In Part 1. of this little series of “Who is Jesus?” We looked over who the Scriptures say that Jesus is. Now, I would like for us to consider who Jesus Himself said that He is. Many have asked the questions, “If Jesus was God, why didn’t He just say so?” Let’s go to the words of Jesus Himself to see if He claimed to be God or not.
“Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
“Who are you? ” they questioned.
“Exactly what I’ve been telling you from the very beginning,” Jesus told them. “I have many things to say and to judge about you, but the one who sent me is true, and what I have heard from him — these things I tell the world.” They did not know He was speaking to them about the Father. – John 8:24-27 CSB
Now, you could interpret the above passages in a variety of ways, we know that the Jewish people believed YHWH, Yahweh, the I AM, was the divine name of the living God. Regardless of your interpretation of the above verses you probably agree with the last sentence in one way or another, “He was speaking to them about the Father.” Let’s look down further in this conversation to verses 56-59:
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.”
The Jews replied, “You aren’t fifty years old yet, and you’ve seen Abraham?”
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.”
So they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple.
Jesus used the divine name of the God of the Jews in reference to Himself. He was outright claiming the name of the living God as His own. The Jews picked up stones to kill Him because there are only two options when someone makes a statement like that: 1. It is true or 2. It is blasphemy. The Jews obviously believed that Jesus was blaspheming. Let’s consider other statements that Jesus made. I hadn’t planned on using this verse or the thoughts behind it but it is worth sharing so here it is,
Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with that glory I had with you before the world existed. – John 17:5 CSB
Okay, so, if you look at that verse and are confused as to how it has anything to do with Jesus making a claim about Himself, I get it. So, I’ll explain it to you with another verse or two.
“I am Yahweh. That is my name,
and I will not give my glory to another
or my praise to idols. Isaiah 42:8 CSB
“I will act for my own sake, indeed, my own,
for how can be defiled?
I will not give my glory to another. – Isaiah 48:11
Jesus asked the Father to glorify Him in His presence with the glory that He had before the world existed. The verses from Isaiah above tell us that Yahweh, will not give or share His glory with anyone. Why is this important?
In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. – John 1:1 CSB
The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all people may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. – John 5:22-23 CSB
Jesus, the Word, is God and was with God in the beginning. Yahweh, will not share His glory with another but Jesus says that He had glory in the Father’s presence before the world existed. And one of the most glorifying verses of Jesus in the Scriptures tells us that the Father desires that all people would honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. It also warns that “Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” Those are incredibly bold statements! Here is one more with the same focus,
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” – John 14:16-17 CSB
Perhaps, you can relate to Philip and would say something like this, “Lord,” said Philip, “Show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.” – John 14:18 CSB
Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time and you do not know me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” – John 14:19 CSB (emphasis mine)
The claim is clear. But, just in case you don’t believe it, here it is again,
I and the Father are one. – John 10:30 CSB
Oh, and just in case you’re going to try to claim, “That’s not what He meant,” the Jew’s themselves knew exactly what He meant which is why the following verses say this,
Again the Jews picked up rocks to stone him. Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these works are you stoning me? ” We aren’t stoning you for a good work,” the Jews answered, “but for blasphemy because you — being a man — make yourself God.” – John 10:31-33 CSB
Jesus claimed to be God and the Jews knew it. What do you say? Do you believe Him or do you too accuse Him of blasphemy?
Added evidence that Jesus is God comes from His authority to forgive sins. I will quote some Scriptures and then leave you with a quote from C. S. Lewis over the matter, explained far more eloquently than I would be able to muster myself.
Seeing their faith he said, “Friend your sins are forgiven.” Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to think to themselves: “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone? ”
But perceiving their thoughts, Jesus replied to them, “Why are you thinking this in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he told the paralyzed man, “I tell you: Get up, take your stretcher, and go home.”
Immediately he got up before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God. – Luke 5:20-25 CSB (You can also read this account in Mark 2:5-12)
“One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins. Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offenses against himself. You tread on my toes and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offenses. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivaled by any other character in history. Yet (and this is the strange, significant thing) even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is ‘humble and meek’ and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Quotes from Mere Christianity, Part 19
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 51-52.