Every Christmas season, we are bombarded with images of the baby Jesus. But, we cannot forget that Jesus grew up to do and say the most astonishing things, claiming to be both sinless and God!
Jesus’ claim to be God is without precedent or peer, as no founder of any major world religion has ever said he was God. Yet Jesus clearly, repeatedly, and emphatically said he was God in a variety of ways. If this claim were untrue, he would have been guilty of violating the first commandment and as a blasphemer would have deserved death. This is why the people who disbelieved his claim kept seeking to put him to death. The eventual murder of Jesus for claiming to be God is recorded in Matthew 26:63–65, which says:
But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy.”
Those who heard Jesus say these kinds of things wanted to kill Jesus because he was “making himself equal with God” (John 5:18). On this point, Billy Graham says, “Jesus was not just another great religious teacher, nor was he only another in a long line of individuals seeking after spiritual truth. He was, instead, truth itself. He was God incarnate.”
Jesus’ claims to be God were clearly heard and understood by his enemies, and Jesus never recanted (Mark 14:61–64). John 8:58–59reports that Jesus said, “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.” In John 10:30–33 Jesus also said:
“I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
On this point, New York’s Judge Gaynor once said of Jesus’ trial at the end of his earthly life, “It is plain from each of the gospel narratives, that the alleged crime for which Jesus was tried and convicted was blasphemy.” The baby in the manger grew up to be the most controversial person in the history of the world by declaring himself to be God. Do you believe him?
Portions of this blog post were adapted from Vintage Jesus (2007, Crossway) and Doctrine (2010, Crossway), by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears.