[This article was taken from “Our Heavenly Father Has No Equals” by Don Snedeker.]
The following Scripture testimonies about Jesus, which were made at noteworthy moments in history, were not recorded to declare or even allude to his supposed equality with the Father. They consistently demonstrate the simple truth of Jesus’ relationship to God as that of a son, as well as his relationship to the church as that of Lord. The closeness of the people to Jesus who made the following testimonies should not be overlooked. They knew him, they lived with him, they conversed with him and they were instructed by him. They all understood that the Father is the one true God. If Jesus were God, we would expect the following verses, especially given the timing of the statements, to state something that in some way agrees with the trinitarian hypothesis. But we find that the supremacy of the Father is consistently maintained by virtue of Jesus being called the Son of God:
- God’s first vocal announcement regarding Jesus: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.—Mark 1:11.
- Satan’s words when tempting Jesus: And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.—Matt. 4:3.
- Paul’s first witness after regaining his sight: And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.—Acts 9:19-20.
- Jesus’ last prayer while here on earth: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.—John 17:3.
“The beloved Apostle John has recorded at length a most remarkable prayer, offered by our Lord when he was about to leave the world. If he would ever have spoken simply, unequivocally, according to his convictions, nay, his knowledge, it must have been at that solemn hour, in the most solemn act. Hear him, then, addressing the FATHER: “This is Life Eternal, that they might know THEE, the ONLY TRUE GOD—and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” Could any language be more explicit than this?”
- Jesus’ words after his resurrection, which he spoke to his own mother: Jesus said unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father; and my God and your God.—John 20:17.
- The centurion, at the crucifixion of Jesus: Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.—Matt. 27:54.
- Peter’s response to Jesus’ question: And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.—Matt. 16:16-17.
- Mark, at the beginning of his Gospel: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.—1:1.
- John’s testimony after Jesus was baptized and the holy spirit descended upon him: And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.—John 1:34.
- The virtual end and summation of John’s Gospel: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through his name.—John 20:31.
- At the trial of Jesus he was not accused of claiming to be God. Though this is not a verse, its omission speaks loudly:
Christ, speaking of his sheep, said, “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and none is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of these works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him saying, For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy, and because thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”—John x. 29-33. As this is the only instance recorded in the Bible in which Jesus was accused of making himself God, his answer must be important and decisive. “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are Gods? If he called them Gods unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?”—Verse 34-36.
In this refutation Jesus denies being God; denies calling himself God; and repels the accusation of blasphemy even on the supposition that he had called himself God. He denies being God, by asserting that he was sanctified and sent into the world by his Father. God could not be sanctified, nor sent; neither has he any Father. He denies calling himself God, by asserting that he had only called himself the Son of God. A father and son are two distinct beings; nor is there any term that more strongly marks derived existence, than the term son. Besides, Jesus founds the propriety of calling himself the Son of God, not on any thing peculiar in his nature, or any supposed resemblance or likeness to his Father, but simply on the ground of his being sanctified, and sent by the Father. He repels the charge of blasphemy, by appealing to the well known scripture usage, by which they are called Gods unto whom the word of God came. So that if he had called himself God (which he had not done) it would have implied, according to his own explanation, nothing more than that he was a divine messenger—one to whom the word of God came. That this is the sense in which the Jews understood the answer of Jesus is evident from the fact that they never after accused him of making himself God, though urged to do so by considerations as powerful as can well be conceived.
When he was arraigned before their Council, and the accusation was blasphemy, they made great efforts to support the charge. They could not obtain the necessary evidence. After they had suborned witnesses, all they could prove by them was, that he had said he could raise up the Temple in three days. Now if Jesus had ever made himself God, or intimated any desire to be considered as God, it is incredible that they should not have urged it against him at a time like this. This would have been the very evidence they felt themselves so much in need of. When they were ready to seize on every circumstance, however trifling; and were driven to extremities, to obtain witnesses to support the charge of blasphemy, it is incredible, I say, that they should not have availed themselves of such an advantage. It is as certain, then, that Jesus never made himself God, as it is that the Jews did not urge it against him at his trial.
- Jesus, at that most solemn moment, on the cross: And at about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?—Matt. 27:46, Mark 15:34.
- A devil spirit about to be cast out by Jesus: And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.—Mark 5:7.
These verses might be added to with ease, but they make the point. All of those testifying about Jesus, including Jesus himself, were consistent in maintaining that he is not equal with the Father, but that he is the Son of God, and they knew him very well.