The Word Was God
Read John 1:1-5 (ESV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Why is the deity of Christ an essential Christian belief? Why must Jesus be God?
Matthew 16:13-16 records Jesus asking His disciples who people say He is. They responded, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (v. 14). But when pressed to answer for themselves, Peter declared, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v.16).
If Jesus were to ask today, “Who do people say that I am?” we would probably say, “Some say a prophet, others say a wise teacher, and others an influential historical figure or a good man.” But Christians should agree with Peter and proclaim that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. There are heretical teachers who question or outright deny the deity of Christ. But the Bible is crystal clear about who Jesus is—He is God in the flesh.
This truth is so central to the Christian faith that the apostle John made it the theme of his Gospel account. John began by calling Jesus “the Word.” Jesus is the Word of the Lord. In fact, the author of Hebrews wrote that Jesus is the final word from God: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Jesus, the Word, is the divine revelation of God. He reveals God’s power and infinite wisdom to mankind.
John made clear that the Word was “in the beginning.” That means Jesus is eternal. He is not a created being. He existed before anything else in the universe and He will always exist. But Jesus wasn’t alone in the beginning. John said the Word was “with God.” Jesus was in close fellowship with God the Father and the Holy Spirit even before the foundations of the world.
But just in case we miss the implications of Jesus being eternally existent and being in an intimate relationship with God in eternity past, John spelled it out for us next when he wrote, “the Word was God.” Jesus is God Himself. Christians understand Jesus to be the second person of the Trinity. He is no less God than the Father is. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are distinct persons but the same in essence. All three are one God.
John goes on to explain that Jesus wasn’t just present when God created the world. John affirms that everything was created through Jesus. He is the source of all life which is even more evidence that He is God. He doesn’t rely on anything to give Him life. His life is in Himself and everything else receives its life through Him. Further, John referred to Jesus as “light.” Jesus shines as holiness and truth in a world full of sin and lies the way that a light pierces and drives away the darkness.
But why is the deity of Christ an essential doctrine of the Christian faith? Can someone be a Christian and deny that Jesus is God? Well, if Jesus were a mere human, a created being, His death would not be sufficient to cover the sins of all mankind. Only an infinite God could afford to pay that infinite cost and only an infinite God could overcome death. So, to deny Jesus as God is to deny His power to save and His power over the grave. Jesus isn’t whoever we want Him to be. He is who He is. The Word was God, He is God, and He always will be God.
Lord, I praise You for who You are—the eternal, infinite God of the universe who made us. In You and You alone, we have life and light. Sin, darkness, and death will never overcome because You have overcome the world (John 16:33). Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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