Son of God
The first thing to make clear is that Jesus Christ is God. More precisely, he is part of the triune God. The Bible calls him “the Son of God”, to distinguish him from God the Father and God the Holy Spirit (see for example John 1:18).
Although the term “Son” might evoke the idea that first there was just God the Father, and only later God the Son was born, the Bible makes clear that the Son is eternal. This was one of the first doctrines that was elaborately phrased by the early church: “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God; begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made” (Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, 381 AD).
God and man
This same creed continues: “For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human.” God the Son is at the same time 100% divine and 100% human (Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 2:9). About 2000 years ago, the Son of God was born as a human baby. This is called his incarnation (“coming in the flesh”). He grew up in a normal human family. But He was not a “normal” man, since he knew no sin. And while He was human, He also remained God.
Jesus is the Savior
The goal of the incarnation was the salvation of sinful humans. When God created the first humans, they were perfect. But they rebelled against their Creator, and thereby became sinful and worthy of God’s judgment (see Genesis 3). This had severe consequences, not only for them but also for their offspring, which inherited their sinful nature (Romans 5:14-21). The situation of humanity was utterly hopeless: they had earned God’s wrath and could not save themselves.
Only God could alter this hopeless situation. And He did! “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus came on earth to announce God’s Kingdom and to teach people about God. But He also came to suffer and die in their place. He was righteous and sinless, but took on himself the sins of humanity. “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53).
Jesus is the risen King
The story does not end with Jesus’ death. After three days, He was raised from the dead and now He lives forever. He is in heaven till the end of the world, when He will come back to judge humanity and create new heavens and a new earth. He is the eternal King of the universe who reigns with righteousness (Luke 1:32-33). That’s why Christians worship him as their Lord. And at the end of times, every knee will bow for him, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).
Jesus Christ has many names
When the angel Gabriel announced the birth of “the Son of the most High”, he told Mary to call his name Jesus. That was his personal human name. In the Bible, we find many more names, such as “the Son of God”, “the Lord”, “our Savior”, but also “Christ” or “Messiah”. That last term is used in the Old Testament, before Jesus was born, to indicate the Savior whom God would send. Jesus indeed is this long awaited Messiah, although many Jews do not recognize him as such.
There are still other names that indicate some of Jesus’ attributes, such as “the good Shepherd”, “the Son of man”, “the Word”, and so on. All of these names express some aspect of Jesus’ multi-faceted personality, and are sometimes combined.
Our knowledge of Jesus is limited
We don’t manage to fully understand or express who Jesus Christ is. But whoever believes in Him, may look forward to an eternal future in which he will know Jesus completely. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Which prophecies have been fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ?
At Christmas, we celebrate that God the Son was born as a human baby. He “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7). That is a miracle nobody would have imagined…
But this miracle was not totally unexpected. For centuries, God had been speaking through His prophets. He had promised to send the Messiah. This Messiah would save the people, restore their relationship with God, and create a glorious future.
In the New Testament, the Gospel writers quote some of these prophecies to convince their readers that Jesus Christ is this long-awaited Messiah. Let us read a selection of some very detailed prophecies that have come true in the birth of Jesus.
Jesus was born of a virgin
The first striking fact about Jesus’ birth is that He was born of a virgin. When His mother Mary was told by an angel that she would have a son, an obvious question popped up:
“How will this be, since I am a virgin?”. The angel explained to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy-the Son of God” (Luke 1:34-35).
Mary was betrothed to Joseph, and he was planning to marry her. But when he found out that she was pregnant, he obviously thought she had been unfaithful to him. Matthew records what an angel explained to Joseph in a dream:
“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel
(which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:20-23).
And indeed, these words are found in Isaiah 7:14:
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel”. This prophecy also had a meaning in Isaiah’s own historical context, but Matthew points out its ultimate fulfillment in the birth of Jesus Christ.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem
When the Jewish religious experts were asked where the Messiah would be born, they answered:
“In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.” (Matthew 2:5-6)
This is a quotation from the prophet Micah, see Micah 5:2-4. So, people knew that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. But Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth, about 130 km (= 80 miles) of travel to the north! And yet, Micah’s prophecy came true.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king” (Matthew 2:1).
The Gospel of Luke records how these apparently conflicting facts fit together: Caesar commanded that all Jews should be registered in the city where their ancestors came from. And since Joseph’s family was from Bethlehem, they had to travel there when Mary was about to give birth. Even Caesar played His part in God’s plans, without knowing!
People from other countries came to worship
The news about Jesus’ birth was not widespread immediately. He was born in a poor, ordinary family that did not attract much attention. But far away, in a country in the east, wise men saw a special star and concluded that a king had been born in Israel. They came to worship him! (Matthew 2:1-2). God announcing to these men the good news about the newborn Messiah in such a supernatural way, echoes two Old Testament prophecies:
“A star shall come out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17)
“And nations shall come to Your light,
and kings to the brightness of Your rising.
Lift up Your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to You” (Isaiah 60:3-4)
This is not to say that the wise men from the east were the only ones who came to “the light”. Over the centuries, millions of people have come to faith. But they were the first ones to worship the “King of the Jews”, when hardly any Jews were aware of His birth.
Jesus was called out of Egypt
Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
But after a while, “an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, Rise, take the child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy Him. And he rose and took the child and His mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: Out of Egypt I called my son” (Matthew 2:13-15).
In the prophecies of Hosea, we read:
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my Son” (Hosea 11:1).
This text is about the people of Israel who were saved from slavery in Egypt. God made a covenant with them, and even called them “my son”. Centuries later, Jesus Christ, who is the true Son of God, was also called out of Egypt as a refugee.
Is Jesus God?
The Gospel of John is a solemn manifesto of the divinity of Jesus. The apostle John uses the term “Word” (‘logos’ in Greek) to assert that Jesus is the Word of God and is God Himself (John 1:1, 14). In the context of this affirmation, he shows that the essence of God as revealed in the Old Testament, is the very essence of Jesus.
God is Eternal, Creator and Redeemer
We can be sure that the apostle John, when writing his Gospel, had in mind the entire Old Testament and specifically the Pentateuch (the first five Bible books, largely written by Moses). For when we read the fourth Gospel, we find many direct and indirect references to these texts.
It is impressive to see how John connects with Jesus what Moses had said about God, and thus fulfills his purpose of showing us the divinity of Jesus. For example, in the first verses of Genesis (Genesis 1:1-3), Moses revealed that God is Eternal (“In the beginning, God …”), He is Creator (“… created the heavens and the earth”) and He is Redeemer (“… darkness … and there was light”).
John sees these three essences of God in Jesus, and expresses this in his first verses (John 1:1-5).
Jesus is Eternal (John 1:1)
In the same style as Moses, John begins his Gospel by affirming that “In the beginning was the Word”, and in this solemn way he introduces the eternity of Jesus, whom he titles as “the Word”. About this first truth he further affirms that Jesus in eternity already “was with God” and that Jesus “was God”.
Later on in his gospel, he continues to develop this great truth, quoting the words of Jesus Himself: “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58) and “Father, glorify Me in Your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed” (John 17:5).
Jesus is the Creator (John 1:2-3)
John emphasizes once again the eternity of Jesus, to teach us that “all things were made through Him”, leading us to the writings of Moses where it was stated that by the Word of God all things were created (Genesis 1:3-30). Thus, it was through Jesus that all things began to exist and without Him nothing of the created would have existed.
This truth he continues developing later when he affirms that “… the world was made through Him” (John 1:10), asserting that there is nothing that has ever existed outside of the creative power of Jesus. Therefore, He is Creator.
Jesus is the Redeemer (John 1:4-5)
Now, John is going to affirm that “in Him was life”, that is, Jesus is the source of eternal life. That is why He is “the light of men” – of that humanity that is in darkness for cause of sin. Just as light triumphed over darkness in creation (Genesis 1:2-3), Jesus himself “… shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Jesus rescued and will rescue His people from the midst of darkness, and this truth continues to develop, more in depth, when Jesus himself affirms: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Conclusion: Jesus is God
Moses revealed that God is eternal, Creator, and Redeemer. John revealed that Jesus is eternal, Creator, and Redeemer. So, there is no doubt that Jesus is God. That is a great truth, and just as sure as the fact that Jesus was really human.