A central point of attack against Christianity is the deity of Christ. Is Christ merely a human, is he some sort of created god, or is he eternal God? If the Bible is the authority on such matters, then we cannot help but understand that Christ is eternal God, God the Son.
The first two verses of the gospel according to John confront us with the deity of Christ: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” Verse three adds: “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” When God began the act of creation, the Word was there already. He was not made. He was. Jesus rocked his opponents who hypocritically claimed to be true followers of God: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 858).
Should there be any question as to the identity of the Word, John 1:14 clears that up: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Revelation 19:13 anticipates the return of Jesus: “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” The Word was Jesus. While our minds may have difficulty grasping how the infinite Son could be clothed in the finite garb of humanity, the identity of Jesus is straightforward: he is God.
Our English word for “word” is translated from the Greek word logos. Logos has a variety of meanings, but suffice it to say that “the Word” indicates the very being and the very thought of someone. Psalm 33:6 displays this understanding: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.” William Hendriksen explains: “A word serves two distinct purposes: a. it gives expression to the inner thought, the soul of the man, doing this even though no one else is present to hear what is said or to read what is thought; and b. it reveals this thought (hence, the soul of the speaker) to others. Christ is the Word of God in both respects: he expresses or reflects the mind of God; also, he reveals God to man.”
When Jesus spoke, God spoke. The Word would always communicate what God wanted revealed. When Jesus did anything, that was God doing whatever. When Jesus taught his apostles, “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him,” Philip responded, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus asked, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:7-9). Jesus was no mere mortal. He was the very Word of God.
John Ryle [1816-1900] joyously exclaimed: “The Father and the Word, though two persons, are joined by an ineffable union. Where God the Father was from all eternity, there also was the Word, even God the Son, — their glory equal, their majesty co-eternal, and yet their Godhead one. This is a great mystery! Happy is he who can receive it as a little child, without attempting to explain it.”
Why does this matter? By listening to and observing the acts of Jesus as recorded in the Scriptures, we have a better understanding of God. The Word always faithfully communicates who God is and what he would have us know.
Also, because of the deity of Christ, the cross matters. Were Jesus anyone other than God himself, the cross would essentially be insignificant. Were Jesus not God, we could say that a great teacher or uncompromising leader went to his death for what he believed true. While that may be inspirational, there would be no real significance. What would that have to do with our eternal wellbeing? The righteousness that God requires is the righteousness that God provided. We are received by God because the righteousness of the crucified Christ was imputed to us for our justification (Romans 5).
What Child is this? A. W. Pink puts it this way: “In this Book [the gospel of John] we are shown that the one who was heralded by the angels to the Bethlehem shepherds, who walked this earth for thirty-three years, who was crucified at Calvary, who rose in triumph from the grave, and who forty days later departed from these scenes, was none other than the Lord of Glory. The evidence for this is overwhelming, the proofs almost without number, and the effect of contemplating them must be to bow our hearts in worship before ‘the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ’ (Titus 2:13).”