It is true that Jesus never said the exact words, “I am God.” He did, however, make the claim to be God in many different ways, and those who heard Him knew exactly what He was saying. For example, in John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” The Jews who heard Him make that statement knew well that He was claiming to be God, as witnessed by their reaction: “His Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him” (John 10:31). When He asked them why they were attempting to stone Him, they said, “For blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10:33). Stoning was the penalty for blasphemy (Leviticus 24:16), and the Jews plainly accused Jesus of claiming to be God.
Jesus made another statement claiming to be God when He said, “Very truly I tell you, . . . before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58). The Jews, upon hearing Him, clearly understood that He was claiming preexistence and, more than that, to be Yahweh, the great “I AM” of Exodus 3:14. On this occasion, too, they tried to stone Him for blasphemy.
The Gospel of John begins with a statement of Jesus’ deity: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1, emphasis added). In verse 14, John identifies the Word: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John is affirming that the Word (Jesus) is God, and He left heaven to come to earth in the form of a man to live with men and display the glory of God the Father.
The disciples of Jesus distinctly heard Him declare His deity. After Jesus’ resurrection, Thomas the doubting disciple finally understood Jesus’ deity, declaring Him to be “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28). If Jesus were not Lord and God, He would have corrected Thomas, but He did not; Thomas spoke the truth. After seeing Jesus walking on the water, His disciples worshipped Him (Matthew 14:33). When He appeared to them after the resurrection, they fell at His feet and worshipped Him (Matthew 28:9). The disciples were well aware of the Mosaic Law’s penalty for blasphemy, yet they worshipped Him as God, and Jesus accepted their worship. Jesus never rebuked people for worshipping Him, accepting their worship as good and proper.
Jesus’ deity is recognized throughout the New Testament. Paul eagerly awaited “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13) and encouraged us to do the same. Both Paul and John declared that Jesus created the universe (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16–17), yet Genesis 1:1 clearly says that God created the heavens and the earth. This can only mean that Jesus is God. Even God the Father referred to Jesus as God: “About the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever’” (Hebrews 1:8, quoting Psalm 45:6).
Did Jesus say He was God? Yes, in many ways, including applying the names and attributes of God to Himself. He made it clear that He was God incarnate, proving it by His words, by His miracles, and finally by His resurrection from the dead. Although they doubted at first, those who were finally convinced of His deity understood why He had to die on the cross. If He were a mere man, His death would have been only sufficient to pay for His own sins, but because He was God in the flesh, His sacrifice was infinite and holy and able to pay for all the sins of the world.