There are some who think the deity of Christ was a later invention that developed by the end of the first century. As evidence for this position, they assert that the Gospel written first—the Gospel of Mark—has a low view of Jesus, while the Gospel written last—the Gospel of John—has a high view of Jesus. Therefore, Jesus started out as a man in Mark’s Gospel but became God by the time John’s Gospel was written.
This challenge rests on the assumption that the Gospel of Mark has a low view of Jesus. But is this true? Does Mark’s Gospel present Jesus as a mere man, or is the deity of Christ presented even in the earliest Gospel?
In one of his many debates with Muslim apologist Shabir Ally, James White lays out sixteen places in the Gospel of Mark that point persuasively to Jesus’ deity when taken together.
- Mark calls Jesus the Son of God.
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (1:1).
- John the Baptist applies Isaiah 40:3 (which is about Yahweh) to Jesus.
“...the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ’Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’” (1:3).
- God the Father calls Jesus His beloved Son.
“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ’You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased’” (1:9-11).
- The unclean spirits recognize Jesus as the Holy One of God, who has the power to destroy them.
“And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, ’What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God’”(1:23-24).
- Jesus is able to forgive sins committed against God.
“And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ’Son, your sins are forgiven’” (2:5).
- Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man of Daniel 7, who is the Lord of the Sabbath.
“And he said to them, ’The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath’” (2:27-28).
- Demons fall down before Jesus and recognize Him as the Son of God.
“And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, ’You are the Son of God’” (3:11).
- Again, a demon possessed man recognizes Jesus’ authority and power.
“And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, ’What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me’” (5:6-7).
- Jesus has the authority to change God’s law.
“And he said to them, ’Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?’ (Thus he declared all foods clean)” (7:18-19).
- Jesus called people not to be ashamed of Him, but rather to give their lives for Him.
“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ’If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it... For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels’” (8:34-38).
- Jesus is called the Father’s beloved Son, not one son among many sons.
“And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ’This is my beloved Son; listen to him’” (9:7).
- Jesus asks the rich young ruler if he realizes the implications of calling Him good.
“And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, ’Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ’Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone’” (10:17-18).
- The elect people of God are called Jesus’ elect people.
“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven” (13:26-27).
- Jesus’ words are put at the same level as God’s words.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (13:31).
- Jesus places Himself above men and angels in His relationship to the Father.
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (13:32).
- Jesus identifies Himself as the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13-14.
“But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ’Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ’I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ And the high priest tore his garments and said, ’What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy’” (14:61-64).
You can watch Dr. White present these texts in his opening statement here.