Though it’s true that Jesus is truly human, we must make sure we don’t fall into the extreme and believe that Jesus was only human. Hence Batman.
BECAUSE I’M NOT BATMAN!
If you’re familiar with the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy, you’ll remember in Batman Begins there was a lot of talk about why Bruce Wayne decided to dawn a bat-suit. Bruce wasn’t bitten by a radio-active bat, he doesn’t come from the planet bat-ton, he doesn’t have wings. He’s just a man. His superpower is money. He trained as a martial artist. In Batman Begins, Laim Neeson’s Ra’s-al-Ghul explains to Bruce, “if you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can’t stop you, then you become something else entirely…Legend!” This is what some people think happened to Jesus. He was devoted to an idea, love your neighbour, He was a Jewish teacher and He became a legend, something bigger than the real thing. This legend grew over the decades until in the early 300s some men decided Jesus was actually God.
This was the crux of The DaVinci Code. It was the thrust of the 2014 book “How Jesus Became God” but it’s simply not true. The church always believed Jesus was God, the Apostles taught Jesus was God, Jesus proclaimed He was God. It didn’t just appear three centuries later.
Let’s do a little time travel:
100 years before the Council of Nicaea, ORIGEN wrote in 225AD, “No one should be offended that the Saviour is also God.”
Prior to that TERTULLIAN wrote in 207AD “We believe that God really lived on earth, and took upon him the low estate of human form, for the purpose of man’s salvation.”
Then, at the end of the second century, CLEMENT of Alexandria (Egypt) wrote in 195AD, “The Word itself, that is the Son of God, is one with the Father by equality of substance. He is eternal and uncreated.”
In 180AD a student of a student of the Apostle John, a man named IRENAEUS wrote a book called Against Heresies and said, “He indicates in clear terms that He is God… God, then, was made man, and the Lord did Himself save us.”
The Apostle Peter’s friend another guy called CLEMENT from Rome wrote in 120AD, “it is fitting that you should think of Jesus Christ as of God.”
And a student of the Apostle John, called IGNATIUS wrote to the church of Ephesus in 110AD, “God Himself was manifested in human form.”
Then the Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation about 10 years earlier and the rest of the New Testament before that.
All these early writings are free to find online, they are parts of letters to churches, to people or documents explaining the Christian faith. Note, the description of Jesus didn’t change over time. Jesus didn’t become more divine as the years passed by. They believed from the beginning. Because Jesus is God.
But more than that. It wasn’t just the early Church who said that Jesus is God; this is what was taught by Paul, and John and Peter; and by Jesus Himself. Throughout the gospels we read again and again that Jesus’ enemies, the Pharisees and Jewish leaders who hated Him, hated Him because He claimed to be God. This was the charge brought before the council at His arrest, this is why they tried to stone Him, this is why they had such a big problem with Him… Jesus claimed to be God. The disciples believe this, too. Thomas, doubting Thomas, when He sees Jesus alive again after His resurrection shouts out “My Lord and My God!” (John 20:28).
Let’s look at a passage together:
48 The Jews answered him, ‘Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?’
49 ‘I am not possessed by a demon,’ said Jesus, ‘but I honour my Father and you dishonour me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.’
52 At this they exclaimed, ‘Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?’
54 Jesus replied, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.’
57 ‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ they said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham!’
58 ‘Very truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
WHY DOES MATTER
If Jesus isn’t God, then it doesn’t matter. In fact: if He isn’t God, He can’t forgive our sins, we’re building up even more sins by offending God and worshipping another man. We’re doomed. But if Jesus is God, as He claimed, as was proclaimed from Pentecost, as has been faithfully taught for 2000 years of the church’s history, then that changes everything.
When King David saw Bathsheba and he wanted to sleep with her, he knew it was adultery, she was Uriah’s wife. When David got Bathsheba pregnant and tried to trick Uriah into thinking it was his, he knew it was a lie. When he sent letters back to the army to have Uriah killed, he knew it was murder. Who all had he sinned against? Uriah, Bathsheba, the general, Uriah’s family, and God. Yet in his Psalm of repentance he cries out to God, “Against you, and you only, have I sinned…” (Ps 51:4). It was ultimately God’s law David had broken, so it was against God he had sinned.
So when we sin, we are always sinning against God. And when Jesus comes and says “Son, your sins are forgiven.” The Pharisees jump up and down and say “NO! Only God can forgive sin!” It’s like this, if you kick him, and he’s hurt and I come over to you and say, ’I forgive you’ it doesn’t mean much does it? You hadn’t done anything against me. But if Jesus is God, and all sin is against God then Jesus can say, ‘I forgive you.’ Because Jesus is completely human, he can pay for our sin, because He’s one of us. But only if He’s God can He forgive us of our sin. Jesus taught a lot of good things, like love each other, forgive one another; a lot of difficult things like turn the other cheek, love your enemies and some really odd things if he was just a man, like this is my blood poured out for your sins.
If Jesus were just a man, He wouldn’t be a good man. He would be either deluded or a liar based on what He claimed. The church didn’t upgrade His status 300 years after His death and make Him divine. Jesus knew He was God, His disciples taught He was God and the church has always believed Jesus is God. He is the Lord, our God and is able to save us. To forgive us. To give us new life.
So Jesus is truly God. And Jesus is truly man. That means He is the only one qualified to pay for our sins (as a human) and forgive us of our sins (as God). If Jesus were not man, He would not be able to pay for our sin, and if He were not God He could not forgive us of our sin. He is the one mediator between God and man the godman, Jesus Christ.