Did Jesus Really Claim To Be God? – Matthew 26:51-75

Reflection from my reading in Matthew 26:51-75 in the One Year Bible New Testament.

Jesus On Trial

One of the clear moments when Jesus had an opportunity to claim his divinity was when he was on trial with the high priest and elders. They had a lot of witnesses come up and lie about him, but Jesus would remain silent, in part to fulfill the prophesy about him,

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7

Jesus knew this prophesy and intentionally kept his mouth shut until it was time for him to talk.

Are You The Son of God?

Then finally the high priest said,

“I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Matthew 26:63

The high priest was not asking this in order that he may believe in Christ; he was trying to accuse him. But at this point, Jesus finally replied with one of the most clear claims to his Godhood in all the gospels.

The Son of Man

Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Matthew 26:64

First, Jesus didn’t argue with the fact that he was the Son of God. Instead he said, “You have said it.”

Then, he referred to himself as the “Son of Man.” Actually, this was his most popular name for himself as he used it 81 times in the gospels (some of these are repeated stories).

Perhaps the reason it was his favorite name for himself is because the term Son of Man simultaneously emphasizes his humanity and his role as fulfiller of prophesy. In Jesus’ statement he was quoting from two old testament prophesies, one from the book of Daniel and one from Psalms.

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.” Daniel 7:13

“The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” Psalm 110:1

By linking these two Messianic prophesies, it was clear that Jesus was claiming to be the Son of God. Ironically, the high priest’s response shows us how clear Jesus statement was that he claimed divinity. With what the high priest meant to condemn Jesus, it actually helps us know Jesus claimed to be God!

“Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy.” Matthew 26:65

If Jesus’ statement was clear enough to convict him of blasphemy, then it is clear enough for us to know for sure that he claimed to be God.

Liar, Lunatic, Lord 

Jesus’ claim to be God matters exceedingly because you can’t just say he was merely a good moral teacher or a good example for us to follow. C.S. Lewis puts it better than I ever could, so I will end with his quote.

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. 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 man 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 patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.

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