Son of God
At first glance, it becomes painfully obvious that the Gospel of John is not constructed like the other three gospels. The miracles, events, and discourses may seem random. However, when taken in conjunction with the purpose of this gospel as stated in John 20:31, it becomes clear that this gospel was written to enforce the Christian faith’s position that Jesus was the Son of God.
The Christian faith is dependent upon the fact that Jesus was and is the Son of God, and that He came as God in human flesh. If Jesus were not the Son of God, His death on the cross would not have been worthy to generate salvation. Without a proper avenue for salvation, the Christian faith would be little more than a self-help class. Therefore, without the pivotal factor that Jesus was the Son of God, the Christian religion would not be worthy of consideration as its foundation was based on insignificance. The Gospel of John, however, seeks to prove Jesus as the Son of God. It undertakes this awesome task by revealing several differing certainties that, when taken as a whole, disclose the deity of Christ.
The most obvious demonstration of Jesus’ claim to deity lies in the miracles He performed. To appreciate the magnitude of the miracles, consider three specific miracles that perfectly illustrate the diversity as well as the omnipotence wielded by Jesus as he touched and healed the lives of those around Him. The greatest display of power, of course, is displayed in the resurrection. No one before or since has performed the miracle of raising themselves from the dead. The reason for this is obvious. If the power that the person displays comes from inside the person, how can the power be displayed when the body no longer functions? Only the Son of God could be capable of such an act, as the power involved would have to originate outside of the dead tissue. Two other miracles stand out as well because of their intensity and difficulty. In the fourth chapter of John, we are presented with Jesus healing a nobleman’s son. The nobleman requests aid from the Messiah, and Jesus, without being in any proximity of the afflicted, pronounces the cure complete. Thus Jesus demonstrates that no amount of distance can hinder the power of the miracles He performed or is capable of performing. The last example is the healing of a man born blind. This miracle is unique because the affliction was a pre-existing condition for the man. The significance of this healing is not only one of time, but also of simple misfortune. When asked by His disciples whose sin had caused this man to be born blind, Jesus cast blame on no one. Instead, He responded that this affliction was thrust on the man so that the glory of God’s power could be revealed through the healing. Through no fault of his own, the man was born with this condition. Jesus, through the performing of this miracle, reversed the natural, or un-natural, order of the man’s life. This miracle is also a good allegory of the act of salvation. Man is born in sin and unless his eyes are opened by accepting the gift of salvation, man will die, blinded by his own sin.
The claim of Jesus to be the Son of God is further buttressed by His righteous lifestyle. Obviously, He was known to have never committed a sin. John 2:12-17 shows, as He cleared the temple of money lenders, that Jesus possessed a righteous verve in His desire to keep His Father’s house holy. In fact, contrary to those who wish to portray Jesus as a love-spouting hippie who would rather destroy himself than stand up for a cause, John gives several examples of Jesus speaking out against injustice and the wrongful interpretation of His Father’s will. The Jesus of the John’s gospel was simply God in human flesh. John also consistently describes Jesus as patient, kind, and loving. For example, in chapter six, Jesus shows His concern for the physical needs of the crowd of five thousand by creating a meal for every one of them out of two fishes and five loaves of bread. Jesus knew that the physical needs of those who sought Him were important, just as their spiritual needs were important. Later, Jesus demonstrated His perfect love for His disciples as He washed their feet. What other master would debase himself by washing a pupil’s feet? Finally, Jesus completes the circle of His righteous lifestyle by commanding His disciples to love one another. His righteousness was not simply a light that He alone possessed, but it existed to pass on to those who worshipped Him as well. Through the power of the Holy Spirit that exists in every disciple of Christ, Jesus’ righteous lifestyle is available and should be evident in every Christian’s daily life.
John also presents Jesus’ testimony concerning Himself and His relationship to God. Jesus repeatedly claimed to be the Son of God. In John 5:16-27, Jesus presents a small discourse on His relationship with His Father in Heaven. Knowing what we do of Jesus lifestyle as it was presented by John, it would be difficult to label Jesus’ claims as either the babblings of a madman or the sly words of a liar as these classifications run contrary to His character. It is interesting to note as well that Jesus not only presented Himself as the Son of the Father in Heaven, but also claimed “I and the Father are one”. In fact, through studying the entire gospel of John, one could note that Jesus consistently claimed equality with the Father. In John 8:58, Jesus makes the explosive statement that “before Abraham was born, I am”. Now to the casual observer, this statement would be simply an exercise in bad grammar. But, to those of Jewish descent, the statement was a direct claim to godhood. When God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush, Moses requested the name of God as proof to give to Pharaoh. God advised Moses to tell the Pharaoh that “I am” sent him. By making the statement that “before Abraham was born, I am” Jesus was signifying that not only had He existed before Abraham, but that He was claiming God’s name as well.
John does not leave Jesus’ testimony to stand alone. He also records other’s revelations concerning Jesus’ status as deity. The first to reveal and acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God was John the Baptist. John the Baptist states firmly concerning Jesus, “I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God”. When pressed for a description of Jesus in chapter six, Peter states, “we believe and know that You are the Holy One of God”. After the resurrection, Thomas also acknowledged Jesus as “My Lord and my God”. These revelations were not limited strictly to His disciples either. In chapter eleven, Martha, the sister of Mary, proclaims, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world”. The greatest confirmation of the deity of Christ did not come from one of Jesus’ disciples or from the mouth of anyone He touched or healed. Instead, the most provident testimony is from God. After a request from Jesus to Have God glorify His name, John 12:28-29 records, “then a voice came from Heaven, ’I have glorified it (meaning Jesus’ name), and will glorify it again’”.
Jesus’ power as the Son of God did not manifest itself strictly in the form of miracles. John documents that Jesus’ power was also evident in other methods. For example, John lists several examples where Jesus makes a prediction that invariably ends up coming true. In John 12:32, Jesus predicts that the Son of Man, meaning Himself, will be lifted up on a cross. Later, in John 13:21, Jesus predicts His own betrayal. John 13:38 shows Jesus predicting Peter’s denial. Jesus not only made predictions surrounding His death, but also repeatedly predicted His resurrection. Earlier, to the Jews, Jesus predicted that he would be raised up from the dead in three days. Jesus sought to comfort His disciples with the same prediction. They may not realize the importance of His death on the cross at the time it appeared, so He reminded them, “You have heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you’”(John 14:28, NIV). The disciples were too torn from Jesus’ death to feel comfort from this prediction. But they remembered at a later time and were bolstered that much more in the knowledge that Jesus not only performed miracles but He knew the future as well.
Jesus, at times, also appeared to be in possession of knowledge that He should not have had access to. When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan women at the well, Jesus accurately stated that she had no husband. In fact, He went on to explain that she had had five husbands, and the man she was currently living with was not her husband. He exhibited this ability earlier in His ministry when He first met Nathaniel. Amazingly, Jesus often knew the exact needs of the people He healed. He met those who hurt at their appropriate level of need. To the intellectual, Jesus presented an intellectual healing. To the prideful, Jesus saw beyond the pride to the hurting beneath. He was such an effectual healer because He could see beyond the facade to the exact point of pain in the person’s life.
Deftly interspersed throughout the narrative, John establishes the link between Old Testament prophecy of the coming Messiah and fulfillment of that prophecy through the life of Jesus. John quotes Zechariah 9:9 as being fulfilled by Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Zechariah prophesizes, “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt”. Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly on the back of a donkey. John mentions several prophecies that became fulfilled through the death of Jesus. For example, John 19:36, which states “Not one of His bones will be broken”, is actually a prophecy that is located in three different books of the Old Testament. As Jesus lay upon the cross, the soldiers in charge gambled for His clothing. John quotes Psalms 22:18, which reads “they divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing”, as a direct link to fulfillment of this Old Testament prophecy. Jesus’ betrayal at the hands of Judas was prophesied in Psalms 41:9, which reads “He who shares my bread has lifted up his hand against me”. This prophecy became fulfilled when Jesus offered the bread to Judas after pronouncing that the one who shared the bread with Him would betray Him.
As illustrated, the apostle John strove to provide evidence to the reader of his gospel that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the Son of God. He did not produce one specific type of evidence, such as a single miracle, to support his claims. Several different variations and examples were used to champion Jesus’ assertion that He was indeed the Son of God. Much like a modern day apologist or even an attorney, John sets out not to tell a story but to defend Jesus’ deity against His Jewish protagonists as well as false teachers within the church. There can be no doubt that John believed that Jesus was the Son of God. He sought diligently to defend his beliefs with a specific description of the life of Christ. In fact, from an early age, Christianity has been patiently defending itself against unbeliever’s attacks, presuppositions, and outright falsehoods. The Apostle Paul had to defend the faith in several of his letters. In this present age, two thousand years since the beginings of Christianity, Christians are still defending their Lord’s deity against those who wish to strip Jesus of His claim and reduce Him to simply a good moral teacher. Opponents wish to either simplify the message of salvation so that it is little more than a myth or they convolute redemption and make it virtually unapproachable. What some fail to realize is that the gospel is about a world that has chosen the sin of selfishness over a thriving relationship with its creator, and about a Creator that came to earth to heal and love His creation. Even today, that same Creator reaches out to His creation with only a thought of salvation in mind. The message is the same today as it was in the time of Jesus. To regain that relationship with the Creator, the created must believe that Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for all. They must also accept God as the Lord of their lives, forsaking sin in order to have a fuller life. Then the created ones will know the truth, and the truth will set them free.
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A fairly exhaustive and comprehensive examination of the position that Jesus is truly the Son of God. This is done within the confines of John's Gospel as no other scripture is utilized to prove the point that Jesus IS the Son of God. This shows that a carefull reading of only one Gospel can definitely make the case for Jesus being the Son of God. Nice work, thanks.