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The Face of Grace

Pencil sketch by JC Chambers

Part fourteen in a study of God's grace from the book of John.

Did Jesus claim to be God?

“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven — the Son of Man.” John 3:13

We live in a time when absolute truth is frowned upon. Culturally, we like to think that many roads lead to God; that religious figures are more or less equal.

Jesus doesn’t leave room for an “it-doesn’t-matter-who-you-have-faith-in” spirituality. He doesn’t allow other religious figures to stake a claim to His throne. He said that He “came from heaven.” His claims are exclusive He claimed to be God.

Hundreds of years before Jesus’ came to earth, the prophet Daniel had a vision in which he saw, “one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him.” Daniel 9:13-14

Jesus claimed to be God when He claimed to be “the Son of Man.”

Jesus claimed to be this divine ruler . . . the one to whom the “authority to judge” had been given. “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.” John 5:26-27

Jesus claimed to be God when He claimed to be “the Son of the Blessed One.”

When the high priest asked Him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”, Jesus’ response was direct. “I am,” said Jesus.” Mark 14:61-62

The response of the high priest leaves no doubt as to what Jesus’ claims mean. “The high priest tore his clothes. “'hy do we need any more witnesses?”'he asked. “'ou have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?'" They all condemned him as worthy of death.” Mark 14:63-64

Because Jesus claimed to be God, we’re left with few belief options.

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” –C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity

This might seem like a sterile theological debate, but much more is at stake. If Jesus is who He claims to be, then many in our day harbor misconceptions about God.

God is frequently characterized as being too pure to be in the presence of sin. This doesn’t fit the image Jesus gives us. He didn’t have problems with those who authentically expressed their struggles with sin. He had problems with those who hypocritically suppressed these struggles. He had far more problems with the self-righteous than with the unrighteous.

God is frequently characterized as being a God of wrath and anger who judges sin. This doesn’t fit the image Jesus creates either. While encouraging faith to be expressed in merciful acts and loving service, Jesus discouraged arrogance and judgment.

Jesus judged the judgmental. He encouraged the merciful.

Jesus reveals what God is like.

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