The Text itself: Mark 1:9-13 (niv)

“At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven en: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him”

Last week, we looked at the subject of baptism. This week is the first of a two part message. Mark describes Jesus coming out of the water and two things happen:


The Holy Spirit descends on Jesus ‘like a dove’. In that moment we have God the Son coming out of the water; we have God the Spirit descending on Him; and we have God the Father making a declaration about His Son.

This is one EVIDENCE for the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.


A voice from heaven is heard which declares: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” In declaring ‘you are my son’, God confirms that Jesus is divine. Interestingly, this is the first description of Jesus—as “son of God”, yet the overwhelming identification Jesus uses for himself in Mark’s Gospel is ‘son of man’.

This is an evidence of the divinity of Jesus.

This is a small but important detour: I have described these two things as ‘evidence’. This is because people often use ‘proof language’. They will say things like ‘I won’t believe unless you can prove to me that Christianity is true’. We fall into this trap and we use it as well. I have heard Christians say this or something like it: ‘this text proves such and such’.

We need to stop using proof language and we should challenge people who do use it. The reason for this is found in the nature of proof. Proof can be understood in two different contexts, and often people equivocate on them.

  1. Proof has a Scientific or Mathematical meaning. This is (if you like) the only ‘absolute proof’ you can get. Nothing else in life can be ‘proved’ scientifically UNLESS you are talking mathematically or conducting a scientific experiment. In other words demanding scientific proof about something which cannot be reproduced in a laboratory or calculated in an equation is a nonsense.
  2. Secondly, proof can have a legal meaning. In a court of law, defendants are judged to be ‘proved’ to be either guilty or innocent. In this context, ‘proof’ is merely a conclusion which has been arrived at taking into account all the information and evidence that has been presented. They might be right, but even in a trial, someone’s guilt or innocence is not proven in the mathematical sense. The standard of proof required in a court of law is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, not ‘beyond all possible doubt’. Legal proof will often have unanswered questions.

Understanding this distinction is important because when people demand ‘proof’ of God’s existence, or of the resurrection or some other Christian belief, they are trying to corner us into attempting some kind of ‘scientific proof’ which is impossible. It is a nonsense to expect to be able to scientifically or mathematically some aspect of our faith. The kind of proof in this context we should be appealing to is legal, not scientific.

Going back to the two evidences we mentioned earlier – the Trinity and the divinity of Christ. I am going to tackle these two in reverse order because the divinity of Jesus is a core element in the doctrine of the Trinity, so it makes sense to tackle that first. Next week, we’ll look at how Jesus’ divinity fits in to the nature of God (the Trinity).

Jesus is God

So, Jesus is divine, He is God. We call Him “God the Son”. This is a core tenet of Christianity. I would go so far as to say that if you don’t believe that Jesus is divine, you are not actually a Christian.

  1. Jesus himself claimed to be God.
  2. The Disciples recognised Him as God.
  3. The Early believers worshipped him as God and taught his divinity.
  4. The early church did the same.
  5. The earliest Christian creeds (which are statements of belief) declare Jesus as God.

That being the case, it is important we understand what we mean when we say Jesus is God.

The second thing we want to look at is this: If Jesus is both fully human and fully divine, how does that work? What does it look like? How do the divine and the human come together in the person of Jesus? The theological term for that is the hypostatic union.

so lets look at some of the Biblical evidence …

Start in Romans 9:5, notice Paul’s description of Jesus:

Paul is talking about the Jews and says “To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen”.

In this verse, Paul describes Jesus as “God over all”. This is one of the clearest and most direct Scriptural evidences that the Bible teaches the Divinity of Christ.

Paul also describes, in this same verse, Jesus as being from the Jewish race ‘according to the flesh’. In this one verse, we have an assertion of both the humanity and the divinity of Jesus.

One of the biggest problems we see around to day is this absolute belief that Jesus was a man, a very special man, perhaps, but a man nevertheless. The witness of the NT, however, is that Jesus was not just a man, but actually God.

This is a stumbling block for many people. There is a conservative commentator in the USA who is a religious Jew. His name is Denis Prager. I recently listened to a podcast where he sat on a stage with Pastor Jack Hibbs, a Christian pastor. Denis Prager said that the issue for Jewish people is NOT that Christians claimed Jesus was the messiah. It was that they claimed He was God.

What DIRECT biblical evidence is there that Jesus claimed to be God?

This is a massive subject and as usual I cannot do it justice in the short time we have available to us this morning, but here are a few of the evidences I find compelling, and I am going to focus on the Gospels, and the encounters Jesus has …

Skeptical people will often claim “Jesus never claimed to be God!”. Or they will hand you a Bible as challenge you to point to a text where Jesus is recorded as saying “I am God”. They are right in the sense we have no record of Jesus saying, “look Guys I just want to say this to you … I am God”. But as the following examples will attest, Jesus did understand that He was divine.

John 8:48-59. “Before Abraham was, I AM”,


in modern romantic films, we sometimes see this happening:
Boy says something to Girl,
Girl responds, “I do”.
Boy and Girl look lovingly at one another.

Everyone watching the film understands that a marriage proposal has been given and accepted, EVEN IF no mention of marriage has been made.

You could argue that in such films the boy never asked the girl to marry him and yet everybody knows that this is what actually happened. This is the case with the passage in John 8:58, Jesus doesn’t actually say, “I am God”, but in making the declaration “I am” as He did, there was doubt amongst his hearers the connection with the burning bush encounter between Moses and God . They would not have missed the implication and His embedded claim of divinity.

Luke 11:9 (& others). “I say to you”.

Note that when the Old Testament prophets, spoke out, they would invariably say, “Thus the Lord Almighty says” or “The Lord God says” or, they would announce that the message they gave came from the Lord Almighty. They knew full well that the message they carried was not theirs, it was God’s.

But Jesus never ever did that. You will not find a single gospel account which record Him saying, “The Lord Almighty says.” He said, “I say to you” (in the King James it is, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee”) The people who heard Jesus in the 1st Century were accustomed to the prophets in every generation announcing a proclamation from God as “Thus the Lord God Almighty says to you.” When they heard Jesus proclaim, “I say this to you” they understood very well what He meant. Jesus’ words revealed what He thought about himself.

They understood that he considered Himself to be God. He never felt compelled to say, “God is telling you this.” Instead, He said, “I’m telling you this.” Jesus understood himself to be God, to have the authority of God, and He was not shy about speaking AS God.

Mark 2:5 (& others). “Your sins are forgiven”.

In this passage in Mark, a group of friends break through a roof to bring their paralysed friend to Jesus. When Jesus sees the man, He says to him, “son, your sins are forgiven” (interestingly, although John doesn’t pick up on it, Jesus also calls the man “son”, and WHO is our father?).

The scribes around knew the implications of Him saying that. That only God can forgive sin, and John records it, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7). Jesus doesn’t deny what they are thinking. In fact He reveals it (and as 1 Samuel 16:7 says, only God can see into our hearts, another indication of His divinity), and He doubles down and proves it by healing the man.

John 10:33. “You, a mere man, claim to be God”.

John 10:27-30, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

The Jews understood exactly what Jesus was claiming—deity. When Jesus declared, “I and the Father are one,” He was saying that He and the Father are of one nature and essence. He was claiming divinity. Claiming to be God is blasphemy and punishable by death.

So … John goes on to record their actions. John 10:31 “The Jews picked up stones again to stone him”. Jesus challenges them and they reply, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God” (John 10:33).

John 20:28. “My Lord and my God”

This is the encounter between Jesus and Thomas. When Thomas calls Jesus “God”, Jesus doesn’t correct Him. Jesus was not averse to correcting His disciples when they got it wrong. He calls Peter, Satan. He also rebukes James and John when they want to call down fire on the Samaritan village (Luke 9:55). At one point, He actually says to the disciples, “are you do dull?” (Matthew 15:16).

Revelation 19:10 tells us that we should only worship God, and given the commandment to worship only God and to have “no other Gods before Him” (Exodus 20:3), coupled with Jesus’ assessment of the greatest commandment (“love the Lord your God …”), when Thomas falls down and worships Jesus declaring “my Lord and my God!”, if Jesus wasn’t God, He would have corrected him.

Luke 18:19. “Why are you calling me good? Only God is good”

When a rich young man comes to Jesus, he calls Jesus good teacher. Jesus’ response is interesting, He says “why do you call me good? only God is good”. Contrary to some interpretations, I don’t believe that Jesus is denying His divinity, in fact quite the opposite. He is saying that since only God is good, when the young mans calls Him “Good teacher”, he is, in fact, recognising it.

Similarly, in Thomas’ confession of Jesus as God, Jesus does not correct the statement, He merely points out its implication. Jesus is saying, “you do realise you’re calling me God, don’t you?”

Jesus is a man

For this morning’s preach, I am not going to develop the evidence that Jesus was human other than simply listing human traits and experiences the Bible describes Jesus having: growth, learning, hunger, tiredness, anger, distress, sorrow, thirst, pain.

As a general rule, defending the humanity of Jesus is not something we will have to do, there are some obscure heresies that deny his humanity, but nowadays it is more common to find people who deny he ever existed. When people do accept Him as a true character in history, they will not usually deny His humanity, so I don’t think it really is necessary to go into any great theological depth here. Although I have said that today people might not believe Jesus actually existed (which is a matter for arguing the literary and historical evidence), it has not always been the case. Certainly, some of the epistles in the NT take great pains to point out His humanity, and in history, there have been times when people have done the same.

Suffice it to say that for this morning we’ll take it as read that Jesus was human in every way except for sin; He lived a completely sinless life (Hebrews 4:15).

So, HOW does humanity and deity come together in the person of Jesus? OR what is …

The Hypostatic Union

There is quite an array of beliefs about Jesus and exactly who He was. In particular, how or whether the Human and the Divine met in the person of Christ. These are the ‘big four’.

Docetism – Jesus is God and not human at all.

Docetism takes its name from a Greek word which means to seem or to appear. It is born in Greek philosophy and heavily influenced by the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato:

  1. Aristotle, taught that God cannot change, suffer or be affected by the material world, and
  2. Plato, taught that matter is, in essence, evil.

The conclusion is therefore that God, being in essence good, cannot change his form to assume a material (and in essence evil) form. His humanity, then, was just appearance, He only appeared to be human, but “was more like a ghost, an apparition than a human being”. Docetism doesn’t accept Jesus’ physical birth because if Jesus had been born humanly, Mary would have contributed materially to him (after all, we now know that the DNA of a baby is a created from both mother and father). Instead, Mary was a vessel through which Jesus came into the world, contributing nothing to him. Docetism teaches, then, that in Christ the divine is real and complete, but the human is only appearance.

A slight variation of this says that even if there was humanity in Jesus’ nature at all, it is so insignificant as to be on existent. His humanity is swamped by his divinity like a glass of wine is swallowed up by the ocean. The effect is the same, there is negligible humanity in Jesus.

Arianism – Jesus is JUST a man and not God at all

Arianism takes its name from Arius, the main proponent of this view teaches that Jesus was not divine at all. Arius believed in the absolute uniqueness and transcendence of God. God is unique, and the one source of all things. He is indivisible and unchangeable – otherwise He would not be God. Only God is uncreated and eternal, everything else is created. Arians believe that whilst Jesus is very special, and is the agent of God’s creation, He is not self-existent. The Arian view is summed up in the statement “there was a time when Christ was not”.

This is the view of all sorts of people today, setting to one side atheists who don’t believe in the spiritual realm at all, Jehovah’s Witnesses have Arian beliefs, Moslems don’t believe Jesus is God, Jews don’t either.

The other views fall somewhere in between.

Apollinarianism – Jesus is God in a “man skin”

Apollinarius, after whom the heresy was named, was the bishop of Laodicea, and reacted strongly against the denial of Christ’s deity by followers of Arius. He believed that humanity has two parts, body and soul. Christ, he argued, could not have a human soul, because to have a soul, would then make Christ consist of three parts, body, human soul and divine soul. Furthermore, he argued, to have a human (created) soul, would make him “enslaved to filthy thoughts”. Apollinarius took the view that this was absurd, and that Jesus’ human body was filled with a divine soul. In other words, physically He was man, but spiritually He was God.

Eutychianism – Jesus is a neither God nor Man

It is unclear what Eutychus, the father of Eutychianism, truly believed. He was elderly in Constantinople when his view became prominent, and it seems that his views were slightly muddled. Nevertheless, two views were attributed to him:

The main one here is that humanity and deity were blurred into one, which created a mixture that was neither human nor divine (in the same way that if you mix blue and yellow, you get green, which is neither blue nor yellow).

There are other more obscure and fanciful views which are complicated to both understand and to explain.

So what …

What difference does it make? Why is it important?

That He is Human?

If Jesus was not a man, He could not represent us, He could not be our substitute. Galatians 4:4,5 says “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons”. Jesus shares our humanity and therefore can fully represent us. Not only does his humanity mean He can fully represent us, He can also sympathise with us, so Hebrews says, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Only a human could sympathise with our weaknesses and temptations. In His humanity, Jesus was subjected to all the same kinds of trials that we are, He was tempted; He was persecuted; He was poor; He was despised; He suffered physical pain; and He endured a lingering and cruel death. Only a human being could experience these things, and only a human being could fully understand them through experience.

In fact, John writes about people who deny his humanity in 1 John, and he writes this, “This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world” (1 John 4:2-3).

Denying the humanity of Jesus puts you in eternal jeopardy.

That He is Divine?

That Jesus is God is equally important. Hebrews says, “every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

The writer to Hebrews looks at the sacrificial system of the Jewish law and sees Jesus’ death on that cross as a Sacrifice for sins. Jesus’ divinity turns his sacrifice from a human one which has to repeated into a ‘once for all’ deal which only God can do.

Abraham knew this when he is taking Isaac up to the mountain, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8). I wonder if He knew how prophetic he was being?

Paul writes in Romans 10 that confession of Jesus as Lord is a pre-requisite for salvation, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord …” (Romans 10:9)

So, Jesus is both God AND man, and there is no conflict between the two, He is divine, completely united with God, yet He is also a man and at one with His humanity. He can legitimately and simultaneously call himself both. God and man are both present in the person of Jesus – and without the one swallowing up the other. He is neither hybrid (a mix of the two) nor is He schizophrenic (two distinct personalities living in one body). He is one Person, one individual. Jesus is not God with a little man inside, or man with a little God inside.

Because of this truth we can have confidence that He understands us in our weaknesses, He knows our struggles, our worries and our pain. When He walked this earth, He laid aside his majesty (as Graham Kendrick puts it) and therefore experienced the kinds of weaknesses and struggles that we experience on a daily basis. You really DO have a saviour who understands you inside and out!

But because He is God, we can also have the confidence that He has the power and the authority to defeat ALL the works of the enemy. When we are struggling, we can have confidence that in Jesus there is not only the understanding of the struggles we go through, but also the power to help us to overcome them!

That is GOOD news!!