Firstly, Jesus is declared to be the Creator of all things, the only true natural Son of God.
Coll. 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Hebrews 1:1 ¶ God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Jesus is declared not only to be the Son, but also a Prince, who is to receive a kingdom. The Kingdom is given to Him by His Father, as a reward for His self sacrifice. In human terms the prince of a King is a fully fledged member of the royal family, an heir to the throne, thus making him of the same essence as the father, the king, yet not yet of equal authority. In Jesus case however, all authority was given to Jesus as a gift in order for Him to carry out His mission, prior to His receiving of the kingdom. As an aside, it is of great wonder that we, as adopted children, are co-heirs with Christ and will rule with Him. What a privilege!
As far as our redemption is concerned, it was essential that One, with equal authority and of the same essence of the Father, be sacrificed on our behalf, for only One greater than the law, that is the giver of the law, can atone for its transgression, the law being eternal and a transcript of the character of the law-maker. No created being could atone for the transgression of the law, for they must all be subject to that same law. Only One above the law could satisfy its demands. A divine Person, ie Christ.
I can understand the confusion of some who see in the scriptures, correctly, a clear distinction between He who is described as God, and the Son of God, Jesus. This clear distinction, and our recognition of it, is a salvific matter. However, the inability to reconcile that distinction with the idea that the Son is equally divine with the Father, making both distinct persons at the same time ‘God’, is understandable. After all, this distinction, yet at the same time the indivisibility, has been called a mystery since time began. But God does not ask us to understand, but believe. This belief is not a blind faith, for we do have evidence for that belief in the life of Christ, and in the scriptures. Either we take God at His word, or we don’t.
While there are several instances of Jesus’ claim to divinity, one that stands out for me was His words to the Samaritan woman at the well. In His desire to give her a true direction for her faith and worship, Jesus said:
“I am the resurrection and the Life.” In Christ is LIFE, original, unborrowed, underived. Only God is truly and in every sense immortal. We can lay claim to immortality, but only in so much as it is a gift. In Christ, it is an integral part of His nature. “He that hath the Son hath LIFE.” The divinity, and the eternalness or immortality of Christ is the believers assurance of eternity, and his hope of a resurrection.
Another well known and oft quoted example which cannot be ignored, is Jesus’ clear and utterly profound statement to the gathered members of the rulers and common folk alike, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” The rulers did not begin to look for rocks to throw without good reason. This name of God was given to Moses to express the idea of the eternal presence. Jesus was here claiming this name as His own. He was claiming to be the self-existent One, He who had been promised to Israel:
Ps 103:17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;
Ps 106:48 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD.
Mic 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Finally, I will cite the following, and let all readers draw their own conclusions.
Re 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty
Re 1:11; Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea…
Re 1: 17; And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Re 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
Re 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Isaiah 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.