One of the more superficial challenges to the deity of Christ is that He never explicitly claimed to be God in the Bible, and one of the main responses to that challenge comes from John 8 and elsewhere, where Jesus says, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Those words, I AM, refer directly to what God said to Moses in Exodus 3:14 when Moses asked Him His name. In Greek, the language of the New Testament scriptures, Jesus said “ego eimi,” the exact words and peculiar tense used by God in Exodus according to the septuagint, the Greek text of the Old Testament used by many of the New Testament writers and widely known among Jews at that time.
When Jesus said this, the Jews took up stones to cast at Him – because His claim to be God was blasphemy in their eyes.
There are many other strong defenses for the deity of Christ, but one question may continue to nag: Why didn’t Jesus just say it clearly for us? Like I mentioned, His claim to be God was clear enough back in the day to get Him persecuted, but sometimes people need to know why He wouldn’t make it clearer in our time.
First, it’s clear to me and many others today that Jesus claimed to be God, and showed Himself as such, but that’s not a strong defense!
How about this one, which recently struck me as a good explanation:
Right before Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am,” He said, “If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God” (John 8:54).
Now, again, that’s clear to me as a good reason why He refrained from saying, “I’m God,” but I can see how even this reasoning can be lost on some people. Could it be that in our culture, bragging and strutting around is precisely how we bring honor to ourselves? I think so.
Humility in our culture usually brings humiliation, and I argue that this applies to Jesus Christ today. The majority opinion is that Jesus was a wise, sage-like philosopher like Buddha, but not God in the flesh. I believe Jesus intended to leave open that very option, the option to deny Him. In fact, I believe Jesus makes that option the only rational, reasonable conclusion that any smart person would arrive at using their own intellectual abilities. Does that sound foolish? It’s biblical.
From 1 Corinthians 1:18-31:
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God…. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent… For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe… But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty… That no flesh should glory in his presence… That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.