Did Jesus Claim To Be The Son of God?May 18th, 2015 by Sergio Gonzalez
Editor’s Note: Recently we received a question from one of our viewers asking if Jesus ever directly claimed to be the Son of God. Their understanding was that Jesus never claimed that title but, rather, others added it to him. We responded and felt, in case anyone else was curious about this issue, we would share it with you. What follows is Sergio’s response in its entirety.
Hello and thank you for your excellent question. As you allude to, the notion of Jesus as the son of God is questioned by some but – I personally believe – a close reading of the Gospels reveals that this was an essential aspect of Jesus’ identity for the Gospel writers. Now, one can (and in fact a great many people have) write a long book about this subject but I will try to keep my response as brief as I can with examples from several gospels.
Firstly, it would make sense to begin with the first gospel ever written, the Gospel of Mark. Interestingly, the very first words of this first-written gospel go as follows: “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God…” (Mark 1:1) So the very first thing that Mark does is inform us that the man he is about to write about is the son of God, and this fact is at the core of everything that takes place in his Gospel. In fact in the very next chapter of Mark, Jesus heals and, most importantly, forgives a paralytic. In response to that forgiveness, the crowd responds in shock, questioning “who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7) Clearly, Mark is laying out from the very beginning that this man is much more than just a man.
This notion of Jesus as the Son of God is also key to the gospel we are currently studying on Cross Connection: The Gospel of Luke. Like Mark, Luke also goes about establishing Jesus as the Son of God early on in his gospel, albeit in a subtler way. In chapter 3, Luke lays out a genealogy of Jesus. As you may know from watching CC, the function of a genealogy in that time (much as it is now) was to help define a person’s identity. They essentially laid out who a person was by highlighting who they came from. So when you read through Luke’s gospel, there are a great many interesting names there, but for our purposes, I’d like to point you towards the end of the genealogy, which highlights the source of where Jesus came from. Luke 3:37 ends with “…the son of Adam, the son of God.” In his genealogy, Luke introduces a concept that is at the crux of Christianity – and an idea that Paul would elaborate on much more – which is that Jesus is the new Adam; he is born of God but, unlike Adam, through whom “sin entered the world,” an “abundant provision of Grace” entered the world through this new Adam, the new Son of God: Jesus (Romans 5:12,17).
Finally, in no gospel is the notion of “Sonship” more important than the Gospel of John. John’s gospel is drenched with this theme of Jesus as the Son of God. You are most likely familiar with the opening of John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word, of course, is a reference to Jesus and, in John’s prologue, he lays out the concept of Jesus’ intimate connection with God.
But all of these prior examples list what the gospel writers had to say about Jesus. What about (to FINALLY get to your question) Jesus himself? Did he ever directly claim from his own mouth that he was the Son of God? Well, according to the Gospel of John, yes, he did. As I mentioned before, John’s gospel has a great many references to Jesus as the Son of God but we can find a very direct one from Jesus himself in chapter 10. While I encourage you to re-read the entire chapter (and indeed the whole book of John!) for context, let’s focus on John 10:33. Jesus is in the temple courts and a group of his opponents pick up stones to stone him for blasphemy. Their reasoning is listed in this verse: “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” (John 10:33) There is much to unpack in Jesus’ response but let’s focus in on the end of verse 36: “Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?” Did you catch that? In this exchange we see that Jesus has been proclaiming so boldly to be the Son of God that many view it as blasphemy and seek to stone him. Yet Jesus proclaimed it anyway as this was essential to who he was and vital to his mission because, as he said earlier in verse 30: “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)
For Jesus, and for the Gospel writers, this notion of Jesus as God’s son was so important because, in the person of this man, we are able to see God. We see his compassion and love for us, we see what he was willing to endure for us, and all he was willing to give up for us. As Jesus said: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) How much more then, should we seek to better see this man, the Son of God?
Thank you so much for your insightful question and I’ve very much enjoyed the opportunity to explore the Gospels in response to it. I hope this provides some insight into your question.
All the best and God bless.