The Man who IS God
There was a man in the prophet Ezekiel’s day – the prince of Tyre – who thought very highly of himself indeed. ‘I am a god’, he said, ‘I sit in the seat of gods, in the midst of the seas’ (Ezekiel 28.2). But his bubble was about to burst. Ezekiel was instructed by God to say to him, ‘you are a man, and not a god’ (v.2); to announce to him that as a judgment he would ‘die the death of the slain’ (v.8); and to put to him this withering question: ‘Will you still say before him who slays you, “I am a god”?’ (v.9). You hear the solemn mockery. The stroke of the executioner’s sword would put a swift end to his arrogant pretensions.
There is a not dissimilar incident in the New Testament. The King Herod who had James the brother of John put to death was giving an oration one day to the people of Tyre and Sidon. As the people listened to him they shouted, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man’ (Acts 12.22). And this is what happened next: ‘Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died’ (v.23). To be acclaimed as a god was music in Herod’s ears. But he paid for it with his life.
There was another man, however, who fared very differently indeed – Jesus. He too laid claim to deity and in his case the claim was particularly “outrageous”. He said that he was God’s own Son and by doing so made himself equal to the only God that there is. And there was certainly a violent reaction to it. The Jews picked up stones to stone him and when he asked them the reason they told him plainly: ‘We are…stoning you…for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God’ John 10.33). This was just about as bad as it got and in their eyes it made Jesus unquestionably worthy of death.
But here’s the remarkable thing. God himself had no fault to find. He owned the relation. This was his Son. And when his sufferings for our sins were at an end God raised him to life again, seated him at his right hand, placed all things under his feet, and appointed him to be head over everything for the church (Eph.1.20-22). Quite a contrast to how it fared with those pretenders, King Herod and the prince of Tyre! Hating their arrogance, abominating their love of divine honours, God terribly and righteously judged them. But Jesus he exalted.
It will always fare with mere men as it did with Herod and the prince of Tyre. Whether it be ancient Roman emperors or a modern Kim Jong-un, their time will come. A jealous God will see to it. There may be no conspicuous judgment of them here on earth. But one day all will know – “gods” and worshippers alike – just exactly what they were.
As for Jesus, God will continue to lavish love on him and from saints and angels he will continue to receive the divine honours that are rightly his. This is a man who really IS God! Let us make sure that we are among those who are his worshippers!