- Lloyd Janzen
The Deity of Christ
Immediately after Jesus calmed the storm on the sea that had threatened to drown them, the disciples asked, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?" After they arrive safely on the shore, they are met by two men possessed by demons, and it is the demons who correctly answer the question the disciples had asked as "they cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, O Son of God?’"
The disciples understood that they were not in the presence of an ordinary man as the wind was immediately calmed, and the stormy sea turned instantly into a sea without a ripple. Likewise, the demons also knew they were not simply in the presence of an ordinary man but that the man who stood before them on the shore was the very Son of God, Jesus Christ.
There is no other man in all of history of which the question has so often been asked, "What sort of man is this?" All kinds of answers have been given throughout the ages to this question. The impact of His life continues to grow even today, yet there are many who try to explain away the truth about Him. Ironically, just as in Jesus' day, His own testimony is often not even considered by those who are looking to deny His deity. In the case of the Jewish leaders, they could not deny that the power He possessed was beyond any human power, so they discredited it by declaring that it was satanic power (Matt. 12:24). They accused Him of being insane (John 10:20) and being born illegitimately (John 8:41).
As we seek to answer the question, "What sort of man is this?" let us look at Jesus' own testimony as recorded in God's Word. Did He claim to be God in human flesh? Jesus often spoke of having existed in heaven before coming to the earth. He told the Jews, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. (John 8:23) He told His disciples in John 16:28, “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father." Jesus spoke of the glory which He had with His Father before the world existed in His high priestly prayer (John 17:5).
Furthermore, Jesus claimed to have the power to answer prayer (John 14:13-14) and to control people's eternal destinies (John 5:21-29). His authority extended over the divinely ordained Sabbath (Mark 2:28). Jesus acknowledged that God alone was to receive honor, yet He claimed He had the right to receive such honor (John 5:23). In Mark 2:5-11 Jesus explained to His opponents that He had the right to forgive sins, something that they correctly understood only God alone could do.
Jesus also called God's kingdom (Matt. 12:28), His kingdom (Matt. 13:41). He called God's elect (Rom. 8:33), His elect (Matt. 24:30-31). He called God's angels (Gen. 28:12), His angels (Matt. 13:41).
The Lord's favorite title for Himself was the "Son of Man" which clearly declared His humanity, but also speaks of His deity. Daniel 7:13-14 is where this title comes from, and in the context, the Son of Man is equal with the Ancient of Days—who is God the Father. At His trial, the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" And Jesus said, "I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven" (Mark 14:61-62).
He also called Himself the Son of God, and it was this claim that caused the Jewish authorities to accuse Him of blasphemy. It was also this very claim to be the Son of God that led the Jews to demand His death. When asked by Pilate as to the crime Jesus had committed, the Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God" (John 19:7). And as He hung on the cross, there were those who mockingly sneered, “He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if he delights in Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God'" (Matt. 27:43).
In answering the question, "what sort of man is this?" all the claims of Jesus point to one inescapable truth: Jesus Christ claimed to be God. Therefore, He could say, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30), and "He who sees me sees the One who sent me" (John 12:45).
If we deny that Jesus claimed to be God, we deny the historical truthfulness and accuracy of the gospel records themselves, and we are declaring ourselves to be a superior source of truth. We are saying that we know more about what was true two thousand years ago than the inspired eyewitnesses.
The claim by Jesus to be God incarnate confronts us all. There is no neutral position. You are either for or against Him as Jesus said, "He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me, scatters" (Luke 11:23). If you trust Him for who He is—God in human flesh—you will be saved from your sins through Him (Heb. 7:25). But if you believe Him to be anything other than He truly is, you will face His divine Judgment one day (Acts 10:38-42; 17:31).