Jesus is Yahweh. Yahweh is Jesus.

by K.W. Leslie, 30 June 2017

That’s gonna be a startling title for a lot of people. Needs to be said, just as bluntly: Jesus is YHWH, the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.

Yeah he’s the son of God. Jn 8.54 Not saying he isn’t. But we also recognize Jesus is God incarnate, the word of God who’s with and is God, Jn 1.1 who didn’t figure his divinity meant he couldn’t also take on humanity.

Philippians 2.6-8 KWL
6 Existing in God’s form,
he figured being the same as God wasn’t something to clutch,
7 but poured himself into a slave’s form:
He took on a human likeness.
8 He was born; he was found human in every way.
Being obedient, he humbled himself to death: Death by crucifixion.

John continues:

John 1.14-18 KWL
14 The word was made flesh. He encamped with us.
We got a good look at his significance—
the significance of a father’s only son—filled with grace and truth.
15 John testifies about him, saying as he called out, “This is the one I spoke of!
‘The one coming after me has got in front of me’—because he’s first.”
16 All of us received things out of his fullness. Grace after grace:
17 The Law which Moses gave; the grace and truth which Christ Jesus became.
18 Nobody’s ever seen God.
The only Son, God who’s in the Father’s womb, he explains God.

(Yes, the KJV has for verse 18 “the only begotten Son.” That’s not what we find in the earliest copies of John; some later copier must’ve been weirded out by the idea of an only-begotten God, and changed it ’cause it sounds like God got created. But begotten doesn’t mean created. Anyway, I digress.)

Hence Jesus, who is God, knows precisely what God’s like. He was sent from God to explain God to us, as God’s revelation of himself. What we know about God must be filtered through Jesus. Like John said, only Jesus explains God. ’Cause he’s God.

Two persons. Both, the One God.

The idea Jesus is God bugs people. In the scriptures, we see many references to Jesus and God as separate-sounding individuals. Lk 2.52, 18.19, Jn 8.42, 13.3, 20.17, Ac 2.32, 3.26, 7.55 In their letters, apostles greeted their readers in the name of God the Father, and Christ Jesus. Ro 1.7, Jm 1.1, 1Pe 1.3, 2Jn 1.3, Ju 1.1 We read of Jesus speaking with his Father. We see Jesus called “son of God” regularly. Exactly how can Jesus be simultaneously God and God’s son? Aren’t the scriptures clearly speaking of two different persons?—God, and some fella named Jesus who’s not the same guy?

Yet there are plenty of passages which state, just as clearly, this fella named Jesus is God. Yeah, he’s not the same person as the Father. Yet somehow he and his Father are both God. How? Well, Christian beliefs about the trinity explain it as best we can. Meanwhile all I can do is point you to the scriptures where Jesus is obviously God.

John 1.1-5 KWL
1 The word’s in the beginning. The word’s with God. The word is God.
2 He’s in the beginning with God. 3 Everything came to be through him.
Nothing that exists came to be without him. 4 What came to be through him, was life.
Life’s the light of humanity. 5 Light shines in darkness, and darkness can’t get hold of it.

As I pointed out in my article on this passage, the Hebrew word davár, Aramaic memár, and Greek lógos were used to describe the LORD whenever he got too anthropomorphic for the Pharisees’ comfort. Pharisees grew up hearing about how “the word of the LORD” created the heavens and earth, dealt with Noah and Abraham and Moses, and otherwise performed miracles. John took that idea, and began his gospel by saying this word became human. And lived with us.

Colossians 1.15-19 KWL
15 The Son is the invisible God’s ikon, coming first to all creation.
17 By him God created the whole of the heavens and what’s on the earth.
The seen and unseen, whether thrones, lordships, rulers, or powers:
Everything through Jesus, founded upon him.
17 Jesus is before everything. He holds everything together.
18 Jesus is the head of the body—the church.
He’s even the first to come back from the dead, so he can be first in everything.
19 God was pleased to dwell, in all his fullness, in Jesus.
20 And through Jesus, he reconciled everything—whether on earth or heaven—
to himself, making peace through the blood of his cross.

Yeah, that last verse, you can’t tell who the pronouns are referring to anymore, huh? Christians debate it all the time. But it’s all the same being. The One God, incarnate in Christ Jesus.

Doing what only God can do.

Many have tried to manipulate the apostles’ words so they can argue Jesus is nothing more than a creation of God. A really significant creation of God; almost his vice-God. But not the God. A lesser god, a demiurge, a demigod, a mighty angel who got promoted to God’s right hand.

From the very beginning, skeptics have claimed “coming first to all creation” means Jesus was the first thing God created, before everything else. “Let there be light” Ge 1.3 made the light who “shines in darkness.” Jn 1.5 They insist the bible’s language implies there’s a point in time where Jesus didn’t yet exist. We call ’em Arians, after Arius of Alexandria (256–336), the first priest to really push this heretic idea.

It doesn’t make logical sense though: If God created everything through Jesus, this’d include time, which means we can’t say there’s such a thing as a point in time where Jesus didn’t yet exist. Time starts when it got created, and time didn’t get created without Jesus creating the universe. It’s the word of God who said, “Let there be light.”

There are also the popular myths Jesus never claimed to be Messiah, or divine, or from God, much less that he is God. Of course, those who claim such things have never cracked a bible, nor would they believe it if they had. True, we’ve no quotes where Jesus bluntly says, “Hey guys, guess who I am?”—’cause back then, it’d get him stoned to death as a madman. But y’might notice how he said various things which were awfully close to that. (And likewise came close to a stoning.)

John 10.24-38 KWL
24 The Judeans encircled Jesus and told him, “How long will you leave us hanging?
If you’re Messiah, tell us boldly.”
25 Jesus answered them, “I told you. You don’t believe me.
I testified about myself in these works I do in my Father’s name, 26 but you don’t believe me.
You’re not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice. I know them. They follow me.
28 I give them eternal life. They’ll never die in the age to come.
No one will snatch them from my hand. 29 My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than anyone.
Nobody can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
31 Again the Judeans picked up rocks to stone him with.
32 Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from my Father.
Which one of them are you going to stone me for?
33 The Judeans answered him, “We’re not stoning you for good works, but slander.
You’re a human, who makes yourself God!”
34 Jesus answered them, “Isn’t it written in your Law, ‘I say you’re gods’? Ps 82.6
35 If God called these people who received God’s word ‘gods,’ the scriptures can’t be undone.
36 He whom the Father set apart and sent into the world—you call him a slanderer.
For I said I’m God’s son. 37 If I don’t do my Father’s works, don’t believe me!
38 And if I do… Even if you don’t believe me, believe the works!
This way you’ll know and understand the Father’s in me, and I’m in the Father.”

They still wanted to prosecute him for it, Jn 10.39 and that’s because they, like these naysayers, don’t believe Jesus can possibly be God. It’s not based on a lack of biblical evidence; it’s based on a lack of personal belief.

Like Jesus said, if you’re not gonna believe him, believe the works. ’Cause Jesus regularly worked stuff only God can legitimately do. Like read hearts. Or forgive somebody’s sins which weren’t against him personally: Since he’s God, all sins are against him personally.

Mark 2.3-12 KWL
3 Bearers came to Jesus, with a paraplegic carried by four.
4 Unable to get him through the crowd, they uncovered the roof where Jesus was.
Digging through, they lowered the cot where the paraplegic laid.
5 Jesus, seeing their faith, told the paraplegic, “Boy, your sins are forgiven.”
6 But certain scribes were sitting there, debating this in their minds.
7 “Why’s this man speaking this way?” “Slander!”
“Who can forgive sins other than the One God?”
8 Next Jesus, knowing in his spirit this was what they debated to themselves,
told them, “Why do you debate these things in your minds?
9 What’s easiest?—to tell the paraplegic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’?
Or say, ‘Get up, pick up your cot, and walk’?
10 So you can know the Son of Man has license to forgive sins on earth,”
Jesus told the paraplegic, 11 “Get up, I tell you. Pick up your cot and go to your house.”
12 And he got up. Next, he picked up his cot. He came out in front of everyone.
So everyone was astounded and glorified God, saying this: “We’ve never seen this before!”

Or accept people’s worship, as he did with a man whom he cured of blindness.

John 9.35-39 KWL
35 Jesus heard they’d thrown him out of synagogue.
Finding him, he said, “You believe in the Son of Man?”
36 In reply this man said, “And who’s he, master?—so I can believe in him.”
37 Jesus told him, “You’ve even seen him: He’s the one speaking with you.”
38 He agreed, “I believe, Master!” and worshiped him.
39 Jesus said, “I came into this world to provoke judgment.
Thus those who can’t see may see—and those who see may become blind.”

Or give his followers miraculous power, when we use his name to invoke our relationship with him.

Acts 3.6-8 KWL
6 Simon Peter said, “I have no silver and gold on me. I’ll give you what I have:
In the name of Messiah Jesus of Nazareth, get up and walk.”
7 Grabbing him by the right hand at that very moment, Peter lifted him.
His feet and ankles were strengthened. 8 Jumping up, he stood, and was walking,
and went with them into temple—walking, jumping, and praising God.

Most of Jesus’s stranger teachings—like eating his flesh and drinking his blood, Jn 6.51-55 like how nobody gets to the Father around him, and when we know him we know God, Jn 14.6-9 like how he’ll set us free when we follow him Jn 8.31-32 —make no sense unless Jesus is God. Out of anyone else’s mouth, this stuff is just nuts.

Those who insist it can’t be true.

Pagans will concede Jesus was a great man. Muslims will figure he’s a prophet. Jews might even accept him as wise teacher, though not necessarily their wise teacher. But that’s all. They simply can’t step beyond that, and recognize he’s God. Nor accept any of the scriptures which show Jesus acting as God. They figure his overzealous followers—the apostles, and us present-day Christians—made all this stuff up.

Some of ’em figure it’d be completely beneath God to become human. What about all the Old Testament verses which state God’s not a man, Nu 23.19 God’s not mortal? Jb 9.32 Muslims figure it’s an insult to God’s greatness and honor: He’d never debase himself in such a way. Become one of his lowly creatures? Let any of his lowly creatures touch him, much less crucify him? Surely not. Never. Scandalous. Blasphemous.

Of course this comes from basing one’s theology on what they’d do if they were God. Frankly, if I were God I wouldn’t go so far as to literally become human; I’d look human, but keep all my almightiness, and avoid any of the icky gross stuff we find in humanity. Like body odor, catching disease, being so dependent on food and sleep… all the normal human stuff Jesus went through which bothers people. (Did Jesus get boogers? Of course. Did he grow nose hair? Likely. Did Jesus really feel every lash of the whip when he was tortured? Yes.)

If you wanna imagine God didn’t really become human, you’re gonna have to chuck the scriptures, ’cause that’s what they describe.

And revelation, testimony, and time have bourne out Jesus is legit. He still appears to people. Speaks to us daily. Gives Christians the power to do miracles in his name.

A madman’s ravings quickly fall apart under minor scrutiny. Jesus’s teachings still hold up—which means either he’s the luckiest loon in the cosmos, and every Christian since has been somehow hallucinating in sync… and what’re the odds? Or, more likely, God did become human. And started something big.

God is Jesus.

If Jesus is God, the inverse is automatically true: God is Jesus.

You thought people struggle with the Jesus-is-God idea, you’re gonna find devout Christians balking at this one. Most of us are used to thinking of Jesus as only part of God; as a third, not the whole. (Yeah, I know that’s not how trinity works. But your average Christian still thinks of the trinity like three leaves on a shamrock.)

But these very same Christians don’t struggle at all with the idea God’s the Father of Jesus. Tell them, “God’s the Father,” and they’ll easily respond, “Of course God’s our Father.” They won’t reply—as they will with “God is Jesus”—“Waitaminnit; Father is only one person of the trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together are God; the Father by himself isn’t God.” They’ll immediately recognize any form of “God isn’t the Father” is heresy.

Well, the same’s true of the Son. And the Holy Spirit.

And we need to wrap our brain round the idea God is Jesus. The LORD God of Abraham, the Almighty and Most High, Unmoved Mover and Supreme Being, in his fullness, bodily dwells in the first-century Galilean rabbi Jesus of Nazareth. Cl 2.9 That’s how radical Jesus’s incarnation is: Not part of God. Not a third of God. God became human.

Ergo that God, the God, the God of the Old Testament, is Jesus.

Too many Christians split the bible between Old Testament and New Testament, and figure the OT part was canceled out when the NT part came around. It’s called dispensationalism, and it’s a slight upgrade from Marcionism, the heresy invented by Marcion of Sinópe (85–160) when he figured the OT God can’t possibly be the same guy as the Father of Jesus. Marcion tried to remove the OT from the scriptures—plus any books which struck him as too “old testamenty,” like Matthew or James. Nowadays, dispensationalists keep ’em, read ’em, and don’t follow ’em.

Not only are they the same God, but Jesus is the LORD God of Moses, the very same deity who gave the Law to the Hebrews at Sinai. Jesus is the God of the Prophets, who warned the Hebrews time and again to stop sinning lest something worse happen to them. Jn 5.14 Jesus is the God of creation, the God who made earth and humans and called us good, the God who had to drive Adam and Eve out of paradise, the God who decided he’d provide for their salvation himself when the woman’s seed crushed the serpent’s head. Ge 3.15 In that statement, God declared his own future incarnation as Jesus.

When Christians imagine Jesus and God as two separate entities, they’re making the mistake of not taking Jesus seriously when he said, “I and the Father are one.” Jn 10.30 He is the Old Testament God, and if you imply or think they’re in any way wholly different people, you don’t know God as well as you presume.

God, through Jesus’s lens.

Christians love Jesus. (Heck, even pagans love Jesus. They get him wrong all the time, but what little they know, they love.) But our relationship with the God of the Old Testament needs work. We don’t love him like we love Jesus… yet he is Jesus.

Some Christians love the OT God for pretty twisted reasons: They figure he’s far less gracious, far more willing to smite people. And they love his wrath… largely ’cause they assume he’s not gonna point that wrath at them.

But once we realize the OT God is Jesus, how should we look at him?

Well, we oughta see him the very same way we see Jesus. He’s joyful. Peaceful. Loves his people. Extremely patient. Kind. Good. Faithful and forgiving. Gentle, or “slow to anger,” as he put it. Ex 34.6 He’s entirely in control of himself.

All the loving, friendly, neighborly aspects of Jesus apply to God, whether we’re reading the Old Testament or New. Not because Jesus got those traits from God: Because God is Jesus. He doesn’t just think and behave and love like Jesus; he’s Jesus.

That’s the way we Christians are meant to look at God. We’re not meant to look at him any other way. We’re not to read any other motives into God’s actions, than those consistent with the fruit of the Spirit, which is the character of Jesus.

Yet we do, ’cause we don’t realize this.

We Christians don’t always realize what Jesus came to earth to do. Some of us figure it was just to get us saved: Die on the cross, knock out sin and death, get us to heaven. But Jesus came to reveal who God is; “he explains God.” Jn 1.18 He’s how we’re meant to understand the Father. If you see Jesus, you’ve seen the Father; Jn 14.9 Jesus only does what he sees his Father do. Jn 5.19-20 He never acts in any way inconsistent with God.

So if we ever figure Jesus acts one way, and the Father another; if we ever imagine the Old Testament God did things one way, but Jesus got him to change his mind; whenever we think the Father’s raging and wrathful, but Jesus placates him: We’ve set the trinity against himself. We’ve gone astray. Pull it back in. Don’t interpret God out of the context of Jesus. God is Jesus.

What does Jesus do? Then that’s what God does. And that’s how we Christians are meant to interpret the scriptures, Old Testament and New.