Is it myth?
He claimed it
There is no doubt that the Lord Jesus claimed deity for Himself. Even the most sceptical New Testament scholars concede this. Repeatedly, He claimed divine titles and privileges and demanded and accepted that which belongs to God alone.
The question then is, was He right or wrong? If He was wrong He either thought He was right but made a mistake or knew He was wrong and was telling lies. But neither of these two options fits the facts or is remotely possible. If He was mistaken think of the level of delusion – He thought He was equal with God!
"Is such an intellect – clear as the sky, bracing as the mountain air, sharp and penetrating as a sword, thoroughly healthy and vigorous, always ready and self-possessed – liable to a radical and most serious delusion concerning His own character and mission? Preposterous imagination!"(Philip Schaff, The Person of Christ.)
If He was lying then think of the level of deception. He told people their eternal destiny hinged on their response to Him; He called on people to follow Him no matter the cost. To make this up is wicked, and yet no one who lived the way He lived, loved they way He loved, taught they way He taught and suffered the way He suffered could be an evil person.
We are left with no other option then, He wasn’t wrong – He truly is the Son of God.
His disciples proclaimed it
It’s a popular notion that the doctrine of the deity of Christ was a legendary development that reached full bloom at the Council of Nicaea. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the very earliest texts of the New Testament we find even earlier creeds, confessions and prayers all proclaiming Jesus Christ as God.
The significance of this is that all the first Christians were Jews – they believed that there was only one God and He alone was worthy of worship, and yet these God-fearing Jews were proclaiming this crucified Nazarene to be God and worshipping Him as such. They preached Him as the one way of salvation, the fulfilment of the Covenant given through Moses, and the end of all the sacrifices. There is no way they ever would have uttered such things unless there was overwhelming evidence for their truth. Jesus Christ was condemned by the Sanhedrin for His claim to be God’s Son, and consequently crucified by the Romans. That would have extinguished any notion in the mind of a Jew that His claim was true, but God the Father vindicated Him by raising Him from the dead, and thus He was ‘declared to be the Son of God with power . . . by the resurrection from the dead,’ (Romans 1:4).
This is not a fable or fairy tale – it really happened, as one of His closest followers said, “we know that the Son of God has come” (1 John 5:20).
Why it matters
It’s a great story, and a true story, but what difference does it make to me?
If Jesus is the Son of God then it shows that God has come to us. We are not left to wonder if God is there, what He is like or if He is interested in us. God has been revealed fully in Christ. As another has said, “when we look at Him [Jesus], the guessing games about God stop.” God is not an uncaring, distant deity. He has made contact and entered His creation.
Furthermore, it shows that we can come to God. Jesus didn’t come merely to be a perfect example or a wise teacher. He came to be the great sacrifice for sin. Because God is infinitely holy, sin is an infinite offence and carries an infinite penalty. That means that no finite creature could ever pay it, and that’s why the Son of God had to come. At Calvary He took the punishment we deserved and paid the price we could never pay so that we could be reconciled to God. He is the “one mediator between God and men” (1 Timothy 2:5).
All who acknowledge the problem of their guilt, and accept Christ as the answer to that problem, will be acquitted and accepted by God. No one else has paid sin’s penalty, and that is why Jesus said, ‘I am the way . . . No one comes to the Father except through Me’ (John 14:6).