Christians who interact with Muslims quite often face this question: Where does Jesus say 'I am God, worship me?' Or a slightly different form: 'Is it right for Christians to worship Jesus, since God alone should be worshipped?'
These questions and variants of them are really questions on the deity of Jesus. Muslims believe Jesus to be a prophet and nothing more, and deny that Jesus ever claimed to be God. But is this true?
While in scripture Jesus never states outright "I am God, worship me!," we do find many instances where he not only claims the divine title for God as his own, but demonstrates his deity.
The Son of Man
The term son of man is used frequently throughout the Bible. God calls the prophet Ezekiel son of Man literally dozens of times. Other prophets use the term in a generic sense: we are all sons of men since we all have fathers, and we have a heavenly Father.
However, in Daniel 7:13-14 the term 'The Son of Man' is used in a very specific sense and is a term of deity.
13 I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.
These two verses demonstrate that whoever The Son of Man is, he has dominion over every nation, all people and languages, and his dominion is an everlasting one that shall never pass away and never be destroyed. This Son of Man is God himself.
Jesus claimed the title The Son of Man for himself, and by doing so asserted his claim to deity. He never said "I am God" in the words Muslims want to hear, but here is one example where he asserted for himself a title reserved for God alone. In Mark 14:62 we find these words of Jesus: "Jesus said 'I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.' This is a direct reference back to Daniel 7:13-14, that Jesus appropriated for himself!
Jesus uses the term "Son of Man" 83 times in the four gospel accounts. Every time Jesus claimed the title "The Son of Man" he was claiming divinity. In addition to Mark 14:62, see Matt. 8:20; 9:6; 12:8; 12:40; 16:13; 16:27; 17:9; 17:12; 17:22; 18:11; 19:28; 20:18; 20:28; 24:27; 24:30; 24:37; 24:39; 24:44; 25:13; 25:31; 26:2; 26:24; 26:45; 26:64; Mark 2:10; 2:28; 8:38; 9:12; 9:31; 10:33; 10:45; 13:26; 14:21; 14:41; Luke 5:24; 6:5; 7:34; 9:22; 9:26; 9:44; 9:56; 9:58; 11:30; 12:8; 12:10; 12:40; 17:22; 17:24; 17:26; 17:30; 18:8; 18:31; 19:10; 21:27; 21:36; 22:22; 22:48; 22:69; 24:7; John 1:51; 3:13; 3:14; 5:27; 6:27; 6:53; 6:62; 8:28; 12:23; 13:31.
Now that's an awful lot of times Jesus claimed to be God. My Muslim friends, look at the evidence.
But there is more!
The term "I AM" is a term God reserved as a title for Himself. This can be seen by reading the account of Moses speaking with God in Exodus 3.
13 Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”
Ex. 3:14 - And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” 15 Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’
When Jesus claims the title of I AM (εγω ειμι in Greek), he is claiming the divine title God revealed to Moses in Exodus 3. The Jews of his day understood exactly what Jesus was claiming:
John 8:54 - Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. 55 Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, “I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
John 8:57 - Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”
John 8:58 - Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
John 8:59 - Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
Why did the Jews pick up stones to stone him? Because HE WAS CLAIMING TO BE GOD!
John 10:27 - My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”
John 10:31 - Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”
John 10:33 - The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”
The Jews understood exactly what Jesus was claiming for himself. He was calling himself God! Muslims today need to put themselves in the sandals of the Jews. If the Jews clearly understood Jesus was calling himself God, but Muslims deny this, the problem lies with Muslims, not with scripture. Jesus clearly was claiming divinity for himself.
Furthermore Jesus uses the term I Am many other times throughout the New Testament.
The Bread of Life - John 6:35
The Light of the World - John 8:12
The Door - John 10:9
The Good Shepherd - John 10:11
The Resurrection and the Life - John 11:25
The Way, The Truth, and The Life - John 14:6
The True Vine - John 15:1
Even to the Samaritan woman at the well, he identified himself as God:
John 4:25 - The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
John 4:26 - Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
Literally in the Greek, Jesus said "I AM, The One speaking to you."
The Power to Forgive Sins
Muslims will agree that only God has the power to forgive sin. When Jesus also claims the power to forgive sin, he is again claiming to be God.
The story of the paralytic man let down through the roof is found in all three synaptic gospels: Matthew 9:1-7, Mark 2:1-12, and Luke 5:17-26. We will examine Luke 5:20-24.
Luke 5:20 - When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”
Luke 5:21 - And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Luke 5:22 - But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”
Notice what Jesus does here. It would have been easy for him to simply tell the man "Your sins are forgiven." Who would have known whether the man's sins really had been forgiven. Words alone are empty. I can tell you I am a millionaire, but you have no reason to believe me unless I can also demonstrate it with evidence. This is exactly what Jesus did. He no only forgave the man's sins verbally, but then demonstrated that he had the authority and backed up his words with evidence!
There is no doubt this bothered the Jews, and again they understood exactly what Jesus was claiming for himself.
Mark 2:7 - “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Indeed, who can forgive sins but God alone! Once again, Jesus claimed to be God in both word and action.
... but I say to you...
Every Old Testament prophet preceded a prophecy from God by saying.... "Thus says The LORD. The word translated LORD is YHWH, the personal name for God that he tells Moses in Exodus 3:15.
Ex. 3:15 - Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.
When Jesus speaks, he never says "Thus says The LORD." Why? He does not need to speak on behalf of God; He IS God! Every time he says 'But I say to you' he is speaking in the name of God but doing so in the first person singular as God himself!!
Matt. 5:18 For assuredly, I say to you
Matt. 5:20 For I say to you,
Matt. 5:22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother
Matt. 5:28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her...
Matt. 5:32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality...
Matt. 5:34 But I say to you, do not swear at all
Matt. 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies,
Matt. 6:25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink...
Jesus never uses the words Muslims want him to use, but he repeatedly in numerous ways not only claims to be God but demonstrates it as well.