Witnesses To The Deity of Jesus Christ
In our last study, we saw that the Apostles of Jesus Christ believed He is God. That was while Jesus was with them on earth, but what happened after Jesus ascended to Heaven? Did their belief change? Did their experiences in preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God show them that they had been wrong about the Deity of Jesus Christ? We know both from what Luke wrote about them in the Book of Acts and what the Apostles wrote to other believers.
The Apostles in the Book of Acts
Jesus ascended into Heaven in full view of His followers. As they were watching Jesus, two angels appeared to them and said – “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11) The apostles witnessed the Son of God do something that is humanly impossible and heard angels say that He would come again in the same way. They left the mount called Olivet and returned to Jerusalem to the “upper room.” All of the Apostles were there, except for Judas who had hanged himself. Mary, the mother of Jesus, along with the Lord’s earthly brothers and other disciples continued with one accord with the Apostles in prayer and supplication.
Peter stood before them and said it was time to choose someone to take Judas’ place. The Lord had chosen 12 Apostles to take the message of the Kingdom of God to Israel, so Peter gave them the requirements for making their selection – “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” The group proposed two men – Joseph called Barsabas (surnamed Justus) and Matthias – then prayed for God’s leading in choosing the 12th Apostle – “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” After they prayed, they cast their lots and the lot fell on Matthias, so he was numbered with the 11 Apostles. (Acts 1:21-26)
The stage is now set – Jesus ascended to Heaven to take His Place with God the Father – the Lord’s followers chose a replacement for Judas – the only thing left was to wait for what Jesus promised them – “… you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) They didn’t wait long –
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4
The Apostles had already received the Spirit of God on the day Jesus Rose from the grave when the Lord breathed on them and gave them His Spirit (John 20:22). On the Day of Pentecost, Jesus sent His Spirit to them as a group of believers in great Power and they began to preach. What they preached that day tells us a lot about what they believed concerning the Deity of Jesus Christ.
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him: ‘I foresaw the LORD always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’ Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’ Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:22-39)
Peter presented Jesus as being “exalted to the right hand of God.” No human could ever attain to that level because to be at God’s Right Hand was to be God Himself. Peter also presented Jesus as the “Lord” and “Holy One” of King David’s prophecy. Peter told the crowds of Jews in Jerusalem that day that God had made Jesus, whom they had crucified, both Lord and Christ. This message from the Apostle Peter about the Deity and Supremacy of Christ was so powerful that thousands were cut to the heart, repented and were baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins – and they all received the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
In our next study, we will see how the Apostles took the message of Christ’s Deity throughout Jerusalem and Israel in the days, weeks and months following Pentecost.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
Building Confidence Through Evidence
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”