This is a question which has divided humanity ever since his earthly ministry in Israel 2,000 years ago. Some people have denied that Jesus ever made such a claim and deny Jesus’ divinity; whilst others affirm a divine influence of Jesus but reject the claim that he was God: Muslims say that he was al-Masih — the messiah; Jehovah Witnesses’ claim that he was the Archangel Michael; Mormons state that was he the first and greatest spirit child of God and the heavenly mother, the brother of Lucifer. Many have even insisted that Jesus, himself, never claimed to be God. So what is the answer? Did he claim to be God? Did those who know him consider him to be God? To answer these questions, we turn to the Scriptures and there is no better place to start than with John’s gospel.
In fact, from the very onset, John establishes the divine nature of Christ. In verse 1, he states: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Alluding that the Word was Jesus, John continues in verse 14 to state: “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” It is without doubt that the apostle John thought that Jesus was very much God. Yet, why was this? Did Jesus ever make this claim? Whilst, Jesus never says plainly “I am God”, we need to examine what he did say and understand the implications of his comments.
For example, when certain Jews accused Jesus of being demon-possessed and a charlatan after he said he had seen Abraham, an impossibility for a mere human, he responded with “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58). This claim would’ve been blasphemous to the Jews, for by Jesus claiming ‘I am’ – he was claiming God’s title for himself. As in Exodus 3:14 we see that “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.’””. The Jews understood what Jesus meant by this claim and attempted to stone him as a result. Likewise, when Jesus was brought a paralytic, he said to the man “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” To which the Jewish leaders replied “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Luke 5:20-21). They understood what Jesus had implied and were unwilling to believe the ramifications. Perhaps, the closest example that we have of Jesus claiming to be God is John 10:30-33, wherein he states “I and the Father are one.” As his Jewish opponents got ready to stone him, Jesus said: “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
The Jewish leaders got the point, Jesus was claiming to be God through both his speech and actions. And it wasn’t just those who opposed Jesus who thought that he was claiming to be God either. Peter, when asked as to who he thought Jesus was, responded that “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Likewise, Thomas, after seeing the resurrected Jesus, exclaimed “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
So there can be no doubt that Jesus definitely considered himself to be God, and others did too. What about you? Do you think Jesus is God?