Did Jesus claim to be God
By Mel Hershberger
Some claim that Jesus proclaimed that he was the “I AM” of Ex. 3 when he was arrested in the garden. Can we know what he meant? Can we know if the arresting guards believed that Jesus made such a claim? Let’s examine the scriptures.
Ex. 3:13-15—“Then Moses said to God, ‘Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you’. Now they may say to me, ‘What is his name?’ What shall I say to them? God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM;’ and He said, Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ God furthermore, said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, The Lord, The 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-name to all generations.” (NASB) The name given “YHWH Elohim”.
Strong’s # 1961 ‘I AM’ sounds like ‘haw-yaw’ in the Hebrew. It does not say that ‘I AM’ is God’s name, nor is it implied. Without question, the name is given as the same individual as Jesus’ Father in Acts 3:13. To illustrate, some one being sent out with a mission from an imaginary Pope might ask ‘Who shall I say sent me and what is your name?’ The region you’re sending me is not too familiar with you. “I am the Pope. Tell them the Pope has sent you. Make sure to emphasize that I want to be known by my name John Henry the 1st.” When you get a complete source of compilations of OT quotes in the NT, you find that Ex. 3:14 is not reference even once. It says in Ex. 4:28-31 that all the words that God had spoken to Moses were told to Aaron and the elders of Israel. God is never again referred to as I AM by Himself or by anyone else in the entire Bible.
Did Jesus claim he was God when he was arrested? Let’s examine the incident. “Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, (it is vital to notice that officers from the priests and Pharisees were present) came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. So Jesus, knowing all things that were coming upon him, went forth and said to them, ‘Whom do you seek?’ They answered Him, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ He said to them, ‘I am He (the Greek words ego-eimi).’ And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. So when he said to them, ‘I am He (ego-eimi).’ They drew back and fell to the ground. Therefore he asked them, ‘Whom do you seek?’ And they said, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am He (ego-eimi); so if you seek me, let these go their way,” John 18:3-8. (NASB). Jesus was simply acknowledging that he was the one they were looking for. He was just using proper “English” (or was it Greek), the language of the day just as we’ll see that others did. In fact, others used the very same expression. How would we allow Jesus to answer? I is? (Why did they fall back? And why did Jesus say ‘I am’? We’ll look at a few more scriptures first)
If “ego-eimi” means one is God, then how do we explain the following texts? The blind man whom Jesus healed answered “ego-eimi” when his identity was in doubt. “Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he (ego-eimi).”John 9:9. (KJV used for remaining texts). Was the healed man really saying that he was God? Can we accept that perhaps our teaching was wrong in the past?
Was the centurion God? This is what he said. “For I am (ego-eimi) a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.” Mat. 8:9. Dare we ask if we are just selective in which scriptures we accept, or is our (ego) still too alive?
We know how brash Peter could be in the gospels, but then we can see the great change that his attitude and life went through when reading his writings. After a dramatic encounter with “God” in a vision, Peter no doubt was quite humble as he visited with Cornelius. “Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am (ego-eimi) he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? Acts 10:21. Should we not also claim that Peter was identifying himself as Moses’ I AM?
Surely we wouldn’t accuse Jesus of being carnal. But scripture says “ego-eimi” can be carnal. Notice in Rom. 7:14. “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am (ego-eimi) carnal, sold under sin.” Paul claimed he still was carnal, not the Old Testament God.
If there is still any doubt to the identity of “ego-eimi”, this should remove all doubt. 1 Tim. 1:15 says “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am (ego-eimi) chief.” Imagine “ego-eimi” being the chief sinner. But that is what Paul claimed.
The trial of Jesus proves positively that Jesus was not stating that he was the God who visited Moses. “Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none: (the arresting guards would have brought forth the blasphemy of Jesus having claimed to be God, but since they didn’t, demonstrates that they never believed that that was what Jesus had claimed) yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? What is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.” Mat. 26:59-66—(This proves that they knew Jesus did not imply that he was God. He was convicted on a milder statement. The reason he had to be interrogated was because he didn’t say anything remotely close to saying “he was Moses’ God”.
Perhaps here is a clue as to why the arresting guards fell backwards. Ps. 45:5. “Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.” Apparently a prophecy the guards had to fulfill. In God’s Sovereignty, the guards did what God intended. A second reason could be that they were so surprised that Jesus would reveal that he was the one they were looking for instead of running. And in the darkness they were taken aback and fell over each other. Surely they grasped that their potential prisoner knew that he was putting himself in harms way, trying to protect his disciples, and were overwhelmed. The text clearly shows that that was one of Jesus’ motives. ...Adopted from http://creatorgod.org/Did%20Jesus%20claim%20to%20be%20God%20when%20arrested.htm