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  • Pastor Jim French

Did Jesus Ever Claim To Be God?




One of the most often asked questions people have about Jesus' Divinity is "did he ever clearly say that he was God?" In fact, he never plainly said, “I am God in the flesh” but through other statements he made it clear that he was indeed God in the flesh. He left no doubt as to who he was. That is what we will look at today.

God's first personal revelation to the Jewish people (as a whole) was through Moses at the burning bush. As you recall God personally interacts with Moses in a way that he had not spoken to anyone since his friendship with Abraham.


God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14 ESV)


In this one short sentence, God is revealing his true nature. He is saying that he is: self-sufficient, he is eternal and he never changes. He is saying, “There is no other God like me.” He is saying “I Emphatically Exist. I have no beginning and no end. I AM the First and the Last; the Alpha and Omega. I AM always.

Jesus, the Great I AM

Jesus himself made it clear in several passages that he too was the Great I AM. In chapter 8 of the Gospel of John, Jesus is speaking to the Jews at the temple:


Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews 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, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (John 8:56-59 ESV)


The Jewish leaders were clearly offended by Jesus;' words. They saw his words as blasphemy. Surely, if anyone else had said these words it would be blasphemy. But when Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I Am” he was clearly claiming to be God. The Jews knew this and attempted to stone him to death but he hid himself from them. (In the Old Testament the penalty for blasphemy was death by stoning (Leviticus 24:10-16))

Note also in this passage that Jesus intentionally says “I Am”, not “I was.” He is intentionally referring back to Exodus 3:14, claiming to be the God who appeared to Moses in the burning bush. He is saying:

I Am who I Am.

I Am eternal.

I Am always.

I Am the First and the Last

I am the Self-Sufficient One.


Jesus says that he has seen Abraham (alive) and that Abraham rejoiced to see the consummation of the coming of Messiah. He again is claiming that he is eternal – how else would he have seen Abraham? Abraham had died hundreds of years earlier. Jesus is describing an event that took place in Heaven, in eternity, where Abraham now resides.


Jesus and the Father - One

In John 10 Jesus is again speaking with the Pharisees and he says:


My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out

of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” (John 10:27-33 ESV)


The Jews well understood that Jesus was claiming divinity. He was claiming to be God and that's why they wanted to stone him. Note also that Jesus claims to give eternal life. Only God can give life.


Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

Jesus, therefore, knowing all things that are coming upon him, having gone forth, said to them, 'Whom do ye seek?' they answered him, 'Jesus the Nazarene;' Jesus saith to them, 'I AM;' —and Judas who delivered him up was standing with them; — when, therefore, he said to them—'I AM,' they went away backward, and fell to the ground. (John 18:4-6 Young's Literal Translation)


When Jesus announced that the Eternal God was standing before them, those who were sent to arrest him they were knocked to the ground by the power of his simple statement. It is evident that it was the power of God that made these six hundred men fall backwards to the ground, and notice – it was when he said, “I Am”.

In most translations the word ”he” is italicized - added for readability. That means that the word “he” was not in the original text but was added by the translators to make the sentence grammatically correct in English. However, by adding the “he” to the text, the passage losses much of it's power. This is more than Jesus identifying himself as the person they were looking for, it was Jesus identifying himself as Yehovah, the great I AM.


In this instance, Jesus literally said, “I AM.” Since Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, His statement of “I AM” carried just as much weight as when He expressed it to Moses (Exodus 3:14). This is nothing less than the Almighty God releasing His glory through the powerful statement, “I AM.” No wonder these men were knocked to the ground.

Jesus on Trial

In Mark 14 Jesus is standing in front of the Sanhedrin (the national Jewish court) facing his accusers.


But he (Jesus) remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I AM, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. (Mark 14:61-64 ESV)


There are other places in the New Testament where other people used the phrase, “I am”, but notice what Jesus said after, “I Am”. He calls himself the “Son of Man” (a direct reference to Daniel 7 where the Son of Man approaches the throne of God as God's equal). He also says he will be seated at God's right hand in power. It is clear that the Jewish leaders knew he was claiming to be God in the flesh which is why they accused him of blasphemy. This statement was ultimately the one that caused them to sentence him to death.


The Great I AM is Here

In Matthew 14:22-33 Jesus walks on water towards the disciples and they are terrified. Jesus assures them that they need not be afraid; that he is there with them. In the literal Greek this reads:


...and immediately Jesus spake to them, saying, 'Be of good courage, I am, be not afraid.' (Matthew 14:27 YLT)


Jesus is saying, Don't be afraid. The Great I AM is here.” Again, most translations add the word “he” after “I Am”. Of course, this by itself could simply mean that Jesus was saying that “he is there”, however, the evidence of walking on the water is a clear indicator that the power of God is present in the person of Jesus.


Once in the boat the disciples respond to Jesus with worship:

And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:33 ESV)

Notice that the disciples called Jesus “The Son of God” and Jesus did not correct them. They also worshiped him and he did not tell them to stop. An angel or a true man/woman of God will never accept worship from anyone.

Jesus Without Sin

In John 8 Jesus affirms that he is free of sin:


Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? (John 8:46 ESV)


The Jewish leaders could not accuse him of a sin because he had never committed one. By affirming that he was sinless Jesus was claiming to be God in the flesh because no one who has ever walked the face of the earth is sinless except Jesus. This is another claim of Divinity by Jesus. If Jesus had been guilty of a sin the Jewish leaders would have certainly responded with accusation of sin, but there is no record that they did.


In the Book of Revelation John falls down in front of an angel to worship him and the angel corrects him immediately!


I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (Revelation 22:8-9 ESV)


If Jesus were not God then it would be a sin for him to accept worship. This is another time that Jesus affirms that he was indeed God in the flesh.


Thomas' Declaration of Faith


We all know the story of “Doubting Thomas.” In the Gospel of John, Thomas refuses to believe that Jesus has risen from the dead until he touches Jesus' wounds. When Jesus appears before him and the other disciples we read:


Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:28-29 ESV)


Notice that when Thomas called Jesus God, Jesus did not correct him. Rather Jesus accepts the accolade and affirms that he was Yehovah God in the flesh.


The Son of Man

Jesus uses the term “Son of Man” over 80 times in the Gospels. Jesus used this title to affirm 2 truths about his being.


The title “Son of Man” was used by Jesus to associate with humanity. Jesus was saying that he came to earth as a man – that he was 100% human. However, when we reference this title in the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament we see that it also refers to God himself.

As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 ESV)


In this passage we see 2 members of the Trinity present, Jesus and the Father. Jesus approaches the Father on his throne and is presented an everlasting dominion and glory and a kingdom and eternal reign over all people. In this passage the “a son of man” has both Divine and human attributes. This is clearly a reference to Jesus (referred to as a son of man) being God Almighty.

By using the term “Son of Man” Jesus was affirming both his Divinity and his humanity. He was saying that he was 100% man and 100% God.

I Am Statements

Jesus made other statements that clearly point to his Divinity. These are generally referred to as the “I AM” statements. Although others in the New Testament used the same Greek phrase “I am” it is what else Jesus said in these statements that point to his Divinity. Here are a few that affirm that Jesus is God.


Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35 ESV)


Jesus is telling the crowd of 5,000 he had just fed that he is “Life from Heaven”. Think about this for a moment. Who gives life? God. The only one who can give life is God.


Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.(John 14:6 ESV)


Again Jesus is saying that he is the source of life and only God can give life. He is also making it clear that he is the only way to eternal life. Others may claim that there are many ways to God, but Jesus clearly said he is the only way. If we believe in Jesus as God in the flesh we have to reject the false teaching that there are many ways to God. There are not. He is the ONLY way.


Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live... (John 11:25 ESV)


Here again Jesus is proclaiming his Divinity by saying that he is life itself.


Jesus may have never uttered the exact words, “I AM God”, but if we closely examine his Words in the Gospels, his claim to Divinity, to being God himself, to being the Great I AM, and the Lord Yehovah, it is clear that he was saying that he is God manifested in the flesh.

Shalom!

Pastor Jim

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