Jesus Christ made claims about his identity that have implications for everyone. His claims were unique and separate Him from every other figure in history. As we examine the claims of Jesus Christ it is important to ask ourselves whether His life demonstrates the authority and validity of His claims.
In addition to the claims Jesus made, there are many features of the life of Jesus Christ that make Him unique. His many miracles included healing the sick, miraculously feeding the hungry, calming storms and raising the dead. He also performed many other supernatural signs that authenticate the fact that He had a special message for mankind. He is said to have been the greatest moral teacher the world has ever seen with no-one being able to surpass His wisdom or ethical and moral teaching. He delivered an uncompromising message of salvation for mankind – those who had an encounter with Jesus were either drawn to follow Him or offended at Him. It seemed impossible to remain neutral about who He was. One thing was for sure – He never committed any act of wrongdoing – He lived a perfect unblemished life. Furthermore, Jesus is the ONLY person ever to have been recorded in history as being resurrected from the dead, never to die again. This all makes Jesus absolutely unique. Whatever we feel about Him – we cannot deny that His life is worthy of special attention and investigation.
If we accept that Jesus’ life was unique it is very important for us to ask what claims He made about Himself. His actions definitely deserve us to sit up and take notice. Anyone who lives a life like Jesus must surely be considered a credible witness of who He says He is. We would be crazy to hear of a guy who authenticates His message with amazing acts which are unparalleled in history causing millions to follow Him and many to die for Him and then decide we do not believe the claims He made of Himself.
So, who did Jesus Christ claim to be? Lets have a look (in no particular order) at some of the many statements Jesus made regarding His own identity.
The “I AM” claims
There are seven statements that comprise the well-known “I AM” statements of John’s gospel. They form a comprehensive picture of Jesus being the only means of salvation. Jesus uses many different descriptions, but all with the same message – man can only be saved and have everlasting life by turning to and following Him:
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:35 emphasis added)
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12 emphasis added)
Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep…I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (John 10:7,9 emphasis added)
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (John 10:11,14 emphasis added)
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (John 11:25 emphasis added)
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 emphasis added)
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman… I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing (John 15:1,5 emphasis added)
It is clear that Jesus claimed to be the ONLY way of salvation for mankind and that eternal life was only possible through Him. Either Jesus’ statements are true or they are false – there can be no neutral ground. These statements also remove the possibility that salvation or life after death can be found in somebody else – Jesus claimed exclusivity! He claims to be the “bread of life”, the “light of the world”, the “good shepherd”, the “door of the sheep”, the “resurrection and the life”, the “way, the truth and the life” and the “true vine”. These are all amazing claims that cannot be shared with another person – Jesus clearly claims them only for Himself.
The claims to be God
One of the most provocative statements of Jesus comes also in John’s gospel:
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. (John 8:58-59 emphasis added)
This statement comes at the end of a very strong worded exchange with the Pharisees in which Jesus claims to be the “I AM THAT I AM” that appeared to Moses:
And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you. (Exodus 3:14-15)
The same claim is made by Jesus in a similar way a little later in John’s gospel:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. (John 10:27-33 emphasis added)
Both these statements were clearly understood to be a claim by Jesus of being God. This is also evidenced by the Pharisees reaction to Jesus crying “blasphemy” and intending to stone Him. They were clearly incensed and were unable to contain their anger. It is often very helpful to look at the reaction of those around Jesus in judging how His statements were received.
The claim to be Creator of the World
Jesus also makes direct claims in the book of Revelation:
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. (Revelation 1:8)
See also Revelation 1:11, 1:17, 21:6, 22:13 and 22:16 for similar claims. These again are claims made directly by Jesus Christ as it is Jesus who appears to John in this vision (see Revelation 1:1-2). Here, Jesus claims to be the source of everything that is in existence. This is an outrageous claim and is further confirmed by Paul in Colossians 1:
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:16-18)
Here, Jesus claims to be the creator of everything that exists. He also claims that His own existence has always been eternal – Jesus existence had no beginning and will have no end.
The claim to possess all power in heaven and earth
In the following quote, Jesus makes the claim that He has ALL power in heaven and on earth. Again, this position of having all power cannot be shared with any other figure in history if the claim is true. Here, there is also the claim that all nations should follow His commands:
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)
If we are to take these claims seriously, we would have to study the words of Jesus throughout the gospel accounts to discover what Jesus requires of His followers and the nature of the commands we are to follow.
The claim to be able to forgive sins
One of the most divisive claims made by Jesus are that He can forgive sin. This would have considerably upset the Jewish leaders in His day as they correctly understood that only God could forgive sin:
And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? (Luke 7:48,49)
He also makes this claim in Mark 2:3-12. Here we are also told that God is the only person who can forgive sin and this is another example of Jesus claiming to be God:
Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? (Mark 2:7)
The claim to be the judge
Jesus also claims to be a judge. Read the following passage where Jesus reveals He has been given authority to execute all judgment:
For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. (John 5:22-27 emphasis added)
His status as judge is further confirmed by Paul in one of his letters to the church of Corinth:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
In addition to these direct statements from Jesus, there are many other claims that are indirectly made by the words of Jesus Christ:
- Jesus claimed to be the Son of God (John 9:35-37). In fact during both Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration, God Himself declared Jesus as the “Son of God”. If this was incorrect, you imagine Jesus would have corrected this immediately (Matthew 3:17 and 17:5)
- Jesus claimed to be the Messiah (Matthew 26:63-66, John 4:25,26)
- Jesus claims that we are to love Him more than even our closest family members (Matthew 10:32-37)
- Jesus claims He will come in glory with the angels to reward men for their works (Matthew 16:27)
- Jesus often accepts worship and in the process in claims to be God (Matthew 14:33, Matthew 28:9/17, Luke 24:52, John 9:38)
How will you respond?
This brief study is not exhaustive and is a far from complete survey of all the claims made by Jesus. It should be sufficient to demonstrate that He was no ordinary man! If Jesus claims are untrue, they are actually either outrageous lies or they demonstrate that He was totally deluded. He did, however, authenticate these claims with amazing signs, wonders and ultimately by defeating death itself in His resurrection. In addition to this, His followers and witnesses loyally forsake everything on account of His claims and often faced execution as a result – surely they would not do this for a liar or a madman? Would you die for a lie?
Others suggest that Jesus was just a prophet or simply a very good man. This cannot be true though – for Jesus to make the kind of claims about Himself that we have explored, He is dramatically stepping outside the territory and remit of just a mere prophet. He clearly was a prophet, but MUCH more than that! We believe it is also impossible to accept that Jesus was a good man without accepting the claims He made. No “good man” would deceitfully lie about who he was. Either Jesus was a good man AND His claims are true or he simply was not a good man!
The big question now is how you are going to respond to these claims? Jesus provided us with plenty of evidence to authenticate His claims and we could never allege that He did not live a life in keeping with these claims. Who else lived a perfect life, performed an array of miracles and was then resurrected from the dead, to finally ascend into heaven – all to be witnessed by many hundreds (if not thousands) of other people? The fact that some of these witnesses would subsequently face torture and death for their testimony of Jesus is very powerful evidence of the accuracy of Jesus claims. What else could Jesus have done to command our attention?
A neutral response is impossible – sitting on the fence is not an option! You may reject the claims of Jesus and do nothing. You may decide to accept these claims as true but still decide to do nothing. This would be very foolish – if someone told you to get out of your house because it was burning down and you accepted their claims as true, would you then stay in the house? Of course not – if you do accept the claims of Jesus it is an insult to Him not to respond and folly to reject His offer of salvation! The third option is to accept the claims of Jesus and respond to Him in faith.
How will you respond today? See our How to be saved page for the best response!
The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. (John 4:25-26)