Sunday, June 11, 2017

Did Jesus Say He Was God?

This is the argument presented by many cults, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, and false religions, such as Islam, as well as by unbelievers. It is a fallacious argument. These people are looking for the exact words, "I am God," to appear in the Bible. Did Jesus claim that He was God?

Yes, He did!

When God sent Moses to deliver the Israelites from the hand of Pharaoh, Moses said to God, "Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you.' Now they may say to me, 'What is His name?' What shall I say to them?" (Exodus 3:13). God responded to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" (Exodus 3:14).

The first time God identifies Himself, He calls Himself "I Am." Not Jehovah. Not Yahweh. He identifies Himself as "I Am." "I AM WHO I AM" means "I continue to be and will be what I continue to be and will be." "I AM" means "I that ever will be; the ever-existing One" or "He that is to come." God is self-existent.

Jesus had said to the people of His day, "For unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." (John 8:24) "He" who? Who are they to believe that He is? The Jews obviously had the same thoughts, and so they asked Him, "Who are you?" (v. 25). This entire discussion lead to Jesus arguing with the Jews as to who their true father was, and stating that Abraham looked forward to seeing His day, which prompted the Jews to challenge Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" (John 8:57). Jesus replied, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I Am." (John 8:58). Immediately after Jesus said this, the Jews "picked up stones to throw at Him" (v. 59). Why did they pick up stones to stone Him?

Before we continue, it is important to note that in John 8:24, the word "He" does not actually appear in the Greek. How it actually reads is like this: "For unless you believe that I Am, you will die in your sins."

At the Feast of Dedication, Jesus said, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30). Immediately after Jesus said this, "The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him" (v. 31). Why would they want to stone Him? Jesus even asked them that same question: "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?" (v. 32). The Jews explained to Him precisely why they wanted to stone Him: "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, claim Yourself to be God" (v. 33). Did you catch that? Obviously the Jews were intelligent enough to realize and understand what Jesus had said: "You claim Yourself to be God."

In both John 8:58 and John 10:30, Jesus was equating Himself with God the Father. In other words, Jesus said He was God. So how is it that cults like the Jehovah's Witnesses and false religions like Islam and other unbelievers fail to grasp this?

When Judas betrayed Jesus and they came to arrest Him, Jesus asked them, "Whom do you seek?" (John 18:4). They told Him, "Jesus of Nazareth" (v. 5). As with John 8:24, the word "He" does not appear in the Greek, so Jesus' actual response to them was, "I Am," (v. 5) to which "they drew back and fell to the ground" (v. 6). Why would they draw back and fall to the ground if Jesus was merely saying, "That is me"?

If Jesus is not God, why does He possess all the attributes of God? Only God is sinless, yet Jesus was without sin (John 8:46; 1 Pet. 2:21-22; 2 Cor. 5:21; et al). Only God can receive worship, yet Jesus received worship (John 9:38; Matt. 8:1-2; Matt. 28:9; et al). Even the angels were commanded to worship Him (Heb. 1:6). Only God can forgive sins, yet Jesus forgave sins (Mark 2:1-12). Only God can restore sight to the blind, yet Jesus restored sight to the blind (John 9:1-34 [esp. v. 32]).

Note the extraordinary claim made by Jesus: "All things that the Father has are Mine" (John 16:15). In other words, every attribute that God has belongs to Christ Jesus. Jesus prayer to God the Father, "I have manifested Your name" (John 17:6). The "name" of God as used in Scripture refers to God's character, that is, all that God is. In other words, Jesus was saying, "I have shown what kind of a God You are. I have put Your character on display." Proof of this? Jesus said to His disciples, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him" (John 14:7). He continued, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). The Bible, God's holy Word, makes it absolutely clear, "For in [Jesus] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form" (Col. 2:9).

While Jesus did not come out and say He was God in the precise manner in which the skeptics expect that He should do, nevertheless Jesus repeatedly said that He was God in a variety of different ways.