There’s an argument from people who casually read the Bible, looking for holes in the theology they see lived out in the lives of us who are even quick to admit we don’t have the corner on right living, that says “Jesus never claimed to be God.”
Is that true?
If you do a search for “I am God” you won’t find it written in red. Maybe they’re right?
Well, as in most misunderstood arguments, it’s a misunderstanding of first century Jewish culture. It’s not that different in Jewish culture today.
When I was in University I took a couple years of Hebrew that was taught by Ehud Ben Zivi. He didn’t consider himself a religious Jew, but we still got the Jewish holidays off… and we could never get him to say the name of the Lord.
The tetragrammaton is four Hebrew letters that are the name of the Most Holy God. No one knows how it’s pronounced, because no one has said it for a very very long time. When the Masoretes added vowels to the Hebrew text, the name was so venerated that they put the vowels for “adonia” or “Lord” around consonant for the name of the Lord. When it was translated into Latin, the scribes read the consonant for the name of the Lord and the vowels for adonia and we got the name Jehovah for God.
Incidentally, as I read Hebrew and said “the Lord” every time I read the tetragrammaton I got so ingrained to doing it that when I read Yahweh or Jehovah in English I’d say “the Lord”, it really is amazing what you can train yourself to do.
Where was I going with that… oh yah, we get the name of the Lord from what God told Moses when Moses asked him “Who shall I say sent me?” at the burning bush. God said to Moses, “I am who I am . This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” Exodus 3:14 It can be translated.
Jesus couldn’t say “I’m God” without being stoned by the the Jewish leaders. Even when He said “ before Abraham was born, I am” they picked up stones to stone him for blasphemy, but he hid himself and slipped away. (see John 8:58-59)
But John records seven times Jesus used the “I am” statement to describe his person and work. Jesus most definitely claimed to be God… and proved it by raising again three days later (see Matthew 12:38-40).
The question is – what are you going to do with him?
The man claimed to be God. He’s either a liar, a lunatic or telling the truth.
In the future ’ll be examining the seven “I AM” statements of Jesus. Examine His claims to see how they affect your view of … and hopefully relationship with… him. For now I’ll simply point them out to you.
Jesus Said I Am the Bread of Life
Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35 (New Living Translation) (see vv. 48-50)
Jesus Said I Am the Light of the World
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”John 8:12 (New Living Translation) (see 9:5)
Jesus Said I Am the Gate For the Sheep
Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. John 10:6-7 (New Living Translation)
Jesus Said I Am The Good Shepherd
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. John 10:11 (New Living Translation)
Jesus Said I Am The Resurrection and the Life
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. John 11:25 (New Living Translation)
Jesus Said I Am The Way, The Truth and the Life.
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. John 14:6 (New Living Translation)
Jesus Said I Am The True Vine
I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.
John 15:1 (New Living Translation)