriptural record, it is, perhaps, difficult to know where to begin. In so many ways and in so many places, Jesus proved Himself to be no mere man. However, many of the Old Testament prophets performed great feats, 1 and even pagan priests were known to produce marvels. 2What makes Jesus different? Is it enough to begin from a place of miracle working?
When using the miracles of Jesus as a spring-board for proving His Divinity, it seems best to begin with one specific incident: the calming of the storm.
“One day Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.’ So they got into a boat and started out. As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger. The disciples went and woke Him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’ When Jesus woke up, He rebuked the wind and the raging waves. The storm stopped and all was calm! Then He asked them, ‘Where is your faith?’ The disciples were terrified and amazed. ‘Who is this Man?’ they asked each other. ‘When He gives a command, even the wind and waves obey Him!’” 3
This passage, along with its parallels in Mark and Matthew, has been used in many instances to provide encouragement for the believer; the Lord is going to take care of things. While this is certainly true, it does not seem to be the point of the incident. Though it is good to remember that “the Sea of Galilee. . .is even today the scene of fierce storms. . .their peril was real,” 4 the linch-pin is found in Jesus’ question: where is your faith?
Indeed, where does faith even begin? “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the earth.” 5 These opening words of Scripture may well serve as the first key in defining faith. There is a God and He created. This means that the forces of nature are never outside the bounds of His control; He does not sit idly by. Jesus’ calming of the storm and His questioning of the disciples force them to address the question of Who He is. “In the Old Testament, it is Yahweh alone who has the power to still the raging tempests of the sea (Jonah 1-2; Ps. 104:7; Ps. 107:23-32).” 6
“Who determined [the earth’s] dimensions and stretched out the surveying line?” 7 The answer? “I AM.” 8 The LORD, revealed from the dawn of time to the whirlwind of Job, from the burning bush to the visions of Ezekiel; the all-sufficient, self-existent One. He became “Immanuel. . .God with us,” 9 and demonstrated His mighty power over the storm. Only He has the ability, with one word, to calm the raging sea.
Perhaps a far more interesting way in which Jesus showed His Divine nature occurred at the time of His betrayal and arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. In John 18:5, Jesus asks the assembled soldiers and officials just who it is that they are looking for. “Jesus of Nazareth,” they respond. Now, to our ears, Jesus’ answer of “I am he” doesn’t sound like much. Young’s Literal version of this passage reveals, however, that the pronoun “he” was inserted into the text when it was being translated from Greek to English; it wouldn’t make sense for English-speaking readers to have Jesus say “I am.”
This is, apparently, exactly what He did say, however – and this has enormous implications. Verse 6 states that, after Jesus had responded to them, the whole of the crowd fell flat to the ground. Why is that? Jesus, in answering “I am,” dared to utter the ineffable, covenant Name of God, YHWH. The holiest of holy names in Jewish theology. Yet, instead of picking up stones to kill Him, as they did in various other places when He asserted too close a kinship with the Father (see John 10), they all end up knocked to the ground.
Dare this suggest that the Name carries some weight when spoken by its owner?
I submit to you that it does.
Today I am pondering on the Divine nature of Jesus for many reasons, but most of all because I’m frightened over something. I don’t yet wish to reveal the nature of this anxiety, because I don’t yet know if I truly have anything to be anxious about. (And, yes, I do know that the Bible teaches me not to worry. I’m not perfect). It is all very premature, but I still ponder just what it is that He might do for me. I firmly believe that the Lord delivers all of His own through trials; that it is simply the end result that we don’t always understand or expect.
Oh, my Jesus, you understand because You were a human being like me. You know what it is to be assaulted by temptation and fears. Yet, You are also the Holy God, the Self-Sufficient and Forever Existing One. My mind is occupied with You, but cannot fully understand You. My heart loves You, but not enough. Oh, my Jesus, You are an enigma and a transparency. How can this be?
Jesus was – and is – Divine. He is mighty and all-powerful, but He came to walk upon this earth as a nobody. He wasn’t even physically attractive (see Isaiah 53:1-2). Yet, He draws me. A man I have never seen, and He draws me like no other. Somehow I think His beauty must be incomparable.
Over and over I come back to this Jesus. I come back to this consideration of His nature. He is the wholeness and essence of truth. Of love. He is the only real assurance and hope of completion that any of us have. To my worried soul, He will bring peace. He can related and He can teach me how to respond properly. The God-Man.
The best way to describe Jesus?
Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed! – Psalm 85:10 (NKJV)
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1 See Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 17-19.
2 Ex. 7:10-12.
3 Lk. 8:22-25.
4 Luke 8:22 Commentary. Life Application Study Bible, New Living Translation. (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 2004), 1998.
5 Gen. 1:1.
6 Craig L. Blomberg. Jesus and the Gospels: an Introduction and Survey. (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2009), 311.
7 Job 38:4a, 5
8 Mark 14:62a.
9 Matt. 1:23b.