Does John 8:28 teach that Jesus is God?
The "Iglesia Ni Cristo" teaches that Jesus is not God. However, many verses such as John 8:28 seem to teach that Jesus is God. Did Jesus teach that he is God in John 8:28?
John 8:28 (ESV) - 28 So Jesus said to them, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.
When we examine the verse, we see that Jesus did in fact teach that he is God.
Jesus used the divine name when referring to himself.
What most English translations do not reveal is that Jesus used the divine name "YHVH", or in Greek, "ego eimi". He said, "you will know that I AM." Jesus was stating that his audience would know that he is God. Specifically, they would realize this when he was lifted up - crucified and resurrected. This demonstrated his divinity and his deity.
"I AM" cannot be merely a statement about Jesus' existence.
The Jews who were speaking with Jesus obviously believed that he existed or else they would not have spoken to him. Jesus was referring to something greater than his mere existence. He was using the divine name to refer to his deity.
Jesus was speaking of the Father, a distinct person.
If the INC is to insist that this should not be read as "I AM", but "I am he", who is the he? In the context of the previous verse, Jesus had been speaking of the Father.
John 8:27 (ESV) - 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father.
However, the INC does not believe that Jesus is the Father and neither do Trinitarians. If Jesus had said "I am he", then he would be saying "I am the Father." This is not an appropriate interpretation of this passage.
Jesus did nothing of his own authority because he is perfectly submissive.
The INC would object and point to the fact that Jesus said he did not do things of his own authority. That does not mean that Jesus does not have authority; it means he is perfectly submissive to the Father!
John 8:29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him."
Jesus was always pleasing to the Father. Jesus always did what is right. What fallen child of Adam can say this of himself?
Furthermore, the INC makes the mistake of assuming, without biblical proof, that God is like his creation, unipersonal. When Jesus says that he speaks as the Father taught him, this does not contradict the Trinity because the doctrine of the Trinity teaches that Jesus is a distinct person from the Father, though they both share the one being of God.
Jesus taught that he was God in John 8:28 and explained that many would understand this through his death and resurrection. Those who deny his deity deny the true meaning of the cross.