1. In the Bible, Jesus’ teachings were always presented as being the ultimate and final authority. He placed His teachings above those of Moses and the prophets.
2. Jesus always spoke in His own authority. He never said, “Thus saith the Lord…” as did the prophets; He always said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you…”
3. He never retracted anything He said, never guessed or spoke with uncertainty, never made revisions, never contradicted Himself, and never apologized for what He said. He even asserted that “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mark 13:31).
4. The teachings of Jesus had a profound effect on people. His listeners always seemed to understand that these were not the words of an ordinary man.
a. When He taught in Capernaum on the Sabbath, the people “were amazed at His teaching” (Luke 4:32).
b. After the Sermon on the Mount, “the crowds were amazed at His teaching, because He taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (Matthew 7:28, 29).
c. When some Jewish leaders asked the temple guards why they had not arrested Jesus when He spoke, they responded, “No one ever spoke the way this man does” (John 7:46).
5. The reason Jesus’ teachings had ultimate authority was that He was and is God. The words of Jesus are the very words of God! We would be wise, then, to give heed to what He says.
6. But as both believers and critics have noted since the first century, some of Jesus’ statements are hard to understand. Although much of the information in the Bible is easy to understand, some information is not so easy.
OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL WEEKS, WE WILL TRY TO MAKE SENSE OF THE PUZZLING SAYINGS OF JESUS.
I. JESUS’ CLAIMS ABOUT HIMSELF.
A. Does Jesus’ reference to Himself as God’s “only begotten Son” imply that He is less divine than God the Father (John 3:16 NASB)?
1. The words “only begotten” do not mean that Christ was created, or that He was in some way brought into existence by the Father. Rather, the Greek word for “only begotten” means “unique” or “one of a kind.” Jesus is uniquely God’s son.
2. As God’s Son, Jesus has the same nature as the Father (a divine nature) – every bit as much as my son, Dylan, has my nature (a human nature). Jesus is uniquely God’s Son by nature, meaning that He has the very nature of God.
3. So the fact that Jesus is called God’s Son does not mean He is somehow less divine than the Father is. Jesus is fully divine.
B. What did Jesus mean when He said that He and the Father “are one” (John 10:30).
1. In (John 10:30), Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”
a. Some people have wrongly concluded that Jesus was claiming to be the Father in this verse.
b. Others have wrongly concluded that the Father must have a physical body like Jesus does, since Jesus and the Father are said to be one.
c. Still others have claimed that Jesus was simply indicating that He and the Father are “one in purpose.”
2. While it is positively true that Jesus and the Father are “one in purpose,” that is most certainly not what Jesus is talking about in this verse.
a. Keep in mind that when Jesus said He and the Father were “one,” the Jewish leaders immediately picked up stones to put Him to death. It is clear that they understood Jesus to be claiming to be God.
b. According to verse 33, the Jews said, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (NASB). The penalty for blasphemy, according to Old Testament law, was death by stoning.
c. Notice that Jesus did not respond by saying, “Oh, no, you have it all wrong. I was not claiming to be God; I was merely claiming to be ‘one in purpose’ with God.” Even the Jews claimed to have a unity of purpose with God. They would not have tried to stone Jesus for that claim.
3. They understood Jesus as He intended to be understood—claiming to be deity. When Jesus said that He and His Father were one, He meant that they were both divine…had deity.
C. What did Jesus mean when He said that the Father is “greater” than He (John 14:28).
1. In (John 14:28), Jesus said to His disciples, “If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”
2. Jesus in this verse is not speaking about His nature or His essential being, which is divine (Christ had earlier said “I and the Father are one” in this regard—John 10:30).
3. The Father is greater than the Son by office, but not by nature, since both are God. Just as an earthly father is equally human with, but holds a higher office than, his son, even so the Father and the Son in the Trinity are equal in essence, but different in function. Jesus is equal to the Father in essence, nature, and character, but the Father is greater than Jesus in function, office, and position.
D. Did Jesus teach that only the Father (and not He Himself) should be worshiped (John 4:23)?
1. In (John 4:23), Jesus said, “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” But in making this statement, He was not saying that He Himself should not be worshiped as well.
2. A fundamental principle of interpreting Scripture correctly is that “Scripture interprets Scripture.” What I mean by this is that every single verse should be interpreted against the broader backdrop of what the entirety of Scripture teaches on a given subject.
3. The same Greek word used for worshiping the Father (proskeneo) is used of worshiping Christ throughout the New Testament.
a. Jesus was worshiped by Thomas (John 20:28).
b. Angels (Hebrews 1:6).
c. Wise men (Matthew 2:11).
d. A leper (Matthew 8:2).
e. A ruler (Matthew 9:18).
f. A blind man (John 9:38).
g. An anonymous woman (Matthew 15:25).
h. Mary Magdalene (Matthew 28:9).
i. The disciples (Matthew 28:17).
4. When Jesus was worshiped, He never corrected His followers when they bowed down and worshiped Him. He never said, “Please, don’t worship me…only my Father should be worshiped.”
5. Jesus considered such worship as perfectly appropriate.
6. That Jesus is worshiped says a lot about His true identity, for it is the consistent testimony of Scripture that only God can be worshiped.
7. The fact that Jesus was worshiped on many occasions in the New Testament shows that He is God.
8. How often do you worship Jesus?
E. Did Jesus imply that He was not good in (Mark 10:17-18)? Is this an argument against His deity?
1. In (Mark 10:17-18), we read, “As Jesus started on His way, a man ran up to Him and fell on his knees before Him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good—expect God alone.’”
2. In this verse Jesus was most certainly not denying He was God to the young ruler. He was simply asking him to consider the implications of calling Him “good.” Jesus was essentially saying to him, “Do you realize what you are saying when you call me good? Do you realize that this is something you should attribute only to God? Are you saying that I am God?”
3. Apparently the young man failed to realize the implications of what he was saying. Jesus thus forced him to draw this conclusion: “Either Jesus was good and God, or else He was bad and man. A good God or a bad man, but not merely a good man. Those are the real alternatives with regard to Christ. For no good man would claim to be God when he was not.
4. So, Jesus’ response did not deny His own deity but was rather a veiled claim to it. The man who called him “good” needed to perceive this reality.