Christmas Fundamentals: The Deity of Jesus

My favorite version of the story of Jesus’ birth is the one found in John 1. I know John’s gospel doesn’t say anything about Mary, Joseph, inns, shepherds and all the other features that make for such great seasonal decorations. I love John 1 because of the massive theology conveyed in such an incredibly brief section. In fourteen verses, John conveys the deity of Christ, His power as Creator, His Messianic role, His salvation of men and His revelation of God to mankind. John’s argument in those first fourteen verses is very straightforward. The Word is God, in the Word is life and light, the Word became flesh and lived among men. The rest of the book of John unfolds the life and death of the Word giving evidence to support the claim that Jesus is God the Son. As we think of Jesus this season, we must think upon His deity.

If Jesus was not God, this entire holiday is a waste of every one’s time and money. If Jesus is not God, we might as well celebrate the birth of Santa Clause, revel in the resurrection of the thanksgiving turkey and wait expectantly for the second coming of the Easter bunny. The Bible plainly states that Jesus is God. During His earthly ministry Jesus made clear claims to Godhood. John’s gospel records several such claims. In John 8:58, Jesus claims to be eternally existent and takes for himself the name of God. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” The claim to have existed before Abraham is bold, but the the application of the Divine name, “I AM” to Himself is a claim of Deity. It is the same as if I was to travel into a Muslim country and say, “I am Allah.” The Jews understood Christ to be taking to Himself the name of God given to Moses at the burning bush. From Moses’ day onward the name “I AM” became the primary name by which the Jews knew God. By saying, “Before Abraham was, I Am” Jesus was declaring that He existed before Abraham, that He spoke to Moses from the burning bush and that He is the God of the Jews. In John 9:35-37, Jesus told the formerly blind man that He is the Son of God. In John 10:31 Jesus made an even more clear claim to Deity. He said, “I am my Father are one.” Every Jew present understood exactly what Christ was saying. Jesus was claiming equality with God the Father and consequently He was claiming to be God. In response to His claim the Jews began picking up stones to stone him. Jesus asked them for which good work they were stoning Him. The Jews response was that they were not stoning Him for good works, but “because that thou being a man, makest thyself God.” Even Jesus’ opponents knew that He claimed to be God.

The deity of Christ is crucial to our understanding of Christmas. If Jesus was a remarkable teacher and prophet, but nothing more, then we have nothing to celebrate. If Christ is not God, we are believing a fraud and should mourn rather than celebrate. Because Christ is God, we have the privilege of remembering and celebrating the most remarkable event that has ever happened. Santa Clause’s abilities to exceed the speed of light, manipulate mass, suspend time and spy on every child in the world do not compare to power of the Creator of the Universe, the Sovereign God of all, who became an infant for the express purpose of growing to adulthood and then dying on a cross to redeem men from sin. The happiness of family, friends, fellowship, feasting and football does not compare to the joy that is ours because God chose to clothe himself in human flesh.