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Did Jesus claim to be God?

Did Jesus really claim to be God, or is that belief a misunderstanding of his words? Some words Jesus spoke reflect his humility as a servant and his limitations as a man. However, on other occasions Jesus made claims that only God could make.

Jesus didn’t parade around the hills of Judea shouting, “Hey everybody, look at me - I’m God!” On the other hand, neither did he go around proclaiming, “I am a teacher,” I am a prophet,” or, “I am the Messiah.” Yet his followers called him by each of those names. They also called him, “Lord.”

After the apostles died, several first and second century church leaders wrote of Jesus' deity. In fact, early church historian Larry Hurtado states, that from the very beginning of the church Jesus was worshipped as Lord along with God the Father.[1]

But what did Jesus Christ say about himself. What did Jesus mean by the terms, “Son of Man,” and “Son of God?” If Jesus wasn’t God, why did his enemies accuse him of “blasphemy?” More importantly, if Jesus wasn’t God, why did he accept worship?

From Creator To Carpenter?

According to the New Testament, God came to earth in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ.[2] The Bible teaches that Jesus is not a created being like the angels, but is the very Creator of the universe.[3] As theologian J. I. Packer writes, “The gospel tells us that our Creator has become our Redeemer.”[4]

The New Testament reveals that, in accordance with his Father's will, Jesus temporarily set aside his power and glory to become a tiny helpless baby. As he grew, Jesus worked in a carpenter shop, experienced hunger, got tired, and suffered pain and death like us. Then at age 30 he began his public ministry.

One God

The Bible reveals God as the Creator of the universe. He is infinite, eternal, all powerful, all-knowing, personal, righteous, loving, just, and holy. He created us in His image, and for His pleasure. According to the Bible, God made us to have an eternal relationship with Himself.

When God spoke to Moses at the burning bush 1500 years before Christ, He reaffirmed that He is the only God. God told Moses His name is Yahweh, (I AM). (Most of us are more familiar with the English translation, Jehovah or LORD.)[5] At the time of Christ, each worship service began with a recitation of the Shema.[6]

"Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD." (Deuteronomy 6:4)

It is in this world of monotheistic belief that Jesus entered into, ministered in, and began making claims that astounded all who heard them.

And according to Ray Stedman, Jesus is the central theme of the Hebrew Scriptures.

“Here, in the form of a living, breathing human being is the one who satisfies and fulfils all the symbols and prophecies of Genesis through Malachi. As we move from the Old Testament to the New, we find that one person, Jesus of Nazareth, is the focal point of both Testaments.”[7]

But if Jesus is the fulfilment of the Old Testament, his claims should confirm that “God is one LORD,” beginning with what he called himself. Let’s look further.