In an ongoing effort to discredit Christianity as being true, critics (especially atheists) have made the argument that Jesus Christ never said he was God. According to the doubters, the claims that Jesus said he was God were added later by his disciples in an attempt to legitimize their religion and trick people into becoming Christians. However, Jesus on several occasions made it clear that he was God in the flesh–
1. Matthew 26:62-65: At Jesus’ trial before the hypocritical religious leaders, the high priest commanded Jesus, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” Why did he make this demand? He was hoping that Jesus would admit to this claim so they could prove he was a blasphemer. The Jewish leaders understood perfectly, based on their understanding of the Old Testament prophets, that one’s admission of being Christ and the Son of God meant that the individual was calling himself God.
Jesus responded by saying “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” The phrase Thou hast said is equivalent to our modern phrase of agreement “You said it!” when someone says something we wholeheartedly support with enthusiasm. It means that Jesus was confirming that the high priest spoke correctly when he demanded to know if Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. Then he went on to say that they would see him seated at the right hand of the Father and returning to earth in the clouds, both statements being an acknowledgement of prophetic scriptures about the Messiah being God. Jesus’ answer was met with the high priest’s accusation that Christ’s statements were blasphemous. Blasphemy, in the context of this situation, was the sin of claiming to be God.
2. John 5:17-18: When the Jewish leaders mistakenly thought that Jesus was breaking the sabbath, they were ready to kill him. Then Jesus told them, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” This statement from Jesus upset them even more; “therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” [emphasis mine] The Jews knew all too well that Jesus was saying he was God because no one is equal with God except God, according to the prophets and psalms in the Hebrew scriptures.
3. John 8:56-59: This situation happened when Jesus was arguing back and forth with the Jews “which believed on him.” They claimed to be followers of Abraham while Jesus told them they were of their father, the devil. Then Jesus went on to say he, unlike them, knew Abraham personally and had met him face to face. The Jews responded with, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” Then Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” [emphasis mine] God is the only one who ever called himself “I am” which he first used with Moses when he spoke to him from the burning bush. Moses asked God, “Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” [Exodus 3:13-14]
I am means he is the ever-existent being who has no beginning and no end. The crowd knew what Jesus was saying, and that’s the reason they wanted to stone him right then and there, because his claims of being God were blasphemous to them and in their deceived minds he was worthy of being stoned.
4. John 10:27-33: In this, his “Good Shepherd” sermon, Jesus made the statement to the crowd, “I and my Father are one.” He was saying that he and God the Father were equals and were the same. Once again, the crowd wanted to stone him and Jesus asked them why, when he had done so many good works in their presence. They replied, “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” [emphasis mine] So it was understood by this Jewish crowd that Jesus was clearly, without question, claiming to be God.
The Jews of Jesus’ day were blind to the truth that Jesus was the Christ and is Lord, just like unbelievers today are blind to that truth. If the Jews knew the scriptures as well as they claimed, they would have known that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed their long-awaited Messiah, the Lord in the flesh because he fulfilled hundreds of prophecies while he walked among them. The occurrences in his life and his actions were proof enough to show that Jesus is indeed Lord, even if he had never admitted to being God. In a previous post, I highlighted 20 of the prophecies Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled, but here is a link that has an exhaustive list of hundreds more prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. There is no possible way anyone else in history or in the future will even come close to fulfilling these Messianic prophecies.