WDJD: Jesus Shared in the Attributes of God

WDJD: Jesus Shared in the Attributes of God August 19, 2022

 

Jesus is God. At least that is what we as Christians believe. We believe that Jesus is God incarnate. He is the Jewish Messiah who came to reconcile us to the just and holy God, taking on the iniquity of human beings on a Roman cross and rising from the dead 3 days later. But wait.

Do we have good reasons to believe that Jesus is God? Did Jesus see himself as God or divine? Or did he only see himself as a mere human being?

 

Clap Your HANDS

In this series I am building the case for Jesus’ divinity by looking at the HANDS acronym. In the first article, I laid out the importance of the question “Who is Jesus?” for the Christian life and dove into the HANDS acronym, explaining how it can be helpful when remembering the case for Jesus’ divinity. For more information on this, check out the book Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Divinity of Christ.

In the second article we took a deeper dive into Jesus receiving honor and praise as God. Each time someone came and bowed in reverence or actively worshipped Him, Jesus never responded negatively. In fact, Jesus seemed to welcome such honor. First century Jews would have known the type of claim they were making by worshipping Jesus as Yahweh. They were making a huge bet that Jesus was in fact God, the one worthy of worship.

 

He Shares in the Attributes of God

In this article, I want to briefly show instances where Jesus is presented as sharing in the attributes of God, specifically His eternality and omniscience. And so here is our question for the day:

Did Jesus see Himself as eternal and all-knowing?

This question matters for a couple of reasons:

First, if Jesus was not eternal, then He couldn’t be God. God by necessity is an eternal being in that due to time, space, and matter coming into existence at a single point, the one who would have caused this to happen would necessarily be eternal. If Jesus is eternal or at least claims to be eternal, then we have reason to think that Jesus believed Himself to be God.

What’s more is that Mormons, Muslims, Atheists, and others do not believe Jesus is eternal for their own reasons. If Jesus is divine, then they are wrong. And if Jesus is not divine, then we Christians are wrong. That’s simply how truth works.

Second God being outside of time and space would cause Him to know all things that would occur and will occur. Does Jesus show himself to possess such knowledge? If he does, then he is sharing in the knowledge of God. So, let’s look at a couple of passages that may point to this.

 

Open Your Bibles Please

Our First Passage will show Jesus’ self-perceived eternality. Check it out:

“‘No,’ Jesus said, ‘I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father—and you dishonor me. And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’

 The people said, ‘Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’  Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?’

 Jesus answered, ‘If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him.  Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.’

The people said, ‘You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?’

 Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am!’ At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.”

-John 8: 48-59

 

What Do We See?

This passage takes place as part of a long discourse between him and other Jews in the Temple. Within this discourse, Jesus claims that unless the people believe in Him, they will die in their sins, claims to be the Son of Man, states that anyone who sins is a slave to sin and that only the Son can set you free, and calls the people slaves of the devil in which they retort that they are children of Abraham and accuse Jesus of being demon-possessed. It is quite a dramatic episode and I recommend you read it yourself if you have a minute.

However, I want to focus in on the last couple of sentences in this passage.

 

“The people said, ‘You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?’

Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am!’ At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.”

 

The Eternal Claim of Jesus

Why did the people pick up stones? Was Jesus simply saying “I am” as a ‘I am who I am’ statement? Or was He pointing to something more.

If you remember, in previous articles I touched on the idea that Jesus shares in the name of Yahweh (which we will dive deeper into later in this series). For Him to do this would be blatant blasphemy if he were incorrect. And for Him to accept worship and honor as Yahweh, then it would warrant a death penalty if He were wrong to do so.

Building up to this moment, the people have a slew of questions and retorts about who Jesus is claiming to be. They even accuse him of being possessed by a demon. Amidst this dialogue, Jesus makes a startling claim which seems to be 2-fold:

  1. Jesus was there before the patriarch, Abraham, was born
  2. Jesus is again affiliating Himself with Yahweh. The I Am portion of this statement is a direct reference to the Holy name of Yahweh.

 

Yahweh/Jesus the Eternal

It is difficult to get around the importance of what Jesus is saying here. Amidst a heated crowd, Jesus claims to have existed before Abraham even existed. In doing so, He is not only claiming to have been in existence 1,400+ years before His physical body was born, but His tying in with the Holy Name of God is a claim to divine status. Jesus is essentially saying: I was there before Abraham. I called to Abraham. I was there through the rest of the lives of the patriarchs. I saw when Alexander the Great and the Romans came barreling through. I was there at the exile. I spoke to Moses at the burning bush. I am the Lord. I was the cloud by day and the fire by night. I AM.

 

This startling claim caused the people to…do what exactly? What someone who is condemning a blasphemer in 1st century Palestine would do: they attempt to stone Him.

 

Our Second and Third Passage

Let’s do a quick drive-by of 2 other passages that show Jesus’ omniscience. Check out these 2 passages:

 

As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings. But he responded, ‘Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!’”

-Matthew 24: 1-2

Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.”

But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

-Luke 5: 20-24

 

The Destroyed Temple

The first passage is Jesus predicting that the Temple would be destroyed. Now keep in mind the grandeur of the Temple built by Herod. This Temple took 46 years to build. It was easily one of the grandest buildings to have existed. It would have challenged the Athenian Acropolis and even the Pyramids in beauty and splendor. This Temple would have easily been considered a world wonder. It could have been seen from anywhere in the city, with gold plated columns that reflected the light from the sun. What’s more is that this is supposed to be where the Spirit of Yahweh dwelled. Ancient relics of which are lost to us today were held here: Aaron’s rod, manna from the exodus, and the stone tablets of which The Law was written.

The disciples are sight-seeing, pointing out how grand the buildings are. They walking around probably the greatest structure to be built next to the other great monuments of the world. I can imagine the conversation going something like this:

The disciples: “Jesus! Look at all of these giant buildings. Isn’t this super grand!”

Jesus: “Sorry to tell you kiddos, but this magnificent structure is coming down soon.”

 

Hyperbole or Specific Prophecy?

Now it would be easy to say that this is just a moment where Jesus is using hyperbole. Of course, he often spoke in parables and said things like “I am the door”, I am the gate” and “This is my body and blood”. Could this be another instance of hyperbole or another literary device?

If it weren’t for the way of which it would no longer stand toward the end. “Not one stone will lay on top of the other” he says. This seems oddly specific. Afterall. Considering how grand this structure was and how much work went into building it we could imagine how sturdy it was. Even more so, if the Romans had gotten mad at the Jews one day, they would have sought to turn it into a temple to their own gods instead of destroying it. However, despite going against all odds, we know from history that the temple was in fact destroyed as Jesus predicted.

During the gory and brutal siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Temple was accidently set on fire in the midst of the siege. The Roman soldiers receiving orders to extinguish the flames instead added to the scorching heat as they were excited about how high the flames were getting. Roman soldiers wished to get at the gold and other riches that were in temple; there was much to be had. The soldiers literally turned over every rock and checked every corner and cranny, searching for loot. At the end of a couple of days, the soldiers had pricked and prodded apart every stone for gold and other treasures. Could we blame them?

 

The Thought Answerer

I wear my emotions on my face. It’s so bad that sometimes my wife needs to remind me to look cordial in public if something happens that I don’t necessarily agree with. In other words, my “I think this is stupid” face is obvious sometimes. Yet, my wife knows me enough to be able to ‘read my mind’ that something is off.

This isn’t necessarily what is going on here. As Jesus is forgiving sins, we can imagine that the monotheistic, only God can forgive sins crowd is having some nasty looks. But Jesus isn’t asking how they feel or what they are thinking.

He isn’t merely checking in to see if they are ok or telling them to stop looking weird.

He is answering their thoughts literally. This type of knowledge is one that only God would have. If God is all-knowing, then He knows EVERYTHING. He knows what will happen tomorrow, the score of Superbowl 75, the final demise of every culture on the planet, and… He would know our thoughts. Jesus is claiming to have this knowledge.

 

Conclusion

Throughout the Gospels, we have seen instances where Jesus claims to be Yahweh. He willingly receives honor and praise as if to Yahweh and He even takes on some of the attributes of Yahweh. We must understand that there are moments where Jesus is “unable” to do something. This can be chalked up to His human nature, as Jesus on earth was 100% divine and 100% human.

Jesus sharing in the worship of Yahweh and the attributes of Yahweh are huge parts of the case for why we believe Jesus is divine. The Gospel writers are taking down notes that would go against everything they would have previously believed. Yet this isn’t all they wrote about. The case for Jesus extends into Him sharing in the very name of Yahweh Himself, something that would be considered as blasphemy. This is something that we have touched on briefly in the past and is something we will dive into more in our next article.


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