Faith and Theology: Dr. John MacArthur Q&A


Did Jesus claim to be God during His trial?

In Mark 14.61, when Caiaphas, the high priest, asked Jesus if He was the “Christ,” the term refers to Jesus’ claim to be the promised Messiah. The “Son of the Blessed” clearly refers to Jesus’ claim to Deity. This is the only New Testament use of the expression, and it is an example of Jewish wording that avoided using God’s name. Jesus’ acceptance of messiahship and Deity (see Luke 4.18–21; John 4.25, 26; 5.17, 18; 8.58) had always brought vigorous opposition from the Jewish leaders (John 5.19–47; 8.16–19; 10.29–39). Clearly, the high priest was asking this question in hopes that Jesus would affirm it and open Himself to the formal charge of blasphemy.

Jesus’ response that “I am” (v. 62) was an explicit, unambiguous declaration that He was and is both the Messiah and “the Son of Man”—Jesus used this commonly acknowledged messianic title of Himself more than 80 times in the Gospels, here in a reference to Psalm 110.1 and Daniel 7.13 (see Rev. 1.13; 14.14). He added that His glorified position is next to the throne of God, “the right hand of the Power.” Jesus’ “Power” is another reference to God.

That Jesus’ declaration was understood is seen when the high priest “tore his clothes” (v. 63), a ceremonial, and in this case contrived, display of grief and indignation over the presumed dishonoring of God’s name by Jesus (see Gen. 37.29; Lev. 10.6; Job 1.20; Acts 14.13, 19). Strictly speaking, Jesus’ words were not “blasphemy” (v. 64) or defiant irreverence of God (Lev. 24.10–23), but Caiaphas regarded them as such because Jesus claimed for Himself equal power and prerogative with God.