The manuscript evidence is overwhelmingly clear that the Jews wanted to kill Jesus on numerous occasions because He made Himself out to be God. The second instance is recorded in John 10. In verse 33, it is very clear that the Jews understood Jesus’ claims in the preceding verses as Him claiming to be God.
In the preceding verses, Jesus notably claims to have the power to give eternal life, contrasts His hand with the hand of the Father, and then claims He and the Father are of one essence. It is important to note that Jesus claims to be of one essence with the Father because many will rip the part about the Father being greater than Jesus from the context without understanding the passage is talking about positional greatness amongst two persons who are co-equal in value.
The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. (John 10:24-31, NASB)
The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” (John 10:33, NASB)
Some will say the last part of John 10:33 should be rendered ‘a god’ instead of ‘God’ given that in the next few verses Jesus quotes from Psalm 82 where it talks of judges and magistrates as ‘gods.’ However, the Jews would have had no problem if Jesus claimed to be a god. Only if He claimed to be God would it be considered blasphemy. By quoting from Psalm 82, Jesus was simply pointing out the irony of how judges and magistrates were called ‘gods’ yet the very Son of God who was truly God Himself was being rejected as a blasphemer.
'The Son of Man' as Jesus' title
Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus explicitly claim to be God. However, He uses the strongest references to the Old Testament to implicitly claim to be God. The most famous example is Jesus’ use of the term ‘Son of Man’ as a title for Himself in passages such as Mark 10:45 and Mark 14:61-62. Jesus’ claim in Mark 14:61-62 is the very reason He was crucified.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45, NASB)
But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:61-62, NASB)
Jesus clearly alludes to Daniel 7’s Son of Man and identifies Himself with the one riding in on the clouds of heaven. The Jews of Jesus’ time understood what Jesus was claiming to be. Sadly, people are often not immersed in the Tanakh or the Old Testament and thus fail to understand what Jesus was claiming to be.
“I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
“And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
Might serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed.
(Daniel 7:13-14, NASB)
Woah, so what’s going on here. The Ancient of Days, which Christians view to be God the Father, is on the throne. But there’s someone else, the Son of Man, approaching the Ancient of Days by riding in on the clouds of heaven. Keep in mind that no one except God was ever pictured as riding on the clouds of heaven by Jews. Deuteronomy 33:26 makes this clear.
“There is none like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to your help, And through the skies in His majesty. (Deuteronomy 33:26, NASB)
So this Son of Man who had to be God Himself because He was riding on the clouds of heaven is pictured as approaching the Ancient of Days. The Ancient of Days then gives the Son of Man glory, authority, and sovereign power. The passage even indicates that all peoples, nations and men of every language are to serve Him.
The word used in Aramaic in place of ‘serve’ is interestingly ‘pelach.’ In Daniel 7:27, the same term (pelach) applied to the Son of Man in verse 14 is applied to Yahweh, the Highest One. As noted by preeminent lexicons, ‘pelach’ is used specifically for service or worship due to God. That is the way it is used throughout its occurrences in the Bible. It is not until the 2nd century AD in Targum Onkelos that we see a deviation in the usage of the word ‘pelach’ away from the orthodox position.
According to Gesenius’s Hebrew lexicon pelach carries the following meanings: “…to labour, to serve, often in the Targums; spec[ially] to serve or worship God…Dan. 3, 12 sq. 7, 14. 27.”(7) Notice how Gesenius affirms Daniel 7:14’s use of the word denotes worship to God.
The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon assigns to pelach the following meaning: “pay reverence to, serve (deity)”(8), and it attaches the latter meaning to Daniel 7:14’s use of the word as well. In agreement is Stephan R. Miller who in his commentary on Daniel notes that “… in every other instance where the verb פְּלַח (‘worship’; ‘serve,’ NRSV) occurs in biblical Aramaic (nine times), it has reference to service (worship) rendered a deity (Dan 3:12, 12, 17-18, 28; 6:16, 20; 7:14; Ezra 7:24).”(9)
All of this shows that according to the Old Testament pelach is only to be given to God. Although the later (2nd century A.D.) uninspired Targum literature (e.g., Targum Onkelos, Genesis) departed from this strict Old Testament usage by teaching humans received pelach, this is not reflective of the Old Testament’s orthodox usage or position.
Excerpted from Answering-Islam.org (Link)
The Septuagint (LXX), which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, translates ’pelach’ as ’latreuō’ in verse 14. In a religious context, the term denotes service or worship reserved for God alone. Some will object to the use of ‘latreuō’ and will instead side with the 2nd century AD Greek translation by Theodotion which uses ‘δουλεύσουσιν’ (Latin transliteration: douleύsousin) as opposed to ‘λατρεύουσα’ (Latin transliteration: latreύousa) as found in the earlier LXX proper. A side-by-side comparison of the earlier LXX proper with Theodotion’s translation can be found at the following link (Link). The New Testament and the argument that Jesus was receiving ‘latreuō’ both actually predate Theodotion’s translation. From the LXX proper, it is clear that the Son of Man was not only riding on the clouds of heaven which God alone could do, He was also to be worshipped with the service which God alone could receive.
It’s important to note that Theodotion’s translation comes after the earlier LXX translation, and that the LXX’s rendering of Daniel 7:14 was already being used as an argument for Jesus receiving latreuo by patristic writers before the non-Christian Jew Theodotion produced his Greek translation of Daniel.
Excerpted from Answering-Islam.org (Link)
Jesus accepts worship (as only God can)
In Revelation 19:10, the Apostle John is rebuked by an angel and told to worship God alone after falling at the angel’s feet in worship. Yet, in various instances, we see that Jesus receives worship. In Matthew 28:9, people came and worshipped at Jesus’ feet just like how the Apostle John tried to worship the angel. If Jesus was not God, He would have rebuked those who worshipped Him just like the angel in Revelation 19:10.
Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10, NASB)
And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” (Matthew 14:33, NASB)
And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. (Matthew 28:9, NASB)
And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, (Luke 24:52, NASB)
And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him. (John 9:38, NASB)
Jesus forgives sins (as only God can)
In Matthew 9:2-6, Jesus sees a paralytic man and tells him that his sins are forgiven. In Mark 2:5-7, it not only says the Jews considered Jesus’ statement to be blasphemy but it also explicitly says that the Jews recognized that the power to forgive sins was reserved only for God.
And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.” And some of the scribes said to themselves, “This fellow blasphemes.” And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your bed and go home.” (Matthew 9:2-6, NASB)
And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:5-7, NASB)
Jesus will resurrect those who obey Him
In John 5:25 and John 8:51, Jesus even claimed that His word is able to keep people from death.
Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. (John 5:25, NASB)
Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.” The Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.’ Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?” (John 8:51-53, NASB)
'The Son of God' as Jesus' title
As a side note, the term ‘the Son of God’ does not imply that Jesus was the biological son of ‘God the Father.’ The term ‘the Son of God’ is a title for Jesus to denote the kind or quality of relationship He has with God the Father. Direct creations of God such as the angels, Adam, and born-again Christians are called ‘sons of God.’ However, Jesus is ‘the Son of God’ who entered the world as per Luke 1:35. It is important to note that Jesus is pre-existent, it is not like He came into existence with the virgin birth. As I touch upon later, John 1:1 and 1:14-15 show us that the Word (Jesus) is God and that the Word was the only begotten Son of God.
The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35, NASB)
Before His condemnation to be crucified, Jesus in Matthew 26 is asked if He is ‘the Son of God.’ Jesus replied in the affirmative but added that they would see ‘the Son of Man’ coming in the clouds. By bringing together the two titles, it was abundantly clear to the high priest that Jesus blasphemed by equating Himself with God.
I have used an extended quote to highlight that the Jews had trouble finding fault in Jesus and that all their false testimony did not agree. Yet, two people rightfully testified that Jesus claimed to be able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days. The temple He was talking about was not the physical temple but rather the temple of His body which was resurrected as-predicted three days after His death.
Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.’” The high priest stood up and said to Him, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!” (Matthew 26:59-66, NASB)
Jesus, the I AM, who pre-exists Abraham
In John 8:58, He claimed to be in existence before Abraham. He even claimed to be the great ‘I am’ which is the same ‘I am’ that appeared to Moses in the burning bush in Exodus 3:14. The Jews knew picking up on this, and His claim to keep people from death, knew exactly what Jesus was talking about, so they picked up stones to throw at Him.
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. (John 8:56-59, NASB)
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14, NASB)
The seven metaphorical ‘I am’ statements of Jesus in John and the additional one in Revelation are truly fascinating in light of Exodus 3:14. Each one of these claims is extraordinary but I won’t go in-depth with them.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51, NASB; also see 6:35 and 6:48)
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12, NASB; also see 9:5)
I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10:9, NASB; also see 10:7)
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11, NASB; also see 10:14)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, (John 11:25, NASB)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6, NASB)
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5, NASB; also see 15:1)
I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8, NASB)
Jesus the good teacher (only God is good)
Some will take Luke 18:19 or its parallel in Mark 10:18 to be evidence that Jesus did not claim to be God. It describes the instance where Jesus responds to a rich young ruler who comes to Him and calls Him ‘good teacher.’ Jesus responds by asking him why he called Him good and telling him that only God is good. Ergo, as these people claim, Jesus must not have thought of Himself as God.
However, this particular instance actually sheds light on Jesus’ deity. The ruler actually came to Jesus asking what He should do to inherit eternal life, but Jesus does what He does in numerous instances where He turns the question of His questioner back on them to bring attention to a deeper truth. Jesus wanted the rich young ruler to acknowledge that only God can claim to be intrinsically good because God’s character is the objective point of reference for all morality. So keep in mind that only God is good when you approach John 10:11 wherein Jesus claims to be the ‘good shepherd’ who lays down His life for His sheep.
As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. (Mark 10:17-18, NASB)
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11, NASB)
Jesus' disciples regarded Him as God
The historical evidence is clear that Jesus claimed to be God. Those who reject this are not secularists but rather those from pseudo-Christian cults or from false religions like Islam which depend on the denial of Jesus’ deity.
JESUS OUR GOD
Like the Apostle Thomas, our response to Jesus should be “my Lord and my God.”
Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28, NASB)
Like the Apostle Paul, our blessed hope should be for the appearing of “our great God and Saviour” who is Christ Jesus.
Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, (Titus 2:13, NASB)
Like the Apostle Peter, our faith should come by the righteousness of “our God and Saviour” who is Jesus Christ.
Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: (2 Peter 1:1, NASB)
THE GOD WHO PURCHASED THE CHURCH WITH BLOOD
Acts 20:28 tells us that God purchased the church with His own blood. Whose own blood was split on the Cross? Jesus. Who purchased the church with His own blood? God. Jesus is God Himself.
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28, NASB)
THE WORD WAS GOD AND WAS WITH GOD. THE ONLY BEGOTTEN GOD
The Apostle John begins off his account of Jesus’ life with a profound statement. John 1:1 makes it clear the Word was in the beginning, the Word was with God, and the Word was God. How can the Word be with God and be God Himself? The Word here refers to Jesus who was with God the Father yet was God Himself. Why do I equate the Word to Jesus? Because in verse 14 we see that the Word or Jesus became flesh and dwelt them. In verse 15, we even see how John the Baptist, the prophesied forerunner, claimed that the Messiah existed before him.
Also of note is that the Apostle John mentions Jesus was the only begotten from the Father. In Hebrews 11:17, Issac is considered Abraham’s only begotten son even though there were others. This shows the preeminence of Jesus as ‘the Son of God.’ There is a clear parallel where Jesus is like Issac in that they are both offered up as sacrifices. Even in the Old Testament story, God tells Abraham not to sacrifice Issac and that He would provide the sacrifice. In the bigger picture, that sacrifice was Jesus. As if it was not clear enough, John 1:18 actually uses the phrase ‘the only begotten God.’
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1, NASB)
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” (John 1:14-15, NASB)
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; (Hebrews 11:17, NASB)
No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (John 1:18, NASB)
THE GOD TO WHOM EVERY KNEE WILL BOW AND EVERY TONGUE CONFESS
The Apostle Paul even says that Jesus existed in the form of God and that He chooses to be subordinate to God the Father. Because He emptied Himself and died on the cross, we are told that God the Father has exalted Him with a name above every name. What was Paul doing when he said at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess? He was alluding to Isaiah 45:23 of the Old Testament and substituting Jesus for Yahweh who is talking in that passage.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11, NASB)
Declare and set forth your case;
Indeed, let them consult together.
Who has announced this from of old?
Who has long since declared it?
Is it not I, the Lord?
And there is no other God besides Me,
A righteous God and a Savior;
There is none except Me.
“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth;
For I am God, and there is no other.
“I have sworn by Myself,
The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
And will not turn back,
That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. (Isaiah 45:21-23, NASB)
THE PERSON IN WHOM THE FULLNESS OF DEITY DWELLS
The Apostle Paul in Colossians 2:9 mentions that in Christ all the fullness of Deity or the Godhead dwells bodily. Non-Christians will counter that Ephesians 3:19 says that all Christians will be filled with the fullness of God. However, the context of Colossians 2:9 is that no one should be deceived into thinking that the fullness of Deity does not dwell in Christ. On the other hand, Ephesians 3:19 is with regard to how Christ, being the fullness of Deity, is within each Christian alongside God the Father and the God the Holy Spirit.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; (Colossians 2:8-10, NASB)
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19, NASB)