Did Jesus Claim to be God?
I love Jesus Christ and I am sure there is none like him. My friends ask me all the time: where in the Bible does Jesus distinctly say with authority that he is God?
– V. from Khartoum, Sudan
The claims of Jesus (Part 1)
Jesus made a distinct claim to be God in two ways: by what he said of himself and by what he did. While this may seem unclear to some modern skeptics, make no mistake that his audience at the time had no doubt whom he was saying he was. That’s why the religious leaders of the day constantly accused him of blasphemy – according to the dictionary “the act of claiming the attributes of deity.”
For instance, in John 5:17 Jesus said: “’My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.’” Perhaps that does not seem like a claim to be God to us but listen to how the hearers took it: “For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” (Verse 18)
When Jesus asked his disciples, “’But who do you say that I am?” Peter gave the answer. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:15-16) Did Jesus correct him? No, he validated that answer. “’Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’” (Verse 17)
One of Christ’s clearest claims was in an exchange with the Jews who always loved to challenge him on every point. Jesus discussed Abraham as if he knew him personally and “The Jews therefore said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’” (John 8:57-58) He was telling them that he was pre-existent to Abraham and they were so incensed they picked up stones to throw at him.
Jesus also claimed to be God by the works that he did (healing, deliverance, miracles) and he challenged the Jews to believe in him on that basis if no other. They said, “’If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these bear witness of Me.’” (John 10:24-25)
Unbelief (Part 2)
If you are interested in more than this very small sampling, check out the topic of the “Deity of Jesus” in a reference work such as a Topical Bible and you will find hundreds of scriptures. The problem is that even if you give your friends every single one of them it may not make any difference to them.
Why? Because of unbelief. If those who saw Jesus in person on earth and who were witnesses to his miracles and his resurrection still hardened their hearts and refused to believe in him, why would it be any different today? Jesus hit the nail on the head when he said,“’But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep.’” (John 10:26)
When your friends ask you this question, you might want to take a different tack in responding. You are assuming that if you give them a definitive answer they will see things as you do but that’s probably not true. You might ask them why they want to know. At any rate, ask questions that move beyond argument and debate because those two things never convince a person to take the leap of faith.
- “If I prove to you that Jesus actually claimed to be God, what difference will that make to you?”
- “Who do you think Jesus is?”
- “What holds you back from believing in Jesus as your Lord and Savior?”
- “What would be convincing proof to you that Jesus is who he claims to be?”
- “If you knew for sure that Jesus was God, would you want to serve him unconditionally?”
Before you talk to your friends, pray for them and ask the Holy Spirit’s help in not only giving the right answer but in touching their heart to receive it. If you are a Christian and they are not they will be watching your actions more than your words. It is often the case that your love toward them will end up being the most convincing proof of all.