Did Jesus ever claim to be God?
This is a good question. Did 4th century Christians invent Jesus being the Son of God? Is the Christian faith based on a lie? Here, we’ll answer that critical question biblically.
In the Bible’s New Testament gospels, written in the 1st century from AD 40 to AD 90   , it’s recorded on the day Jesus is crucified, those who had arrested Jesus took him to the High Priest, Joseph ben Caiaphas, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. He’s brought before the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.
Then, in Mark 14:61-62 it reads, 61 Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Here, we have Jesus claiming “I am” to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Now, let’s unpack Mark 14:61-62 further to get an even clearer answer.
Up until this point, Jesus has been using a title for himself quite regularly, the Son of Man. Over 80 times in the New Testament gospels Jesus uses this term for himself. But what does being the Son of Man mean?
There are two sons of men in the Old Testament – one found in the book of Ezekiel and one found in the book of Daniel – these are two very different sons of men. The son of man in the Book of Ezekiel is a lowly human figure God refers to Ezekiel himself, every time calling him the son of man. “Son of man do this” and, “son of man do that." It's used to emphasize how human Ezekiel is.
However, the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13 is very different. Here, the Son of Man comes on the clouds of heaven. And yet, the only being that comes on the clouds of heaven in the Old Testament is God (Isaiah 19:1, Exodus 13:21, 1 Kings 8.10–11, 2 Chron 5.14, Jeremiah 4:13, Psalm 104:3). This Son of Man in Daniel 7:13 is who Jesus has constantly been referring himself to - the one who comes as God himself comes.
In Daniel 7:1-12, Daniel sees God, the Ancient of Days, being worshipped on a throne surrounded by angels. Then, in Daniel 7:13 it reads, “Behold I look in my night visions (i.e., peripheral vision) and one like a Son of Man approached the Ancient of Days.”
Here, God, the Ancient of Days, is seated on a throne being worshipped by angels. Then, one like a Son of Man comes on the clouds of heaven – as only God comes – and to him that Son of Man is given glory, authority and sovereign power (Daniel 7:14).
So, the Son of Man comes as God into heaven. He's given glory, authority and sovereign power in heaven. Then, in Daniel 7:14 it reads, “All nations and peoples of every language worshiped him."
Think about that. The Son of Man receives worship in heaven from peoples of every nation and language, and yet, throughout the Bible, the only one that receives worship in heaven is God. Over 130 times this word for worship (or service) is used in the Greek New Testament (earliest copies of the New Testament). This worship, according to the Bible, is the word latreuō (λατρεύω).
Every single time this word latreuō is used, it's used as a word due only to God. And yet, in Daniel 7:13-14, the one who looks like a Son of Man - who comes as only God comes, who has glory, authority and sovereign power in heaven - is being worshipped in heaven with the worship due only to God. And this Son of Man will be worshipped by all people of every nation and language.
It then continues in Daniel 7:14, “His [the Son of Man] dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” In the Old Testament, you have God being worshipped in heaven, and then you have one who looks like a Son of Man being worshipped in heaven, with the worship due only to God in his own kingdom.
Jesus then makes his claim to be God even clearer by saying in Mark 14:62, “You will see him [the Son of Man] sitting at the right hand of the power.” Jesus is saying you will see me sitting at the right hand of God. This is in reference to Psalm 110:1.
Psalm 110:1 reads, “The LORD said to my lord: Sit at my right hand and I will make the enemies a footstool for your feet.” Psalm 110 goes on to say this Lord that will sit on God’s right hand will triumph over all His enemies (verses 1–2), will be “a priest forever” (verse 4), will have glory, authority and sovereign power to judge all the nations, and slay the wicked on the day of his wrath (verses 5–6).
In all of Jewish history, no one ever claimed the right to sit next to God on his throne. If anyone was to say that, then essentially what they are saying is that person would be God’s heir. Imagine a divine king sitting on his throne with his son, the prince, seated next to him. That's what it means to sit next to God in that context. Moses was never shown sitting next to God. King David was never shown sitting next to God. Isaiah was never shown sitting next to God, nor any of the Archangels. Shown sitting next to God would be absolute blasphemy.
It inevitably means the Son of Man, who sits next to God on his throne, is himself God. One in divine nature but different in person to the Almighty who sits on the throne. In Mark 14:61-62, Jesus claimed to be that Son of Man. There is no denying the foreshadow of the Trinity in the Old Testament, which is found over a dozen times in the Old Testament, including in Daniel 7. The Father and his heir. The Father and the Son.
In fact, the verse about Jesus sitting at the right hand of power is the Old Testament reference that is used the most in the New Testament - over 20 times to be exact. Jesus sitting at the right hand of power is recorded in 1st century New Testament letters. Jesus sitting at the right hand of power is mentioned in all of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). Jesus sitting at the right hand of power is found by multiple sources.
By Jesus' “I am” claim in Mark 14:61-62 to be the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, who is worshiped with the worship due only to God, Jesus is saying he has the right to sit next to God on the throne. By replying, "I am" to the High Priest when asked if he is “the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One”, Jesus is saying he is that heir to the throne of God.
Is it any surprise then why the High Priest, Caiaphas in this interrogation tore his robes and yelled, “You have heard the blasphemy”, to which they all condemned him as worthy of death by crucifixion. What was his blasphemy? Claiming to be God and deserving of worship due only to God.
That is what Jesus claimed. That is why he was found guilty for blasphemy. That is why he was crucified, because he claimed to be the Messiah, the Son of Man, the Son of God, thereby calling himself God.
Lastly, to build onto this, as seen in Mark 14:61-62, the High Priest asks Jesus if he is “the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One”, to which Jesus replies, “I am.” Notice, the High Priest is not asking if Jesus is two different people. He is not asking, "Are you the Messiah or the Son of God?" The reason the High Priest asks Jesus if he is the Messiah, the Son of God, is because that is who the promised Messiah is meant to be - God.
God would be his Father and he would be his son (2 Samuel 7:14, 1 chronicles 17:13, Psalm 2:7). He would be born of a virgin and would be God in the flesh (Isaiah 7:14). He would be called Mighty God, Wonderful Counsellor, Prince of Peace, Everlasting (Isaiah 9:6). He would come from everlasting (Micha 5:2, Psalm 110:1). He would be sent from God to live, suffer, die for the sins of all mankind, and be resurrected from the dead so that others may be saved through him (Isaiah 53).
So, did Jesus ever claim to be God? Yes. Throughout the New Testament’s gospels, including Mark 14:61-62, when the High Priest asked Jesus if he is “the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One”, and Jesus replied, “I am”, he was boldly, irrefutably, and undoubtedly saying that he himself is God. The evidence points to the fact, even in in the earliest New Testament gospel, interwoven through all the gospels, verified by a logical interpretation of the biblical text, Jesus undoubtedly claimed to be God.
Since the Messiah, the Son of Man and Son of God is God, Jesus' "I am" claim would have rung as clear as day, "I am the Messiah, who is God. I am the Son of Man, who is God. I am the Son of God, who is God.”
1. Habermas, G. R. (1996). The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (pp. 142-170). Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company
2. James D.G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered: Christianity in the Making, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003, p. 55, 855
3. Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture. Kregel Publications (May 9, 2006)