Let’s take a brief look at a few of the many passages that clearly and consistently answer that question, straight from the pages of Scripture. We’ll begin by going back an additional 700 years before the life of Christ, to the Old Testament book of Isaiah.
Jesus is God – Prophecies
- Divine Messiah predicted in the Old Testament
Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”1
“Immanuel” literally means: “God with us.” See also Matthew 1:23; Jesus was “God with us.”
This Messiah would be born a human son, but have a higher nature
Isaiah 9:6: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
This was a radical statement coming from a monotheistic Jewish prophet -- especially calling a human being “Mighty God”; but one that God fulfilled centuries later in Christ.
A couple hundred years later, but still more than half a millennium
before Jesus walked the earth, more was predicted about the Messiah’s
Daniel 7:13-14: “There before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven . . . He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
“Son of Man” was the primary title Jesus used for Himself -- and this passage shows that this was a clear and strong claim of deity. And in Mark, the earliest of the four Gospels, He also included the unmistakable phrase, “coming on the clouds of heaven” and applied it to Himself (Mark 14:62). His listeners got the point, refused to believe it, and added it to their reasons to try to kill Him.
- The baby Jesus worshiped by the Magi
Matthew 2:11: “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.”
Along with being led to the site where Jesus was born, these Magi were apparently informed by God about Jesus’ divine identity, and so they responded appropriately by worshiping Him.
Jesus accepted worship from His disciples
Matthew 14:32-33: “And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’”
In a Jewish culture, only the one true God can be worshiped; their actions show that they acknowledged Jesus as being divine. And Jesus didn’t correct them or say, “Don’t you realize that I’m just a mortal prophet? Stop worshiping me!” Rather, He accepted their worship, knowing He really was God in human flesh.
Jesus’ claim about Himself
John 8:58-59: "‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.”
This is a powerful double claim from Jesus: first, that He pre-existed His human birth and was actually alive and present (as God) before Abraham; second, that His title was “I am” -- which was the same title used for Jehovah God in Exodus 3:14. His listeners again got the point, and picked up stones to execute Him!
Another of Jesus’ claims of deity
John 10:30-33: “‘I and the Father are one.’ Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’”
It couldn’t be clearer than it is here: Jesus’ highly educated listeners understood His claim of deity. They only had two possible responses: to humble themselves and bow before Him as the Magi and the disciples had done earlier, or reject His claim and judge Him as a blasphemer. Unfortunately they chose the latter option. But notice that Jesus doesn’t argue with their accusation, because it was accurate. He really was claiming to be God!
Thomas’ response to the resurrected Jesus
John 20:27-29: “Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’"
This disciple realized, because of Jesus’ resurrection, who Jesus really was -- and humbly worshiped Him and declared His true identity: “My Lord and my God!” Jesus not only accepts this declaration, but blesses all of the disciples -- and all of us today -- who come to the same realization and place of humble worship.
Jesus accepted worship prior to His ascension
Matthew 28:16-17: “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”
Note that Jesus was worshiped at His birth, throughout His ministry, after His resurrection, and again here -- right before His physical ascension into heaven. His divine nature, as a member of the Godhead (along with the Father and the Holy Spirit), was never questioned by Him or by those who really knew who He was and followed Him.
Paul’s understanding as an apostle and leader of the church
Colossians 1:15-16; 2:9: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. . . . For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. . .”
And in Titus 2:13-14 Paul refers to him as “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us. . .”
Paul’s letters were some of the earliest Christian writings, with most of them actually pre-dating the four Gospels -- yet they make some of the strongest statements concerning the first church’s clear understanding of Jesus as the Creator; God in human form.
Jesus will be worshiped by every creature in heaven
“Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth
and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To him who sits on
the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for
ever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders
fell down and worshiped.”
The last book in the Bible points prophetically to the time where every living creature will know and acknowledge that Jesus, the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) is also the God who we must praise, honor, and worship -- and certainly was not a mere mortal whose identity needed upgrading by Constantine (Roman emperor) hundreds of years after He walked this planet!
But Jesus and His followers made the truth very clear, as we’ve seen in the pages of the earliest records, concerning who He was and is -- and how imperative it is that we understand and embrace that truth. Look at His sobering words about the vital importance of His identity.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. . . .
“But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. . .You do not know me or my Father. . .I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”
“. . .Even as He spoke, many put their faith in him. To [them] Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’"
- - Jesus, recorded in John chapter 8