A common misconception about Jesus is that he never claimed to be God. Many who deny his divinity love to point this out. It is true, he never actually said the words “I am God,” but what he didn’t say is not as important as what he did say. And there are times where what he says is equal to saying “I am God.” Best part about what he does say is that it is really sneaky and sly, but in his time and in the Jewish culture it was as obvious as the nose on his face.
Jesus used many different phrases to indicate his divinity, for instance in John 10, he claims “I and the father are one.” This is the closest he comes to saying it right out in “The King’s English,” and the initial reaction of the Jewish leaders is to pick up stones. They do the same thing when he uses a less direct way to equivocate himself with God by claiming to be his son in John 5 when he says “My father is working, and so am I.” In Jewish culture a son maintained his fathers possessions and position when his father was either away from home, or died. Socially, a son was equal in position to his father. For Jesus to claim to be THE son of God, he was claiming his equality with God (again outraging the Jewish leaders).
Despite these nearly direct claims, there is a greater (and more outright) claim Jesus makes that only those familiar with Biblical history would catch. So first, a little background.
One of the key events of Jewish history is Moses meeting with God for the first time. And in this meeting, Moses is charged by God to go back to Egypt and rally his people. In the conversation, God reveals himself to Moses by the name “I Am.” Not “I Was” or “I Will Be” or “I Could Be,” he is a constant, ever-present “I Am”. And so, in Jewish tradition God’s name translated as “I Am”. And twice, Jesus uses this name for himself, without mistake.
John 8, when questioned how he was less than 50 but had seen Abraham, he responds, “Before Abraham was, I Am.” Not only was he claiming position over Abraham, the grand patriarch of the Jews, but he was claiming the name “I Am.” Yes, they picked up stones.
Again, he declares this to the high priest in Mark 14 when he asks Jesus if he is the Christ, the Son of the Blessed one. Jesus claims “I Am, and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One.” This one is a double whammy. He claims both deity in equally with God (by claiming to BE God) and he claims to be the “Son of Man,” the Christ prophesied in Daniel.
And this second claim in Mark 14 takes the cake, because not only did he claim to be “I Am” to the high priest (the Jewish “Top Dog”), but he does it at the trial to determine if he should be killed for blasphemy. In Jewish tradition, there is not higher blasphemy that could be committed than to claim to be God (unless you were indeed God). He could not have been any clearer, and the high priest knew it.
In the face of death, Jesus revealed his identity as God.
Next in part 3, the powers over the supernatural that Jesus exhibited that only God could hold.