To even ask this question is to suggest I haven’t been reading my own articles of late. Why? Because every article I have written on ‘Jesus as God’ has ended with Jesus’ own words from John 8:24, “For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins” (NAB). (“I AM,” as you no doubt remember, is a reference to Exodus 3:14 when God revealed His personal name to Moses in the burning bush.) It would be strange, indeed, if Jesus demanded His followers believe this if He Himself did not! So . . . to ask the question, “Did Jesus see Himself to be God?” seems to overlook the obvious. But I ask it because Jesus made His understanding of Himself clear in a number of different ways, which I want to highlight today and in the coming weeks.
We know that Jesus viewed Himself to be God because HE TAUGHT WITH DIVINE AUTHORITY. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, “the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes” (Matt 7:28-29). The teachers of the Law had no authority of their own. Their authority came from their use of earlier authorities. Even Moses and the other OT writers did not speak in their own authority, but would say, “This is what the Lord says.” Jesus, on the other hand, interprets the Law by saying, “You have heard that it was said. . . . But I say to you“ (see 5:22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44). This divine authority is shown with staggering clarity when He speaks of Himself as the Lord who will judge the whole earth and will say to the wicked, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (7:23). No wonder the crowd was amazed at the authority with which Jesus spoke. Jesus recognized that His words carried divine weight. He acknowledged the permanent authority of the Law (5:18) and put His words on an equal plane with it: “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (5:18); “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (24:35).
In other words, Jesus taught the people as though He was God Himself! Did Jesus see Himself to be God? Absolutely! John 8:24, anyone?!