Jesus Claims to be God

A few years ago I was speaking at a “game night” to a large group of teens in a high school auditorium in Michigan. During the game time I was standing at the edge of the auditorium waiting for the games to finish before being introduced. The principal of the school cam … More

In the previous passage Jesus has healed the lame man on the Sabbath (vv. 8-9) and the religious leaders are stirred up because their Sabbath law has been violated. The religious leaders are not concerned about the lame man, they do not even acknowledge that he has been healed. The only concern is that their rules concerning the Sabbath have been broken. After determining that Jesus was the one who healed the man, the religious leaders confront Jesus about violating the Sabbath (v. 16). He replied that He was only doing what the Father was doing (v. 17). Therefore, the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath law, but also claimed that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God” (v. 18). Jesus definitely challenged the legalistic traditions of the scribes and pharisees. They had transformed the Sabbath, which God had given to man as a gift, into a prison house of regulations and restrictions.

Jesus defends His actions by pointing out that He is only imitating His father (v. 19). Jesus states that God’s creative and sustaining work upon which the world depends has never ceased nor will it (vv. 20-23). The Jews immediately grasp what he was saying. Jesus is stating He is equal with God. The religious leaders did not reject Christ because they did not understand who He claimed to be, they understood perfectly, and rejected Him because of these claims. The religious leaders changed their charge against Jesus from “breaking the Sabbath” to “blasphemy” because Jesus claimed to be God. Liberal theologians who claim that Jesus never claimed to be God have to skip over these passages.


It was not so much what Jesus did that caused people to rise up against Him but it was when He identified Himself with the Father. The same is true today. People don’t care if I am religious or not but it is when I use the name of Jesus, (like praying in Jesus name), that people get upset.

John 5:16-23 (English Standard Version)

And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working." This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him."

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »