DID JESUS EVER CLAIM TO BE GOD?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Skeptics of the true and full Deity of Jesus Christ argue that He never claimed to be God. Can we substantiate or refute their accusations? “For what saith the Scriptures?”
Concerning His temptations, we read in Matthew 4:5-7: “ Then the devil taketh him [Jesus Christ] up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,  And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.  Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” It is interesting that, in verse 7, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16—with “Lord” synonymous with “LORD”/“JEHOVAH.” In other words, Jesus used the warning about tempting JEHOVAH God and told Satan he should not tempt Him. Why? He was JEHOVAH God in human flesh. The Lord Jesus took a passage about God and applied it to Himself. Jesus thought He was JEHOVAH God and He claimed He was JEHOVAH God. (See parallel, Luke 4:9-12.)
Matthew 9:2 reports: “And, behold, they brought to him [Jesus Christ] a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” “This man blasphemeth,” the audience said in verse 3. “Who can forgive sins but God only?” (Mark 2:7). Who alone can forgive sins? According to the witnesses, Jesus said He was God by forgiving the man’s sins.
Christ Jesus declared in Matthew 12:8, “For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.” (See the parallel verse, Mark 2:28.) The Sabbath Day honored JEHOVAH God (Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11). Jesus Christ claimed that He was “Lord even of the sabbath day.” Who did Jesus believe He was? JEHOVAH God!
Turning to Matthew chapter 19: “ And, behold, one came and said unto him [Jesus Christ], Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?  And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (See the parallel passage, Mark 10:17-19.) This man approached Jesus and addressed Him as, “Good Master.” Jesus inquired why he called Him “good,” seeing as to “there is none good but one, that is, God.” In other words, Jesus asked, “Are you calling Me ‘God?’” (This truth is obscured in modern English translations. Here is one of many reasons why we use the King James Bible!)
After Israel’s religious leaders unsuccessfully attempted thrice to trap Jesus in His words, He offered them a spiritual riddle (which they could not answer). Matthew chapter 22: “ While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,  Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David.  He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,  The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?  If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?  And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.” (See parallels, Mark 12:35-37 and Luke 20:41-44.) The only way Jesus could be both “Lord” of David and “son” of David is if He were fully God (“Lord”) and fully Man (“son of David”). Of course, the unsaved religious leaders had the Old Testament Scriptures but no spiritual enlightenment because they chose to be ignorant.
Now, we get to the strongest passages on this subject. Matthew 26:63-66 is our first: “ But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.  Jesus saith unto him, 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.  Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.  What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.” (See parallels, Mark 14:61-64 and Luke 22:66-71.)
While various denominationalists vehemently reject the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, they still have these verses in their Bible versions (and they cannot deny it!). During Jesus’ trial, the high priest commanded Him to declare once and for all if He was “the Christ, the Son of God” (verse 63). Jesus replied, “Thou hast said” (verse 64)—paraphrased, “You have said it!” Still, Jesus added: “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (verse 64). The high priest was immediately outraged: he tore his garments and twice pronounced a charge, “Blasphemy!”
Evidently, what flustered the high priest was not so much Jesus’ reply “Thou hast said.” No, what deeply rattled him was that Jesus took it a step further: “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” The Lord did not have to say, “I am the Son of God,” to be accused of blasphemy. No, He merely had to declare, “You will see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” “Sitting on the right hand of power” was surely Messianic, as Psalm 110:1 predicted many centuries earlier that Christ would sit at the LORD’s right hand. Moreover, the “coming in the clouds of heaven” was especially inflammatory, as the high priest recalled Psalm 68:4: “Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH [JEHOVAH], and rejoice before him.”
It would be downright preposterous to say that Jesus never claimed to be God Himself. After all, Israel’s religious accused Him of blasphemy and purposed to put Him to death (see Leviticus 24:11-16)! They assumed He was making Himself to be God—otherwise they would not have bothered to execute Him!
Mark 11:17 reports: “And he [Jesus] taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.” The Jerusalem Temple, Jesus said, was “my house.” In John 2:16, He said of the same Temple: “And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” The Temple was both Jesus’ Temple and His Father’s Temple. Who was Jesus claiming to be, then? On whose behalf was He speaking?
On to John 5:17-18: “ But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.  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.” Why do they want to take the life of Jesus? See, the unbelieving Jews are well aware of whom He declares to be. There is nothing difficult for them to understand, and if we let the verses speak (without wearing our denominational eyeglasses), we will see them for what they really say as well.
We read in John 8:58, “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” Here is an interesting form of the verb “to be.” Jesus did not say, “Before Abraham was, I was.” No, He said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Why did He say it this specific way? Notice the cross-reference, Exodus 3:14: “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.” This was JEHOVAH God speaking to Moses, and JEHOVAH said His name was, “I AM THAT I AM,” or the shortened form, “I AM.” John 8:58 is Jesus claiming to be the JEHOVAH God of Exodus 3:14! (By the way, the “Jehovah’s Witness” New World Translation says in John 8:58, “Before Abraham came into existence, I have been.” Furthermore, there is no Exodus 3:14 marginal reference—they know exactly what Jesus said, but they hide this truth from their readers and members so as to uphold their theological traditions.)
After Jesus healed the blind man, John 9:35-38 says: “ Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?  He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?  And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.  And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.” How could Jesus be a servant of the God of the Bible if He allowed someone to worship Him? Apparently, He assumed He deserved that worship. He believed He was the God of creation! (Compare Acts 10:25-26 and Revelation 19:10.) By the way, the 1901 American Standard Version has a footnote here that asserts Jesus was nothing but a mere “creature” and not at all the “Creator!” Friends, you cannot get more blasphemous than these “Bible translators!!!”
While Jesus walked in the Temple, He had an interesting conversation with unbelieving Israel in John 10:29-33: “ My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.  I and my Father are one.  Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.  Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?  The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”
The cults emphasize verse 29—“Jesus said His Father is ‘greater than all,’ meaning Jesus is not God!” Yet, they deliberately skip verse 30 for obvious reasons—“I and my Father are one.” Both Jesus and Father God are one in Deity: both are fully God. How do we know this is what Jesus meant? Why, we read verses 31-33. “The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” Who did they believe Jesus claimed to be? (Years ago, I spoke with a friend brainwashed in a Deity-of-Christ-denying cult. His face turned red and he grew quite angry when his whole argument centered on verse 29 was demolished after I had him read verses 30 and 33!!! He refused to discuss the matter any further, and I politely left his presence. That was the last time we spoke in-person about Scripture.)
We read in John 19:6-7, at Jesus’ trial before Judaean Governor Pontius Pilate: “ When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.  The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.” (See Leviticus 24:11-16.) The only way they could justly put Jesus to death is if He had professed to be Deity! This is right along the lines of John 10:29-33 and John 5:17-18 (already discussed).
John 20:28 is our last Deity verse of Christ’s earthly ministry: “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.” If Jesus were not God, then why did He allow Thomas to apply such titles to Him? Jesus should have said, “Thomas, do not called Me ‘my Lord’ and ‘my God.’ I am but a Man, and not God.” Why did Jesus not rebuke Thomas? Thomas’ words were warranted, highly appropriate; they needed no criticism! The “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” still endeavoring to maintain their church tradition, answers by arguing that Thomas uttered an expression of amazement. In other words, “O wow, O Lord, O God, Jesus, You really are alive! It actually is You!” This is a flimsy and wanting interpretation, as Thomas would have then been guilty of taking JEHOVAH’S name in vain (Exodus 20:7). Thomas would be worthy of death! There is no way Jesus would have let someone use God’s name so flippantly. It is for this reason that we reject the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” here as well.
“Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).