The Deity of Jesus

The central truth of all truth is that concerning the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was man on earth and His life here closed upon a malefactor's cross, and He is a man now at the right of the Majesty on High, having been raised again from the dead by the glory of the Father. But He who was man in humiliation on earth, who is still a man in exaltation in heaven, and who will never surrender manhood for ever is also God, eternal in being and omnipotent in power. He was God before He took up manhood, He did not cease to be God when he tabernacled amongst men, and what He was, He is, and shall for ever be.

The necessity of Deity of Jesus meets us first in relation to men being brought to God in righteousness, for no purpose of God in regard to them could be realized if men were not brought to Him righteously, and established before Him according to His eternal justice and the holiness of His nature. How could this be done, and who was able to do it? The question is not a new one. It was asked by Job long centuries ago when he cried, "How should man be just with God?" (Job 9:2). And the question was not one of passing interest that engaged his attention for a moment merely, it received his most earnest consideration, for he realised how vital a question it was. In the ninth chapter of his book we find him testing one by one the suggestions that arose in regard to it, and finally, apparently hopeless of finding an answer, breaking out in that soul-stirring lament, "HE IS NOT A MAN AS I AM, that I should answer Him, and we should come together in Judgment. NEITHER IS THERE ANY DAYSMAN BETWIXT US, THAT MIGHT LAY HIS HAND UPON US BOTH. Let Him take His rod away from me, and let not His fear terrify me: then would I speak and not fear Him; but it is not so with me."

Do you perceive where he stood, and do you interpret his feelings? He said in effect: "I know that I have sinned against Him, and if He were a man as I am, I could, having the feelings of a man, understand His displeasure; I could estimate the extent of my offence, and I could go to Him and make restitution for the wrong that I have done, and so be at peace with Him. But He is not a man as I am, and I cannot enter into judgment with Him, I do not know where to begin the argument, I cannot measure the demands of His justice. I have no ground upon which to stand before Him; the gulf between us is immeasurable from my side; He is almighty, holy and just, and I am weak, sinful and guilty; His very holiness is a terror to me; it makes me afraid."

Only could Job have hope if a days-man, or mediator, appeared in the case, fully qualified to take it up; and see how accurately he had gauged the situation: He must be one who can stand betwixt us — between God, infinitely holy and just, and the sinner, guilty and conscience-stricken — and put his hand upon us both; and, says he, I know no one who can do it. I have felt the need of such an one, longed for Him, sought for Him, but I have not found Him.

Mark well the qualifications that the needed mediator must possess: He must stand betwixt God and the sinner, and by so doing declare His willingness to take up the case, and He must be able to put His hand upon both; and I beg of you not to miss the meaning of that. I might come to you and lay my hand upon your shoulder and talk familiarly with you, for we are equals, but I could not stand beside His Majesty the King and lay my hand upon him, it would not be proper even if I had the opportunity; how much less could a man lay His hand upon God, or upon the throne of God! It is recorded that when David would bring the ark to Zion, that ark being God's throne in Israel, and the symbol of His presence there, that Uzzah put forth his hand to steady it, and the moment his presumptuous fingers touched that throne of God he fell to the earth a corpse. Learn from that solemn incident that no man could put his hand upon God, or upon the throne of God and live. And yet the mediator for whom Job cried in his despair must be able to put His hand upon God, He must be God's equal, none less could intervene, or be of use to Job or to us. But he must also put His hand upon men; He must be one of us, able to take our part and to identify Himself with our vast indebtedness. HE MUST BE GOD AND MAN.

It should be evident to us all, as it was to Job, that such an one we cannot produce, for no man, even the best, could exalt Himself to Deity; the attempt to do so, which will be made by the coming superman, the beast of Revelation 13, will be the climax of all blasphemy, and will result in that impious and devil-inspired personage being cast alive into the lake of fire (Rev. 19). Men cannot bring forth the needed mediator; here they come to their wit's end; they have no hope except in God, the one whose glory has been challenged by their sin. But man's extremity is God's opportunity, and the one whom Job could not find on earth has come from heaven, and our part is to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.

The New Testament is the book of the Mediator. In its first chapter there stands twice over in capital letters the name of its great subject, its true title, JESUS. "Thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins" (v. 21). "She brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS" (v. 25); and Jesus is Emmanuel; GOD WITH US. The prophetic Scriptures, to cheer the faith of those who lived in those dim days, had foretold His coming: "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Mic. 5:2). That word was fulfilled when Jesus was born in Bethlehem; then He appeared who was able to speak to man on God's behalf, and to speak to God on man's behalf, for He is God and man.

Being God, He knew according to God's perfect estimate what the effect to the universe of man's disregard of His will was: how and to what extent God's glory was jeopardized by man's sin; what the demands of the eternal throne were in regard to the violation of its just decrees. He knew how completely man's self-will had made him the slave of Satan, how great was the gulf that separated him from God; how utterly powerless he was to rectify the awful wrong that he had committed. He knew the penalty that had to be paid, the conflict that had to be waged, the work that had to be done. It was the will of God that every problem that man's sin had raised should be taken up and settled in a way in which every attribute of His should be glorified and salvation secured for us, and He, the Son, came to accomplish the will of God. He said, "A body hast Thou prepared Me . . . Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God" (Heb. 10:5-7). He became man to stand in our place before God; to take the bill of our terrible indebtedness, and meet it to the full, so that God Himself could write "Settled" across the account. This involved for Him the sorrows of Calvary; and there, as the holy Substitute for men, He "gave Himself a ransom for all." The sacrifice that He made has met all the claims of the throne, and He is now "THE ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS." But only one who could estimate things according to God's own measure of them could do what He has done.

What a Saviour is Jesus! How fully worthy is He of our fullest praise! He stooped to us that He might put His hand upon us, degraded though we were, and He has done it tenderly and graciously, so that we are not afraid. There is no terror for us in His hand, we do not shrink from Him. He has touched us with the touch of a man, and bound us with the cords of love. Yet he was never less than God, and God has touched us in Him. He has put one hand upon us and the other is placed upon the throne of God, and He is the one mediator. With the one hand He has offered the fullest satisfaction to the righteous claims of God and with the other He has bestowed fullness of grace upon us. He brings us to God and gives us a place in His presence without fear, and in everlasting peace, a peace established upon the infallible and immovable foundation of divine righteousness, secured for us by a divine person for the eternal glory of God.

Thus are we justified before God, and all our fear is removed, and we are free to behold the hand that has been placed upon us, and to mark the fact that it is a wounded hand; a hand that was nail-pierced for us when He identified Himself with us, as we stood subject to the judgment of God, that He might save us. We know the power of this hand too; it has smitten death for us and will not relinquish its hold upon us for ever. As He is now a man in heaven, so shall we be there: He the first-born among many brethren, we His associates identified with Him in an everlasting oneness. He will never surrender that true humanity which He has taken up, and as He is so are they also who are His. The purpose of God is that we should be conformed to His own image. And so we shall be, and yet never shall we forget that He is "over all, God, Blessed for ever more."