A frequently asked questions towards Christianity is whether or not the scriptures actually affirm that Jesus was truly God in the flesh. With overwhelming confidence the Christian can answer, “Yes – the Bible overwhelmingly affirms Jesus’ divinity.” But how does it do this?
I appreciate the simple way that Frank Turek has assembled to consider the various ways that scriptures affirms Jesus’ divinity. He writes about the Five A’s: Authority, Attributes, Affirmation, Accusations, and Affirmation. To this list might add an important sixth A, Appearances. In this post let’s examine the first, Authority. In future posts, I’ll dig further into the remaining five.
The first A is Authority. Jesus demonstrated that He had authority that only God could have. The image for this post is the text from Matthew 8:27 in which we see Jesus demonstrating the authority to rebuke the wind and the waves. The scene takes place in the middle of Matthew’s gospel in which Jesus and his disciples were in a boat in the midst of a terrible storm. While the disciples were panicked trying to save their lives Jesus rested calmly, we might say fearlessly. The disciples finally out of the fear of death woke up their Master at which point Jesus stood and rebuked the storm. We’re told in the text there was, “a great calm.”
When Jesus commanded the storm to stop, the weather submitted to His authority. While this one instance alone does not demonstrate His divinity it does demonstrate that whatever Jesus’ nature is, it is far more than simply human.
A second example is in Matthew’s gospel we see Jesus exert His authority to forgive sin:
“And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.””Matthew 9:2-3 (ESV)
Upon hearing Jesus forgive this young man’s sin the religious leaders of the day immediately accuse Jesus of blasphemy for they knew that only God had the authority to forgive sin. Yet here, Jesus does just that. But then He goes even further by validating His claims to forgive sin by healing the young man. The physical miracle of healing was a validation of Jesus’ claim to possess the authority to forgive sin.
In the Great Commission as Jesus commissioned His disciples for the work of “making disciples of all nations” Jesus said:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:17–20, ESV
Jesus claimed that all authority had been given to Him. Craig Blomberg, when commenting on this passage highlights the deep significance of Jesus’s words well. He says:
Jesus can make the claim of v. 18 only if he is fully God, inasmuch as the whole universe is embraced in the authority delegated to him. And yet he is still in some sense distinct from his Heavenly Father, so that Matthew can use the divine passive in speaking of his having “been given” this authority.Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 431.
Further, Jesus demonstrated total authority over sin and Satan. All throughout both His own ministry as well as His disciples ministry, demonic influences were cast out in the name and power of Jesus. In Mark 5 we read the account of the men living “among the tombs,” possessed and harassed by demonic powers. During the encounter Jesus commands the unclean spirits to leave the men.
And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”Mark 5:6–8, ESV
Jesus’ authority was comprehensive. Perhaps the greatest demonstration of His authority during His ministry was the authority He demonstrated over death both in raising Lazarus from the dead as well as victoriously rising from the dead Himself. In the scene with Lazarus we are told that after Lazarus had been dead and laid in a tomb, Jesus spoke life into him:
So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”John 11:41–44, ESV
When taken in whole, the authority Jesus both claimed to possess as well as the authority that was validated through His life, ministry, and resurrection (authority over death!) could be true only of God.