Is Jesus Divine?
By Warren Mueller –
In John 14:28, Jesus says “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you. If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” The divinity of Jesus is sometimes questioned based on the meaning of “the Father is greater than I.” These meanings were the subject of a debate about the divinity of Jesus known as Arianism. Arius was an elder in the church of Alexandria who lived between 250-336AD. Arius wrote that the Son “is a perfect creature, yet not as one among other creatures; a begotten being yet not as one among other beings.” From this it appears that Arius thought that Jesus was a special creature compared to humans. A key controversial concept about Jesus being a creature versus God revolves around the term “begotten.”
John 3:34-37 says that Jesus is one sent from God who speaks the words of God and has been given the spirit of God without limit. The Father has given Jesus authority over everything such that Jesus has the power to reconcile sinful men to God. The prophets spoke the words of God and were considered to be filled by the spirit of God while doing so but nowhere does the Bible say that anyone received the spirit of God without limit. This implies that Jesus has all of the spirit of God which would not be possible for a creature to attain. Also, the Jews were offended by Jesus and considered it blasphemy when he claimed the power to forgive sins as this was something only God could do (Luke 5:22-24 NIV).
In John 10:30 Jesus claims to be “one” with the Father. The Jews present pick up stones to kill Jesus because they clearly understood that Jesus claimed to be God. In verses 33-38, Jesus says he is the Son of God; that he has been sent by the Father and that the miracles he performs prove that “the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” He says that even though there are other humans that are sons of God, he clearly distinguishes himself as unique which further enrages them because they understand him to say that he is God.
Jesus knew his purpose was to die on the cross; that he and the Father would be glorified by his death; that the power of the devil or prince of the world would be broken by his death and that the Father accepts and honors those who follow Jesus. Jesus is God and offered him-self as a sin sacrifice once for mankind. If Jesus is a creature, he would have to make innumerable offerings as did the Jewish priests. Hebrews 10:10 says that “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
In John 14:10, Jesus is astounded by Philip’s request for Jesus to show the Father to the disciples. He tells Philip that “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. So how can you say, Show us the Father?” He then again says that the Father is living in him and that he says and does precisely what the Father is doing. This only makes sense if Jesus and the Father are one God.
Christians worshipped Jesus as God for over two hundred years before Arius questioned his divinity. The evidence for Arianism is limited to verses that use the words “begotten” and that the Father is “greater” than Jesus. There are multiple meanings for the Greek words “begotten” and “greater” that can support either view so we must look to other verses in the Bible to help us decide the best meanings of these words. There are many verses in the Bible that support the view that Jesus is God while there are none that clearly support the idea that Jesus is a creature so it is apparent that the Arian view is false. Therefore, Jesus must have meant that, while Jesus was on earth, he was lesser in position not different in essence with the Father.
“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, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness and found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phillipians 2:5-8 NIV).