Did Jesus Claim to be God?

Dec-25-nativity-icon-incarnation-of-the-lord-jesus-christSoon we will be celebrating the season of Christmas where the Second Person of the Trinity by the working of the Holy Spirit took up residence in Mary’s womb to be our Savior. This miracle is called the “incarnation”. Sometimes the word “incarnation” loses non-Christians and can even intimidate Christians. So let us look at the word, “incarnation,” and see what it means.

The word, “incarnation” is a fifty-cent theological word from the Latin language which means that God “took on flesh,” or, that God is in flesh(ed). Think of it this way. There are two or three types of dinosaurs. There are; 1) herbivores which ate plant matter, 2) carnivores which ate meat, and then 3) omnivores which ate both plant and meat. But for our purposes think of a dinosaur that was a carnivore—this one ate meat! Or, think of cooking with “chili con carne”—chili with meat. (One also sees this in the word, carnival.) In the incarnation Jesus took on our meat, our flesh, and not the meat and flesh of dogs, horses, cows or cats. Jesus did this to so honor and redeem the pinnacle of his creation which he made on the sixth day and subsequently fell into sin through eating what was prohibited.

This is the incarnation where God took on flesh, meat—and it was ours! Jesus did this to so identify with us and become one with us. But every Christmas and Easter season naysayers in the mainstream press as well as liberal theologians claim Jesus never said, “I am God.” True Jesus never uttered these three words in this sequence. But any fair appraisal of the Scriptures leads us without doubt to confess that Jesus truly is God in the flesh!

We might begin by quoting where Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews, “‘truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am’” (Jn 8:58). At first glance this might seem like an unremarkable statement from Jesus until we realize that by saying, “I am” Jesus was claiming to be “God.” Jesus was quoting God’s or more specifically his self-revelation to Moses in this short sentence. In the third chapter of Exodus (3:14) the Angel of the Lord speaking to Moses was non-other than the Second Person of the Trinity prior he took on flesh and being named Jesus through the instruction of the angel Gabriel. Sadly this truth that the Angel of the Lord is the Second Person of the Trinity speaking to Moses in the third chapter of Exodus is denied by many, many liberal Christian theologians as well as all non-Christian religions and their adherents. The sentence from the third chapter of Exodus follows:

  •  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’” (Ex 3:14).

When Jesus said “I AM” in the eighth chapter of John’s Gospel the unbelieving Jews picked up stones in an attempt to kill him. They knew right well that by Jesus’ use of these words from Exodus Jesus was claiming to be God! A quick sampling of additional verses would be:

  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:1, 14).
  • “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (Jn 5:18).
  • “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” (Jn 10:30-33).

If modern day skeptics assert Jesus never claimed to be God they might then want to look at what the unbelieving Jews of Jesus’ day believed Jesus was saying! They rightly understood Jesus was claiming to be God in the flesh, i.e., incarnate, and that is why they so sought to stone Jesus—for blasphemy, claiming to be God.

Remember, Judaism like all other world religions is looking for the coming of a messiah figure. But in Judaism and these other religions this messiah is certainly not God in the flesh. Their messiah is no more than a human being with exceptional human talent who will take care of his own people group based along ethnic and racial lines. Jesus will take care of all who believe and trust in him for the forgiveness of sins regardless of one’s ethnic and racial heritage.

More verses can be referenced such as when the disciples worshipped Jesus and from the writing of the Epistles. But let this short list of verses above affirm your belief and equip you to share what you believe and why you believe what you believe so that more may come to salvation and our brothers and sisters in the faith may be strengthened. As always, “…in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Pet 3:15).

Merry Christmas,

 

Pastor Weber

 

 

 

About Pastor Karl Weber

Karl has been serving St. Paul’s Richville LC and St. John’s, Ottertail, MN since Labor Day, 2004. He was raised in the Roman Church receiving his BA from Fordham University. Before going to seminary he was a computer programmer in Minneapolis. He served as a short term missionary in Guatemala and Kenya, East Africa. He spent time as a member of the ELCA and studied two years at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN pursing his M. Div. before transferring to the LCMS for theological reasons and continuing his studies at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. He was ordained in 1991 and earned his D. Min. in May 2002 from the same institution. He has contributed study notes to The Lutheran Study Bible. He enjoys deer hunting, going to the gym, swimming, and reading. He is married to Mary and has five wonderful children.

Comments

Did Jesus Claim to be God? — 6 Comments

  1. When someone says that Jesus never claimed to be God, perhaps we should respond by asking what specific historical sources are serving as the basis for that allegation. Presumably they are referencing the four Gospel accounts that are in the New Testament. If those are authoritative regarding the words of Jesus, then they should be equally authoritative regarding the actions of Jesus – including, most notably, His bodily resurrection from the dead. But anyone who denies that Jesus claimed to be God will almost certainly deny His bodily resurrection, as well.

  2. Hi PR Weber,

    I’m curious as to the reasoning toward you statement that the one who spoke to Moses in Exodus 3 was the Son and not either the Father or the Holy Spirit. Is this based solely on the shared use of that phrase “I am”?

    Thanks,
    Matt

  3. I would ask the skeptics what historical sources they are using to substantiate the claim that Jesus never explicitly said that He is God. If they are simply citing the four Gospels in the New Testament, then it suggests that they are treating those documents as historically reliable accounts. I would then point out that they all explicitly describe the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead – something that the skeptics presumably deny. And if Jesus really did rise bodily from the dead, then that seems like pretty solid evidence of His divinity.

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