They picked up stones to kill Jesus because in their eyes he was committing blasphemy (Leviticus 24:15-16). He used the name of God “I am” for Himself.
“I and the Father are one.” Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
“We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” – John 10:30-33
If Jesus is a mere mortal, solely a good man or a wise teacher, who met a tragic end on a Roman cross, there would be no reason to rejoice this Easter. A detailed reading of the New Testament must make us wrestle with the claims Jesus made of Himself and those the apostles made of Him. Jesus claims to be one with the Father (John 10:30), sent from the Father (John 20:21), going back to the Father (John 16:28). He says He is the Christ, the Son of Man, the Son of God. If Jesus is just a man, then He is a liar or a lunatic to make such claims. Liars are not “good” men. Lunatics don’t make trustworthy teachers.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. . . . Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 55-56)
The New Testament writers say this about the divinity of Jesus:
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. – Hebrews 1:3
For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. – 1 Corinthians 8:5-6
“Before Abraham was. As unbelievers judge only from the appearance of the flesh, Christ reminds them that He has something greater and higher than human appearance, which is hidden from the senses of the flesh, and is perceived only by the eyes of faith; and that, in this respect, He might be seen by the holy fathers, before He was manifested in the flesh. But He uses different verbs. Before Abraham was, or, Before Abraham was born, I am. 251251 Our Author’s idea, to which he merely alludes, appears to be that, instead of saying, ἐγὼ ἐγενόμνη, or, ἐγὼ γίνομαι, Christ purposely said, ἐγώ εἰμι, because the verb εἰμῖ, standing contrasted with γενέσθαι, would convey the idea of underived existence. But by these words he excludes himself from the ordinary rank of men, and claims for himself a power more than human, a power heavenly and divine, the perception of which reached from the beginning of the world through all ages.” – John Calvin
The true joy and hope of Easter is not in the life and death of a great prophet or a wise teacher. The joy and hope of Easter is in the sacrifice of God Himself. That God the Son would leave the throne room of Heaven to be born in human flesh to make a way for His beloved children to be close to Him once more. God knew that our good would never be “good enough”, so He lived the perfect life we never could. He gave the ultimate sacrifice of Himself to take the punishment we deserved. That is a love so inconceivable, so indescribable, so uncontainable.