The Deity of Christ (Part 3)
At the end of our last article we looked at Matt.26:63 – 66. I noted that in verse 63 the high priest asked Jesus to plainly state if he was the Christ; a title by which He also synonymously is known as the Son of God! And as if that were not enough, add to the mix the term “Son of Man” which also unequivocally joins the other two aforementioned terms. I’m going to spend a little time in an attempt in this my third article to show that these terms are synonymous and are a clear claim by Jesus that He was in fact divine! Let’s look at a portion of scripture that bears out this fact. Notice if you will, the question put forth to Jesus by Caiaphas the high priest.
“…the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! 66 What do you think? They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.”
Many never really dissect or grasp the full ramifications of the proposed question asked of Jesus, or the strength of His retort! No doubt they wanted Him to admit to them if He was claiming to in fact be the Christ, the Son of God! This shows us unequivocally that the terms “Christ” and “the Son of God” were synonymous with one another! This is missed by many, and as if that were not enough, there is also another term that is also directly tied in with the other two titles. We find it revealed in His answer! He uses the term “Son of Man” (It is used about 81 times in the Gospels.) to equate, and admit, that he was in fact the Christ, the Son of God!
The high priest asked Jesus if He was the Christ, the Son of God? The response of Jesus was, “It is as you said.” He went on to then say that He was the “Son of Man” whom Jesus said they would see sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven. For this He was accused of blaspheme! Notice here again that the question from the high priest is put forth to Jesus, are you the “Christ”, “the Son of God”? And Jesus says “I Am” Ἐγώ εἰμι = the name of God given to Moses at the burning bush! (Ex.3:14) Then turns their “Son of God” as a synonym for “Son of Man”!!! No wonder they accused Him of blasphemy! They did not believe Him!
60 “And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” 61 But He kept silent and answered nothing.
Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
62 Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? 64 You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?”
And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.”
Mark 14:60-64 (NKJV)
When we view Mark’s account the only difference is the term ‘Son of God” is exchanged for “Son of the Blessed”! Before I continue to expound upon these synchronistic terms and titles; I first would like to take the time to look at another word phrasing found in Matt.26:63. I think it’s very important to our study, and a fact that you will find very interesting and useful in your apologetics.
Interestingly enough in Matthew’s account of Jesus being questioned by Caiaphas the high priest, we see the term or comment, “if you are” the Christ, the Son of God. (Matt.26:63) Here below I have it listed that part of the verse for you. Underneath it I’ve to get the English word for word equivalent of the Greek.
εἴπῃς εἰ σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ
say/tell if you are the Christ the son of the God
What I find truly elucidating about that phrase “if you are” is that we find and read of it being used by the apostle Peter. Peter in a questioned response put forth to challenge a claim made by Jesus, uses this exact phrase! It’s in a very well-known Bible story where Jesus claimed to be God! Unfortunately both the claim made by Jesus; and peters exact word for word question is hidden and missed because of poor translation! It’s the story of when He walked upon the Sea of Galilee!
The actual Greek is “εἰ σὺ εἶ” This exact phrase is only used 4 other times in the New testament. Those instances are found in Matt.14:28 (Which as you are about to see, is translated incorrectly) Lk.23:37 & 39 and in Jn.10:24. I’m sure all are familiar with this story where the disciples are in a boat about four and a half miles out to sea. Walking on the water Jesus comes to His disciples, and His disciples think they see a ghost. Eventually they come to realize that it’s Jesus ; and as everybody knows Peter eventually walks on the water as well. Peter’s walking on the water was actually a sign pointing to a particular truth. I actually believe that the truth is missed because of poor translation! The truth that Matthew is pointing out in this story is that Jesus is claiming to be God!
What I want to share with you is how this story is really a proof text of Jesus manifesting his true identity as God to His apostles. It is a fascinating and remarkable story where Jesus in fact makes one of His many claims to be God, but you would miss it if you are not looking at the Greek text! Most versions have it rendered something like this. I will use the NKJV since that’s the Bible I use. All English Bible versions read something similar to this:
Matt. 14:26-28 (NKJV)
26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
First of all he didn’t say, “Be of good cheer!” Nor did He say. “It is I” also when Peter answered Him, he did not say, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
Here is the actual word for word Greek I have broken down and listed for you below:
εὐθὲως δὲ ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων,
immediately but spoke to them the Jesus saying
Θαρσεῖτε ἐγώ εἰμι μὴ φοβεῖσθε ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ αὐτῷ
Take courage I Am not fear answering and him
ὁ Πέτρος εἰπεν Κύριε εἰ σὺ εἶ, κέλευσόν με πρὸς
the Peter said Lord if You are, command me toward
σὲ ἐλθεῖν ἐπὶ τὰ ὕδατα
you come upon the water
The truth to be grasped in this story is that Jesus walking upon the water comes to them saying “take courage, I AM; not fear (or: not be afraid).” He used the Divine title of God as given to Moses when he was before Him at the burning bush! (Ex.3:14) He used it and applied it to Himself. If you remember, when God appeared to Moses at the burning bush He stated that this would be his name forever! (Ex.3:15) the truth is plain and clear! Jesus was at the burning Bush! It was Jesus who appeared to Moses and revealed to Moses His divine name! Now forever and ever as this story is read and reread, we all, like the Apostles are faced with accepting or denying the claim made by Jesus! He reveals Himself and His divine name walking upon the water in this story.
Here in Matthew’s version of the story; Peter questions the Lord! Peter’s immediate response is not the watered down (pardon my pun) response we have recorded in our many Bible versions saying: “If it is You” command me to come upon the water. Peter literally asked “If You are” (God) then command me to come to you walking upon the water! Let me again point out to you that Peter responds to Jesus with a question as well as a challenge asking, “IF YOU ARE” then command me to come to you upon the water! He is questioning Jesus’ claim by saying in effect, “if you are God, then command me to come towards you to also walk upon the water”!
I can almost certainly understand the thought process that might have been taking place in the mind of Peter and the rest of the apostles! I could be wrong, but think that the reasoning would certainly be similar to something like this: Peter was thinking to himself, Surely to be able to make a man walk on the water (As You yourself are doing!) would not be something to hard for you to do, if you are in fact – God! Peter in total awe and shock sees Jesus walking on water something that he had never seen before! Something that no man has ever done before, and now added to this miraculous phenomenon, this man is now claiming to be divine by using the title of God Himself! Wow! Think about that for a few minutes! Peter quickly blurts out, “if you are” command me toward you come upon the water!(Keeping the word for word Greek rendering.)
This is truly missed by our poor translations of the Greek text! Furthermore, the true lesson to be learned in this story is the fact that Jesus allowing Peter to walk towards Him on the water was proof positive that Jesus was who He just claimed He was – The Great I Am! Jesus literally said “take courage, I Am God, and Peter responded by saying –if you are – then command me to walk on the water. We all know the rest of the story – Peter walked upon the water! Why? It’s simply, because Jesus was who He claimed to be – God!
… ὁ Πέτρος περιεπάτησεν ἐπὶ τὰ ὕδατα ἐλθεῖν πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν…
The Peter walked upon the water to come towards the Jesus (VS.29)
Notice the immediate response when Jesus got into the boat! (VS.33)
οἱ δὲ ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ ἐλθόντες προσεκύνησαν λέγοντες
them but in the boat coming worshiped saying
Ἀληθῶς θεοῦ υἱὸς εἶ
Truly of God son are
Now please take particular notice here in Matt.14:33 that as they worshiped Jesus they stated that truly He was the Son of God! That is very important to see! You may be asking yourself, what is so significant about that? It’s simply because, to be the Son of God was to be fully equal to being God! We have clearly noted that in our previous studies! It is also found in John chapter five:
“Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.”
We know for a fact that the belief of being the “Son of Man” which is a reference to Dan.7:13 is the same as being the Christ, or in effect the Son of God. (All three terms were synonymous to being deity and a reference to the coming Messiah!) Furthermore, the Jewish leaders understood this to be the case! I think it’s real easy to establish the fact that the Jews equated Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God as blaspheme! Jesus was in fact claiming full equality with the Father, not as the Father, (That is Unitarianism.) but as equally God! Here is a scripture I think makes this point very clear!
“The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”
Clearly this Scripture shows us that at the very least a good majority believed that the Messiah which is a Hebrew term which meant anointed, or the Christ was to remain forever! They associated the term “The Son of Man” to be a title of the Christ! Did they believe that Christ was God? In all honestly, some did not, but many did! You can’t remain forever unless you are God! Pretty darn simple isn’t it? (Messiah is the Hebrew whereas the term ‘Christ’ which is the Greek means the same. In the Septuagint the word for “Messiah” or “annointed” Mašíaḥ is replaced by the Greek word Χριστός – Khristós)
John 5:18 (NKJV)
“Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.”
The term “Son of Man” seems to confuse many. We certainly know that Jesus used it in reference to his humanity. In this we see and realize that it is a term of humility and servitude. (Mk.10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. Also see Phil.2:5-11) 88 times in the New Testament this term is used in reference to Jesus. A very important meaning of the phrase “Son of Man” is found in Dan.7:13-14! It is a term associated with the Christ. Michael Miano quickly and rightly pointed that scripture out on a recent discussion where he invited me as a guest on his Miano Gone Wild radio show to discuss the Deity of Christ!
“I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.”
So with this in mind, let’s look at a few scriptures. I want to start with Lk.22:67-71 in this portion of Jesus being questioned by the Sanhedrin they ask him to tell them if He is the “Christ” (vs.67) Jesus tells them that if He answers (In the affirmative) they will not believe Him nor let Him go. But He answers they anyway by saying:
“Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.”
Now notice their response! “Then they all said, “Are You then the Son of God?” (vs.70)
Do you see that they (The Sanhedrin) associated both these terms to mean the same thing? And Jesus’ response of course it that He is! (This shows us that their understanding and defining of these terms was full equality with the Father! Plainly stated, it was equivalent to making Himself equal with God. Let’s briefly look at it again and breakdown Mathew’s account (Matt.26:63 – 66) In verse 63 they (Actually the high priest) asked Him:
“I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
And what was the immediate response?
65 “Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! 66 What do you think? They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.”
Again to be the Christ is equal to being the Son of God! To be the son of Man is equal to be the Christ, which of course is to also be equal to being the Son of God, which is considered to be a claim meaning to be equal to God! This claim of Jesus was understood by them as blasphemy, and so they pronounced a sentence against Him saying that He, only being a man, was deserving of death!
Again this dualistic terminology points to the same end, that the terms “Christ”, “Son of Man”, and “Son of God” all pointed to equality with the Father!
Notice here again that the question from the high priest is put forth to Jesus, are you the “Christ”, “the Son of God”? And Jesus says “I Am” Ἐγώ εἰμι = the name of God given to Moses at the burning bush! (Ex.3:14) Then turns their “Son of God” as a synonym for “Son of Man”!!! No wonder they accused Him of blasphemy! They did not believe Him!
Jn. 18:3-6 (NKJV)
Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. 4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”
“ They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. 6 Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.”
Of course the word “He” in our Bibles here is italicized. That’s because it’s supplied and it’s not in the original Greek. The Greek is simply ἐγώ εἰμι. My question now would be, what in the world would cause this detachment of soldiers to fall back to the ground? Was it that He was just making a simplistic statement saying, “Hey, it’s me”; “I’m here”, “I Am here, just a human, come get me.” No it was the power of the great name of God as revealed in Jesus the Christ!
Anyway, we are going to stop here for this article. Until the next article, I hope this helps those who were not sure of this term and now provides another strong tool in your arsenal for defending the deity of Jesus! God bless you all!
© Joe Daniels
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