Welcome! Thanks for joining us for this, our fifth post in our new year-long blog series we’re calling “Journey Together.” In this post we’ll dive a bit further into whether Jesus claimed to be God.
We look around at our majestic world and we ask, “Did this all really just occur through fortunate happenstance?” Or is this the work of a Creator, whose love of order and beauty and creativity extends also to us? To believe in God doesn’t actually require all that much faith, because the clockwork intricacies of our world truly are astounding. Our souls yearn for a connection to Him. Yet some of us still fight so hard against believing in and trusting in God and the deity of Christ. Look, we can take our own explanations for life — or God’s Word. Which will you choose?
Did Jesus claim to be just a great spiritual guide — or God in human form? (Hint: the latter!)
Some skeptics like to assert that Jesus wasn’t God — and never claimed to be. So not true, people!! We should scratch our heads in confusion at these claims, because the Bible’s New Testament writers clearly wrote otherwise.
Take, for example, when the high priest 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?” he asked the assembled Jewish leaders. And with that, without a fair and just trial, these leaders decided to murder Jesus. He wasn’t just stealing their thunder, He was uncomfortably questioning their beliefs.
But here’s the thing: Jesus allowed them to kill Him. Jesus didn’t care about saving Himself. So He didn’t, in all of recorded Scripture, tiptoe around the issue of His deity. He was God and claimed to be such. He did so calmly. Assuredly. Without worry. Because Jesus knew He was fully in control of the outcome of this and every other moment. #truth
Jesus kept His focus on the mission He came to complete: dying to wipe our life slates clean. The Gospel of John records that Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me.”
~ With Humility, Jesus Boldly Claimed His Deity ~
John also records that Jesus said, without ego, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Yet at this claim to deity, the Jews grabbed stones to try to kill Him. Why? Because they knew that, according to Mosaic law, any person daring to make such a claim was deserving of death. An important point: We know, from their reaction, that they understood Jesus to be claiming His deity. You and I should arrive at the same conclusion. When critics say otherwise, they ignore the obvious.
Jesus claimed to be worthy of the same honor due God. And that to see Jesus was to see God. Surely only a fool would make such a claim… and yet, Jesus DID walk on water! And calm the storms! And heal the lepers! And send all demons scurrying! Could anyone but God do so?
Jesus 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.”
And in the Gospel of Matthew, in what is referred to as 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 gathering a group of His disciples in Galilee to tell them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Again, not to air a massive ego, but to simply assert His deity. To assure ALL Christ followers going forward that He holds the universe in His hands. We can trust Him!
~ And Humbly Displayed His Deity Via His Actions ~
Even in healing people Jesus humbly put His power and nature on display. He healed everyone — from the highest in stature to the lowest social outcast. Jesus wasn’t motivated by the highest bidder, but by His pure love. I adore that about Him!
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 who He said He was, dudes!
Jesus furthered His claim to divine authority by healing a man in the synagogue over the Sabbath. Some of the Pharisees were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched closely to see if He would heal on the Sabbath. “Which is lawful on the Sabbath,” asked Jesus, “to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” Scripture tells us His critics stayed silent, but plotted in their hearts to kill Him.
Rather than be floored by the miraculous, these hard-hearted Jewish leaders chose to besmirch Jesus’ deity and turn people against Him. Some even suggested that Jesus had power over demons simply because He, Himself, was a demon. Circular logic at its best!
~ Yet Jesus Still Doesn’t Force the Issue ~
In His prayers to God, the Gospel writers tell us that Jesus used the Aramaic word Abba for father. It’s a word that suggested His closest possible intimacy with God. In claiming this unique relationship, Jesus calmly asserted His authority over Old Testament Scripture and the Jewish leadership. But His claims seriously upset the Jewish leaders’ apple cart.
Would you and I get just as mad at Jesus’ claims if He arrived today, declaring to be the Messiah and telling us to look to Him for life and answers? Quite possibly, if we similarly viewed Jesus through the lens of our selfish pride.
Yet Jesus had zero pride issues; He never moved beyond humility. Isn’t that freaking amazing?! 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, then got busy displaying the truth of His claims through His actions. Who but God has the power to control the natural world? Jesus performed the miraculous as easily as child’s play. He healed the sick just with a word or gesture. And salved the wounds of the hurting. And restored the lives of any who sought His help.
Though He possessed all the power of heaven, Jesus chose to die a criminal’s death to display the depth of His endless love for us. And through His resurrection, Jesus soundly settled the argument of His deity. But He gives us the freedom to choose whether we will trust Him on this.
So what say you? If you’re still hesitating to take Jesus at His word, I invite you to get up to speed on the historical evidence for Christ. You can start by reading through the year-long blog series we did last year, based on Josh and Sean McDowell’s book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict.
In our next blog post, let’s look at five misconceptions non-believers have about Christians. (One is that we have no fun. Whaaaaaat? LOL!)
Catch up: The introductory post to this series.