How can Jesus be God
How can Jesus be God? – Understanding the Nature of God
How can Jesus be God? If Jesus were God, wouldn’t it mean there is more than one God? Isn’t that heresy and the worst kind of blasphemy? (As for Jesus being both human and divine, see the discussion about Jesus as the Son of God.)
To answer these important questions, let’s back up and look at ourselves. In addition to our bodies, we have invisible elements that include a soul and a spirit. Our spirit makes us alive yet differs from that of animals. We also have a mind, will, emotions, and conscience—all parts of our soul. With that come memory, wishes, desires, and more. Removing any aspect will severely damage or even destroy a person.
If we are complicated beings, how much more so the God who made us?
Imagine you are at your daughter’s wedding. You are sad that you’ll see less of her, but happy for her new life. You are satisfied that you raised her to be a good wife and mother. You trust that your son-in-law will be a good provider, but you still worry about the new couple’s finances, so you make plans to help them. You expect them to have children of their own. You anticipate the joy of becoming a grandparent. You wonder how things will go with the other set of grandparents.
If, in such a situation, we can discern within ourselves more than one set of reactions, thoughts, or emotions, might that reflect something of the nature of God? Surely He’s not less complex than we are. The Bible teaches that God is all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), and everywhere at once (omnipresent). He is kind and compassionate, yet also a stern judge of evil. In fact, God’s characteristics, and thus His “names,” are inexhaustible. Ninety-nine names, even nine hundred and ninety-nine, do not suffice to describe Him.
In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, we read that God made people “in His own image.”
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).
That doesn’t mean God has a body, but that we are like Him in important ways. He doesn’t have a mouth or ears as we do, but He can communicate. He never does what is wrong, but like us He knows the difference between the two. And because He loves and cares for us weak and sinful creatures, He is compassionate. That means that God has emotions. God is complex.
Let’s look at things from another direction. Before God created anything, with whom did He communicate? What was there to choose from which could be either right or wrong? How could God show love and care? If, before anything else existed, God was a one-in-one, solitary being—like a single person on a desert island in a vast ocean—then He could make noise but not communicate, He could act but do no right or wrong, and though He might feel love, there would be no one upon whom to bestow it. If that were the situation, God would need beings like us in order to express Himself. He would need to create in order to be fulfilled. Now that is blasphemous.
God is self-existent. He is happy and fulfilled in and by Himself. He needs no one and nothing. But how could that be when He was alone, surrounded by an ocean of nothingness? That’s where the hint of our own nature, above, comes in. We consist of interacting spiritual parts which reflect, somehow, the essence of God. This points to a deep mystery we dare not miss. To get a glimpse of it, let’s look further at Jesus.
How can Jesus be God? – The Trinity
How can Jesus be God? The Bible says that in the beginning God spoke and things came into being (Genesis 1-2). It also says this:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:1-3, 14).
Christians believe in only one God. But what is the nature of God? If our own nature is complex and mysterious, how much more is God’s. If we have parts that interrelate and communicate, what about Him? Jesus came to earth as a man, but before that He was the Word of God. In the beginning, God’s command brought everything into being (Hebrews 11:3). God’s Word has power. How that can be we don’t know, any more than we know all about ourselves. The almighty God is more complex than we realize.
The word “trinity” is not in the Bible, but the concept is. Just prior to leaving earth and returning to heaven, Jesus told His followers to baptize new disciples “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus said “name,” not “names.” In other places He claimed very boldly to be one with God (e.g., John 10:22-39). Likewise, the Holy Spirit is called God (e.g., Acts 5:3-4).
When Jesus claimed to be God’s Son, He wasn’t implying a mother. Mary was not the mother of the eternal Word of God. Jesus came from God, and before being on earth was one with Him. So God did not need to create anything because He was not a one-in-one being. He was a three-in-one being consisting of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Within His own self, God could communicate, love, and do what was right. He was and remains content and self-fulfilled, able to fully function apart from anyone else. He created because love shares, and He wanted to share His love with us. These are deep truths, but ones that should not shock us. Anything less takes away from God’s power, His grandeur, His majesty and His infinitude. God is great, and far greater than we imagine. The Bible doesn’t try to fully explain the mystery of God’s nature or how He came to earth. How can a mere man understand God? The Bible simply states the truth.
“Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:
He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).
An example from the physical world might help. We all know about fire. It cooks our meals and warms our homes. A giant fire in space lights up our world. We speak of “fire” as a single thing, but it actually consists of three elements: a fuel source, a visible flame, and heat. Remove any one and there can be no fire. Three elements, one concept, one word. Fire points to the trinity. God the Father is like the fuel. Jesus, coming from him, said “I am the light of the world” (John 16:27-28; 8:12). The Holy Spirit, like the invisible heat, brings God’s power to the world and even to a person’s life (Ephesians 5:9; Galatians 5:22-23). Maybe that’s why God first spoke to the great prophet Moses through a fire, a burning bush that was not consumed (Exodus 3:1-6).
There is only one God. He is one and three-in-one. He is great, and His nature is marvelous.Learn More!
Compliments of Scott Munger, PhD, Biblica, All rights reserved in the original.
We have all sinned
and deserve God’s judgment. God
, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Jesus
, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died
for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried
, and rose from the dead
according to the Bible
. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, "Jesus is Lord
," you will be saved from judgment
and spend eternity with God in heaven.What is your response?
Yes, I want to follow Jesus
I am a follower of Jesus
I still have questions