Ramadan 16: Did Jesus Really Claim to be God?
We’ve noted that all of Scripture points to Jesus, but what did Jesus say about Himself? Did He really claim to be God? Does Islam have any ground to stand on when they claim Jesus denied He was God?
“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16–18)
Yes, without question, Jesus stated His identity to be fully and completely God in all respects. Throughout the four gospel accounts, the writers record eye-witness testimonies of Jesus stating His role as the Son of God in relation to the Trinity. The Trinitarian nature of God (Father, Son, and Spirit) was not some theological idea conjured up by the early Church. Here are six major passages where we see Christ revealing Himself to people — humble but glorious in every way:
The “I Am” Statements of Christ
The Apostle John records seven beautiful “I am” statements Jesus made during His earthly ministry. Each of these metaphors spoke rich truths to his audience—the disciples and the crowds listening.
1 – The Bread of Life (John 6:35, 48, 51)
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:51)
These words cut the crowd to the heart and many of the Jews grumbled against it because they understood the weight of Christ’s claim. Even the disciples recognized it was a difficult claim for someone to accept (John 6:60). But, at the end of the day, Peter affirmed: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69).
2 – The Light of the World (John 8:12; 9:5)
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” (John 8:12)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58)
Immediately after rescuing the woman caught in adultery, Jesus addresses the crowd that had surrounded them. There is no better message the Messiah could have spoken in that instant. Jesus told the crowd they were walking in darkness and declared He was the light able to pierce that darkness.
3 – The Good Shepherd (John 10)
“I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father…” (John 10:14-15)
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:28-30)
The true Shepherd knows his sheep and His sheep know Him. The sheep (the elect) have a personal and integral relationship with their Shepherd. God our Shepherd takes great ownership in our lives. He cares about the big things and the small things, and He guides us in His way of righteousness for His glory. Jesus reveals that “the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). The foreshadowing of Christ’s crucifixion is undeniable! This Good Shepherd discourse shares rich insight into Christ’s ultimate mission of redemption. It is only by this sacrifice that we “may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). He loves us with a perfect, never-ending, and never-failing power that keeps us safe in His flock. Our Lord acts in power, righteousness, and love toward those who are His sheep.
4 – The Resurrection and the Life (John 11:1-44, 14:1-6)
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.’” (John 11:25–27)
Jesus is our mediator and the Father’s agent of reconciliation. He came to redeem His people back to Himself. However, Jesus is not only the giver of new life. He is our resurrection. He is our life! Christ is our example of faithful obedience to the Father and love for others, but He is much more than that. Jesus gives us Himself, He gives us eternal life in Himself. The Christian is given a new identity that is found “in Christ.” There is no greater gift than receiving Jesus, from Jesus.
5 – The Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” (John 14:6)
Lovingly, our Lord makes another bold claim to His apostles: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). This is no veiled metaphor. Jesus has moved from talking about sheep, doors, and shepherds in John 10 to claiming to be the only Way to the Kingdom of God. Our Messiah, born in the Bethlehem manger, was not information deliverer. He is the Way. He is the message of Truth. Jesus Christ is the Life.
6 – The True Vine (John 15:1-17)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
In the true humility that characterizes our Lord, Jesus not only pointed out His own deity but also invited His hearers to be knit to Himself. John 15:1-5 speaks directly of Jesus as the true vine, but then Jesus gradually moves the conversation toward calling His followers “friends” rather than “servants” (John 15:12-15). Our worship of Christ is more personal and intimate than any Muslim can reach in his or her worship of Allah. We have God as our Father and Christ as our King and friend. We must convey the richness of this reality to our Muslim friends!
“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:15–17)
- Meditate on these truths of Christ, and spend time praising God in prayer today. Thank Him that He is both majestic and available, glorious and personal. As Him to burn these beautiful truths into your heart so much that it affects your daily thoughts and actions. Agreeing that something is true is one thing, but acting on that belief of truth is the real result of faith.
- Pray today that Muslims in your community will realize their spiritual neediness. Ask the Lord to convict their hearts of sin, and open their eyes to the words of Christ in the Bible.
Go & Do:
- Watch “Do We Worship the Same God?” video from Keith Whitfield’s session at a recent conference in Atlanta.
- If you have developed a friendship with a Muslim in your area, consider giving him or her a copy of the Bible in their native language. Or, ask if they want to read through one of the gospel accounts together.
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“John 11”(sermon) – Brody Holloway (Red Oak Church)
Do We Worship the Same God? (video) – Keith Whitfield (Islam & North America Conference)