I want to suggest that there’s another point that we can make in our apologetic efforts with Jehovahs Witnesses, Muslims and anybody else that doesn’t believe that Jesus’ divinity is implied by the Gospels: The first recorded words of Jesus inform us of His Divinity!
Today, when we refer to or talk about praying to, ‘the Father’ or ‘our Father,’ we think no more of such phraseology than the fact that we are just referring to God: our creator and sustainer.
It is from such a backdrop that I think we can sometimes miss the power and importance of Jesus’ very first recorded words, as recorded by Luke –
46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[a] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. – (Luke 2:46-51 NIV)
Commentators have long-since seen V49 as the central verse here. But, for me, what’s really significant is not whether the verse should be read: ‘in My Father’s house’ or ‘about My Father’s business.’
What is significant are the two little words ‘My Father’s.’ (Greek – patros mou)
Today, our instinct might be to give scarcely more weight or significance to Jesus using that phrase than if you or I say were to say, ‘Our Father.’ But He really is saying much more than that! To see why we need to look at John’s Gospel –
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:16-18)
According to the UBS Greek NT it is the same 2 words that Jesus uses in both the Temple courts in Luke 2 and before the Jewish leaders in John 5:- ‘patros mou’ – ‘My Father’.
The phraseology does not have to be as such. Either / or account could have said, for example, tou patros (The Father) or simply Ho Theos (God), but they don’t.
And John 5:18 spells out the enormous significance of the phrase in first century Judaism: It was an outrageous blasphemy – ‘making Himself equal with God‘.
It seems to me this is exactly what Jesus is doing in Luke 2 – our very first recorded words of Jesus!
His divinity was not invented at Nicaea!! From His very first recorded words, and from then on throughout His life, Jesus was declaring His divinity and mission!
This understanding also helps us make sense of Luke 2:51 too. Because, ‘Mary treasured this in her heart,’ looks odd at first. We go from her lamenting: ‘son, why have you treated us like this,’ to her not understanding his response, to then ‘treasuring these things in her heart,’ as they went back to Nazareth.
It is worth noting that the same phrase: she ‘treasured all these things in heart,’ was used earlier in Luke 2, in verse 19. But there the context is clear that she had been ‘treasuring’ what she had heard from the shepherds: that her newborn son would be the Saviour and Messiah.
At first glance in verse 51 it’s not quite so clear. But I think she has just realized what Jesus meant: Just as the later Jewish authorities (in John 5) would know what He meant, and just as the shepherds had previously told her at his birth:-
Jesus, Himself, has now told her and confirmed the same thing: That He is ‘The Unique Son of God!’ This is what she treasures in her heart!
We can treasure it in ours too!!
For much more on the Divinity of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels I strongly recommend ‘Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ’ by Rob Bowman & Ed Komoszewski –