Below, I offer evidence that Jesus Christ claimed to be God, and this claim, if true, is at odds with the Baha’i belief that Jesus was merely a manifestation of God and not actually the incarnation of God.
This is significant because if Jesus is God, and He is knowable, then God is knowable; the Baha’i belief that God is unknowable would be proven false, and a foundational premise of the Baha’i religion would be shattered.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon the Baha’i members of this forum to consider carefully the evidence presented below to determine for themselves whether Jesus did claim to be God and whether those claims are believable.
Evidence that Jesus Claimed to be God
The Bible is clear about the claims of divinity made by Jesus. The Gospel of John, written by one of Jesus’ apostles, tells us: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). We know that John is referring to Jesus as the Word because John also tells us, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jn 1:14) Since God the Father was not made flesh; John is speaking about Jesus. Jesus is the Word made flesh, the Word is God, and therefore, Jesus, the Word made flesh, is God.
In Deuteronomy 10:17 and 1 Timothy 6:15, God the Father is called the “Lord of lords,” yet in other New Testament passages this divine title is applied directly to Jesus. In Revelation 17:14 we read, “They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings.” And in Revelation 19:13–16, John sees Jesus “clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. . . . On his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Additional evidence that Jesus is God is found in numerous places in the New Testament. John 5:18 states that Jewish leaders sought to kill Jesus “because he not only broke the Sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God.” Paul also states that Jesus was equal with God (Phil. 2:6). But if Jesus is equal with the Father, and the Father is a God, then Jesus is a God. Since there is only one God, Jesus and the Father must both be one God—one God in at least two persons (the Holy Spirit, of course, is the third person of the Trinity).
The same is shown in John 8:56–59, where Jesus directly claims to be Yahweh (“I AM”).
“‘Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad.’ The Jews then said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’ So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.”
Jesus’ audience understood exactly what he was claiming; that is why they picked up rocks to stone him. They considered him to be blaspheming God by claiming to be Yahweh.
The same truth is emphasized elsewhere. Paul stated that we are to live “awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). And Peter addressed his second epistle to “those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:1).
Jesus is shown to be God in dramatic fashion when Thomas, finally convinced that Jesus has risen, falls down and exclaims, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) Jesus did not correct or chastise Thomas for making a mistake; He accepted Thomas’ worship as God.
The evidence that Jesus claimed to be God is undeniable and irrefutable. Consequently, Baha’i may not simply ignore them; they must be reckoned with.
Once it is accepted that Jesus did claim to be God, then the resulting question is whether His claims are true. Ultimately, the possibilities are:
- Jesus was a lunatic. He was not God, but He genuinely believed that He was because He was mentally unstable.
- Jesus was a liar. He was not God, and He knew He was not God, but He claimed to be God anyway.
- Jesus was Lord. He was God, He knew He was God, and He proclaimed Himself to be God.
Lunatic, liar or Lord. Those are the options. Which will you choose?