John Piper

The passion of Jesus Christ was unique because he was one of a kind. When asked, “Are you the Christ [=Messiah], the Son of the Blessed [=God]?” Jesus said, “I am.” It was an almost incredible claim. The Messiah was expected to be powerful and glorious. But here was Jesus about to be crucified, saying openly what he had pointed toward so often during his ministry: I am the Messiah, the king of Israel . He said it openly at the very moment when it was least likely to be credible. Then he adds words that explain how a crucified Christ can reign as the King of Israel: “You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62). In other words, he expects to reign at God's right hand and someday come back to earth in glory.

He was more than a mere human. Not less. He was, as the ancient Nicene Creed says, “very God of very God.” Christ existed before creation. He is co-eternal with God the Father. He was not created. There was no point when he did not exist. Forever and ever in the past God has existed with one divine essence in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is the testimony of those who knew and were inspired by him to explain who he is.

For example, the apostle John referred to Christ as the “Word” and wrote:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. . . . 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. (John 1:1-3, John 1:14)

Jesus himself said things that only make sense if he was both God and man. For example, he forgave sin: “My son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5). This sort of thing is what finally got him killed. The outraged response was understandable: “He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7).

It's an understandable reaction. C. S. Lewis the British scholar who wrote timeless children's' books and superb defenses of Christianity, explains: “If somebody cheats me out of five pounds it is quite possible and reasonable for me to say, ‘Well, I forgive him, we will say no more about it.' What on earth would you say if somebody had done you out of five pounds and I said, ‘That is all right, I forgive him'?” Sin is sin because it is against God. If Jesus was not a lunatic, then he forgave sins against God because he was God.

Taken from "The Unparalleled Passion of Jesus Christ" by John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org (used by permission).