"God's Son" - his divinity
In claiming to be God’s Son, the Jews understood that Jesus was claiming to be equal with God (John 5:18). Jesus himself would say, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30), for which the Jews tried to stone him (33). It was for claiming to be the Son of God that he was condemned to death (Mark 14:61-64). Nor were these isolated incidents.
Jesus took on prerogatives that belong only to God Himself (e.g. forgiving sins, Mark 2:5). He commended the apostle Thomas for calling him “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). And he was constantly referring to himself by God’s personal name, “I AM” (John 4:26, 8:58, 18:6, etc.).
However, anyone can claim to be God. What proofs do we have of Jesus’ divinity? There are the eye witness accounts of his many miracles; there is his body of teaching that has had an unequaled impact upon human history; but Jesus himself seemed to point to his resurrection from the dead as the pinnacle proof of his divinity. And certainly, his resurrection is the pivotal event of history.
The earliest written account of Jesus’ resurrection is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, by the hand of Paul, who admits that he was once the greatest antagonist of Jesus and his followers (verse 9). Because Paul states that this account of resurrection appearances was passed on to him by others, apparently as an early oral creed, it is earlier than its usage in 1 Corinthians (which is dated no later than 55 AD):
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also…”
In addition to being very early, this appearance tradition clearly refers to people that Paul knew and had talked to personally, such as Peter and James. So not only is Paul quoting an early tradition, he has had the opportunity to personally interview some of the witnesses cited within it. Jesus’ resurrection, then, is attested to by someone who had himself previously been a critic and who had talked with many of the other witnesses face-to-face.
Why would Paul switch sides and suffer scourging, prison, and then martyrdom? Why would 500 witnesses (many still living at the time of Paul’s writing) risk their lives to attest to Jesus’ resurrection? Why would the disillusioned disciples suddenly turn 180 degrees three days after Jesus’ death and begin teaching a message of hope in the face of official persecution?
The only plausible explanation is that Jesus did, indeed, rise from the dead. And if he did rise from the dead then he must be Who he claimed to be — Jesus is God’s Son. And if Jesus is God’s Son, then he must also be…
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