Welcome! In this post we’ll dive into whether Jesus claimed to be God.
Did Jesus claim to be just a great spiritual guide — or God in human form?
Jesus Humbly Claimed His Deity
Some skeptics like to assert that Jesus wasn’t God — and never claimed to be. We should scratch our heads in confusion at these claims, because the Bible’s New Testament writers clearly wrote otherwise.
John records that Jesus said, without ego, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” At this claim of deity, the Jewish crowd grabbed stones to kill Him. Why? Because they knew that, according to Mosaic law, any person daring to make such a claim was deserving of death. They understood Jesus to be claiming that He was God.
When the high priest later asked Jesus, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus replied, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” “Blasphemy!” cried the high priest, as he tore his robes to signal his condemnation of Jesus. “What further need do we have of witnesses?”
Jesus claimed to be worthy of the honor due God. For one simple reason. He was.
Surely only a fool would make such a claim … and yet, Jesus walked on water … calmed the wind and waves … healed the lepers … and sent demons scurrying. Could anyone but God do so?
Jesus also said that He pre-existed with God before coming to earth in human form. John 17:5 reads, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory that I had with You before the world existed.” In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” In John 5, Jesus tells us that God the Father “has given all judgment to the Son.”
In the Gospel of Matthew, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus claimed to have higher authority than the sacred Old Testament law and established Jewish tradition. Jesus is recorded as saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
Demonstrating His Deity Through Healing
As He healed people, Jesus humbly put His supernatural love and power on display. He healed everyone — from the highest in stature to the lowest social outcast. Jesus wasn’t motivated by who was “worthy,” but by His pure love.
As recorded in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus healed a paralytic brought to Jesus by four friends. Upon seeing the man, Jesus declared, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” “Blasphemy!” again cried the Jewish leaders. “Who but God can forgive sins?” As Sean McDowell explains in his post on the deity of Christ, “They believed the man was paralyzed because he had sinned against God, and yet Jesus had the audacity to claim that he could personally forgive these sins.” Because He was God!
Jesus furthered His claim to divine authority by healing a man in the synagogue over the Sabbath. Some of the Pharisees, in seeking a reason to accuse Jesus, watched to see if He would heal on the Sabbath. “Which is lawful on the Sabbath,” Jesus asked them before He did heal, “to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”
Scripture tells us His critics stayed silent because of their fear of the crowd, but they plotted in their hearts to kill Him. Rather than be floored by the miraculous, these jealous, prideful leaders closed their hearts and minds to the obvious.
Jesus Allows Us to Decide
The Gospel writers tell us that Jesus used the Aramaic word Abba for father, when praying to God. It’s a word that illuminates His intimate relationship with God. In claiming this bond, Jesus calmly asserted His authority over Old Testament Scripture and the Jewish leadership. This claim seriously upset the Jewish leaders’ apple cart.
Would you and I get mad at Jesus’ claims if He arrived today, rather than 2,000 years ago? Quite possibly, if we viewed Jesus through the lens of our pride.
Jesus had zero pride issues. He didn’t force people to believe in Him. He didn’t waste time chasing after people or trying to persuade them. He simply stated who He was, and displayed the truth of His claims through His words and actions, leaving the choice up to each individual to believe.
So what say you? Will you believe?
If you’re still hesitating to take Jesus at His word, grow your knowledge of the historical evidence for Christ. You can start by reading through our year-long blog series based on Josh and Sean McDowell’s apologetics classic, Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Be open to God opening your mind to the truth.
In our next blog post, let’s look at five misconceptions non-believers have about Christians.
Catch up: The introductory post to this series.