A little earlier, I had started making the case that the Scriptures clearly teach that Jesus was God. In that post I had focused on the the fact that the Scriptures teach that Jesus is the Creator.
This time, I will look to establish my case in another way, namely that:
Jesus claimed to be God.
Jesus made the unmistakable claim that he was God. While this certainly isn’t an exhaustive treatment, let’s look at a couple examples starting with this one:
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58 ESV)
His Jewish audience understood that He was applying to Himself God’s title, which was given directly to Moses at the burning bush:
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” (Exodus 3:14 ESV)
To help provide stronger evidence that Jesus was claiming to be I AM we can look at the reaction from the Jews he was speaking to. Scripture says:
So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (John 8:59 ESV).
In the Law, there were several offences where the punishment prescribed by God was stoning, however only one fits this situation – the Jews were going to stone him for being one who “blasphemes the name of the Lord” (Lev 24:16 ESV).
None of the other stoning offences are applicable to this situation, they are: child sacrifice (Lev 20:2), being a medium or spiritist (Lev 20:27), not observing the Sabbath (Num 15:32-35), serving other gods (Deut 13:6-10, 17:2-5), being a defiant son (Deut 21:18-21), pre-marital sex (Deut 22:21), and adultery (Deut 22:24). As you can see, only blasphemy, misusing God’s name, makes sense.
Later in His ministry, Jesus would make another claim that He was God and met the same response. In this case the Jews’ reason is given; this not only further supports the interpretation of John 8 above but it gives another example of Jesus directly claiming to be God. This is what Scripture says:
“I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” (John 10:30-33 ESV)
The Jews understood with perfect clarity that Jesus was claiming to be God. That a mere man (in their view) would make this claim was blasphemy and they sought to exact the punishment that God established for this crime.
Finally, when appearing to John on the island of Patmos, Jesus had this conversation with him:
When I [John] saw him, I fell at his [Jesus’] feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:17-18 ESV; see also Revelation 22:13)
Here again we see Jesus using a title that belongs to God, this time one recorded by the prophet Isaiah:
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
“I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god.” (Isaiah 44:6 ESV; see also Isaiah 48:12)
This again clearly identifies Jesus as Deity.