John’s Emphasis Upon the Deity of Christ
Published Jan. 12, 2012 @ midnight
Every Gospel has a theme and each Gospel emphasizes one or another aspect of who Jesus is. In Matthew Jesus is the rightful King of the Jews. In Mark Jesus is a man of action. (Mark’s favorite word is “immediately".) In Luke Jesus is savior-redeemer. In John Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.
John’s emphasis upon the Deity of Christ begins with the very first words of the Gospel “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The use of the term “In the beginning” purposely takes us back to Genesis and God speaking all of creation into being. Through much of the last century scholars thought John’s use of the term “Logos” or “Word” was Greek in origin referring to the Stoic’s use of “logos” as the rational law of the universe. But further research (especially with the Dead Sea scrolls) makes it far more likely that John is using concepts from the Jewish religion of the first century. In those writings “Word” is personified much like “Wisdom” is personified in Proverbs 1:20.
The prologue (John 1:1-18) also contains a famous verse in 1:18 in which there is some debate. Many now believe that the correct reading for this verse is “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” There can hardly be a stronger argument that Jesus is the One and Only God come in the flesh.
John continues his emphasis upon the Deity of Christ through what many scholars call the “Book of Signs” that runs from chapter 2 through chapter 11 or 12. (Some place the discourse of 12 in with the Last Discourse of chapters 13-16) John does this in three ways. First, the signs (miracles) themselves point to Jesus’ deity. This is made clear in Jesus’ discourses with the Pharisees and Jewish leaders as He refers to the signs as reasons to believe that God has sent Him.
Secondly, John witnesses to Jesus’ teachings that everything He (Jesus) does is because He has seen the Father doing the same things first. Jesus further tells us that the Father is present in everything the Son accomplishes.
Finally, John tells us that Jesus is God by making Jesus the prime mover in everything that happens. Chapter 10 is especially insightful for us today. There Jesus tells the Pharisees that He has the right to lay down His life. No one can take His life from Him. Rather, He has the authority to lay down His life and the right to take it up again. This authority comes from the Father.
The Resurrection is the ultimate sign that Jesus is God. When Jesus walks among the Disciples He continues to reveal God to them through His resurrection. We see Thomas proclaiming “My Lord and My God” when Jesus appears to Him after Thomas has doubted the word of the other disciples. John is arguing that even if you don’t believe the miracles or the teachings of Jesus at least have faith in Jesus because of the sign of His resurrection.
All of this continues to impact us today. If Jesus is just a man His teachings and His life serve only as a bold example of moral behavior. But if Jesus really is God then there is power and life beyond what the world offers to us. For this reason many who have come to their wits end have found faith in Jesus Christ through reading the Gospel of John. They have learned that real life is beyond their own power. They come to know real life when they believe that God has really come for them in the person of Jesus Christ. Can you believe this as well?