Did Jesus claim to be God?
The notes to the ESV Study Bible point out that there are no less than four claims to deity by Jesus in John chapter 5 alone!
1. John 5:17 ("My Father is working until now, and I am working"). If we heard someone say this we probably wouldn't think they were claiming to be God. But given the context in which this was said, and the response by the Jewish religious leaders who heard Jesus say it, we see that it is a claim to be divine.
Jesus has healed a man on the Sabbath and is catching all kinds of flack from the leaders for breaking, not God's law, but their extra laws defining what work on the Sabbath is. Jesus answered them that his Father (God) is working on the Sabbath (without breaking it) and so is he (Jesus). He is saying that he, just like the Father, is Lord of the Sabbath. This is a claim of equality with God. The Jews recognized this and "were seeking all the more to kill him," because he was "making himself equal with God" (5:18).
2. John 5:21 ("For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will"). This one is perhaps more straightforward than the last one, but some may still have difficulty seeing this as a claim to be God. But think about this: if you claim to be able to do something that only God can do, you are claiming to be God. In this statement, Jesus declares that God can raise the dead and give them life, and then says, "and so can I, to whomever I want." The ESV notes point out that the "Old Testament makes clear that raising the dead and giving life are the sole prerogatives of God (cf. Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6; 2 Kings 5:7)."
3. John 5:22 ("The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son"). This follows the reasoning of number 2. Jesus is claiming that he is the final judge of everyone, which is clearly something reserved for God alone!
4. John 5:23 ("That all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him"). This one is perhaps the easiest to see. And yes, you read that correctly: Jesus said that everyone should give him the same honor (worship) as God!!! Then, if that was not a sufficiently offensive statement to many, Jesus continues by saying that all religions and 'paths' to God are false if they do not worship him as God. "Whoever does not honor" Jesus "does not honor" God. Jesus is saying that anyone that does not bow the knee to him as God is not worshiping the true God.
What amazing claims!!!
If Jesus is not God, these statements make him guilty of lying and blasphemy and, therefore, not a good person, prophet or teacher we should follow. But Jesus told the truth and proved it with his mighty miracles and, ultimately, by dying and rising from the dead just as he predicted.
What will you do with these claims of Christ? You cannot dismiss them. If he told the truth, and you are not honoring (worshiping) him as God, then you are worshiping a false god and using a false path to get to God. In the end, you will be judged by Jesus, who claimed that all judgment was given to him by the Father.
Jesus calls people to come to him for forgiveness of sins and eternal life. "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life" (John 5:24). In love, God the Father sent Jesus, who is God the Son, to earth as a Man. Jesus lived a sinless life and died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. Though sinless, he was judged by God as if he had committed our sins, and he paid for sins with his blood to reconcile us to God. He rose from the grave in eternal victory, and is coming again to judge! By repenting of sins and trusting in Jesus alone (faith; belief that results in obedience to Jesus' words) you can enter into the glorious reward from God. We will live in eternal joy with Jesus our loving King!
Believe Jesus and receive him today!
If you are already a believer, worship him anew for his glory and lordship.
Jesus is God!