Where should we begin our discussion on the divinity of Christ? Some even doubt if He ever existed. We need to know if there was ever a nation of Israel. If there was no nation of Israel then, there was no origin of Israel. This implies that Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob and Moses never existed and there was no nation of Egypt. It also means that there was no exodus.
Let us use contemporary events to justify the existence of Abraham. God saw the spirit of righteousness in Abraham in a land filled with idolatry and called him out “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed”(Gen 12:1-3).
For twelve years Abram had no issue after the promise. Sarah, according to the custom of her people gave Hagar out and Abram got a child. Abram had Ishmael through Hagar (Gen 16:15) and it was said of him “And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren” (Gen 16:12). Today is his descendant not wild? In Europe, the Middle East, Africa and America, is his hand not against every man and the hand of every man not against him?
Again, at the covenant with Abraham, note that his name had been changed to Abraham “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee” (Gen 17:5), Abraham insisted that Ishmael should also be blessed. “And Abraham said … O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed… I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael… I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation” (Gen 17:18-20).
God promised that He would make Abram a great nation (Gen 12:2) but God herein declared “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee” (Gen 17:5). Though Abram was called in righteousness, he was still subject to temptation. His faith had not been strengthened. He had got a child out of God’s promise. The covenant was and still is with the child of promise but Abraham had made God to promise him that Ishmael would be blessed and he was blessed.
These are two distinct people and thus cannot be one nation. Abraham’s name had to be changed. “And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Gen 17:6-8).
Thus, Abraham had two children, the child of the bondwoman and the child of promise the seed of who shall be a God unto Abraham (Gen 17:7). How many princes do we have in Arabia today? We are talking about princes, not kingdoms. But as for the child of promise, there were promised Kings and nations “… As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her” (Gen 17:15-16).
Here we see God at work. He promised Abram one seed and one nation but with the child of the bondwoman and the forced blessing, the coast of the seed of promise had to be enlarged. Christ said, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24).
Though the physical land remains the land of Canaan, the totality of the promise spreads over the whole of Europe and America. The seed rues even in Germany and Russia that murdered them in millions. The seed of the child of promise rules across the world.
We know the seed of Abraham in many nations; kings and queens. We know of the blessing of Abraham as the promise of salvation to them who believe the seed who was destined by God to be a God unto mankind and the scourge of the world was for his transgression with the bondwoman resulting from the weakness of his faith.
The land of Canaan was a gift unto the child of promise “for an everlasting possession” (Gen 17:8). Atheists may want to see these as mere coincidences. In line with this, the children of Israel made no attempt to enlarge their territory but kept only that which was promised them. We are also aware of the period of sojourn in a strange land for a period of four hundred years “And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Gen 15:13-16).
The promises of God were fulfilled for “the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians” (Ex 12:36) and “… the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years” (Ex 12:40).
The Reality of Christ
Publius Cornelius Tacitus (56-120 AD) was a Roman orator and public official of a wealthy family, probably the greatest historian and one of the greatest prose stylists who wrote in the Latin language (EB, 2008). Among his works are references to Christ, his execution by Pontius Pilate, and the existence of early Christians in Rome in his final work, Annals (written ca. AD 116), book 15, chapter 44 (Easterling and Kenney, 1982)
The context of Annals is the six-day Great Fire of Rome in AD 64 in the reign of Emperor Nero. It is one of the earliest non-Christian references to the origins of Christianity, the execution of Christ described in the canonical gospels, and the presence and persecution of Christians in 1st-century Rome (Van Voorst, 2000). Tacitus provides a non-Christian confirmation of the crucifixion of Jesus (Eddy and Boyd, 2007).
Flavius Josephus is best known for his histories of the Jews, including a first-hand account of the historical confirmation of the existence and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. Late in life, Josephus wrote his History of the Jewish War. His Antiquities of the Jews is a history from creation to 66 A.D. and mentions Jesus, John the Baptist and James, the martyred brother of Jesus (who2.com, 2018).
Mara bar Serapion was a Stoic philosopher from the Roman province of Syria. His letter to his son, Syriac Serapion, revealed the unjust treatment of “three wise men”: the murder of Socrates, the burning of Pythagoras, and the execution of “the wise king” of the Jews (Köstenberger et al,2009). The letter is considered to be an early non-Christian reference to the crucifixion of Jesus (Chilton and Evans, 1998).
Suetonius, a director of the imperial libraries and then a private secretary to Hadrian (Cartwright, 2016) made reference to the expulsion of Jewish Christians from Rome “As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus” in The Life of Claudius (Kirby, 2018). This expulsion is corroborated in “… a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them (Acts 18:2). Suetonius also makes mention of Nero’s persecution “Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.”
Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ
We have been able to establish the reality of Abraham and his two sons and that God proclaimed the characteristics of each and the characteristics are still alive in the lives of their descendants till date, we have been able to confirm the existence of God. The reality of Christ also has been established through historical records.
Then since God exists and Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac existed and God’s words concerning them are still alive in their descendant then God’s words in the Holy Scriptures are true. God in His mercy promised Eve “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen 3:15). No other mention of this seed of promise was made until Abraham. The promised seed was as a result of God’s compassion towards mankind after the fall. No other mention of this seed of promise was made until Abraham. Thenceforth God continued to remind man of the seed.
The account of the Old Testament is God’s plan for the redemption of mankind and it is full of prophecies of the coming of the Christ.
- God preferred the line of Jacob “Two nations are in thy womb… the elder shall serve the younger” (Gen 25:23);
- Judah was chosen. “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Gen 49:10)
- Of the line of David, being called by David’s name. “But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them” (Jer 30:9), Isaiah (11:1) predicted that “… there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots”
- Established in Solomon. “And if thou wilt walk before me… I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.., There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel” (l1 Kings 9:4-5).
The time of coming
- He was born into the world at a time when the Jewish people had lost all political independence due to the Roman occupation. “until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” (Gen 49:10);
- He was to come into the second temple. “I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple…” (Mal 3:1)
- The prophet Daniel predicted “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins…” (Dan 9:24-27) that the Messiah would die in the seventieth week of years (a period of seven years), that is, between 483 and 490 after the edict ordering the reconstruction of Jerusalem. Artaxerxes’s edict for the reconstruction of Jerusalem was 454 BC before the official date of the birth of Jesus Christ.
- God’s declaration excluded man in the birth of the seed “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen 3:15);
- Isaiah (7:14) predicted His birth in line with God’s declaration “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
- John the Baptist severally proclaimed Him”
- “Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.” (John 1:25-31);
- “And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him” (John 1:32);
- “And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34);
- “Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.” (John 1:35-37)
Place of Birth
- Micah stated the place of birth as Bethlehem “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Mic 5:2). Herod was afraid of his line being exterminated. It was the practice in those days when a new dynasty came into dominion the descendants of the previous ones were exterminated. The high priests reminded Herod of this when the wise men. “And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel” (Matt 2:4-6). God used the census edict of Augustus Caesar in order to fulfil the prophecy of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem
The public life of the Messiah
- The birth of a forerunner was predicted by Isaiah (40:3) “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy “And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.” (John 1:19-24)
- Isaiah (35:4-6) predicted His miracles “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing:”
- Zechariah prophesied the triumphal entry of the Saviour into Jerusalem: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (Ref Mt 21:7, Jn 12:13).
Suffering and death of the Messiah
- Prophets (Ref Is 50: 5-7 cf Mt 26:67; 52:13 – 53:12 cf Lk 23:33, 1 Jn 2:2 ; Is 53:7 cf Jn 10:18; Zech 11:12 cf Mt 26:15; Ps 22: 6-8 cf Mt 27: 39-40 ; Zech 12:10 cf Jn 19:34)
- His suffering and death were variously predicted in the Psalms and by various pr 53:8-12 can be broken down thus:
- 8 cut off out of the land of the living: Having no earthly descendants.
- 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; nailed to the cross with robbers but put in the sepulchre of the rich
- 10 i. he shall prolong his days, rewarded with eternal life
- the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Eternity will be trusted to Him
- 11 he shall bear their iniquities. The sins of man shall be laid upon his shoulders
- 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; His reign with God; with the saints at His feet.
- Hos 6:2 “After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight” specifically described his abode with the dead and His resurrection on the third day
- Jesus compared his abode with the dead with the habitation of Jonah in the belly of the fish “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:40).
The Divinity of Christ
Christ’s revelation of His divinity was progressive but not so with His Father as shown in:
- The announcement of conception through angel Gabriel “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
- At His baptism through the Holy Spirit “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:16) and John the Baptist“… of John, when the Jews sent priests … I am not the Christ … I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord… Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? … I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you… who coming after me is preferred before me….” (John 1:19-28) and “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world… he saith, Behold the Lamb of God.” (John 1:29-36).
- In the period of conception unborn John the Baptist and his mother, Elizabeth, recognised Him “when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:” (Luke 1:41-44)
Jesus progressively revealed His divinity:
- Notwithstanding the plan to kill Him, He persistently called God His Father “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. (John 5:18-23)
- “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58); taking o the name of God
- “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28)
- As His Son
- “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:16-17)
- “And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.” (Mark 9:4-7)
- “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.” (John 12:27-30)
- John the Baptist’s testimonies
- Prophesied by Isaiah (40:3) “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” And declared by him “For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Matt 3:3)
- David’s testimonies
- “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” (Ps 24:7)
- “Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.” (Ps 24:10)
- “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Ps 110:1)
- The prophets
- “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE Lord OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jer 23:5-6)
- “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Mal 3:1)
- “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
- He is one with the Father
- “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30)
- “Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” (John 14:8-11)
- “And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.” (John 12:45)
- “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” (John 14:7)
- “And all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them.” (John 17:10)
- He spoke with authority on spiritual matters
- “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:12-13)
- “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14)
- “But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.” (John 10:38)
- He is emphatic about God being His Father
- “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;” (John 14:16)
- “All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” (Matt 11:27)
- “lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” (John 17:1-2)
- “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.” (John 17:4-6)
- The commandments are from HIm
- “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
- “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21)
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