Did Jesus Claim to be God?

Son of Man

Some say that Jesus didn’t intend the name I AM to mean he is God. They argue that Jesus’ reference to himself as the “Son of Man,” proves he didn’t claim divinity. So what is the context of the title, “Son of Man,” and what does it mean?”

Packer writes that the name, “Son of Man” referred to Jesus’ role as Savior-King, fulfilling the messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53. Isaiah 53 is the most comprehensive prophetic passage of the coming Messiah, and clearly depicts him as the suffering Savior. Isaiah had also referred to the Messiah as “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6).

Additionally, many scholars say Jesus was referring to himself as the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy about the “son of man.” Daniel prophesies that the “son of man” will be given authority over mankind and receive worship:

“I was watching in the night visions, and with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man was approaching. He went up to the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him. To him was given ruling authority, honor, and sovereignty.
All peoples, nations, and language groups were serving him. His authority is eternal and will not pass away.
His kingdom will not be destroyed.” —Daniel 7:13, 14.

So who is this “son of man,” and why is he being worshipped, when God alone is to be worshipped. Jesus told his disciples that when he returns to earth,

“Then they will see the Son of Man arriving in a cloud with power and great glory. ” —Luke 21:27. Is Jesus saying here that he is the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy?

Son of God

Jesus also claimed to be the, “Son of God.” This title does not mean Jesus is God’s biological Son. Neither does the term “Son” imply inferiority anymore than a human son is inferior in essence to his father. A son shares his father’s DNA, and although he is different, they are both men. Scholars say that the term “Son of God” in the original languages refers to likeness, or “of the same order.” Jesus meant by it that he has divine essence, or in 21st century terms, the “DNA of God”. Professor Peter Kreeft explains.

“What did Jesus mean when he called himself the ‘Son of God’? The son of a man is a man. (Both ‘son’ and ‘man,’ in the traditional language, mean males and females equally.) The son of an ape is an ape. The son of a dog is a dog. The son of a shark is a shark. And so the Son of God is God. ‘Son of God’ is a divine title.”[8]

In John 17, Jesus speaks about the glory he and his Father shared before the world began. But by calling himself the “Son of God” is Jesus claiming equality with God? Packer answers:

When, therefore, the Bible proclaims Jesus as the Son of God, the statement is meant as an assertion of his distinct personal deity.”[9]

Thus, the names Jesus used for himself point to the fact that he was claiming equality with God. But did Jesus speak and act with the authority of God?

Forgiving Sin

In the Jewish religion, forgiveness of sin was reserved for God alone. Forgiveness is always personal; someone else cannot do the forgiving for the person offended, especially if the Person offended is God. But on several occasions Jesus acted as if he was God by forgiving sinners. The simmering religious leaders finally erupted at Jesus when he forgave the sins of a man with palsy right in front of them.

“Why does this man speak this way? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” —Mark 2:7.

Lewis imagines the stunned reactions of all those who heard Jesus:

‘Then comes the real shock,’ wrote Lewis: ‘Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God … But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.’[10]

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Endnotes

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