I’m having difficulty with a statement I heard the other day that “Jesus is God.” Now I don’t dismiss the divine attributes of Jesus, but I do find it a bit of stretch to say that “Jesus is God.” My response to the person who made that statement was rather simple – “Show me.” Show me one place in scripture where Jesus says he is God. Or that he says he is equal with God. It may be there, but I’ve not found it yet. The person’s response was that Jesus said “Before Abraham was I am.” That’s a true observation, but it speaks to nothing more than Jesus’ existence not only before Abraham but before time as well. Another reference made by this person was the claim Jesus made that “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen my Father.” But what weight does that have? If you’ve seen me you seen my father. Standing side by side we look very much alike. Yet that does not make me him it simply makes me like him.
If one were to look, there are multiple references that Jesus’ makes about himself and that others make regarding him that center around the “son of man” and the “son of God.” Those are quite different from him saying or even implying that he is God or equal to God.
When it comes to Jesus being God, there are a few opportunities in the Gospels where this could have been stated either by Christ himself or the author of the gospel. A couple are found in the synoptics where Mark and Luke quote Jesus as saying, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19) Another would be John’s gospel where he makes an emphatic statement as to the purpose of his writing. Very simply he says, “…These things have been written so that you my believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God…” (20:31) Although the opportunity is there to state emphatically that Jesus is God, the assertion is not made.
Since it may come up. Let’s look at John’s famous prologue where it is said that the logos was with God and the logos was God. I suspect this is the closest one will come to having a gospel writer say – without saying it – that Jesus is God. However, as A. T. Robertson points out, John goes to great lengths to make certain his language is precise. In the phrase “…And the word was God” there is only one noun that carries the article – the word. The predicate then becomes (was) God. John does not say and the word was the God making them equal, but the word was God. God is not the Word. It is very much like the phrase in John 4:24, “God is spirit” – pneuma ho theos. It can only be rendered God is spirit, not spirit is God.
I believe there is a danger in stating that “Jesus is God.” Especially since there is no reference of Jesus ever making that assertion. He claims to be the son of man and the son of God, but never claims to be God. He sits down at the right hand of God, but not in the seat of God. He does only what he sees the Father doing. He is he Christ, the son of God.