Was Jesus God?
I keep seeing spam, or whatever it is, on my internet sports page about the topic “Is Jesus God?” It got me to think that I should ask those presumably in the know – Christians. So, here’s a little multiple choice questionnaire, just for Christians:
Question: Which of the following, if any, are correct?
- Jesus is God
- Jesus is the son of God
- Jesus is Yahweh
- Jesus is the messiah
- Jesus is the archangel Michael
- Jesus is a manifestation of God
According to varying Christian beliefs, it actually might be any one of them. That is, different Christian denominations have different beliefs with respect to Jesus. So, there basically isn’t any one right answer that reflects all Christian thinking. Every Christian denomination seemingly wants the right to define the Word of God their way, and their way only.
Aside: Islam holds that Jesus was a prophet and according to atheists… well, God doesn’t exist so it really doesn’t matter to them, now does it?
To confuse matters further, Judaism believes that Jesus wasn’t the long-awaited messiah prophesied by the Old Testament. The reason is that the Old Testament prophecies are actually prophecies from the Jewish Bible. You see, the Old Testament is, in reality, the Jewish Bible (the Tanakh). Jewish prophets wrote the prophecies and Jewish holy men said that Jesus did not fulfill their prophecies. So, these were not Christian prophecies but rather Jewish prophecies and the only messiah that anyone could have been expecting was a Jewish messiah. Actually, it would be hundreds of years before Christianity even became a religion.
The Jewish messiah was actually supposed to be both a messiah and a king, like King David who was considered to have been a messiah in his own right. In order to fulfill the messianic prophecies of the Tanakh (according to the Book of Isaiah), the following would have to occur:
- All the Jews in the world would have to return to the Holy Land.
- All the people in the world would have to worship the Jewish god.
- The messiah would have to restore the Kingdom of Israel (then ruled by foreign powers).
- The messiah would have to be named Immanuel.
With respect to the disciples, they were Jewish and they lived their lives strictly in accordance with the Torah. Therefore, they could only have been expecting a Jewish messiah. That’s why the disciples asked Jesus (see Acts 1:6), “…Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” They understood that this was potentially the fulfillment of one of the Jewish prophecies relating to the long-awaited Jewish messiah.
Of course, it never happened. Jesus did not restore the kingdom of Israel or fulfill any of the other prophecies for that matter. Even today, arguably three out of the four prophecies remain unfulfilled.
World-famous theologian Albert Schweitzer, in his seminal work The Quest for the Historical Jesus, pointed out that Jesus was supposed to return during the lifetime of the disciples (see Mark 13 and Matthew 24). For that reason, noted Christian apologist C.S.Lewis stated that Matthew 24:34 is the most embarrassing verse in the Bible.
The thing is…Jesus certainly would have returned as he promised the disciples…if he could have. Even in the Bible, they asked why Jesus did not return as promised.
“They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’”
– 2 Peter 3:4