Summary: Study 5 - Jesus claimed such tremendous things that He was either mad, (as His family once claimed), or telling the truth that He was God
Jesus made many other claims than those we saw in Study 4.
1. He claimed to FORGIVE SINS. To the paralysed man Jesus did not say, "God will pardon your sins one day". He Himself pronounced that the man`s sins were forgiven!
The Jews immediately challenged Him: "Who can forgive sins, only God Himself". YES! Only God can forgive sins, but Jesus forgave this man`s sins. The only valid conclusion we can draw is that Jesus is God.
2. Jesus claimed to give ETERNAL LIFE, and only God can give eternal life.
3. He claimed, "He who has seen me has SEEN THE FATHER", showing that He was the perfect revelation of the Father. As we look at Him we can see all that we can grasp of God.
4. When He claimed "Before Abraham was, I am", He was claiming that He shared not only God`s essential nature and His eternal nature. He is taking us back to Exodus 3.14 where Moses is told by God to go to the people of Israel and tell them, "I AM has sent me. Tell them that Jehovah (I AM), the God of your ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has sent you. (This is my eternal Name to be used throughout all generations.)".
There is no getting away from the greatness of the claim that Jesus makes here. In claiming the Name "I AM" for Himself, He was claiming the Eternal Name of God. The Jews were well aware of this and tried to stone Him for blasphemy.
A word of warning needs to be sounded at this point for those who will not accept Him for what He claimed to be. He warned people like this: "Unless you believe that I am who I am, you will die in your sins". Dare we deny that Jesus is God!
5. It was the same when He defended His Sabbath activities by saying that HIS FATHER was ceaselessly at work. "This made the Jews still more determined to kill Him, because He was not only breaking the Sabbath, but by calling God His own Father, He claimed equality with God" (John chapter 5. verse 18). This claim of equality is stressed by St. Paul in Philippians chapter 2 where J.B.Phillips version tells us, "He, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to His prerogatives as God`s equal, but stripped Himself of all privilege........".
6. Time and time again we see Jesus COMPLETING the statements of the Old Testament Law. "You have heard that it was said by them of old time..... but I say unto you". When the Law was first given, Moses made it quite clear that it was God who gave it. If Jesus was just a man, then He had no right to make additions to or reinterpretations of the Law. The Jehovah`s Witness might say that the fact that He is MEDIATOR between God and Man gives Him that right, but Jesus claims to be more than a Mediator when He says "but I say unto you!". That is on a par with "Thus saith the Lord". It puts Him on the same level as God!
7. He claimed, "I am that Way, the Truth and the Life".
8. He called His hearers to return, NOT to God, but TO HIM (Matthew 11.28). This was blasphemy unless He Himself was indeed God.
9. He did not say (like Buddha), "This is the way, follow it". He said, "I am the Way. Follow ME".
So we see that Jesus made many claims about Himself - about His Person and about His authority. Michael Green says, "Such claims as these are breathtaking. They would sound like the ravings of a lunatic were it not for the character of the man who uttered them, and for the quality of teaching He brought".
By background, a Galilean peasant, His claims grew into something so tremendous that He was either mad ( an accusation made by members of His own family!), deluded OR He was telling the truth. What He claimed to be pointed to the fact that He regarded Himself as more than a man - even more than a god. He regarded Himself as THE GOD. As the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews puts it, "He (Jesus) is the Son, corresponding as closely to the Father as the radiance to the sun, or as the impression to the seal". (Hebrews ch 1 v 2)
St. John later explains the relationship of Jesus to His Father as that of a word to a mind - the form that the unseen intelligence takes as it expresses itself. Let me put this in the form of a parable. Each year many of us draw up a list of presents we wish to give to those we love. The list goes like this: "Uncle Harry - a pair of gloves: Aunt Mary - a warm woollen scarf". But those simple everyday presents hide and yet reveal the fact of a great deal of love and thought. We know that Uncle Harry has arthritis in his fingers and finds the cold weather a trial; we know that Aunt Mary always suffers from a bad throat when the weather turns nasty, so, we take the idea of our love and concern for these two dear relatives of ours, and we wrap the ideas up in paper, and send them to "Uncle Harry with love" to "Aunt Mary - we`re always thinking of you". Each present says "I love you and I care for you. I know that you find the weather very trying, and I am doing this to save you from it".