Does Jesus Claim to Be God?
There are many similarities between what are commonly called, “The 3 Abrahamic faiths”. They all obviously believe in Abraham, but also other major prophets and leaders such as Noah, Moses, Jonah, Solomon and David (Surah 4:163). They all believe in a Creator God who made the world, and that that God expects us to follow certain moral rules.
But when it comes to the identity of Jesus, all three faiths quickly diverge. In Judaism, Jesus is a false prophet. In Islam, He is a great prophet, just not divine. But in Christianity, not only is Jesus a great prophet, but He is also very much divine.
Now, to make a claim to Jesus’ divinity raises all kinds of questions. How could Jesus be both human and God? How could Jesus be on earth or on the cross, and God the Father still be alive in heaven? Islam strongly affirms that Allah did not have a son and that Jesus was not divine (Surah 4:170-175, 9:30-31, 23:91), with the argument being that claims of sonship leads to polytheism (Surah 3:67) and blasphemy. And, when looking at the Bible, Jesus never says, “I am God” therefore how can one say that He is? If indeed He was divine, this claim would be stated, if not once, but many times in the Bible. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case and so, many logically follow, this divine attribute is something that is credited to Him by Christians or others who wish to see Him worshipped.
But is that fully true? Does Jesus only speak and act as a man?
When you look at Jesus’ words and actions, you see that He says some very interesting things. Upon seeing a paralyzed man, Jesus forgives his sins. Something only God can do. While we can forgive the sins that we commit against each other, this man had not committed a direct sin to Jesus. What Jesus was talking about were the sins over the course of this man’s life. No human has the power to do that. Jesus is doing something only God can do.
In John 8:58, Jesus is in an intense discussion with the Jewish religious leaders, or Pharisees. At the end of the discussion, Jesus refers to Himself as “I AM” (John 8:58). What may seem like a harmless statement, is actually a declaration of deity. How? Centuries earlier, Moses was being called by God to free the Hebrews from under Egyptian slavery. He asks God for His name so that He knows what to refer to Him by when he is asked. God’s reply? “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites. ‘I AM’ has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). In other words, God is giving Moses the name to which He is to be referred. When Jesus does the same thing in John 8:58, it was immediately understood that He was referring to Himself using the same name God used. This was blasphemous for these religious Pharisees and so what was their response? They immediately pick up stones to throw at Him and kill Him for claiming to be God.
Jesus also allowed Himself to be worshiped. In Matthew 2:1, after His birth, Wise Men came to worship Him. After Jesus walks on water in Matthew 14, He is worshiped upon entering the boat. In Hebrews 1:6 and 2:9-11, it is God who encourages the worship of Jesus! We know that only God can be worshiped for Jesus Himself said so when He was tempted by Satan (Matt. 4:10, Luke 4:8) and of course the very first commandment is that only God alone should be worshiped (Exodus 20:3-4). Interestingly enough, in Isaiah 45:23, God says that every knee will bow to Him and every tongue will swear (confess) to Him, the same words He uses of Jesus in Phil. 2:9-11!
In the Bible you will also see it said that God raised Jesus from the dead (1 Corinthians 6:14, Colossians 2:12, Ephesians 1:20, Galatians 1:1 & Acts 2:24, 5:30). But as you keep reading, you will also see that Jesus claims to raise Himself from the dead (John 2:19-22). So is this a contradiction? If Jesus and God are the same being, then it absolutely isn’t! Jesus is asked to prove His authority and He chooses to mention His own resurrection as proof!
While there are so many more examples one can use to demonstrate Jesus’ divinity, I’ll just give one more. In Isaiah 44:6, 48:12, & Rev. 21:6, God is referred to as the Alpha and Omega, The First and the Last, or The Beginning and the End. Jesus is also called the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, or The Beginning and the End in Revelation 1:17, 2:8, 22:12-16.
Maybe an illustration is also helpful. Let’s say I run across a young girl in a softball uniform. She tells me that she recently got off the field from a game, but she was awfully disappointed in her performance. I begin to ask her what went wrong, and as a result begin to show her how she can correct her batting position, or I demonstrate the proper way to catch a ball. Perhaps I give her some food tips on how to make her body physically stronger to keep up with the demands of the sport. Maybe I tell her I can create a workout program for her that’s designed specifically to focus on the muscles she needs to hit and run well. Additionally, I talk to her about what’s going on in her head when she is up to bat or when she is running the bases. After listening to me speak and watching me demonstrate, at her next game, things go significantly better for her. What might happen then? She might come to me to ask me if I am a softball coach. Now, what made her ask this? Is it because I said I was a coach? No. It was because my words and actions led her to that conclusion. No one would call her irrational for coming to that conclusion. She merely deducted, based on what was presented to her, that my expertise of Softball came from somewhere. To be able to have that level of understanding about the game, I am not just someone who is pretending to be knowledgeable, especially once what I said connected with her life and changed her interaction with the game. Is it possible that there are statements or actions from Jesus’ life that can lead us to conclude His divinity?
As you can see, it is easy for a reader even today to look at the text and see that God and Jesus are one in nature. And that brings us hope, joy and thankfulness because not only can we know what God is like by reading about the life of Jesus, but we can also know that God loves us because Jesus was willing to give His life for us.