One thing that made Jesus so unique is he didn’t claim to be a mortal prophet, a great man, a messenger. He claimed to be God incarnate. God Himself. He claimed to be the Son of God.
I want to take you to a conversation with a philosophy professor at West Virginia University. I was speaking in the class and he interrupted me. He said, “Look, Jesus never claimed to be God. He never once in the New Testament claimed to be God.” I said, “He didn’t?” He said, “No.” I said, “Well now let’s look at that.”
Now I explained to the class that whenever you interpret something in history what it means: you need to take into consideration the people to whom it was spoken, the culture, and the language. I said, “Doing that, it’s as clear as it can be that Jesus claimed to be God.”
So I took them to John 5 verses 15-18 where Jesus claimed to be equal with God and I started to read the Scriptures. “The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who made him well. And for this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I myself am working.’”
Well now you say, “Josh, I can say my father and I are working. That doesn’t make me out to be God.” But remember, you’ve got to take into consideration to whom was it spoken, the culture and the people. When Jesus used the term “My Father” to His culture and to the Jews, that was a claim to deity. No one would ever claim that without saying “My Father, which art in heaven.” Because if you just say “My Father” then to the Jewish perception, the audience He was speaking to, it was like you are saying you are equal to God. You don’t believe me?
Always see, how did the people respond to whom something was spoken to? And this is what happened. “For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him.” Why? Because he made a simple statement? No. “Because He was not only was breaking the Sabbath, but He was also calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”
To the Jews to whom he was speaking it couldn’t have been clearer, as if He just said, “I am God”. In their language, their culture and to the Jew that was a clear as you can be in a statement. Jesus did claim to be God.