Tuesday, October 4, 2011

the divine claims of Jesus

I have often heard the argument made that Jesus never claimed to be God ... that he was simply a good man & a great teacher, whose followers got a bit over-enthusiastic, as it were, with their posthumous claims about him.

Hmm. Fair enough, there is no where in scripture where Jesus stands up and says: 'hey guys, I just realised ... I'm God!' (or words to that effect). But there is other evidence in the Gospels that points to his self-awareness of his divinity.

Consider our Gospel reading for today, the famous story where Jesus tells a paralysed man to take up his mat and walk. But before he has done this, he has told the man that his sins are forgiven. Some of the scribes present think this is blasphemy. Why? Because only God can forgive sins. So for Jesus to say he is forgiving the man's sins is blasphemy, because it is blasphemy for a mere human being to claim to be doing something that only God can do.

So simply saying that he is forgiving the man's sins is a divine claim in itself. But Jesus does more. He knows what the scribes are thinking. So he says: 'OK; you think what I have just said is blasphemy; but let me show you that I do have authority to forgive sins.' And his proof is to tell the paralysed man to get up and walk ... which he does.

This is more than just a simple healing (if there is such a thing). Jesus heals the man to show that he does have the authority to forgive sins. And since only God can forgive sins, it is a claim of divinity. 

Jesus may not have used the words 'I am God' but he has knowingly said things that would be blasphemy if he were not; and done things to show that what he says is not blasphemy. These are not the words or deeds of someone who has no intention of making a divine claim for himself - quite the opposite. It is a proclamation that he is God. And he knows it.

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