While Jesus Christ never stood up and said, “I am God incarnate,” He did and said some pretty outrageous things for a mere human. In no particular order…
He made claims about His ability to meet the spiritual needs of others.
“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus said all this and more.
To quote C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity:
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.
He makes astonishing claims about His teaching
- In Matthew 5:18, He says that not the least bit of the law of Moses would disappear. In Matthew 24:35, He says the same thing about His own words.
- In Matthew 5, He repeatedly says, “You’ve heard that it was said… But I tell you…” He put His teaching on par with the Old Testament.
Additionally, Jesus taught on His own authority (Matthew 7:28-29). On numerous occasions in the Gospels, He prefaces his words with “Truly, truly.”
He claimed that He’d be directly involved in the events of the end of the world
He repeatedly said that He’d judge mankind on the last day (Matthew 7:22-23, 25:31-33; John 5:28-30). Only God can judge, but Jesus assumed this prerogative for Himself.
He identified actions towards Him with actions towards God
- Knowing Jesus is knowing God (John 8:19)
- Seeing Jesus is seeing God (John 12:45, 14:7-9)
- Believing in Jesus is believing in God (John 12:44, 14:1)
- To hate Jesus is to hate God (John 15:23)
- To receive Jesus is to receive God (John 10:40; Mark 9:37)
Jesus also claimed that the destiny of humans depends on their response to Him (Matthew 16:24-26)
He forgave sins
Sin is an offense against God, and therefore only He can forgive it. Yet Jesus forgave the paralytic lowered through the roof (Luke 5:17-26) and the woman with the alabaster jar (Luke 7:36-50).
He made staggering claims about His presence
The temple represented the manifestation of God’s presence. Yet He claimed that He was greater than the temple (Matthew 12:6). The only thing greater than a manifestation is the real thing. Jesus also claimed omnipresence (Matthew 18:20, 28:18), an attribute possessed exclusively by God.
He performed miracle on His own authority
Unlike the Old Testament prophets, Jesus doesn’t credit God for the miracles He performed. He neither asks God for power, nor ascribes His power to God (Matthew 8:2-3, 8:5-13, 20:29-34). He doesn’t seem to mind that the miracles prompt the question, “Who is this?” (Matthew 8:27, John 7:31).
He receives obeisance
Many people ‘fall’ or ‘bow’ before Jesus, and He does nothing to stop them (Mark 5:33; Luke 5:8, 17:15-16). Other people in the Bible rebuffed such behaviour—Peter (Acts 10:25-26), Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:14-18), the angel accompanying John (Revelation 19:10).
He applies OT texts describing God to Himself
Psalm 8 is sung to God, and Jesus quotes Psalm 8:2 in reference to Himself on Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:16).
He is a divine figure in His own parables
For example, Jesus places Himself in the parable of the lost sons (Luke 15:11-32), in the parable of the tenants (Matthew 21:33-45).
Maybe Jesus was a deluded madman. Or maybe He was a pathological liar. Or He was self-consciously aware of His deity, and we must make a choice whether to accept or reject Him.