“But Jesus never claimed to be God.” If you haven’t heard that, you haven’t ventured very far from home. This popular statement expresses a belief that Jesus never actually claimed to be God, never thought himself to be God, nor acted as God. So let’s take this claim for a spin through Matthew chapter 9.
In this chapter, Jesus causes a scene by healing a paralyzed man. Obviously anyone who tells a paralyzed man to walk, and he obeys, would cause a scene. But this event causes a scene for a different reason. Instead of just healing the man, Jesus “said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9:2)
And the religious leaders say to one another, “This man is blaspheming.” Blasphemy was a serious crime to the Israelites, because it meant you were profaning the name of God, or in this case, making yourself to be God, by doing something only God could do. So by saying, “Your sins are forgiven,” Jesus is claiming Deity, because only God had authority to say that.
You and I can forgive our friends when they sin against us, but we cannot forgive their sins in general. Jesus didn’t forgive this paralytic of a sin done against him; Jesus forgave this man of his sins against God. Of course only God has authority to do that, so Jesus is either God, misunderstood, or a crazy man.
We can quickly rule out the possibility of him being misunderstood because he pushes the issue even farther with the Pharisees saying, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?If Jesus had been misunderstood, he could have easily cleared the air by saying, “Oh wait! You guys think I am making myself out to be God. No, no, no…you must have misunderstood; I would never do that!”
But Jesus didn’t say that. Instead he proved he had authority to forgive (like God) by telling this man to get up and walk. The Pharisees knew forgiveness of sins belonged only to God. Jesus knew forgiveness of sins belonged only to God. And yet Jesus forgave this man’s sins. In case you didn’t hear that, Jesus just shouted, “I am God!” louder than mere eardrums could take in. So now we are left with two choices about Jesus; either he is God, or a crazy man. There is no third option (C.S. Lewis).