It has happened again: I seem to attract people who deny the fact that Jesus claimed to be God. On Facebook, I recently saw a comment casually making just this point. I responded by saying that I was on about page 200 of writing a book offering the evidence for Jesus claiming to be God (though it has been on the shelf for a few months due to family needs). The response was that I was taking 200 pages to lie. They had not read the evidence, nor did they know me, but I was a liar because I disagreed with them. Ah, the post-modern world. So let’s look at some of the ways Jesus made this claim. Just a brief introduction.
First of all, Jesus accepted worship. Even as he displayed humility, and a tremendous ability to draw people to himself, Jesus revealed an amazing claim about who he was (and is). In the normal course of everyday life, he allowed himself to be worshipped. He was not just another great teacher or a highly enlightened human being. He was the object of worship by those around him; worship due only to God, and he accepted it. Now Jesus was a Jew. He knew full well, as did those around him, that the Ten Commandments taught that only God is to be worshipped. He knew that Exodus 20:1-4, the first two commandments, said to worship God (YAHWEH) and God alone. We hear this from Jesus’ own lips when being tempted by Satan in Matthew 4. He refused to worship Satan and responded, “For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and serve Him only’” (Matt. 4:10 NASB). What we find fascinating is that having said this, Jesus accepted acts of worship from others without any rebuke.
We do not even have to leave the Gospel of Matthew to see this happening on several occasions. In Matthew 8:2 we read, “And behold a leper came and worshipped him saying ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean’” (NASB). The word for worship used here (prosekunei) can also mean “bow down” and so we see a physical act of worship accepted by Jesus. He does not rebuke the man in any way for worshipping him. Instead, he touched the man which, under Jewish law, would make one unclean and unfit to enter worship or gather with the believing community. In the case of leprosy, this meant bathing and being unclean for one day. But instead of Jesus becoming ceremonially unclean, the man was made physically clean and healed. It is important for us to see that Jesus accepted this act of worship without rebuke. If he was not God this was blasphemy and he knew it.
We see a similar event when in Matthew 9:18 a ruler came to Jesus wanting help with his daughter. The girl had died and the man came, again bowing down in worship, asking and expecting that Jesus could do something about this painful situation. In this event, we see again the importance given to the touch of Jesus. The ruler asked that Jesus come and lay hands on his daughter. More than this we see that Jesus acted on the man’s request and responded without any question that raising someone from the dead was a request within his power to grant. Then, once again, Jesus did not rebuke the man for worshipping him even as he moved on to perform the miracle. To act in this way, especially in the presence of a synagogue leader, is to claim to be God.