Who Did Jesus Claim to Be?

There’s no denying that Jesus made some audacious claims. He asserted that he had the authority of God, that he was one with the divine, that no one could get to God except through him. It’s easier to focus on Jesus’ warm-and-fuzzy statements—such as the commandment to love one another—but we can’t ignore his more scandalous proclamations. Ultimately we find ourselves faced with three options: Jesus was a liar, he was a lunatic, or he was telling the truth. Learn more about Jesus’s claims here.

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

  1. What are some of the audacious claims that Jesus made?
  2. Is it possible to respect Jesus but not believe his teachings? Why or why not?

Jesus makes some really difficult claims, if you think about it. You know, we all want to think of him as kind of a great teacher, a really smart guy, great insights into human nature. The problem is Jesus also claimed things like being one with God on having the authority of God to forgive sins.
Jesus makes audacious claims, like, um, you know, that he is the way, the truth and the life, and no one can come to the Father, right, except through him, right? Well this is, this is scandalous, right? Are you kidding me? A, a person, this, this person who's a carpenter's son?

Jesus said that, like, you know, you can't get around his own words in the Gospel of John. He, he said "Abraham"— who had died a thousand years ago— Abraham rejoiced to see my day. He saw it and was glad, and those religious folks around him said, "Hold on. You're not even 50 years old, and you've seen father Abraham?" And Jesus responded, "I tell you the truth. Before Abraham was, I am." And in saying that, he took that most sacred Hebrew name of God for himself, and the people responded correctly. They picked up stones and were ready to kill him.

They clearly understood what he was saying. You can't have these kind of crazy statements being said in juxtaposition with all of this good stuff, uh, without thinking, "This person's a nut."

So we, we then have to respond to that claim, and the only response is that, I think, we can really think of are one, um, that he was lying, that this great moral teacher, philosopher, was tricking us, that he was lying to us. Um, I find that incompatible with the tenor of his teachings in his life. Two, he was a megalomaniac. Megalomaniacs think they're God, their character is very different than Jesus' character. Megalomaniacs are power-hungry. Jesus laid down his power. So, if he's not lying, and he's not crazy, then he's got to be telling the truth.