Jesus’ Witnesses

Some Evidence For The Deity Of Jesus Christ From The Old Testament

There have been many opinions through the centuries as to who Jesus was. Today some think of him as a teacher, a prophet, a martyr, or a fool. Everybody has their opinion, but who did Jesus himself claim to be and what evidence did he give to support his claim?

Jesus made many radical claims about himself. He claimed to be a king ( Matthew 25:31-34) and Lord ( John 13:13), the good shepherd (John 10:11,14), the Jewish Messiah (John 4:25-26), and the Son of God (John 10:36-37). He also claimed to be able to do anything God could do (John 5:16-24) because he claimed to be God (John 10:30-33, 12:45).

In John 8:12, Jesus claimed to be able to give life to those who followed him when he said:

“I am the light of the world; he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

The Pharisees, who were always ready to find fault with Jesus, immediately replied:

“You bear witness concerning yourself; your witness is not true.”

The Pharisees, who were experts in the Law, had a point. According to the Law, one could determine the truth of someone’s claim only if there were two or more witnesses. Jesus himself admitted that this is so ( John 5:31). So Jesus’ testimony could only be considered true if he had the required witnesses. The Pharisees, confident that he didn’t, came to the conclusion that Jesus’ claims were false.

However, Jesus did claim to have witnesses and in John 5, he mentions them:

“… It is another who bears witness concerning me, and I know that the witness which he bears concerning me is true. You have sent to John {to inquire of him}, and he has borne witness to the truth.”

– John 5:32-33 (JND)

Jesus mentioned his first witness, John the Baptist, who, when Jesus came to be baptized, declared him to be God’s “Lamb” who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). John’s whole purpose in life was to prepare the people for Jesus’ coming, to testify to who he is and what he would do (Luke 3:15-17).

However, Jesus did something totally unexpected: he immediately discounted John’s testimony…

“… But I do not receive witness from man, …”

– John 5:34 (Green)

Why would Jesus do this? John was his most obvious witness. That was his primary purpose in life according to his own testimony and Old Testament prophecy. Why would Jesus mention him, and then throw out his testimony? Perhaps it was because He knew the people respected John and considered him a true prophet of God. Jesus, on the other hand, claimed to have even better witnesses than John…

“… But I have the witness that is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has given me that I should complete them, the works themselves which I do, bear witness concerning me that the Father has sent me. …”

– John 5:36 (JND)

The first witness Jesus claimed was his works. The many signs and wonders that he did publicly was a testimony from God that God had sent him. One of the Pharisees had recognized this fact when he said “.. we know you are a teacher from God, because none can do these signs that you do unless he is from God…” (John 3:2)

Jesus called a second witness in verse 37…

“… And the Father who has sent me himself has borne witness concerning me. …”

– John 5:37 (JND)

Those who were present at Jesus’ baptism saw and heard this witness. The Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove and rested on him and God’s voice came out of heaven saying “You are my beloved Son.” (Matthew 3:16-17)

Jesus mentioned a third witness in verse 39…

“… You search the scriptures, for you think that in them you have life eternal, and it is they which bear witness concerning me; …”

– John 5:39

The very scriptures that the Pharisees revered testified to who Jesus’ is. He gets a little more specific in verse 46, where he says Moses wrote about him.

So, Jesus claimed three witnesses (not including John): His works (the miracles or signs), God the Father, and the scriptures.

As in a court of law, it is not enough to just produce witnesses. One must listen to their testimony to determine the truthfulness of the defendant’s claims. The Jews of Jesus’ day saw his works, were present at his baptism, and had the scriptures. They were able to examine these witnesses for themselves and come to a verdict.

None of us living today were present at Jesus’ baptism, but we still have a record of the first witness (his works), and we have the third witness, the scriptures of his day. So we have all the evidence we need to determine if Jesus was lying or telling the truth about himself.

The scriptures that Jesus referred to are the same as today’s orthodox Jewish Bible or our Old Testament. The Old Testament is a collection of Jewish books. The orthodox Jews, not the Christians, have been in charge of ensuring the accuracy of the Old Testament as it was copied and recopied over the centuries. No orthodox Jew would think about changing the Old Testament, and they certainly wouldn’t change it to support the claims that Jesus made. So, just for the sake of argument, I want us to think about the Old Testament not as a Christian book but as a Jewish book. Then if we find that the witness of the Old Testament supports Jesus’ claims, then the testimony, from a “hostile” source, is that much stronger.

Many of us are familiar with various messianic prophecies in the Old Testament that Jesus fulfilled. We sing about them every Christmas (whether we know it or not). But, I’m not going to focus on the “messiah-ship” of Jesus. Instead, I want us to see what the Old Testament has to say about Jesus’ claims to be equal with God. Can these claims be supported from the Old Testament?

The first witness Jesus spoke of is the works that he did. These are called signs and for an important reason. Whenever we read about a sign in the Bible, we must put on our thinking caps and ask ourselves: “Why is this a sign? What is this sign trying to draw attention to? What is its meaning?” Signs are intended to jog the thinking process – not to entertain. The purpose of Jesus’ signs were to draw attention to the Old Testament’s testimony of who he was. (So the first witness requires the third witness to be understand properly.)

Let’s take a look at two of Jesus’ miracles and compare them with the Old Testament scriptures.

John’s question

John the Baptist, whom Jesus called a witness, who saw and heard God’s testimony of him, started having doubts about who Jesus was. So, he sends some of his disciples to ask Jesus if he really was the one foretold in the scriptures…

But the men having come to him said, “John the baptist has sent us to you, saying, Are you he that is coming, or are we to wait for another?” In that hour he healed many diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and to many blind he granted sight. And Jesus answering said to them, “Go, bring back word to John of what you have seen and heard: that blind see, lame walk, lepers are cleansed, deaf hear, dead are raised, poor are evangelized; and blessed is whoever shall not be offended in me.”

– Luke 7:20-23

Instead of giving a direct answer to John’s disciples (i.e. “Yup, I am the one!”) and sending them away, he healed many people. Then he tells the disciples about an hour later to go back and tell John what they saw and heard. Jesus knew that these miracles and words would assure John much more than a direct “yes” or “no” answer would because John was familiar with the scriptures and Jesus’ actions and words would ring a bell, recalling certain passages to mind.

One such passage is in Isaiah…

And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and, out of obscurity and out of darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see; and the meek shall increase their joy in Yahweh, and the needy among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

– Isaiah 29:18-19 (JND)

This passage would assure John because it would show him that Jesus is from God. Jesus’ words would bring this passage to mind, and his actions, the miraculous signs, would show that he is the Holy One of Israel. Another passage is even clearer about who Jesus is:

Blessed is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
whose hope is in Yahweh his God,
Who made the heavens and the earth,
the sea and all that is in it;
who keeps truth for ever;
Who executes judgment for the oppressed,
who gives bread to the hungry.
Yahweh looses the prisoners;
Yahweh opens the eyes of the blind;
Yahweh raises up them that are bowed down;
Yahweh loves the righteous;

– Psalm 146:5-8 (MKJV)

This passage is even clearer about who Jesus is. For it is Yahweh God (the Lord God in the King James version and the greek scriptures of the day) that does all these things. Jesus did these same things – some right in front of John’s disciples. So the miracles and words that they witnessed would have assured John that Jesus is Yahweh God (see also Isaiah 49:23, 28:16, Matthew 9:27-30, Luke 4:16-21, 9:11-17, 13:11-13, John 5:19, 10:36-37).

Well… maybe I’ve overstepped my bounds here. Maybe Jesus wasn’t really trying to say he was God. Maybe he was only a man being used by God. Let’s look at another one of Jesus’ miracles and see what it says.

The calming of the sea

Most of us are familiar with this story that we probably heard in Sunday School when we were children:

And he {Jesus} went on board ship and his disciples followed him; and behold, the water became very turbulent on the sea, so that the ship was covered by the waves; but he slept. And the disciples came and awoke him, saying, “Lord save us: we perish.” And he says to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then, having arisen, he rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. But the men were astonished, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

– Matthew 8:23-27 (JND)

Another account of this same incident is found in Mark 4:35 to 5:1. Now, while it doesn’t say so, this miracle of Jesus calming the sea was a sign to his disciples and to us. It got them thinking: “Who is this? I don’t know of any man who can do the kinds of things this Man can.” Well, their answer can be found in the Old Testament scriptures. In Psalm 89, it says:

Yahweh, God of hosts, who is like to you, the strong Yah?
And your faithfulness is round about you.
You rule the pride of the sea:
when its waves rise up, you still them.

– Psalm 89:8-9

Jesus’ actions should have given his disciples their answer. Jesus didn’t have to pray to God to calm the sea. He just spoke and it was done, showing that the power to do so was his own.

And if that answer wasn’t obvious enough for them, there’s another passage that would have brought the answer much closer to home. it’s in Psalm 107 and one might almost think it was written specifically for and about them. (As you read this, keep in mind what happened to the disciples in the boat.)

They that go down to the sea in ships,
that do business in great waters,
These see the works of Yahweh,
and his wonders in the deep.
For he speaks, and raises the stormy wind,
which lifts up its waves:
They mount up to the heavens,
they go down to the depths;
their soul is melted because of trouble;
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
and they are at their wits’ end:
Then they cry to Yahweh in their trouble,
and he brings them out of their distresses;
He makes the storm a calm,
and the waves of it are still:
And they rejoice because they are quiet;
and he brings them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to Yahweh for his loving-kindness,
and for his wonderful works to the children of men;
Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the session of the elders.

– Psalm 107:23-32 (KJV)

If the disciples had compared what happened to them to what was written in this Psalm hundreds of years earlier, they would have had their answer: Jesus is Yahweh, the Lord God.

At this point, the skeptical reader might very well say: “Jesus didn’t really do all of those signs. The writers of the New Testament made up all of those stories to make it appear that he did. Jesus wouldn’t have claimed to be God because the Jews were monotheists – they only believe in one God. Christians were the ones who made up the idea of three gods in one, just to elevate Jesus to godhood. You won’t find your trinity in the Jewish scriptures!”

We’ve looked at some evidence from Jesus’ miracles recorded in the New Testament. Now let’s look at Jesus’ third witness, the Old Testament scriptures, to see if over-zealous Christians made up the idea of the Trinity.

The Trinity

The Christian concept of the Trinity is not easily understood. It is not three gods in one, but three persons in one God. We Christians believe the scriptures when it says there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 43:10), but we also believe there are three persons that make up the Godhead: The Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three persons are equal in nature and power, but fill different positions in the Godhead (so that, for example, Jesus has authority to send God’s Holy Spirit (John 15:26)).

Isaiah was written about 700 years before the advent of Christianity. A virtually complete copy of it, dated to 125 B.C. was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, so we know it wasn’t “contaminated” with Christian doctrines. In Isaiah 48:12, someone is speaking. The question is who.

“Listen to me, Jacob, and you Israel, my called. I am HE; I, the first, and I, the last. Yes, my hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand has spread abroad the heavens: I call to them, they stand up together. All you, gather yourselves together, and hear: which among them has declared these things? He whom Yahweh has loved shall execute his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans. I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him; I have brought him, and his way shall be prosperous. Come near to me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I; and now the Lord Yahweh has sent me, and his Spirit.”

– Isaiah 48:12-17

Who is speaking here? He claims to be the first and the last. He claims to be the creator of the earth and to have an eternal (timeless) existence. And yet, in verse 17, he is sent by the Lord Yahweh and his Spirit. This is a clear reference to the Trinity in the Jewish scriptures.

King of the earth

There is more evidence that Jesus is God entirely from the Old Testament. In Zechariah 14:9, it says:

And Yahweh shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Yahweh, and his name one.

– Zechariah 14:9

This is a prophecy about the end times, after all the worldly kingdoms are abolished by God’s eternal kingdom (see also Daniel 4:34). The earth will be ruled directly by God – it will be a theocracy. And yet, many messianic prophecies say that the Messiah, a descendant of David, shall rule the earth forever. One example is in Daniel 7:

I saw in the night visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like a son of man, and he came up even to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

– Daniel 7:13-14 (JND)

This is clearly a prophecy of the messiah. He comes to the Ancient of days (i.e. God, the Father) and receives an eternal kingdom over all of the earth. By comparing this passage with the Zechariah 14:9 passage earlier, we can see that the Messiah is Yahweh God. Another passage affirming this is…

Behold, the days come, says Yahweh, when I will raise to David a righteous Branch, who shall reign as king, and act wisely, and shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall live in safety; and this is his name by which he shall be called, Yahweh our Righteousness.

– Jeremiah 23:5-6

Here the descendant of David, the promised Messiah, is sent by Yahweh and is called Yahweh. Other familiar messianic prophecies also say that the Messiah is God. In Isaiah 7:14, the virgin’s son is called Immanuel, or “God With Us”. In Micah 5:2, the one born in Bethlehem had existed from eternity. In Isaiah 9:6, the child who is born is called Mighty God and Father of Eternity.

These are not isolated examples. There are many more in the Old Testament that testify that Jesus is who he says he is. Faith is not blind. Jesus didn’t ask people just to take his word for who he was. He appealed to his witnesses.

Is Jesus who he says he is? Is he God? The evidence says yes, but you must come to this conclusion for yourself. If He is equal with God, if He has the power to give life to those who believe in Him (John 5:21,24), then you must make a decision – to believe in Him and obtain eternal life with Him or reject Him and choose eternal death. The decision is yours.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am.”

– John 8:58 (AKJV)

“…and he that looks on me, looks on him that sent me.”

– John 12:45

“I and the Father are one.”

– John 10:30 (Green)

Then he says to Thomas, “Bring your finger here and see my hands; and bring your hand and put it into my side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God.”

– John 20:27-28

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes on me, though he have died, shall live;”

– John 11:25 (JND)

“I am come into the world as light, that every one that believes on me may not live in darkness;”

– John 12:46

Jesus says to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father unless by me.”

– John 14:6 (JND)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal. For God has not sent his Son into the world that he may judge the world, but that the world may be saved through him.”

– John 3:16-17


Comments

Jesus’ Witnesses — 1 Comment

  1. Great defense of the teaching of the Trinity. I have spent hours studying this since my granddaughter began attending Watchtower meetings. Another verse that I like is Isaiah 48:16. Here the Messiah is speaking through the prophet and the three are included. I think that the entire section of Isaiah from 41-48 teaches that the Godhead consist of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Clearly it teaches that our Redeemer and Savior, Jesus, is also Yahweh.

    Isaiah 48:16“Come near to Me, listen to this:
    From the first I have not spoken in secret,
    From the time it took place, I was there.
    And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit.”

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