Jesus’ Fourth Clear Claim to Deity!
The reason Jesus was condemned to die was that he claimed to be the Son of God. To show this, I’ll quote Luke but consider also the pertinent Scriptures in Matthew 26:63-66 and Mark 14:61-64 that record the trial of Jesus:
Luke 22:66-71 KJ2000 And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying, (67) Are you the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, you will not believe: (68) And if I also ask you, you will not answer me, nor let me go. (69) Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. (70) Then said they all, Are you then the Son of God? And he said unto them, You say that I am. (71) And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth. (emphasis mine)
Some have said Jesus was not really admitting he was the literal Son of God, because Matthew and Luke have him saying that the high priest says this about him. This is a very weak argument. The phrase, “Thou hast said…” (Matthew 26:64) or “Ye say that I am…” (Luke 22:70) is a Greek idiom for an affirmative answer according to “Robertson’s Word Pictures” (i.e. I am as you say). It is translated plainly in Mark 14:62 as “I am.” In John 18:37 when Pilate asked Jesus if he were a king, Jesus replied, “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born…” Jesus uses the idiom and then goes on showing that his answer to Pilate was in the affirmative. Therefore, the argument that Jesus was merely saying that the high priest was accusing him of saying something he (Jesus) had not said, is moot. Jesus spoke plainly, and the high priest rightly understood Jesus’ claim to Deity.
If the Jewish authorities did not believe Jesus’ claim that he was the Son of God was a claim to Deity, why did they condemn him for blasphemy? It certainly was not blasphemy for him to claim he was the Messiah. There have been many who came after Jesus, claiming to be the Messiah, and though they were wrong, they were not considered blasphemous. Some of these historical figures are held in high esteem within the Jewish community today even though they failed.
Jesus’ claim for being the Son of God could not be considered blasphemous, if he wished to say he was created by God. He would not have done that, but if he had, it would not have been considered blasphemous (Acts 17:29). Neither could it be considered a crime if Jesus claimed he was spiritually the Son of God, for every righteous Jew believed that (Matthew 5:9). Unless Jesus’ claim for being the Son of God was in the literal sense and a claim to Deity, why would the Jews be shocked? After all, they saw themselves as sons of God (John 8:41) by virtue of their being his chosen people.
Therefore, Jesus’ claim to being God’s Son was not a claim of spiritual rebirth (John 1:12-13), nor of being created (Acts 17:29), nor was he claiming to be the Son of God as one of the chosen people (John 8:41). Jesus’ claim was to be the ONLY begotten Son of God (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18), a unique relationship, not held by any man or angel. How should this be understood? It can be understood in the sense of the virgin birth, because God was indeed responsible for Mary’s pregnancy (Luke 1:35; John 1:14, 18). However the Scriptures also seem to point to another understanding. That is, Psalm 2 claims the Messiah is the Son of God and will rule all nations (Psalm 2:8; 89:27). Paul used this Psalm to show Jesus was declared to be God’s Son (the Messiah) at the resurrection (Acts 13:33; Romans 1:4), and this would be the meaning of the words “This day (or today) I have begotten you…” (Psalm 2:7). I don’t believe the Scripture can be understood to say Jesus declared himself to be “God the Son”, because he never refers to himself this way, nor do the Scriptures ever call him such when referring to his existence before becoming man, so we must remain within the boundary of Jesus’ teaching (2John 1:9; 1Corinthians 4:6).
Jesus was condemned to die, because he claimed to be the Son of God, who Scripture claims is the Messiah and God (Psalm 2:7-8; 89:27; 82:8). Matthew and Mark record the illegal trial of Jesus that occurred during the night. Luke records the only legal trial of Jesus. This one occurred during the morning of the day of his crucifixion, before the entire Sanhedrin with Joseph and Nicodemus present. What was done illegally in the evening was done before a select few, in order to find fault and to rehearse what would work before the entire body in the morning. May the Lord open our eyes that we may see the great price that was paid for our salvation.