Case-Making 101: Who Do You Say Jesus Is?


“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”  -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

When a friend of mine gave me an old worn out copy of “Mere Christianity” I was skeptical to read it at first. In my mind I had already gone through the process of “checking Jesus out,” I knew that secular and even atheist scholars did not debate that Jesus really existed as a prominent historical figure, however I still was not sure who he really was: A good teacher, a prophet of that day, or, was he really God incarnate, the promised Messiah? It was a small book and I had some time on my hands so I read it. It was so profound that I ended up reading it several times to grasp all of the things Lewis was saying!

Like Lewis, J. Warner Wallace is a former atheist and another important role model for me. He gave his life to Christ because of the evidence. Watch this two minute interview by the One Minute Apologist of this famous cold-case homicide detective:

 A Case for Christ – His Deity

Who is Jesus?

This is the most important question asked by Jesus, how would we respond?

Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”  Mark 8:27-30

The Apostle John tells us:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. -John 1:1-5

Moses tells us:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. –Genesis 1:1-3

  • Notice the Trinity: God in Hebrew = Elohim. The noun is plural; when used with bara (created) it becomes a singular verb (God is one in being; God is three in person)
    1. God = the Father/Creator
    2. God = the Spirit/hovered over the waters
    3. God = the Word/spoke things into existence

Is Jesus the Word?

If Jesus was with God in the beginning and he is the “Word” then the act of Creation was commanded by him!

The Apostle John tells us:

  • He was in the world and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believe his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:10-14

Is Jesus God?

The Apostle Paul tells us:

  • For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17
  • For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. Colossians 2:9 (NIV)

Jesus Demonstrated that He had the Nature of God:

  1. His Omniscience (John 4:16-30) He is “all-knowing”
  2. His Omnipresence (Matthew 28:20) He is “everywhere present”
  3. His Omnipotence (John 11:38-44, Mark 6:48) He is “all-powerful”

Jesus was worshiped as God by those who knew Him:

  1. Matthew 2:10-12: The wise men worshiped Him at His birth
  2. Matthew 8:2: The leper worshiped Him at his healing
  3. Matthew 9:18-19: The synagogue ruler worshiped Him
  4. Matthew 14:32-33: The disciples worshiped Him in the boat
  5. Matthew 20:20-21: The mother of James and John worshiped Him
  6. John 9:35-38: The blind man worshiped Him at his healing
  7. Matthew 28:8-10: The women worshiped Him at the empty tomb

What did Jesus claim?

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” John 14:7-9

Note, this is a passage often used by those who deny the Trinity: In John 14:28 Jesus says, “You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” Jesus is speaking of their roles in the Godhead. Just like we might say, “the President of the United States is greater than I am,” does not mean that the President is humanly greater but only greater in role or job duties.

Kenosis:  The renunciation of the divine nature, at least in part, by Christ in the Incarnation. (Greek: κένωσις, kénōsis, lit. emptiness) the ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

Importance of the term: “Son of Man”

Jesus use of this term is more than a reference to His humanity, in fact it is a direct reference to His Deity and comes from the prophecies foretold of Him in the Old Testament book of Daniel. When Jesus answered the High Priest’s question as to He was, He answered from that ancient prophecy they knew so well:

Jesus *said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!”  Matthew 26:64-66

Jesus answer was a direct reference to Daniel:

“I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.  Daniel 7:13-14

Only God incarnate could make these kinds of claims, do these kinds of miracles, and only God’s Son could sit at the right hand of the Father.

Jesus claim to be God is evidenced throughout the Gospels: (Examples…)

  1. Mark 1:2-3: Messenger is preparing the way for “God” (also see Malachi 3:1)
  2. Mark 2:1-10: Forgives sins (only God can do that)
  3. Mark 2:27-28: Authority over the Sabbath (only God can have that)
  4. Mark 6:45-52: Authority over the creative order and the laws of nature as He walks on water (only the Creator-God can do that)
  5. Mark 14:60-62: Jesus’ use of I AM as he quotes Daniel 7:13 for Himself (*This is what He was crucified for = blasphemy/claiming to be God)
  6. Matthew 5:18: Jesus prefaced many of His statements as though He was God. (This resonated with the Jewish audience who knew the Old Testament Scriptures well and would recognize what Jesus was saying, not only as the Messiah but as God Himself)
  7. John 10:25-29: Jesus says that He and God are one

Jesus’ miracles evidence His Deity:

Example: The Healing of the Paralytic

Read Mark 2:1-12 (story also found in Matthew and Luke):

Early on in His ministry Jesus performed a very specific miracle that gave evidence of His Deity in two ways:

  1. Authority over the physical world by healing a paralyzed person
  2. Authority over the Spiritual world by forgiving sins

The point here: Only God could forgive sins and in order to prove that “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” Jesus’ heals the paralytic.

John, in his Gospel, chose eight of Jesus’ miracles that reveal His divine nature:

  1. Turning water to wine (2:1-11)
  2. Healing the official’s son (4:46-54)
  3. Healing the lame man at the pool of Bethesda (5:1-9)
  4. Feeding the 5,000 with just a few loaves and fish (6:1-14)
  5. Walking on water (6:15-21)
  6. Restoring sight to the blind man (9:1-43)
  7. Raising Lazarus from the dead (11:1-44)
  8. After His own resurrection (defeating death), giving the disciples an overwhelming catch of fish symbolizing the Church to come (21:1-14)

*Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them was written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25

One of the main goals in John’s Gospel is to provide evidence for Jesus’ Deity:

  • John records a series of seven “I AM” statements in his Gospel (a direct reference to the name YHWH)
  • All of these reference have deep roots in the Old Testament that point directly to the Messiah.
  1. “I am the bread of life” (chapter 6)
  2. “I am the light of the world” (chapter 8-9)
  3. “I am the door” (chapter 10)
  4. “I am the good shepherd” (chapter 10)
  5. “I am the resurrection and the life” (chapter 11)
  6. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (chapter 14)
  7. “I am the true vine” (chapter 15)

*Also note in chapter 18 Jesus said 3 times, “I am He” when they were trying to arrest him at Judas’ betrayal, (and the guards fell back)

The most convincing account of Jesus’ claim of Deity is found in John chapter 8:   

Jesus said to them: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” (8:58)

*This is what the Jewish Sanhedrin convicted Jesus on: Blasphemy—Jesus claimed to be God!

 Watch former Muslim, now Christian Apologist, Nabeel Qureshi skillfully explain Jesus’ Deity and the Trinity in this 18 minutes clip:

Join us next week as we further explore the Case for Christ.


You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in!  Join us as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.

Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologists along with some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential in your Christian growth.

Please let me know what you think: Give feedback, ask questions or send concerns in the comment section of the blog.

Teri Dugan

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