Apologetic Bites: Did Jesus claim to be God?

Apologetic Bites (link from the app) are brief talking points to help equip you to defend the faith when asked some common questions.

Did Jesus claim to be God?

An important factor in the significance Jesus’ resurrection is whether he actually claimed to be God – particularly if we see the resurrection as validating that claim. Here are just a few of the ways in which Jesus began to reveal his identity. (A straight-out claim would have been simpler, but also would have brought on a showdown with the Jerusalem leadership before he was ready.) 

Mark 2:1-12

Jesus claims to forgive sins, something only God can do as all sin is first and foremost against God. He backs it up by a miraculous healing, suggesting this isn’t an empty claim. The Jewish leaders get the point – they accuse him of blasphemy.

Mark 14:53-64

The “I am” response in v62 is a bit of a hint, as it’s the same phrase used to translate the divine name Yahwheh. But the reference to Daniel 7:13-14 is the more significant, claiming to be divine figure who exercises the power and authority of God. Again, an accusation of blasphemy and some good old-fashioned clothes-tearing shows his audience got the point.

Matt 16:13-20

Although kings in Israel and other ancient civilisations were often called “sons of god(s)” the context here suggests a bit more.

John 8:48-59

In verse 58 Jesus claims pre-existence, before Abraham. Again we have the cryptic “I am”, and again an accusation of blasphemy. This time they try to stone him, which is the prescribed punishment for blasphemy.

John 10:22-42

Jesus claims God as his Father, and that the Father is in him. More than that – he is “one” with the Father. This draws on the central confession of the Jewish faith in Deut 6:4 , “Hear O Israel, Yahweh our God,Yahweh is one.” Yet again, the stones come out.

John 20:24-29

Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance leads Thomas to worship Jesus as divine – Jesus approves of this, and encourages others to do so, too.

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