Part 7 of this older series.
Yesterday we discussed some of the statements Jesus made which, while not being the statement “I am God,” were certainly claims of being equal to and of the same substance as God the Father. We also discussed his claims of son-ship with The Father and how, in that day and time, to be someone’s son was to basically be equal with them; obviously a claim equality with God is in practicality the same as a claim of being God.
Today we are going to cover some instances where we see Jesus’ actions indicate He understood His own divine nature.
Jesus laid claim to many of the attributes of God. Jesus made statements in which He claimed to possess attributes we normally only associate with God.
Jesus claimed to possess the eternal nature of God. We understand that one of the attributes of God is the fact that He has been self-existent from eternity past, and that only God is eternal from before time. Therefore, if Jesus claimed that attribute, He was, in essence, claiming to be God.
Jesus claimed to be the Alpha and Omega, or the First and Last, or the Beginning and the End in Revelation 1:17,18; He also claimed here to be alive forevermore, and that He possessed the keys to Hell and Death.
In John 8:56-58 Jesus was describing to the Pharisees how Abraham rejoiced at the future coming of Jesus, the Messiah. When the Pharisees questioned how a man not even 50 years old could have known Abraham, Jesus replied in verse 58. “Before Abraham was, I Am.” To fully understand just what Jesus was saying here, we have to go back to Moses and the burning bush. When Moses asked God to say who it was that was sending him(Moses) to lead the Jews out of Egypt, God replied that Moses could simply tell them, in Exodus 3:14, “I AM hath sent me unto you”
God can call Himself that because He always has been. He can call Himself that because He always will be. He is self-existent, not having been created by any other thing. Jesus obviously meant the same thing. He was clearly saying that Abraham was not just rejoicing at the idea of Messiah, but the actual fact not yet taken place, of Jesus Christ Himself! That is why Jesus could also refer to Himself as “I Am”.
Jesus made a claim to the omniscience or all knowing attribute of God when He told Peter exactly how Peter would react the night of the crucifixion. He told Peter how he would deny Jesus three times; He told Peter exactly when this would occur(before the rooster crowed). This story is relayed to us in Matthew 26.
Jesus made a claim to the omnipresence of God when He told his disciples that He would always be with them and also that He is eternal in The Great Commission contained in Matthew 28:18-20, telling them “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
Jesus made claims to be able to forgive sins, and this authority is clearly reserved for God alone; this concept is clearly taught throughout both the Old and New Testaments (Isaiah 43:25 is one place), and the Jews of Jesus’ time clearly understood that was what their scriptures taught. In fact, we will cover the Pharisees’ perception of what Jesus was saying later in this lesson.
Let us look at some of the instances where Jesus forgave sins.
In Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12, and Luke 5:17-26, the Bible tells the story of Jesus’ healing of a paralyzed man. The real key in each of these stories is not really that Jesus healed a sick man, after all, He had been traveling throughout the region healing multitudes of sick by this time. What makes this story so unusual is not that Jesus made a paralyzed man walk, but that in each case He told the man he was forgiven of his sins! He said in each case, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,”
This sets the stage for the clear biblical teaching of exactly what Jesus’ purpose on earth was. He was not here to simply perform miracles and heal sick people; those were simply tools to show the world who He was. Jesus was here to heal the real sickness that was and is infecting the world: sin. The rest of the things we call sickness, including our ultimate deaths, were only brought into the world because of man’s sin.
Jesus accepted the worship of others, a prerogative which belongs only to God Himself. In fact, there are several recorded instances of men and even angels directing that men not worship them. There is even a recorded instance of severe punishment for a mere man to accept worship. Let us take a look at what the Bible teaches us about who deserves worship and who does not.
God was very clear to Moses when He gave him the Ten Commandments when He instructed “thou shalt have no other Gods before me” in Exodus Chapter 20. While being tempted by Satan in the desert, Jesus clearly told Satan, in Matthew 4:10, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
In Acts 14:8-18, a story is told of the Apostle Paul refusing worship from fellow human beings. He and Barnabas were in the city of Lystra and had just healed a man who had been crippled from birth. The townspeople were so amazed they thought Paul and Barnabas were the gods Jupiter and Mercury in human flesh! Paul and Barnabas refused to accept this worship, and ran out in the crowd telling them they were just men, and that they should worship God instead.
The Bible also teaches us that angels are not to be worshiped. In the Book or Revelation, two times John fell at the feet of an angel who had given him a message to worship, in Revelation 19:10 and 22:9. In both cases the angel immediately said, “See thou do it not, I am thy fellowservant.”
The Bible teaches that accepting worship as if one were God can have severe consequences. Acts 12:21-23 tell us of King Herrod who, when the people tried to worship him as God, accepted it gladly rather than direct their worship to the true God. Herrod was then eaten by worms and died.
Clearly, then, we are instructed to worship God and God only.
Jesus on many occasions accepted the worship of others. Knowing the Old Testament Scriptures as he did, only two options are really possible: One is that Jesus was a delusional madman who actually thought He was God, or that He was in fact, God.
Here are some places in the Bible where Jesus either was worshiped, or was worshiped and accepted it.
In Matthew 2:11, the Wise Men from the East saw Jesus and “Fell down, worshiping Him.”
In Matthew 14:33, after He and Peter both walked on the water and Jesus stilled the wind, the following occurred, “Then they that were in the ship came and worshiped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.”
In Matthew Chapter 28, when Jesus met Mary Magdalene and the other Mary at the Tomb, they fell at His feet and worshiped Him.
In Luke 24:51, after Jesus was carried into heaven, the disciples who were with him “worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.”
In John 9:38, a blind man whom Jesus healed said “Lord, I believe. And he worshiped him.”
In John 20:28, after Jesus showed Thomas the wounds in His hand and side, he responded “My Lord and my God!”
Revelation Chapter 12 describes a scene around the Throne of God, where God and “The Lamb” were both worshiped by the four creatures, the four and twenty elders, and the angels of Heaven.
Time and time again we can read in Scripture instances of Jesus being worshiped or being worshiped and accepting it. There is not a single instance recorded of Jesus correcting any person who offered Him worship. This is in contrast to Paul and Barnabas, as well as the angel the Apostle John encountered, who quickly corrected those who offered them worship.
Thanks for reading! Tomorrow week we will be concluding this series with a lesson on what Jesus’ friends, followers, and enemies thought of his claims to be God.
Until then, blessings and peace.