To view examples 1-14 of the “Did Christ Claim to Be God” series, click on the “Did Christ Claim to be God” tag at the bottom of this post, or in the categories section of the web site.
When dealing with the claim that Jesus never said he was God, it’s always important to point out how the crowd reacted to what Jesus said. One thing is for sure, claiming to be the Son of God, sent from the Father, eternally existing, with the power to resurrect and give eternal life will get a reaction from people. Were people unclear about what Jesus was saying?
They wanted to kill him.
In Mark 14, Jesus is brought before the High Priest and is asked, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” To which Jesus rightly replies, “I am“. How does the High Priest respond to Jesus?
“The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
“They all condemned him as worthy of death.” Mark 14:63-64
Not only does Jesus point blank answer the question that he is the Son of God, but the High Priest accuses him of blasphemy. All those who were in the room and heard Jesus’ words condemned him as worthy of the death penalty. There is no ambiguity in this passage.
In John 5 the Jewish leaders began to persecute Jesus because he was healing on the Sabbath. Jesus speaks out in his defense and says, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” How did they react to Jesus’ words?
“For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” John 5:18
The Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus, because he was “making himself equal with God” and “calling God his own Father“. There was no doubt in their eyes about what Jesus was saying. Jesus was claiming to be the Son of God and they reacted as such. Jesus even expounds on his relationship as the Son of God in the following verses, giving even more evidence that the Jewish leaders understood him rightly.
In John chapter 10, Jesus is walking among the Jews and they ask him, “If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus immediately tells them that he has told them plainly, and then goes on to say he will give eternal life to all who hear his voice and he and God the Father are one. As if claiming to be able to bestow eternal life and being one with God wasn’t enough evidence Jesus was claiming to be God, watch how the crowd reacts:
“Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him…” vs. 31
“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” vs. 33
Once again Jesus is accused of blasphemy, and condemned as worthy of being killed. His accusers even make it clear, “you a mere man, claim to be God.” Does Jesus stop them and say, “hey that’s not what I was saying”? No, Jesus replies, “do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?
They acknowledged Jesus was God.
In John chapter 11 we read Jesus talking with Martha after the death of her brother Lazarus. Martha says to Jesus, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus then says to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” So what is Martha’s response to Jesus claiming to bestow eternal life and claiming to be the resurrection and the life?
“Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” John 11:27
Was Jesus unclear to Martha? Was Martha confused about what Jesus was claiming? Absolutely not. She affirms in her own words Jesus was claiming to be the Son of God and that she believes Jesus was who he said he was.
Earlier in John chapter 6, Jesus is talking with his disciples and some Jews who had gathered to hear him teach. Jesus lays out for them that he has been sent from heaven, to give eternal life, and he is the true bread of life who eternally satisfies men. Jesus gives a litany of the most blatant examples of attributing to himself deity found in the scriptures. After the disciples and Jews grumble about what Jesus has claimed, Jesus says:
“Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” John 6:61-66
After Jesus gives reference to being eternally preexistent and speaking the words of eternal life he says, “yet some of you don’t believe”. Believe what? What was Christ claiming that they wouldn’t believe? It even says many of those who were following Jesus completely left him. Peter makes it plain what Jesus was claiming in the next verses:
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:67-68
Perhaps one of the most point blank examples of people being clear about what Jesus was claiming can be found in Matthew 16. Jesus asks Peter, “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
“Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16
Notice what Jesus says after Peter confesses this. Does Jesus say, “whoa whoa, I’m just a great teacher” or “hold on Peter I’m just a prophet”. If Jesus is a mere man and isn’t claiming to be God, does he stop Peter from blasphemy when he claims Jesus is the Son of God? No, he affirms that what Peter has said is correct.
“Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” Matthew 16:17
The argument from bystanders and witnesses.
If you are going to make the argument that Jesus never claimed to be God, you have to ignore or come up with a way to explain Jesus’ claiming the attributes of deity, claims of being eternally pre-existent, calling God his Father, implicating himself as the Son of God, saying he was sent down from heaven, with the mission of bestowing eternal life, calling himself the Son of Man a clear reference to deity found in Daniel 7, and a myriad of other unavoidable statements, attributes, and actions.
One of the most important aspects of Jesus’ claims to deity is seeing how the people around him reacted. It is clear from scripture that those who were with Jesus and heard his words:1. found them so difficult to swallow that they abandoned him; 2. confessed that he was the Son of God; or 3. they wanted to kill him for claiming to be the Son of God which is ultimately what got him crucified. Simply put, without Jesus’ repeated claims of deity and attributes of deity, there is no charge for blasphemy. An accusation which is leveled against him over and over again in the Gospels by those who were eye witnesses to his teachings.