Pastor Marc Likins
For the Christian, all roads lead to Jesus. This is why Jesus said that He was the way, the truth, and the life; that He was the alpha, omega, beginning, and end. It’s Jesus’ way of saying this all comes back to me. But did Jesus teach that He was God? It’s been said that this question is ground zero for the truth claims of Christianity, and here are seven instances of Jesus explicitly and implicitly claiming deity.
1. Verily, verily I say unto you
This phrase flows off the tongue of Jesus over and over in the gospel records, but what does it mean? This is like saying, “I swear in advance to you the truthfulness of what I am about to say.” In Judaism, you needed witnesses to verify an account, and Jesus sets that aside by basically saying, “I proclaim this to you on my own authority.” While less than an explicit claim to deity, Jesus certainly viewed Himself as uniquely authoritative.
2. I AM.
In John 8:56-59, Jesus says that He is at least as old as Abraham, and the religious leaders are flabbergasted. They exclaim that Jesus isn’t even fifty years old yet, and Jesus responds by telling them that He was actually before Abraham and “I AM.” I AM is the name of God in the burning bush/Moses account in Exodus. Immediately they take up stones to throw at Jesus for this heresy. He was claiming that He was eternal God, and they knew it.
3. Jesus believed that people’s eternal destiny hinged on whether or not they believed on Him.
In John 6, Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” In other words, your forever depends on what you do with Me. That’s not a thinly veiled claim of transcendence.
4. Jesus answered the question, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
In the 24 hours leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, He was interrogated a lot but rarely answered questions. Yet, there is a unique moment recorded for us in Mark 14:61-64 where Jesus is asked point-blank if He is the Messiah. Not only does He answer in the affirmative, but He takes it a step further and says He is the Son of man that Daniel prophesied about 600 years prior. The one who will come in great power and judge the whole earth. Once again, Jesus was claiming that He was eternal God, and they knew it.
5. Jesus forgave sins.
In Mark 2, Jesus says that He forgives the sins of a sick man, and the scribes claim that this is heresy – only God can forgive sins. In that moment, the scribes are both right and wrong. They are right to assume that all sin is against God and only He can forgive it. We offend God when reject or ignore Him in the world He created, or when we fail to be or do what He requires in His law. They were wrong to assume that Jesus wasn’t God. Jesus believed He had the power and authority to forgive sins against God because He was, in fact, God.
6. Jesus accepted worship.
Think about all the stories you heard in Sunday School. Moses parted the Red Sea, and they worshiped God, not Moses. Elijah called down fire from heaven, and they worshipped God, not Elijah. Paul is immune to a poisonous snake bite, and pagan people attempt to worship him. But what does Paul do? He essentially says, “Whoa! Stop that right now!”
But go look at Matthew 2, Matthew 8, John 9, and others. Jesus does miracles, they worship Him, and He accepts it! If Jesus didn’t view Himself as God, you have to admit it is pretty weird that He accepted worship.
7. The rules that apply to God apply to me.
In John 5 Jesus heals someone on the Sabbath and the religious leaders are in a tizzy about it. They go so far as to try to kill Him for breaking the no-work-on-the-Sabbath rule. When they confront Jesus about this, He doesn’t tell them that healing isn’t really work, and they have misread the rules. Instead, He tells them, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.”
In other words, God the Father has worked every day up until this point. He created the Sabbath, but He doesn’t take off on the Sabbath. And…I get to do the same. Jesus tells them, “You know how the Father is justified in working on the Sabbath? Yeah, me too! You haven’t misconstrued that I am working. I sure am, but that rule doesn’t apply to Me or my Father. The same rules that apply to God apply to me.”
This is an explicit claim to deity, and they know it. Here is what the next verse says, “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”
I don’t think that I could have chosen the words better myself. Jesus did, in fact, make Himself equal with God.