The DaVinci Inquest part 2
Jesus: God, Man, or God-Man?
(Would the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?)
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
May 21, 2006
Hebrews 13:1-9 (NLT)
Some movies you just
can’t wait to see. It was like that for me with all the Star Wars
movies… The Lord of the Rings series… The Passion of the Christ…
Spider-Man… Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade… Gladiator… The
Fugitive… Air Force One… any Star Trek movie… of course, after the last
one, I can wait now.
And just to whet your whistle, here are a few more you can look forward
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – Summer 2008
Indiana Jones 4 – 2007
Spider-Man 3 – May 4, 2007
Superman Returns – June 30, 2006
Casino Royale – Nov. 17, 2006
Rocky Balboa (VI) – Dec. 22, 2006
Ocean’s 13 – June 8, 2007
Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties – June 16, 2006
Bean II – March 23, 2007
And, of course, there’s no need to fear, “Underdog” is here on August
So those are just a few you have to look forward to. But many people
have looked forward to this weekend in particular. Because it was this
past Friday, two days ago, that The DaVinci Code roared into theatres.
Most of you know about the success of the book. We’ve been talking
about it here for a couple weeks now. About 50 million copies of the
book have now been sold, and with a number of people sharing their
books, it’s been estimated that 100 million people or more have read
it. I checked at the libraries on PEI, and right now they have 26
copies, they’re all out, and there are 93 people already on the waiting
list. And it’s basically been like that for the past few years. So it
was no surprise that on Friday, ___ raced out to see it in the theatre.
Now, if you’ve read it, if you’ve seen it, or if you were here last
week… or if you’ve read the newspaper or watched TV at all in the last
few years… you know that The Da Vinci Code contains a lot of claims
that attack the very core of Christianity and the Church. And it’s left
a lot of people asking questions:
Was the Bible made
up and put together by men motivated for political power?
Was Jesus considered
to be just a man until 300 years after his crucifixion, when the Roman
emperor Constantine declared him divine?
Did Jesus get
married and did he have a child?
Has the church been
involved in a massive cover-up for the past 1700 years?
Maybe you’ve been asked
those questions; maybe you’re asking them yourself. If you are, then I
want you to know this is a safe place to be today. A lot of people are
seeking answers, and here at Sunrise we’re going to do our best to
provide them. So you can listen… you can weigh the evidence… and you
can make up your own mind. And we’re glad you’re here to do that.
Last week, in case you weren’t here, we talked about the opening claim
of the book… found on the very first page… the claim that the book is
based on historical fact and on the documents of a secret society known
as the Priory of Sion founded in 1099. Well, we saw how the whole
Priory of Sion was a hoax… it didn’t really exist until 1956. And we
saw how the documents were forgeries by a guy by the name of Pierre
Plantard. Plantard had created those documents to trace the royal
bloodline of Jesus through a series of French kings all the way down to
Plantard himself, thus showing that he was the real king of France. And
then he hid those forged documents in the Bibliothčque Nationale where
they were “discovered” in 1975. The DaVinci Code tells us about that
discovery, but it fails to mention that Plantard admitted in court in
1993 that he made the whole thing up as a hoax.
And we looked at some of the other inconsistencies and inaccuracies of
The DaVinci Code. The book claims to be accurate, but there are
literally hundreds of inaccuracies in the book… some little, some huge.
And for a book that makes some very bold claims, it has very few actual
facts to support it.
That’s what we talked about last week. Next week… and you’re going to
want to be here for this… we’re going to talk about what’s known as the
Gnostic Gospels. Just over the last couple months in the news you
probably heard about one of them… The Gospel of Judas. Why were these
texts left out of the Bible? What about the Dead Sea Scrolls? How do we
know our Bible is reliable? Good questions with some good answers. So
that’s next week.
In two weeks, we’ll talk about the real Mary Magdalene. What was here
relationship with Jesus? The DaVinci Code says they were married. Were
they? Could she be the Holy Grail? What was here role in the early
And then the week after that, we’re going to talk about sex. I’ve never
given a sex-talk before, so here’s my chance. Come watch me squirm.
Actually, if you’re familiar with The DaVinci Code, you know it makes
some rather… interesting… claims about God and sexuality and the
rituals of the early church. So we’re going to talk about that, the
role of women in the Church, and some of the ways in which women have
been oppressed by the church through the centuries.
And then on June 18, we’re going to wrap it all up with a talk about
truth. How can I know the real truth? How do I guard myself from
So that’s where we’re at and where we’re going. This morning, we’re
focusing in on Jesus. The DaVinci Code has a lot to say about Jesus,
and most of it is capsulated in chapter 55 of the book where it makes
some pretty outrageous claims. This past Friday morning, on the day the
movie was being released, I drove to the Empire Theatres and I sat in
my car in the parking lot, and I re-read this chapter and I prayed.
Because this chapter, more than any other part of the book, has the
potential to confuse people, turn them away from the real Jesus, and
become disillusioned with the Church and Christianity.
In this chapter, Sir Leigh Teabing, a supposed scholar, is explaining
to the female lead Sophie about the history of the Holy Grail and about
Christianity and our Bible. Let me read some of what he tells her…
“The Bible is a
product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically
from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous
times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions,
and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book…
“Jesus Christ was a historical figure of staggering influence, perhaps
the most enigmatic and inspirational leader the world has ever seen…
Understandably, His life was recorded by thousands of followers across
the land… More than eighty gospels were considered for the New
Testament, and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion –
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John among them…
“The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman
emperor Constantine the Great.”…
“At this gathering,” Teabing said, “many aspects of Christianity were
debated and voted
upon— the date of Easter, the role of the bishops, the administration
of sacraments, and, of
course, the divinity of Jesus.”
“I don’t follow. His divinity?”
“My dear,” Teabing declared, “until that moment in history, Jesus was
viewed by His
followers as a mortal prophet... a great and powerful man, but a man
nonetheless. A mortal.”
“Not the Son of God?”
“Right,” Teabing said. “Jesus’ establishment as ‘the Son of God’ was
officially proposed and
voted on by the Council of Nicaea.”
“Hold on. You’re saying Jesus’ divinity was the result of a vote?”
“A relatively close vote at that,” Teabing added…
I’ve written several books on the topic.”
“And I assume devout Christians send you hate mail on a daily basis?”
“Why would they?” Teabing countered. “The vast majority of educated
Christians know the
history of their faith. Jesus was indeed a great and powerful man.
political maneuvers don’t diminish the majesty of Christ’s life. Nobody
is saying Christ was a
fraud, or denying that He walked the earth and inspired millions to
better lives. All we are saying
is that Constantine took advantage of Christ’s substantial influence
and importance. And in doing so, he shaped the face of Christianity as
we know it today.
“What I mean… is that almost everything our fathers taught us about
Christ is false.”
~ Dan Brown, The DaVinci Code (selected passages from the softcover
edition, pp. 250-254)
Let me tell you
something right here… this claim that Jesus was just a mere mortal who
was declared to be God by Constantine is the single most important
issue that The DaVinci Code raises. Most people are fixated on whether
or not Jesus was married. I’m actually not so concerned about that—I
mean, marriage is a good thing, and my faith isn’t based on whether
Jesus was married or single. But we will talk about that in a couple
weeks when we talk about Mary Magdalene. But this claim that Jesus was
just a mortal prophet is as serious as it gets. And then the second
greatest issue has to do with the formation of the Bible, and you just
heard some of what Dan Brown claims about that. We’ll deal with that
next week. But this issue of who He really was… and who He really is…
Was Jesus a Man?
Was he just a man? Well,
Dan Brown isn’t the first person to say something like this about
Jesus. He is the first person, as far as I know to say that it was
Constantine who declared Jesus to be God. That’s a rather bizarre twist
with absolutely no support. But he’s not the first person to say that
Jesus was just a mortal man. And there have been millions of people who
would say that same exact thing. Ask people on the street who they
think Jesus was, and you’ll get a variety of answers…
Now, as we’ll see next
week, the Bible is our most reliable record of who Jesus was. And if
you read through the New Testament, you’ll discover that it does teach
that Jesus was fully human. And he experienced everything that humans
experience. In your notes, you’ll see a list of some of the things that
Jesus experienced along with verses to illustrate that. You can read
through the verses on your own…
John 4:6 (NLT) Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long
walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.
John 4:7 (NLT) Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus
said to her, “Please give me a drink.”
John 2:14-15 (NLT) In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle,
sheep, and doves for sacrifices; and he saw money changers behind their
counters. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of
Matthew 24:36 (NLT) “However, no one knows the day or the hour when
these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son
himself. Only the Father knows.”
Luke 4:1-2a (NLT) He was led by the Spirit to go out into the
wilderness, where the Devil tempted him for forty days.
Luke 4:2b (NLT) He ate nothing all that time and was very hungry.
John 11:35 (NLT) Then Jesus wept.
John 1:14 (NLT) So the Word became human and lived here on earth among
So was Jesus a man? Yeah, Jesus was a man. He was fully man… and he
experienced all of life. He was born, he grew up, he learned a trade,
He had his heart broken, he was loved by some, rejected by others, and
he endured an extremely painful execution on a Roman-style cross.
Actually, it’s ironic that Dan Brown uses the Gnostic Gospels to
support his claim that Jesus was only human. Because it’s the Gospels
in our Bibles that do portray Jesus as being human; on the other hand,
the Gnostic Gospels often portray Him as super-divine. Which makes
sense, because a core teaching of the Gnostics was that anything
spiritual is good; anything material, such as a human body, is evil.
So was Jesus a man? 100%
Was Jesus Divine?
So Dan Brown is right to
say that Jesus Christ was fully man. But he’s wrong to say that He was
only man. Because even though he was 100% man, He
was also 100% God.
And yes, I know that boggles the mind. It’s hard to comprehend. How can
He be God and Man at the same time? But that’s exactly what He claimed
to be. And that’s exactly what His followers understood Him to be. And
even though Dan Brown claims that Constantine created the divinity of
Jesus, the truth is that the New Testament already made that case. And
remember, the entire New Testament was written about 250 years
(plus/minus 25 years) before Constantine and the Council of Nicaea. Let
me show you what the New Testament says about Jesus…
The Gospel of John… written between AD 65 and AD 90 according to most
scholars… conservative and liberal… Starts out with these verses…
John 1:1-3, 14 (NLT)
In the beginning the Word already existed.
He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He
created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make…
So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full
of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the
glory of the only Son of the Father.
It’s an obvious reference to Jesus, referring to Him as the Word. And
it says the Word was God. If a=b and b=c, the a=c. If Jesus is the
Word, and the Word is God, then Jesus is God. Here’s another reference
in the Gospel of John. In this passage, Jesus is talking with some
religious leaders who are becoming more and more upset with Him, and He
John 8:54-59 (NIV)
Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my
glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one
who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I
did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his
word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he
saw it and was glad.”
“You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I
AM!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid
himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
They weren’t going to stone Him to death because He claimed to be
really old. No, they were going to stone Him because they recognized
what Jesus was saying when he said, “before Abraham was born, I AM!” To
you and me, it looks like bad grammar. But to the Jews, it meant
something very profound. Because they remembered what God told Moses
way back in the Old Testament. God was calling Moses to lead the
Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, but he was afraid the people
wouldn’t believe God sent him. So he asked who he should say sent him,
and God told him…
Exodus 3:14 (NLT)
God replied, “I AM THE ONE WHO ALWAYS IS.
Just tell them, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ “
So when Jesus referred to himself as “I AM”, He knew exactly what He
was claiming, and so did the Jews. And then a couple chapters later in
John 10:24-25, 30-33, 37-38 (NLT)
The Jewish leaders surrounded him and asked,
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah,
tell us plainly.”
Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The
proof is what I do in the name of my Father….
“The Father and I are one.”
Once again the Jewish leaders picked up stones to kill him. Jesus said,
“At my Father’s direction I have done many things to help the people.
For which one of these good deeds are you killing me?”
They replied, “Not for any good work, but for blasphemy, because you, a
mere man, have made yourself God.”…
Don’t believe me unless I carry out my Father’s work. But if I do his
work, believe in what I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then
you will realize that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.”
Notice that when the people accused Jesus of claiming to be God, Jesus
didn’t object. He didn’t tell them they misunderstood. He simply told
them, “Look at the evidence.”
Or how about when Thomas first saw Jesus after the resurrection?
Remember what he said?
John 20:28 (NLT)
“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.
Or how about the book of Hebrews, most likely written between AD 60 and
AD 70, though some date it as a little earlier and others as a little
Hebrews 1:3 (NLT)
The Son reflects God’s own glory, and
everything about him represents God exactly. He sustains the universe
by the mighty power of his command.
Oh, and there’s an interesting exchange between Jesus and Peter, in the
Gospel of Matthew, which was written sometime around AD 65.
Matthew 16:13-17 (NLT)
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea
Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of
“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and
others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
Then he asked them, “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father
in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any
Do you think Simon Peter the other disciples saw Jesus as being more
than a mortal prophet? They certainly did. They believed it to the core
of their being. In fact, tradition tells us they believed it so much
that 10 of the 12 were killed for their beliefs. And we’re told that
when Peter died… remember, he’s the one that stuck his neck out and
said “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,”… we’re told that
he was crucified. And when they went to crucify him, he told his
executioners, “I’m not worthy to even die the same way that my Messiah
did.” And he asked to be crucified upside down, and he was. These
disciples, and over 410,000 other Christians who were killed in those
first three centuries before Constantine, didn’t die for a prophet…
they died for their God. And if Dan Brown thinks that things got easier
for Christians after Constantine, then he must not be aware that the
total number of martyrs jumped to almost 2 million by AD 400.
Now, I should probably explain something here. We’ve read verses this
morning that refer to Jesus as the “Son of God”. And you might think
that Jesus is an actual Son… as in, He was born or created. But that’s
not what “Son of God” means. And that’s not how first century Jews used
the term. They had come to use the term “Son of God” to refer to the
Messiah, or the Saviour, which the Old Testament had said was coming,
and it signified a divine origin. It wasn’t a biological term; it was a
heavenly term. And it identified Jesus not just as the Son of God, but
as God Himself!
So the divinity of Jesus was clearly established during the first
century… in the very statements made by Jesus and by the disciples. And
it’s just a bizarre twist to claim that Jesus wasn’t considered to be
divine until AD 325 at the Council of Nicaea.
But what was the Council of Nicaea? Well, Dan Brown was right in that
it was called by Constantine in AD 325, although he gets the details
wrong. First about Constantine… Constantine was not a life-long pagan
as it says in The DaVinci Code; he actually converted in AD 310 at the
age of 30, and then he lived for another 27 years. Secondly, he didn’t
call the Council to stop the fighting between pagans and Christians, he
called it to resolve a dispute between Christians. And third, he wasn’t
trying to unite the empire under one religion. All he did was legalize
Christianity and put it on level ground with all the existing pagan
religions, which he did in the Edict of Milan (AD 313). He never made
Christianity the official Roman religion… that didn’t happen for
another 55 years (by Emperor Theodosius, AD 380).
There’s more Dan Brown gets wrong about Constantine, but let’s get to
the Council itself. Why was the Council called? The DaVinci Code claims
it was to determine if Jesus was divine or not. But it had nothing to
do with whether Jesus was divine or not… Everyone believed He was
divine. Everyone believed He was God. The question was, what kind of
God was He?
You see, there was this one church leader in Northern Egypt named
Arius, and around AD 313 he mixed some Greek philosophy into his
beliefs and began to teach that Jesus was a created god, the very first
creation by God the Father. Kind of like “God 2: the Sequel”, or
God-junior. A belief, by the way, which Jehovah’s Witnesses cling to
But there were others who argued, “No, Jesus is God, always has been
God, always will be God. He had no beginning and has no end. He and God
And over the next few years, this dispute built until Constantine
called around 300 bishops to the city of Nicaea in modern-day Turkey to
resolve it. Both sides were listened to, and the debate revolved around
two words in particular…
Homoousios = “of one substance”
Homoiousios = “of like substance”
You know the phrase, “It doesn’t make one iota of difference”? Well, it
comes right from this Council and these two words. Homoousios
means of one substance. But with the “i”—or the Greek letter iota—put
into the word, it changes the meaning to say that there is a difference.
Now, which word best explained Jesus’ relationship with God the Father?
That was the question the Council was trying to answer. If Jesus
Himself had been created, then He’d be homoiousios
– He’d be of like (similar) substance to the Father, but certainly not
on the same level. However, if He was
homoousios, of one substance or of the same substance, then
He’d be an equal part in the Godhead… with God the Father and God the
And they didn’t take this issue lightly. The Council began on May 20
and lasted until July 25. And they spent the entire first month on this
But when it was all settled, it came down to what Dan Brown called a
close vote: 316-2. So the vote wasn’t close, and it had nothing to do
with whether Jesus was divine or not. The Council merely affirmed what
had been believed and taught for almost three centuries. Jesus is
indeed “of one substance” with God the Father and is a vital and equal
part of the Godhead… the Trinity. And while it’s difficult to grasp the
very nature of God, the basic summary is that there is only one God,
and He’s expressed in Three Persons… God the Father, God the Son, and
God the Holy Spirit.
And by the end of the Council, the bishops who were at that Council in
the city of Nicaea expressed themselves in the form of a statement of
belief… a creed… which we still know as the Nicene Creed. A later
council further clarified it, but here’s the Creed as it comes down
through the years to us today. Let’s read it together… and it’s
customary to stand for the reading of a creed…
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son].
With the Father and the Son
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. AMEN.
Okay, so the Christian
teaching has always been that Jesus is and always has been 100% God,
and of His own choosing, He became 100% man at the same time. Fully
God, and Fully Man. And I know that’s difficult to understand. We can’t
even understand ourselves; how can we expect to understand God? But
this was the claim of Jesus, the teaching of His disciples, the bane of
His opponents, the believe of the early Church, and it remains our
Creed today. You can accept or reject, but don’t buy into the lie that
the divinity of Jesus was an invention of the 4th century.
Now, just as we finish up, we’re going to watch a video featuring
best-selling author Lee Strobel. We’ve talked about him here before.
And he’s going to talk about what it means that Jesus really is the Son
of God. Watch…
[Video – Lee Strobel:
strobelT1038_M - Discussing The Da Vinci Code: Is Jesus the Son of God?
Lee’s Perspective on the Matter (238) from
I was talking with a
friend of mine recently about Jesus, and I told him what I’m going to
If Jesus was a fraud, then I should reject Him. He’s not worth
following. But if He really is who He claimed to be, and if I really
believe that, then it’s got to make a difference. I can put my hope and
my faith in Him. And that believe should permeate every part of my
being. I can’t ignore Him. It’s far too important and the stakes are
far too high for me to do that. And since I do believe that He is the
Son of God, I have chosen to trust Him with my life and follow Him and
His Word with all my Heart.
How about you? Do you believe? Same question Jesus asked Peter: “Who do
you say He is?” And what difference does it make for you?
Would you close your eyes? We’re going to pray in a moment, but I want
to ask you first, have you settled this issue in your own life? If not,
why not today? Just quietly, right where you are, you can pray
something like this…
Jesus, I do believe. And I choose today to
follow you. Help me to do that I pray.
Now let me pray for all of us…
Father, we pray that you will continue to
open up or hearts and minds to the Truth… the truth about who Jesus is
and the truth about the forgiveness and life that He offers each one of