On numerous occasions, we find exegetical evidence for Jesus claiming to be God. Jesus indicated that He was equal with God the Father by accepting honor and worship that merely God ought to accept. In a battle with Satan, Jesus stated, ‘It is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only”‘ (Matthew 4:10). Yet Jesus accepted worship as God (Matthew 14:33; 28:9) and in some cases even requested to be worshipped as God (John 5:23; compare Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:8– 14).
We see an example of this when Peter declared Christ’s deity after Jesus asked him who He was: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Matthew 16:16). Jesus reacted to Peter’s confession not by correcting his conclusion however but by acknowledging its credibility and source: ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven’ (Matthew 16:17).
Then we have Christ’s dialogue with Thomas, who stated, ‘I won’t believe unless I can put my finger into His nail scars.’ He stated, ‘Look, not every day does someone raise Himself from the dead or claim to be God incarnate. I need to have evidence.’ Eight days later on, after Thomas narrated his doubts about Jesus before the other disciples,
‘Jesus came, the doors having actually been shut, and stood in their midst, and stated, “Peace be with you.” Then he stated to Thomas, “Reach here your finger, and see my hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into my side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas replied and stated to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus then stated to him, “Because you have seen me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed”‘ (John 20:26 – 29).
Jesus accepted Thomas’s acknowledgment of Him as God. He rebuked Thomas for his unbelief, however not for his worship.
We likewise discover exegetical evidence for Jesus claiming to be God in circumstances which Jesus not merely declares His equality with God, however He likewise plainly asserts that He is one with the Father. Throughout the Feast of the Dedication in Jerusalem, Jesus was approached by some Jewish leaders who inquired about His being the Christ. Jesus ended His remarks to them by stating, ‘I and the Father are one’ (John 10:30). The Jews’ reaction only affirms that Jesus was in fact declaring to be God: ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God’ (John 10:31– 33).
Jesus constantly referred to Himself as one in essence and nature with God. He boldly asserted,
‘If you knew me, you would know my Father also’ (John 8:19); ‘He who beholds me beholds the One who sent me’ (John 12:45); ‘He who hates me, hates my Father also’ (John 15:23); ‘All may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him’ (John 5:23).
These references definitely show that Jesus looked at Himself as being more than simply a man; rather He was equal with God.
If anybody were to still question the exegetical evidence for Jesus claiming to be God, he needs to have a look at the record of Jesus’ trial proceedings captured in the Gospel of Mark (14:60– 64). Here we discover among the clearest references of Christ’s claim of deity:
‘And the high priest arose and came forward and questioned Jesus, stating, “Do you make no answer to what these men are testifying against you?” But He kept silent and made no answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” And Jesus stated, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And tearing his clothes, the high priest stated, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.’
Initially Jesus would not answer, so the high priest put Him under oath. Vows and oaths are both considered weighty matters in Jewish thought. Breaking either is explicitly forbidden by the Bible (Numbers 30:3).
Being under oath, Jesus needed to answer. He responded to the question, ‘Are You the Christ, the son of the Blessed One?’ by saying ‘I AM.’