This month marks the one year anniversary of when my dear friend told me that she does not believe in the Deity of Christ. The time when she stated in no uncertain terms her conviction that he was a man sent by God as a sacrifice… a perfect man… a prophet… a good teacher…
…But only a man.
In memory of that occasion, I offer in this post one of my favorite (and in my opinion, probably one of the very most cogent) implicit arguments for the Deity of Christ. And you know what? I’m going to do it all from what, if I’m not mistaken, is her favorite Gospel account: Matthew. (with cross-references from the Old Testament)
For My Best Friend
In the Gospel of Matthew we see Jesus advancing many quite astounding claims. He claims the authority to interpret the Law outside of tradition (Matt 5:22-44, etc); he claims to be keeper to the door of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt 7:21-23); he claims his words are the only words upon which the only sure foundation can be built (Matt 7:24-27); he claims to be able to forgive sins (Matt 9:2); he claims to be the master of the house (Matt 10:25); he claims to be the ONLY one who knows the Father, and the ONLY one who can reveal Him (Matt 11:27) (wonder who revealed Him to Moses, then? Ex ch. 3); he claims to be able to give rest to those who come to him (Matt 11:28; cf. Ex 33:14); he claims to be greater than the temple, the very house of God (Matt 12:6); he claims to be the Lord of the Sabbath (Matt 12:8); he claims to command angels (Matt 13:41, 16:27); he claims to be present when two or three gather in his name (Matt 18:20) (that’s omnipresence, folks); he claims to be David’s Lord (Matt 22:41-45); he claims his words are eternal, and will never pass away (Matt 23:35); he claims to be the judge of the nations (Matt 24:31-46; cf. Ezekiel 34:17); he accepts worship (Matt 28:17; cf. Matt 4:10) and places himself upon equal ground with the Father (Matt 28:19). Truly astonishing claims.
But of all the exalted claims Jesus makes in the Gospel according to Matthew, there is one that I find to be the most fascinating (or 2nd most – right after the one of claiming the same name as the Father and the Holy Spirit) which I find most people simply pass over and ignore. It is this claim that I am going to unpack for you now.
Something to ask yourself
Let me ask you a question, and be honest: who do you love more, your brother, or Elijah? No, really, I want you to think about it and answer me. Who do you love more?
Here’s another one: who do you love more, your sister, or King David? Don’t brush this question off as irrelevant and take it for granted. I want a good answer.
Again: who do you love more, your mother, or Isaiah? I’m waitingggggggg………
Last one: who do you love more, your papa, or Moses?
Why did you answer the way you did? And don’t give me this pitiful crap about “I love all men and women equally” blah blah blah. You know the truth.
Now consider this: what would you say if Moses walked up to you and said, “Leave your father, and your mother, your entire family – even your children, if you have them – for my name’s sake. Do this and you will inherit eternal life.”
Ponder that for a moment. Really truly reflect on what your response would be. And don’t read on until you’ve spent some time reading and re-reading that and thinking it through.
The plot thickens
I have a feeling I know your answer, but let me add some seasoning to the pot.
Consider the 10 Commandments.
- Thou shalt have no other God’s before me
- Thou shalt not take the Name of the LORD thy God in vain
- Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy
- Honor thy father and thy mother
- Thou shalt not murder
- Thou shalt not commit adultery
- Thou shalt not steal
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that belongs to thy neighbor
It has commonly been observed that the Law is divided into 2 tables: those commandments pertaining to our conduct towards God (1-3), and those pertaining to our conduct towards our fellow men (4-10). As such, the 4th commandment is number one when it comes to relationship with our fellow man. The only thing higher than honoring your father and mother is your relationship to God.
Now, of course it shall be noted that honoring father and mother is not to be contrasted with serving God, not at all. And those who would refuse to honor father and mother in the name of serving God are rightly condemned (Matt 15:4-6). But the point is that when push comes to shove and you are forced to make a choice, God wins.
The thing it’s important to understand in our context is this: there is no “3.5th Commandment”. That is, if Moses tells you that you owe him allegiance over and above your father and mother, there’s nowhere to squeeze him in. Should we take a wedge to the 10 Commandments and insert Moses (or any other man) between the 3rd and the 4th, above parents but lower than God?
I think not.
Now, I assume you’ve already come to the conclusion that allegiance to mom and dad comes prior to any allegiance to Moses. I presume your answer should he pose to you the statement above (Leave your father, and your mother, your entire family, for my name’s sake. Do this and you will inherit eternal life.) would be something along the following lines:
“Take a hike. Why would I leave father and mother, sister and brother, for your name’s sake? What can your name do for me? Much less, how can you claim by leaving my family for your sake, I will receive eternal life? Who do you think you are? I serve God alone, and God is the only one who could ever ask that of me. The name of God is the only name I call upon for salvation (Joel 2:32; Isaiah 43:11, 60:16) – how can you, a mere man, speak this blasphemy?”
And you would be right.
But here’s the thing: Jesus does make that statement.
“Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
– Matt 10:21-22
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
– Matt 10:34-39
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”
– Matt 19:29
Yes, your instinct is right, listen to it. God indeed is the only one who could ever ask you to leave your father and mother, brothers, sisters, spouse, and even children, for His name’s sake. This is because, as the 10 Commandments, other scriptures, and our own consciences and instincts tell us so very plainly: we owe our families the highest allegiance – there is only, and can only ever be, one higher devotion.
Jesus claims an allegiance from us above our siblings, children, mother, and father. What conclusions can be drawn from this?
There can be only one.
Jesus is God.
P.S. Our prayer should always be that our families join us in living for the Gospel, but if they do not, it is still our duty to love and care for them. If you are a Christian and your family is not, that should never stop you from interacting with them, honoring them, caring for them, and cherishing them anyway. However, if your family gives you an ultimatum: it’s us or your Jesus, you must choose Jesus. You must choose God.