The second question in our theological survey proved to be confusing to some of our Church family. Surprisingly, more than 25% of those that responded stated God the Father is more divine than Jesus. Now, I certainly do not believe they doubt the deity of Jesus Christ. Rather, I tend to think there are certain complicated truths of Scripture and the Godhead that confuse many believers. For example…
- The biblical names of “God the Father” and “God the Son” often cause people to think in terms of a Patriarchal structure.
By that I mean they view the position of father as being of more significance than the position of son. Thus, in their minds, God the Father is of more importance and carries more authority than God the Son. Without intending to do so, they minimize the deity of Jesus.
- The declarations of Jesus tend to indicate that He was subservient to the Father.
Verses such as John 10:29; John 14:28 and Philippians 2:6 seem to indicate that Jesus is inferior to the Father. After all He does say, “My Father is greater than I.” Is Jesus indicating that the Father is greater than Him? Is there a scale of divinity that makes one Member of the Godhead more divine than the others?
The question is not whether Jesus is God. Almost everyone would agree with His divinity. Rather, the point of debate is whether or not He is as much God as the Father. Here are a few thoughts…
1. Jesus as the Son did not make Him less God
Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is repeatedly described as the Son of God…
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…
John 17:1 – When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,
John 20:31 – But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Let us not confuse the Trinitarian relationship with our human relationships. The designations of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are not hierarchal like our family structures. Since they both existed from eternity past, the Father is not older or more experienced than the Son. He never had to train, correct, discipline, counsel or guide Him. Those familial designations simply help us to understand the complexity of the divine relationship.
2. Jesus’ incarnation did not make Him less God
Many would use the previously mentioned verses to prove that when Jesus became man, He somehow became less God. In other words, His humanity negatively affected His divinity. Yet, we would argue that Jesus never lost any of His divine essence. While on earth He was still 100% God.
John 10:30 – I am the Father are one.
Colossians 2:9 – For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.
3. Jesus’ earthly work did not make Him less God.
Often as Jesus carried out His earthly ministry, He described His functions and His role in a way that made Him sound subservient to the Father.
John 5:30 – I can do nothing on my own…
John 6:38 – For I have come down from heaven, not do to my own will but the will of Him who sent Me.
Luke 22:42 – Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.
Admittedly, those phrases make it sound as if Jesus was submissive to and was dependent upon a Higher Power. Is that true? A.W. Tozer in his book The Knowledge of the Holy explains how Jesus’ work on earth did not affect, in any way, His deity.
In His incarnation, the Son veiled His deity, but did not void it. The unity of the Godhead made it impossible that He should surrender anything of His deity. When He took upon Him the nature of man, He did not degrade Himself or become even for a time less than He had been before. God can never become less than Himself. For God to become anything that He has not been is unthinkable. (Knowledge of the Holy, p. 22).
To conclude, it is important for us to understand that Jesus is no less God than God the Father. His eternal Sonship does not minimize His deity; it strengthens it. In taking on human flesh, He never became “less God.” To the contrary, His incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection only served to confirm that He was very God in the flesh, the Eternal Son who humbled Himself so that we might become the sons of God. As a result we echo the words of the Apostle Paul…
To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.