DID JESUS CHRIST EVER CLAIM TO BE GOD OR DEMAND WORSHIP?
Classic question, where in the Bible did Jesus Christ say “I am God” or “Worship Me”? The Christian’s default response is to immediately quote Paul and Peter calling Him, “Our God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13, 2Peter 1:1) in their respective epistles or the book of Hebrews where the scripture “Thy throne O God is forever” is cited as referring to Jesus(Hebrews 1:8). While this is all well and good, the question remains unanswered because the question is where Jesus Christ Himself said that He is God?
First and foremost, we have to ask ourselves whether Jesus Christ expressly said He is God.
In John 14:8, Philip says to Jesus, “show us the Father” to which He replies “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Again, maybe this is not clear enough and is open to diverse interpretations. After Jesus’ resurrection, He appears to the disciples for the second time with Thomas present this time. Thomas proceeds to call Jesus “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28). Well, this may also not be enough since Jesus did not call Himself God in this instance.
Secondly, Jesus Christ repeatedly forgave sin. He told the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven you” (Matthew 9:2). He also told the woman who wiped His feet with her hair, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48). Jesus’ Jewish audience accused Him of blasphemy when He forgave sins because they knew only God could forgive sins (Mark 2:7). Jesus however proved the authenticity of His right to forgive sins by commanding the paralytic to take up his bed and walk, which the latter did (Matthew 9:6–7).
Third, Jesus claimed to have existed before Abraham and all of creation. He tells the Jews, “Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). “I AM” by the way, is the covenant name of the God of Israel (Exodus 3:14) and Jesus took upon the name without mincing words. He goes on to call Himself the “I AM” seven more times in different contexts, each time revealing a different facet of His divinity,
“I am the bread of life…” (John 6:35)
“I am the light of the world” (John 8:12)
“I am the Good Shepherd…” (John 10:11)
“I am the door…” (John 10:9)
“I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25)
“I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6)
“I am the true Vine” (John 15:1)
Jesus mentions the fact He pre-existed all creation when praying for His disciples. He says, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” (John 17:5)
Fourth, Jesus states that He is in charge of the final judgment of the world. In Matthew 25:31–46, He relates this in a parable but He is much more blunt in John 5:26–27,
“For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man”
Notice that Jesus judges the world by virtue of the fact that He is the Son of Man. This is important because most people argue against Jesus being the Son of God or being divine because He claimed to be the Son of Man. The irony is that the epithet “Son of Man” only makes Him all the more divine. In the Old Testament, Daniel has a vision of the Son of Man,
“I was watching in the night visions and behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 9:13–14)
There is no denying the divinity behind the title “Son of Man”.
Fifth, Jesus claimed to be the Lord of David (Mark 12:35–37), Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28), Greater than Jonah (Luke 11:32), Greater than Solomon (Luke 11:31), Greater than the Temple of God (Matthew 12:6), Lord and Master (John 13:13–14), First and the Last (Revelation 1:11), Beginning and End (Revelation 1:8). These are heavy claims a mere man in his right senses would never make.
If this is not convincing enough then examine the reactions of Jesus’ audience to His claims. He was almost stoned twice because people were convinced He was calling Himself God. In John 10:33, they said,
“For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”
Even if anyone attempts to manoeuvre through all that has been discussed to still argue Jesus never claimed to be God, what is irrefutable is that He at least unapologetically led people to believe He was.
The second issue is way more straightforward. Did Jesus Christ ever command people to worship Him? In John 5:22–23, He says,
“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”
Jesus expressly said that the Father demands people honor Him (Jesus) just as they Honor Him (the Father). If God the Father is honored by worship then Jesus Christ should also be honored by worship. After all Jesus was unequivocal about the fact that they are both one (John 10:30).
Moreover Jesus was worshipped severally in scriptures. He was worshipped by shepherds at birth (Luke 2:17–20), by wisemen as a child of under two years old (Matthew 2:11), by one of ten lepers (Luke 17:15–16), by the Syrophoenician woman (Matthew 15:25), by another leper (Matthew 8:2) and on no occasion does He rebuke those who worship Him. He did not object when Thomas called Him “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28).
Finally in the book of Revelation where He is often referred to as the Lamb, He is time and again given equal reverence with God.
“And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13)
“and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:10)
“And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15)
In conclusion, the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation testifies to the fact that Jesus Christ is God. Jesus Christ Himself in words and actions showed He is God. It is therefore not a surprise that those who believed in Him saw Him as such, worshipped Him as such and wrote about Him as such in their epistles.