by Mark Herring
It was during a discussion with a friend, a confident atheist, that I first heard someone claim that nowhere in the Bible did Jesus claim to be God.
Muslims don’t believe that Jesus was the son of God either, although the Qur’an does revere him as a holy prophet.
This is a common misconception and also one that’s easy to straighten out. And the reason I want to do that is because, at the time, I didn’t do a very good job of making the case.
So even though it comes years too late, this blog is intended to demolish my friend’s assertion by outlining the many ways in which Jesus asserted his deity in no uncertain terms.
Yes – of course Jesus said he was God.
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus enraged the high priest and sealed his earthly fate by making no bones about His identity.
“Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”
“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14: 61-62)
In Matthew, Jesus asks Peter “who do you say I am”? Rather than being a source of shock or embarrassment, the response seems to have been completely expected and entirely natural.
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 16: 15-17)
John’s Gospel speaks of “the son (of God)” twenty-nine times and refers to God as “Father” over one hundred times. His hearers understood the full impact of these words – that as the Son he was the equal of the Father. He was God.
“The Jews tried all the harder 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 5:18)
Well, that’s the first part done and dusted easily enough. You don’t have to look far to see that Jesus emphatically claimed to be God.
But it might also be interesting to look at the other ways in which He asserted His deity.
1. Jesus said He was the same as God.
“The Father and I are one.”
Once again the people picked up stones to kill him.
Jesus said, “At my Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone me?”
They replied, “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.”
2. Jesus said that seeing Him is the same as seeing God.
Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me.”
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?”
3. Jesus said that he forgave sin.
There are a number of accounts of Jesus forgiving sin – but everyone knew that only God had the power to do this. So by claiming the power to forgive sin, Jesus was claiming to be God.
Some men brought to him a paralysed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”
Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralysed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home.
(Matthew 9: 2-7)
4. Jesus said that He existed before Abraham.
When Jesus applied the title “I Am” to himself, he claimed to be God with an unambiguous reference to Exodus 3 when God reveals Himself to His people and calls Himself the “I Am”.
“Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.”
The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!”
5. Jesus said that he offered eternal life.
“For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
Jesus also made statements like: “I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly” and “I am the light of the world.” And He said numerous times that He would give eternal life to anyone who believed in him. “He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”
I wish I’d known all this when I was talking to my friend.
But I suppose he could then have responded with: “Just because Jesus said all that doesn’t make it true.” Part 2 of this blog will answer this objection.