Although I do not consider the truth that Jesus is God in the flesh to be the litmus test of one being a Christian, I do have to wonder how anyone could see themselves as being truly evil without this understanding. For example, if to see Jesus is to see God (John 14:9), whom should we see, as Jesus hangs from the cross? When we crucified Jesus, didn’t we crucify God? If not, we certainly are not seeing God when we look at Jesus upon the cross—are we? In my opinion, to the degree we do not see God when we look at Jesus, we lack knowing who God is, because if Jesus is the perfect image of God in human form (Hebrews 1:3), how can we know the invisible, incomprehensible God without seeing Jesus for who he truly is? How is it possible to know God apart from Jesus?
If Jesus is our Truth (John 14:6), understanding the context of his remarks should reveal to us we need come to understand Jesus, if we are to know what God is like at all. It is only logical, therefore, if we perceive Jesus on the cross that we should see God there. In other words, what we have done to Jesus, we have done to God. Without this realization, how can anyone properly see their own need, because we did this, after all! Jesus died in our stead, if we don’t understand who Jesus is, how can we understand the gravity of our own evil that put him on the cross in the first place?
Many people believe that the opposite of an evildoer is a doer of good, but this is not so from a Biblical perspective. Anyone who does evil may think, if he does enough good, he could eventually compensate for the evil he does. This, of course, isn’t so. In the Scriptures, however. the evildoer is seen in contrast with the doer of the truth (John 3:19-21). What this means is that a doer of the truth lives a life of confession before everyone, but the evildoer lives a lie before others. His works are shameful and do not reflect the kind of reputation he wishes to have in the eyes of the public. Therefore, he hides his deeds for the sake of the name he wishes to have.
What does this have to do with not believing Jesus is God in the flesh? Well, as I concluded above, to see Jesus is to see the truth—the truth about God and the truth about ourselves. If we do not understand the gravity of our sin, viz. not understanding we killed Jesus who is God, how can we recognize the depth of our own evil, since the Scriptures conclude Jesus, God, died in our place? In other words, we committed something worthy of death, but Jesus paid the penalty for our crime so that we could go free. If Jesus is God, but we don’t believe he is God, then all we can see is that a good man somehow paid the debt we owe. Thus, some folks, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, recognizing the lack of equity in that belief have imagined all Jesus’ death bought them was another chance to live a righteous life as a test, like Adam and Eve were tested. And, if they pass the test, then and only then are they given eternal life. Yet, when I posed the question to one of them: “What if Jesus truly was God?”, he concluded that his death would be just payment for all mankind, and no other requirement would be needed to inherit eternal life. He concluded this from our discussing the Scripture, 1Timothy 2:6, where the Watchtower Society translates the word ransom found in the KJV into corresponding ransom in the NWT. The Greek word is antilutron (G487) and has to do with a price paid to fulfill the debt owed. It is the price of redemption. It can be more than is needed, but it cannot be less than what is owed. According to Romans 5:15-16 and 20-21, the price Jesus paid was much more than was needed to redeem mankind. Therefore, the life that was given in payment for us was much more valuable than all those who were ever born into humankind or ever would be born. How could such a life not be that of our God? Therefore, to know Jesus as God is to perceive our own depravity when we see him hanging on the cross. Whether that depravity is fully mature in our behavior or in embryo form, it is there. To fail to see ourselves as evil beyond understanding is to fail to see that we crucified our God.