This leaves us with three possibilities about Jesus:
- He was lying – he knew that by convincing people he was God, he could get them to follow him. People still do this today!
- He was delusional – he really thought he was God, but he was wrong.
- He was really God
I heard an interesting, but incorrect quote recently. An author named Douglas Adams said, 2,000 years ago one man got nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be if everyone was nice to each other for a change!
It’s funny, but not quite true. Jesus didn’t die because he said we should love another and some grouchy people didn’t like it! He died because he said he was God!
Last session, we looked at three possibilities for someone like that:
- He was lying
- He was delusional
- He was really God
Those who killed him clearly thought he was a lying criminal, and had him executed.
People today are usually less extreme – we try to get around it, and say Jesus was a wise teacher, and it would be nice if we could live by his teachings, but he’s not God.
But that’s not possible…we would be following a delusional man, or a liar!
We love quoting CS Lewis in this course, and he put it this way:
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be insane or else he would be the Devil of Hell. Either Jesus was and is the Son of God or else he was insane or evil…but let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about Him being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
The first bit seems obvious – but is important. Jesus simply said he was God! We looked at some of those occasions in the last session.
But we do get lots of questions about Jesus being God, owing to some confusing language in the Bible, and sloppy use of language about God today. People ask – how can Jesus be God in the flesh, if he’s the Son of God? How can God be in heaven, yet Jesus is here?
You’re going to explore these kinds of questions in the Bible in your discussion time shortly, which will be a bit different from other discussion sesions. You’ll look at how Jesus speaks of himself, as one God along with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, who we’ll talk about in a later week.
However, it’s important to say that being Son of God did not mean he was not God, rather he is a particular “person” of God, a way God relates to us. Referring to him as Son is not meant to subordinate him, but to show he is the same “substance” – that he is God, as much as a human child is still a human.
There is One God, but who relates to us through three persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is sometimes confusing because they each refer to themselves, and each other, as God!
It’s very mysterious, but that’s a good thing. God is really very different from us, since he came before language, reason, science, etc. And so although I’m amazed we can know what we do about God, and even know God personally, I’m also thrilled that he’s not like me, and not completely understood, but rather worth worshipping. We simply don’t have the categories to describe him fully.
How many of us dream about knowing someone famous? It can be a fun fantasy, but if you do actually get to know someone famous, in your own circles or an actual world celebrity, you have probably discovered they are a great deal less impressive, less perfect than you once imagined, and that you’re not so different. Sooner or later, you lose the awe and desire to know them in the first place. Even if you never met them in person, more often than not, celebrities are revealed to be less perfect than we imagined.
It’s different with God – we can get to know him, but never so completely as to have him figured out. If God was something we could figure out, sooner or late we’d get used to it, and think that we’re not so different, having lost the awe and desire to know him in the first place, and we’d begin to worship ourselves instead of God. Instead God is someone, far more perfect and holier than we can even comprehend.
So don’t be discouraged if you can’t figure out God entirely – that’s because he’s God, and you’re not! And that’s OK.
Question: Read the assigned Bible passages as a group, check off all the statements below that you think are correct, then discuss your answers as a group.
Read Hebrews 4:15 and 1 Peter 2:22
- Jesus had the temptations to sin that we do, but did not
- Jesus never sinned and was not tempted to
- Jesus sinned like any other human
Read John 11:33-35 and Luke 2:52
- Jesus is so far above us that we can’t relate to him, and he can’t relate to us.
- Jesus grew up and experienced human emotions like us
Read John 1:1-2 and John 1:14-18
- Jesus was an afterthought of God’s, created by God at a particular point in time
- Jesus was not created, but around from the beginning and a part of God’s plan
Read Colossians 1:15, Colossians 2:9, Mark 4:39, John 17:1-3, John 14:8-14, John 10:30
- Jesus is all human.
- Jesus is all God and all human.
- Jesus is half-God and half-human.
- Jesus was all God, and not really a human
- Jesus is God, we look at Him and see God.
- Jesus only reminds and teaches us about God, like a good teacher.
- Jesus, as God the Son, relates and speaks to God the Father, even though they are “one” God.
- Jesus and the Father are different gods
- God only relates to the world one way at a time (i.e. when Jesus was on earth, the Father was not active)
By the end of this exercise, you likely have an incomplete picture of God. Jesus is God, the Father is God. Yet, Jesus was also a human being. Jesus had all the powers of God, and so does the Father, yet they choose to rely on one another, share one purpose, and so on. The exact nature of God, and how he can relate to us in all these ways, is a mystery to everyone, not just you!