Although Jesus did not utter the exact phrase"I am God”, he did claim to be God in both his words and actions, in a way that his Jewish audience understood. Jesus spoke mainly to Jews who knew the Old Testament Scriptures and hence, many of his sayings and actions were couched in Jewish, Old Testament terms.
In an incident where Jesus’ identity was questioned, Jesus claimed that"before Abraham was born, I am”.“I am” is God’s very own name in the Old Testament (Exodus 3:14). By invoking that title, Jesus was claiming divinity, which the Jews understood as they immediately wanted to stone him (Old Testament law required anyone who blasphemed be stoned; Leviticus 24:16).
Jesus also claimed to do things that the Jewish audience understood that only God can do. He claimed to be above the Jewish Sabbath law just like God is (John 5:17) and the Jews understood that he was"making himself equal with God” (John 5:18). Another time, he shockingly claimed to be able to forgive sins, at which the Jews indignantly asked"Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:5-7).
Jesus also identified himself repeatedly as being"in the Father, and that the Father is in [him]” (John 10:38, 14:10), and that anyone who has seen him has seen the Father (John 14:9).
Besides his words, Jesus’ actions also showed that he is God. He did many miracles showing his power, power which the Jews understood could only come from someone divine. He could control nature; he calmed a storm with a word (Mark 4:35-41) and walk on water (Mark 6:45-52). He could also raise the dead (John 11: 1-44).
Jesus also accepted worship as God, an implicit claim to divinity. After his resurrection, he showed himself to a disciple called Thomas, who exclaimed"My Lord and my God”, which Jesus accepted (John 10:24-29).
Thomas’ reaction is typical of the early church’s understanding of who Jesus claimed to be. His very first disciples, including the ones who were with him for three years of ministry, worshipped Jesus as God. This is evident throughout the disciples’ witness in the New Testament e.g. John 1:1, Romans 9:5, Titus 2:13. They call on Jesus’ name for salvation and pray to him.
Thus, it is indisputable that Jesus made bold claims to be God and that his audience then, both those hostile towards him and those who received him, were very clear about these claims, and responded to him as such.