For there is one God and one Mediator between God and Men, the Man Christ Jesus
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Who is Jesus and why did He come?
Dr. John MacArthur's 'Grace To You' web site is a great resource to answer many questions you may have. Here is a link to his resource center Click Here.
So what does it mean that Jesus made these claims to Deity?
Now the indepth answer
Your question is an excellent one that gets to the very heart of Christianity. We will devote the time and space necessary for an extensive answer to this question. There are two web pages devoted to this answer. You can click on the link at the bottom of this page to get to the second part. You can use it as a study guide to help you better understanding Jesus, what He said and why He came.
The Bible teaches that Jesus is actually God and after the incarnation, He is both God and man at the same time, both Divine and human. It is difficult to fully understand how Divinity and humanity can exist at the same time in Jesus because we have no other event in human history to compare it with.
Think of the concept of a square and a circle, we know that they are not the same at the same time. So it might help to think about it as someone having dual citizenship. Jesus is a citizen of both heaven and earth at the same time. Just like a person can be a citizen of the England and Switzerland at the same time. Jesus is fully God and man both at the same time and the Bible teaches this doctrine.
What Did Jesus Say?
Did Jesus ever claim to be God? When we study the Bible we find that Jesus made both indirect and direct claims to be God. Much of the following information is from a series of sermons given by Alistair Begg entitled Who is Jesus. This series of three sermons is available by clicking on this link for a free audio download or to purchase a CD. Below we will study four indirect and six direct claims that Jesus made relating to His being God.
Here are four indirect claims that Jesus made where he claimed to be God:
1. Jesus made staggering claims about His ability to meet the spiritual needs of others.
a. The gospel of John makes a series of "I AM" statements. Twenty-three times in all we find our Lord's
meaningful "I AM" (ego eimi, Gr.) in the original Greek text of the gospel of John (4:26; 6:20, 35,
41,48,51; 8:12,18,24,28,58; 10:7,9,11,14; 11:25; 13:19; 14:6; 15:1,5; 18:5,6,8). In several of
these, He joins His "I AM" with seven tremendous metaphors which are expressive of His saving
relationship toward the world.
I. "I AM the Bread of life" (6:35, 41, 48,51)
II. "I AM the Light of the world" (8:12)
III. "I AM the Door of the sheep" (10:7,9)
IV. "I AM the Good Shepherd" (10:11,14)
V. "I AM the Resurrection and the Life" (11:25)
VI. "I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (14:6)
VII. "I AM the true Vine" (15:1,5)
b. When Jesus makes each of these statements, He is claiming that He alone could meet every
individual's needs for forgiveness, peace, security, direction and that He alone could bring them into
a living eternal relationship with God. How could anyone ever walk onto the stage of human history
and make these claims? Jesus is either a bad man telling lies, a mad man totally diluted or He is the
God Man. Jesus, in making these claims about Himself is either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. Today,
many will say that Jesus was a "good man" however, Jesus did not leave us the option of saying
that He was a "good man" in that He made these claims about Himself.
When Jesus used the Name "I AM" for Himself, He was using the same Name that God gave Moses in
the Old Testament Book of Exodus 3:14 to answer the question of who sent Him when the children of
Israel would ask Moses who sent him. The Jews of Jesus' day clearly considered it blasphemy
for anyone to refer to themselves as "I AM" unless it was God speaking and the punishment for
blasphemy was death by stoning.
The Short Answer
In the first verse of John's gospel is the answer to your first question of who is Jesus.
1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Without getting into a deep theological study on the word "Word", I will just tell you it refers to Jesus. It is simply saying that Jesus was with God in the beginning. In other words, Jesus is eternal (always existed). John goes on to say that Jesus was with God and Jesus was God. The last part refers to what is called the Trinity - that being One God in Three Persons.
So, Jesus always existed, Jesus is part of the Trinity (Three Persons, One God) - He is God.
The second part of your question, why did Jesus come, is... He came to provide a means of salvation for mankind. The Bible teaches (as if we didn't already know it) that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. Luke 2:11 - For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
So Jesus (God Incarnate) came to live a perfect life, die on the cross for our sins and be raised from the dead as the way for mankind (all are sinners) to be saved from eternal punishment. Why, because there is nothing we can do (short of accepting the gift of salvation) to save ourselves. If there was, then Jesus's death on the cross was unnecessary. No, we can't "earn" our salvation by our good works (see Ephesians 2:8,9)
If you think that you aren't a sinner, read How God Measures Us. All of this is clearly taught in the Bible. Read it for yourself.
2. Jesus made astonishing claims about His teaching.
a. In Matthew 5:18, Jesus is affirming the authenticity of the Old Testament. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven
and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Jesus is saying of the
Old Testament Scriptures that they are from God, they are factual and they cannot be tampered with, they will not pass
b. In Matthew 24:34, Jesus states that His words will also not pass away. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My
words will by no means pass away. Jesus is saying that His Words are on the same level as the Old Testament - they
are the very Words of God! They will never pass away - and interestingly, 2000 years later, we are studying them today.
Jesus takes the Words of the Old Testament and clarifies them. Read the following passages: Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28,
31-32, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44. Who in their right mind would take the Old Testament teachings and have the authority to
clarify them? By doing so, Jesus was making astonishing claims about His teaching and in so doing he was putting His
teachings on par with the rest of Biblical teaching.
3. Jesus claimed He would be directly involved in all the major aspects of the end of the world.
a. Jesus said in John 14:3 that He was going to go away and prepare a place for us and then He is
going to come back. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to
Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. Who is this Man who stands in a place in time of
history and says He is going to be involved in wrapping the world up? Can we imagine the
astonishment of those hearing Jesus make this claim? They asked "aren't you the son of the
carpenter"? The culture of today is obsessed with those claiming "near" death experiences. Jesus
didn't just "nearly" die, He actually died and returned - AND He is coming back again.
b. Jesus goes on to make claims about His involvement in judgment in John 5:24-30. 24 "Most assuredly,
I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall
not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the
hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear
will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,
27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not
marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and
come forth - those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to
the resurrection of condemnation. 30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment
is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.
Jesus goes on to say He will sit on His throne of His glory and judge in Matthew 25:31-34. 31 "When
the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of
His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but
the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My
Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
c. Buddha never said he was going to sit on a throne and be involved in judgment and Buddha never
claimed to speak the very oracles of God.
4. Jesus made it clear that the reaction of men to Him was a reaction to God.
a. Jesus had just said in John 14:7 "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and
from now on you know Him and have seen Him." Then Phillip asked a very important question, one
that most would be afraid to ask for fear of looking like the dummy in the class. in John 14:8 8 Philip
said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.
"Jesus made an astonishing statement for a mere man in John 14:9-11. 9 Jesus said to him, "Have I
been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the
Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father,
and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the
Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me,
or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
Jesus is saying to Phillip that in seeing Him (Jesus) Phillip has seen God.
b. And again in John 12:44-45 Jesus is teaching from the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament.
44 Then Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me.
45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.
In verse 45 Jesus is saying that those who see Him see God the Father who sent Him.
c. In Mark 9:36-37 Jesus takea a little child in His arms and says that whever receives one of these
little children in My Name receives Me. This in itself is no statement of Divinity but then in verse
37b He adds and whoever received Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.
36 Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His
arms, He said to them, 37 "Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me;
and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me." So Jesus is saying that those
that honor Him are honoring the Father, those that receive Him receive the Father.
d. Some will say they honor God but they don't honor Jesus. They believe He was a good teacher
but just not God. Jesus teaches about the honor due Him in John 5:22-23. 22 For the Father
judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 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.
Those that say they honor the Father but do not honor Jesus as the incarnate Son of God do not
know what the Bible teaches. In John 10:30, Jesus again makes the statement that He is God by
saying; 30 I and My Father are one."
e. In John 8:37-59 Jesus makes the claim of his eternal existence which only God can claim, thus Jesus
is claiming to be God eternal. John 8:58 seals Jesus' claim with the "I AM" statement - for in
Exodus 3:14 God gave the name "I AM WHO I AM" to Moses to answer the question of who sent him
when the children of Israel asked Moses who sent him. The Jews understood this clearly and in
John 8:59 they intend to stone Jesus for what they believed to be the sin of blasphemy - claiming
to be God. Their reaction was one of disbelief in Jesus' claim to be God.
Abraham's Seed and Satan's
37 "I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no
place in you. 38 I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your
father." 39 They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were
Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who
has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your
father." Then they said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father - God." 42
Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came
from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech?
Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires
of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the
truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for
he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of
you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears
God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God."
Before Abraham Was, I AM
48 Then the Jews answered and said to Him, "Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and
have a demon?" 49 Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor
Me. 50 And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 Most assuredly, I say
to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death." 52 Then the Jews said to Him, "Now we
know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My
word he shall never taste death.' 53 Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the
prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?" 54 Jesus answered, "If I honor Myself, My
honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. 55 Yet you
have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, 'I do not know Him,' I shall be a liar like you; but I
do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and
was glad." 57 Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen
Abraham?" 58 Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." 59 Then
they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through
the midst of them, and so passed by.
WOW - only a bad man, mad man or The God Man would make such a claim.
Here are six direct claims that Jesus made claiming to be God, although He did not use the words "I am God" He directly claimed to be God using words that cannot be interrupted in any other way.
1. The Apostle John records an event in John 5:1-23 about Jesus healing a man that had an infirmity for
thirty-eight years. Jesus tells the man to get up and take his bed and walk. When the Jews saw the
man walking with his mat they asked the man why he was carrying his bed on the Sabbath. Later when
they learned that Jesus had healed this man on the Sabbath they accused Jesus of healing on the
Sabbath which was against Jewish Law. When they confronted Jesus about this he answered them, "My
Father has been working until now, and I have been working." This enraged the Jews to the point that
they sought all the more to kill Him, because in their eyes He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said
that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.
a. Now Jesus did not correct their thinking that what he said was that he was God as Paul (Acts 10:26)
and others including angels (Revelation 10:26) did when people started to worship them as God. The
Jews understood clearly what Jesus was saying - that He is God paying close attention to verses 16
thru 18. Here is the account from John 5:1-23.
A Man Healed at the Pool of Bethesda
1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in
Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In
these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.
4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever
stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a
certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and
knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, "Do you want to be made
well?" 7 The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is
stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me." 8 Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up
your bed and walk." 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that
day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, "It is the Sabbath; it is not
lawful for you to carry your bed." 11 He answered them, "He who made me well said to me, 'Take up
your bed and walk.' " 12 Then they asked him, "Who is the Man who said to you, 'Take up your bed
and walk' ?" 13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a
multitude being in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you
have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you." 15 The man departed and told
the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
Honor the Father and the Son
16 For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these
things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I
have been working." 18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke
the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus
answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but
what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the
Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater
works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them,
even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all
judgment to the Son, 23 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.
2. In John's gospel another dialog between the Jesus and Jews is recorded (John 8:53-59). Jesus speaks
about death and the Jewish leaders ask Jesus if He is greater than Abraham. They then ask who Jesus
makes Himself to be. What a great question. Jesus gives a straight forward response in John 8:58 by
using the name "I AM". This enraged the Jews because by using the title "I AM" Jesus was saying that
He is God!
a. 53 Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You
make Yourself out to be?" 54 Jesus answered, "If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father
who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. 55 Yet you have not known Him, but I know
Him. And if I say, 'I do not know Him,' I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word.
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." 57 Then the Jews said
to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" 58 Jesus said to them, "Most
assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." 59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him;
The Jews completely understood what Jesus was saying. Jesus was not saying that He was over
2,000 years old nor that He was an angel but Jesus was saying that He is God. They wanted to stone
Him because He was saying that He is God!
Our world today is really no different in that it is prepared to accept that Jesus was a good teacher
etc. however, when Christians say that Jesus is both man and God and is the only way to salvation
and eternal life they cannot accept this truth. The world today is ready to fight when knowledgeable
Christians point to these two great truths of Christianity; The Resurrection and the Incarnation of
Jesus. The world system will not accept a Jesus that is both man and God. They prefer to make Jesus
into someone other than God so they can pick and choose what they accept from His teaching. It is
easier to choose what to believe when the words are from a mere man than when they are the very
Words of God.
3. John records another instance where Jesus was teaching the Jews. Jesus was using the example of a
shepherd and his sheep. In John 10:30 Jesus makes the statement 30 I and My Father are one." The
Greek word for one is very specific to mean "one" or as we would think, "the same". The response from
the Jews was again very clear as we see in the following verse, 31 Then the Jews took up stones again
to stone Him.
There was no misunderstanding what Jesus was saying - He was saying that He is God.
a. 25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's
name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I
said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them
eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My
Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My
Father's hand. 30 I and My Father are one."
Renewed Efforts to Stone Jesus
31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, "Many good works I
have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?" 33 The Jews
answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You,
being a Man, make Yourself God." 34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said,
"You are gods"'? 35 If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture
cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You
are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? 37 If I do not do the works of My Father,
do not believe Me; 38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may
know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him."
4. In Exodus 33:17-23 God responding to Moses' request to see God's glory by saying that 20 But He
said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live." Here is the whole account.
a. 17 So the Lord said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found
grace in My sight, and I know you by name." 18 And he said, "Please, show me Your glory." 19 Then
He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before
you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have
compassion." 20 But He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live." 21 And
the Lord said, "Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My
glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I
pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be
b. The Jewish mind clearly understood that no man could see the face of God the Father and live.
So when Phillip asked Jesus to "show us the Father" he didn't understand that in seeing Jesus he
was seeing all that he could of the Father and live. Read John 14:8-10 below.
8 Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." 9 Jesus said to him, "Have
I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the
Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father,
and the Father in Me?
Jesus was saying to Phillip, if you are wondering about the nature of God; if you are wondering about
the character of God, look at me for I and the Father are one and anyone who has seen Me has seen
Down through the corridors of time Jesus addresses all who are interested to know God. He says
so you want to know God, then "look at Me". So many have rejected Christianity not as a result
of examining its claims and finding them wanting, but as a result of never having examined its claims
and simply rejecting it out of hand on the basis of conjecture and various pieces of scientific
jargon. But the honest man, the real scientist, the genuine skeptic, the honest seeker in looking
for spiritual reality must come against this statement made by Jesus "He who has seen Me has seen
5. In John 17, Jesus in His High Priestly prayer in addressing the Father in verse 5 says...
5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before
the world was.
This would be an interesting statement if made just by a man - "with the glory which I had with You
before the world was" . Jesus is saying to God the Father to glorify Him with the glory that Jesus
had before the world began. Jesus is speaking of a glory that He had not in just some past but
before the world even began. The normal reaction to this would be to ask "who do you think you
are". Jesus is saying that He was with the Father before the world began. Before the world began,
only God existed! This statement is so amazing that it is either blasphemous or He is speaking to God
on equal terms.
6. John records another account in 18:1-6. The setting is Jesus and His disciples in the garden of
Gethsemane. A detachment of troops have come to arrest Jesus. Jesus being well aware of what was
going on steps forward and asks them who they are seeking. They responded with Jesus of Nazareth to
which Jesus answered "I am He. " The "He' was not in the original Greek writing, so what he actually said
is "I am". Now what was the reaction of this detachment of troops who were well trained in arresting
people? We might well consider the reaction of Jesus to the crowd in the first place also. Most men
would not step forward and identify themselves with the knowledge that they were about to be arrested.
But the most amazing thing is the reaction to Jesus' answer of "I am" is from the detachment of troops.
We are told they drew back and fell to the ground. Here we have a detachment of seasoned solders
who are well experienced in arresting people and they draw back and fall to the ground as a reaction to
just two words! If you don't find that amazing think about is some more with an honest and open mind.
This is the very God of the Universe they are facing and in the presence of such power and holiness men
throughout the Bible reacted in the same manner. Look at Acts 9:4 for another instance with the same
a. John 18:1-6 - 1 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook
Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. 2 And Judas, who betrayed
Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. 3 Then Judas, having
received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with
lanterns, torches, and weapons. 4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him,
went forward and said to them, "Whom are you seeking?" 5 They answered Him, "Jesus of Nazareth."
Jesus said to them, "I am He. " And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. 6 Now when He
said to them, "I am He, " they drew back and fell to the ground.