The question has been raised, “Who is Yeshua?”
- Is He only a human like Adam and separate from God the Father?
- Is He God; is He a physical manifestation of the Father?
- Is He deity, but not a god?
For me, these are hard questions. The reason I say that is because I see support for at least the first two in Scripture. I can’t conceptualize the third. The trouble is deciding which option is correct.
Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” It sounds like he was the first thing ever created. This would be a vote for separateness.
The Messiah is the Word of YHVH, the image of YHVH who often came to speak to Moses and others in the past. This same Word was God according to John 1:1. This appears to be a vote for oneness.
The Word was not the only image of God in the Tanach. A image of YHVH appeared to several people on different occasions when He needed to communicate with them and to lead them in the way they should go. As time went on, He spoke to prophets in dreams and visions. These prophets became God’s spokesmen to the people.
One of those prophets was Isaiah. In Isaiah 9:6, he prophesied: “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” It is believed that this prophecy was fulfilled by someone in Isaiah’s time; however, the apostolic writers applied it to Yeshua the Messiah, the anointed one.
Many years after this prophecy was given, Yeshua was conceived in a surrogate named Mary when the Holy Spirit came upon her. Yeshua was not made from the dust of the earth like Adam was. He was not half human and half God as some may assume. The Spirit wrote the genetic code for Yeshua who grew in Mary’s womb. John 1:14 tells us he was the Word that became flesh; based on John 1:1, He was God manifested in human flesh. This is why Yeshua was called by the titles: the Son of God and the Son of Man. As I mentioned previously, this seems to be a vote for oneness.
Matthew 1:20-23 says, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Yeshua’s birth was fulfillment of Scripture because He was God dwelling with His people. Here’s another vote for oneness.
During the next nine months, Mary and Joseph surely pondered the things they had been told by the angel. They were going to be the parents of the Savior of God’s people! They probably felt the same way Manoah and his wife felt when the Angel of YHVH told them they were going to have a baby. Manoah and his wife got instructions from this manifestation of God (the Angel of YHVH) to raise Samson as a Nazirite from birth. They knew they had seen a manifestation of God and lived (Judges 13:2-22).
We aren’t told if the angel, Gabriel gave Mary any specific instructions on how to raise Yeshua. I’m sure if there were, it would have been in the Scriptural account. Most likely Mary and Joseph decided to raise him the way most Torah observant parents raised their children at that time. They began by circumcising him and presenting Him to YHVH.
When Yeshua was eight days old, he was blessed by Simeon in the temple. Luke 2:34-35 says, “Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” What did they think of this? It may not have been what they expected; but, at this point, they didn’t know how this prophecy would play out in the future.
From this point on, Yeshua’s earthly parents were vaguely aware of what He would become but they raised Him as if He were any normal child. Perhaps they figured that what they had been told would not take place until Yeshua was an adult. They couldn’t worry about that; they had to focus on the daily task of feeding and caring for him; teaching him their religious beliefs and customs; and teaching him how to do things that were age appropriate.
I’m sure they taught Yeshua to pray. Some people think it’s nonsense for Yeshua to need to pray to the Father if He is God. I don’t know about you, but I talk to myself [my own spirit] silently quite frequently to process my thoughts. It just makes sense to me that Yeshua would talk to the Father who dwells inside Himself. So is this a vote for oneness or separateness?
Was Yeshua aware of His identity when He was growing up? Yes. Luke 2:49-50 tells us about the time Yeshua stayed behind in Jerusalem after His family went there for the feast. When His parents found Him, His mother asked why Yeshua had done this. He expressed surprise that they didn’t know that He had to be about His Father’s business. He was referring to YHVH, the Heavenly Father’s business and not to Joseph’s. In other words, He knew He was the Son of God (the physical image of the Father’s Spirit). Even Adam was made in YHVH’s image, so how do we view this parallel? For now, we can say Yeshua was already concerned about His Father’s business. Even at the age of 12, all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and answers.
Many years later, Yeshua was walking with His disciples to the towns of Caesarea Philippi. By this time, they had heard Yeshua teach; seen Him heal a multitude of people; forgive people; cast out a legion of demons out of a couple of men; raise a couple of people from the dead; and much more. Ordinary humans don’t do these kinds of things. Certainly, this was accomplished by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). At some point, Yeshua asked His disciples who they thought He was. We don’t know what everyone else thought at the time, but Peter said he was the Messiah of God.
Meanwhile, the ruling elite were not pleased with Yeshua; they were plotting his death. They had had several interactions with Yeshua that were not positive. They saw Him as a threat to their positions of power and authority over the people. John 8 describes one such incident when they claimed Abraham was their father; they also claimed God was their father. Yeshua denied that; He also said their father was the devil. I bet that infuriated them. Eventually, their conversation continued to the point that in verse 58, Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” He was saying that He existed before Abraham; we already saw that in Colossians 1:15. Ordinary humans don’t normally pre-exist their ancestors. So do we view this human as physically one with the Father?
One of the definitions of blasphemy is “the act of claiming the attributes of deity.”[i] In other words, Yeshua seemed to claim to be YHVH. That was the final straw for the men in that confrontation with Yeshua. They intended to stone Yeshua for blasphemy but Yeshua hid Himself and escaped. After more time progressed, Yeshua would be convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death for it. Is there another way to interpret this?
On another occasion, Yeshua asked the Pharisees, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: 44 ‘The Lord [YHVH] said to my Lord [Adoniy], “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”‘? 45 If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” 46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.” Here, in Matthew 22:42-46, Yeshua quoted Psalm 110:1. In order for the Son of David to be David’s Lord, this son must pre-exist him. Again, there’s no question that Yeshua pre-existed these people based on Colossians 1:15. Normally, pre-existence is not humanly possible. We still have the problem of why He’s seated next to the Father. This appears to be a vote for separateness.
Yeshua is not just called the “son of God.” The Jews refer to the Messiah as the “son of David” and the “son of Joseph.” Yeshua also referred to Himself as the “son of Man.” These are all titles for Yeshua.
The Son of David is a title that conveys David’s character as a man of war. The Jews called Him the Son of David because that’s what the people expected the Messiah to be. The Son of Joseph is a title that conveys Joseph, son of Israel’s (Jacob’s) character as the Suffering Servant. This is what the Messiah was when He came in the flesh almost 2000 years ago. When He returns, He will be coming as the Son of David.
Later, Yeshua began to prepare His disciples for His death which was to come. He promised he was going to prepare a place for them. Yeshua was renewing the marriage covenant because grooms go to prepare a place for their brides after the marriage agreement is made. I don’t think they understood that until later. Yeshua continued by telling His disciples that they knew where He was going and the way to get there. Thomas piped in and said they didn’t know where He was going; this shows the lack of understanding I previously mentioned. Yeshua said that He was the way, truth, and life. To get to the Father who is Spirit, you have to go through Yeshua whose name means “Yah saves.”
Continuing, Yeshua said, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” This must have taken Philip by surprise because he said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” John 14:9 continues, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:10-11 says, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me [in My physical body] does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.” This appears to be a vote for oneness.
I think we can also see a parallel of separateness and oneness with the creation of woman. When God created man, they were male and female (Genesis 1:27). Later, God took a portion of Adam, his rib, and made it into Eve (Genesis 2:21-24). They were two people, yet when they had sexual relations, they were one again. When they embraced, their arms brought them into union with each other. When Eve was pregnant, a portion of Adam was also within her. I’m not saying this is how it definitely is, but my human mind needs some help here.
Mark 14:61-64 tells us what was discussed after Yeshua was arrested. The high priest asked Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” When Yeshua answered in the affirmative, there was no need for further witnesses; He was convicted of blasphemy. Based on this and our definition for blasphemy, it seems He equated Himself with God.
Yeshua was crucified but none of His bones were broken. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear causing blood and water to pour out (John 19:34). So many people cried out for Yeshua to be crucified; it’s hard to say how many people actually mourned for Him. There is a prophecy of mourning that is still to be fulfilled. Zechariah 12:10 says, “And I (YHVH) will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” Some English Bibles translate this verse, “on Him who they pierced” but the Hebrew says “on Me [elai], the one (et = definite direct object marker) whom (asher) they pierced (daqaru).” In this verse, YHVH is equating Himself with Yeshua by saying that His people will mourn when they look on Him (YHVH) who they had pierced. This appears to be a vote for oneness.
At Yeshua’s death, He committed His Spirit to the Father; His Spirit joined with the Father’s omnipresent Spirit once again. Each time Yeshua manifests Himself in the flesh, He has a portion of the Father’s omnipresent Spirit within Him. A careful reading of John 14:15-21 shows that a portion of this unified omnipresent Spirit dwells inside believers. When Yeshua manifests Himself to you, it may not be in physical form. You may sense His Spirit and on rare occasions may smell the odor of incense. For now, Yeshua is with the Spirit of YHVH until an appointed time in the future. To say Yeshua is at the Father’s right hand could be a simple anthropomorphism because YHVH is an omnipresent spirit (Matthew 22:44; Psalm 110:1). In addition, the “right hand” has to do with power.
Much time has passed since Yeshua was crucified. We are waiting for God to return on the Day of YHVH. YHVH tseva’ot (YHVH of armies) will come on a white horse with His armies to wage war on the beast and his armies. Matthew 16:27 says it is the Son of Man (Yeshua) that will come with His angels in the glory of the Father. This will take place on the great day of God Almighty (El Shaddai). The names Revelation uses for YHVH Tseva’ot is “Faithful and True;” “The Word;” and the “King of kings and Lord of Lords.” John 1:1 teaches that the “Word” is Yeshua which means “Yah saves.”
According to Revelation 1:8, Yeshua is:
- the Alpha and the Omega, the First and Last, the Beginning and the End;
- the One who is, and who was, and who is to come (which is what YHVH means), the Almighty (El Shaddai).
El Shaddai is the name by which Abraham knew God. He is I AM WHO I AM (ehyeh asher ehyeh) who is YHVH. The Alpha and Omega (in Greek) or Aleph and Tav (in Hebrew) is the same manifestation of God that walked in the garden with Adam and Eve so long ago. In the End, YHVH Himself will be the Seed born of a woman, named Yeshua that will crush the serpent’s head. Oh, yeah!
In closing, here are a few of the most common descriptions for God with passages that show that Yeshua was the either the same or the image of the Everlasting Father, YHVH (click on chart for better view):
Please take time to read these verses and see that Yeshua is the image of YHVH in the flesh (2 Corinthians 4:4). This is the great mystery of godliness. The question is whether or not Yeshua was the image of YHVH like Adam was, or if Yeshua was the image of YHVH in another way.
Another verse to consider is the prophecy of the Branch of Righteousness. He is man from the line of David who will be called YHVH Our Righteousness. This man shares the name of YHVH. Does that means He’s YHVH?
First Timothy 3:16 says, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.” When some people see this verse, they point out that the word for God is hos (who) instead of theos. The rest of the verse clearly points to Yeshua. Yeshua did not manifest anyone else other than God in the flesh. God is the only logical conclusion to who “who” is.
Remember, Deuteronomy 6:4-5 commands us: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
Saying Yeshua is:
- only a man called the “son of God” allows YHVH to be Elohim and acknowledges the Shema; BUT, that denies John 1:1 and the numerous other Scriptures presented in this post.
- a god totally independent and separate (in mind, will, spirit, and body) from YHVH denies the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) because beings produce “like kind.” In other words, gods having sexual union with other gods produce other separate gods; and gods that have sexual union with humans that each contribute to creating a new being, create demi-gods. Two gods that are completely separate and not within each other denies the Shema.
- the physical manifestation of YHVH or the image of YHVH as I have explained acknowledges Yeshua’s divinity and does not deny the Shema.
For now, do not let two different names bother you. Accept that all who call upon the name of Yeshua will be saved; but remember Zechariah 14:5-9:
“Thus the Lord my God [YHVH my Elohim] will come, And all the saints with You. 6 It shall come to pass in that day That there will be no light; The lights will diminish. 7 It shall be one day Which is known to the Lord — Neither day nor night. But at evening time it shall happen That it will be light. 8 And in that day it shall be That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, Half of them toward the eastern sea And half of them toward the western sea; In both summer and winter it shall occur. 9 And the Lord [YHVH] shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be — “The Lord [YHVH] is one,” And His name one.”.
For further information on this topic, please see Dialogue wth Trypho. Please also look at the pdf of the PowerPoint teaching “Understanding John 1 1-2 Is Yeshua God or a god?” for more information on John 1:1-2.