Jesus’ Subtle Claims to be God — Luke 14

Perhaps for the wrong reasons, we often feel shocked when we first read these words of Jesus in Luke 14: 26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Our shock comes from Jesus’ command to “hate” someone in order to be one of His disciples when we have also been commanded by Jesus to love one another. In John 13:34, Jesus proclaimed, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Since we know the Bible and the teachings of Jesus do not contain contradictions (only some apparent contradictions), we discover from further study that Jesus meant in the language of His time that we must love Him more than anyone or anything else, even more than we love ourselves—that understanding mitigates the shock.

However, these words of Jesus should initially give us an even greater shock, for we know that only God deserves and can justly command people to love God as Jesus has commanded us and wants us to love Him! Only God can rightly command us: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). And Jesus commanded us: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). These commands requiring ALL our love be given to God would imply that we should have no love left over for anyone else; not even ourselves. But to assure us that this interpretation is not what God means, the Bible commands us to love God, love our neighbors as ourselves, and even love our enemies. Jesus Christ himself is the supreme teacher and example of what God means by the commands to love God, others, ourselves, and even our enemies.

We are left with the fact and the subtle claim of Jesus that as the Son of God, as the Second Person of the Trinity, as God, we should: “Love the Lord our God (Jesus) with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind.” If Jesus had not been subtle with all His claims to be God (for example, when He told His disciples, “I and the Father are one”—John 10:30), He might have been crucified before He had the opportunity to complete the training His disciples needed over a three-year period. Furthermore, from our experiences, Jesus’ subtle claims, His miracles, and the Old Testament prophecies He fulfilled are far more convincing than the claims of a person who boldly proclaims, “I am God.”

As we read the Bible more and more, especially the Gospels, we will discover many more subtle ways and words that Jesus used to reveal the fact that He is God. We will also pause and think when we read someone like Thomas saying to the resurrected Jesus, “My Lord and my God,” and Jesus not correcting Him (see John 20:27-29). And we should be moved to worship Jesus when we read Paul referring to Jesus as “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Jesus’ subtle claims to be equal to God, an equality He did not exploit (see Philippians 2:6), can be shared truthfully and effectively to help people understand who Jesus was, is, and will be as the Person to be loved supremely and worthy to be worshiped.

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