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Did Jesus Claim to be God?

Guest Author - LeeAnn Bonds

You’ve heard the objection: Jesus never said He was God. You have to wonder: why is it not enough that His family, His followers, His enemies, and complete strangers understood that He claimed to be God even if some of them didn’t believe that He was. Be that as it may, Jesus did say he was God.

I think we can all agree that Jesus was a consummate communicator. He made himself clear even when he answered questions obliquely, or with a parable or another question. Someone has estimated that Jesus asked around 200 questions in Scripture, and only directly answered three. Still, his teaching was clear enough to change the world and millions upon millions of lives. A perfect example is Mark 2:5-7, where Jesus heals the paralytic after his friends lowered him through the roof. Jesus began by forgiving the man’s sins, which led the scribes to think he was blaspheming, because “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus knew what they were thinking (because he’s God, remember?), and called them on it. And then he said “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” Oblique, but clear.

Did he ever say the exact words “I am God”? No. Did He say it in every other way possible? Yes. Jesus made such a variety of claims to deity that there can be no doubt as to what he meant.

Jesus said He was the Son of Man and the Messiah

The Son of Man was Jesus’ favorite name for himself. It is also a name for the Messiah recorded in Daniel 7:13-14. Jesus quoted this passage when he was on trial before the Sanhedrin (Mark 14:61-64). This sent the high priest into a paroxysm of rage; he tore his robe and screamed “Blasphemy!” In Daniel, the Son of Man is given an everlasting dominion, which he could only rule everlastingly, of course, if he was God.

The Messiah in Hebrew is the Christ in Greek. Matthew recorded a conversation Jesus had with his disciples in chapter 16. He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”

He said He was the Son of God and One with God

In many additional passages Jesus calls God his Father. Earthly sons are not always equal to their fathers, but Jesus says that seeing him is the same as seeing the Father (John 14:9).

”…He lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:1-3

John 10:30 “I and the Father are one.”

John 5:18 For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

No one is equal to God, by definition, so if someone is God’s Son and equal to God, he is God.

Jesus said he was I AM

John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

This is the clincher for me. In discussion with a group of Jews in the temple, Jesus gave his name as the name God revealed when speaking to Moses from the burning bush. Incredibly outrageous, unless he was God. Predictably, the Jews picked up rocks to stone him to death, but he “hid himself” and went out of the temple. Calling yourself God is only blasphemy if you’re not God. They understood he was claiming to be God. Some believed, some didn’t, but he WAS saying he was God, there was no doubt about that in anyone’s mind.

Jesus was executed for saying He was God.

We already looked at Matthew 26:63-66. The high priest said Jesus deserved death for claiming to the Christ, the Son of God, and the Son of Man. The same interchange is found in Mark 14:61-64.

In Luke 22:70 is recorded the key question: “Are you the Son of God, then?” Jesus’ answer gives modern people pause: “You say that I am.” This was apparently “the traditional form in which a cultivated Jew replied to a question of grave or sad import. Courtesy forbade a direct ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”(The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, p. 139). There was no evasiveness in Jesus’ reply, only courtesy. And his meaning was clear, because the council then said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

If Jesus didn’t mean that he was God, he could have clarified his answer and quickly cleared up the misunderstanding, seeing as how his life was at stake. But he didn’t. He said what he meant, and meant what he said, and through Scripture we too have heard it from his own lips. The only question is whether or not we choose to believe it.

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Content copyright © 2014 by LeeAnn Bonds. All rights reserved.
This content was written by LeeAnn Bonds. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Sunnie Jackson for details.

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