Where in the Bible Does It Say That Jesus Claimed To Be God?
The fallacy in this question is the skeptical assumption that for something to be said or intended, it has to be stated explicitly, as in the form of the question above. That is false. One can talk about ‘science’ or ‘economics’ or ‘biology’ or ‘astronomy’ without ever explicitly using those terms. Everyone knows the subject matter which is clear enough. No one has to say in certain context, Oh, by the way, I am talking about (such and such). Any dummy knows the topic and can make the inference.
In exactly those words, it is true, nowhere in the NT did Jesus ever say, “I am God.” And for good reason, which I will come to. However, anyone familiar with the Gospels and with two grains of objectivity cannot with a straight face deny that Jesus claimed deity for Himself. Certainly His enemies at least were smart enough to infer from His statements His stance in that regard.
For example, in John 5 the Jewish establishment was riled up because Jesus took the liberty of healing a man on the Sabbath. Confronting Jesus (5.16) about His breach of their Sabbath traditions (not God’s law, however), Jesus responded to their objection:
“My Father is working until now (on the Sabbath), and I Myself am working.”
They got the implication loudly and clearly.
“For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath (by their reckoning), but also was calling God His own Father (in a unique sense), making Himself equal with God.” (5.18)
They got the picture.
And they were not at all wrong in that inference, for in John 10.30 Jesus said explicitly and in no uncertain terms, “I and the Father are one.” That set His enemies hair on fire. It was to them blasphemy. Therefore (10.31-33) “the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them (and I paraphrase at the beginning of His answer): Whoa, before you start throwing rocks at Me, just for the record explain why it is you want to kill Me? “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me? The Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Youself out to be God.”
Another passage where Jesus makes a clear, but indirect claim to deity status is John 8.56-59. To His opponents on this occasion Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; he saw it and was glad.” The Jews therefore 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, I AM.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him. . . .” Guess why? You got it. Without saying it in so many words (very calculatedly), Jesus clearly placed His existence in time before Abraham and even expressed His pre-existence in such a way (I AM = Yahweh) that the claim of deity was maddeningly transparent.
How much clearer does it need to be? In John 19.7 the Jewish leaders want Pilate to execute Jesus because “He made Himself out to be the Son of God.” Clearly that claim (which Jesus did in fact openly make in John 10.36) was one they regarded as a claim to deity and assumed Pilate and others would regard as claiming to be equal with God.
This is by no means the end of the story, but simply enough evidence to support the fact that Jesus did claim deity for Himself and that implicit claim was a great part of what put a bull’s eye on His back with the Jewish establishment.
The reason Jesus was not more explicit about it was that He did not want prematurely to set Himself up for execution at their hands. It was His plan not to hasten the denouement, but to so teach and work that the truth would be incrementally revealed to His disciples without giving His enemies explicit confession of His deity so that His enemies could not build an easy case against Him on a charge of blasphemy. He let His life, His teaching and His works pretty much speak for themselves in combination and left His opponents to draw their own conclusions, which He did not bother to deny. But then again, He left them in a position where they couldn’t say, He said He was God! That was deliberate.
As case in point was when Jesus healed certain people and then pronounced their sins forgiven on the basis of their faith in Him, they got hysterical because, they asked angrily, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Yes, who? They got it, but Jesus left them nothing really to hang Him with. They couldn’t charge Him without having to advertise that He had indeed performed these healings—an awkward admission that they did not want to amplify too much.