Jesus made some strange claims. What to make of them? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
We’re looking at the topic of the resurrection now and what difference it makes. We’ve made the point in our introduction that there is something different about the resurrection of Jesus. If all we had was the resurrection of Lazarus, well that would be nice, but we would not have a new religion. We have one because Jesus rose again. For many Christians, the resurrection is a demonstration of the deity of Christ, but is that all? Even if it is, how does that work?
Throughout the gospels, one finds Jesus making great claims about Himself. There will not be an exhaustive list here, but He claims to have the power to forgive sin, He claims to be Lord of the Sabbath, He claims that your response to Him will be what determines your final destiny, He interprets the Law of Moses by His own authority, and claims to have a unique relationship to YHWH unlike anyone else. Jesus was not explicit with His claims in a modern sense, but His claims were easily understood by His audience.
It was these claims along with actions like the cleansing of the temple that led to the crucifixion of Jesus. Let’s pause to see what the crucifixion in itself would say about Jesus. To the Roman world, it would say that Jesus was someone who was opposed to Caesar and died for it. For the Jewish world, it would mean that Jesus was one who was opposed to YHWH and died as a blasphemer to Him. Thus, Jesus was wrong whichever way He turned. He could not please the Romans and He could not please the Jews.
Did God agree with that decision?
The resurrection is God’s way of saying “No!” It is giving the stamp of approval to the life of Jesus. In resurrecting His Son from the dead, God showed that Jesus was truly who He claimed to be and He has the authority to make those kinds of judgments. Now we will get later on in another post as to the kind of body Jesus rose in and what a difference that makes, but for now, let it just be stressed that the act of resurrecting Jesus was a reversal of the claims of His opponents. In biblical language, God vindicated Jesus.
What this means for us today is that the claims of Jesus are to be taken with an emphatic seriousness. In no other person has God spoken in such a way and to such great claims. He was not, to use the trilemma, someone who was insane or someone who was the devil out of Hell. He really was and is the rightful king of this world.
What has this to do with deity? It means that Jesus’s claim to have that authority in Himself is backed. Now I do believe it is a mistake to go to the gospels thinking that these were only written to show that God walked among us. They do show that, but they also show more than that and we dare not miss out on the whole because we are fixated with a part. We know that God has acted in Jesus by the resurrection as in resurrecting Jesus, God also upholds His own honor. God sees someone speaking with this kind of authority and says “Yes. That one is right. He speaks for me.” This is not something adoptionist by the way for those who are concerned. This is just recognition. Jesus speaks for God perfectly because He only perfectly embodies the nature of God.
We can often spend so much time looking at the deity of Jesus that we can miss the message of Jesus and realize that that message is right. The first lesson we need to learn then is that Jesus was, nay, IS right.