- We do not find Jesus making any amendment to the First Commandment to suggest that Jesus is God Himself, or God incarnate! Read on to understand where the confusion arose.
Salam Dear Jazib,
Thank you for your questions and for contacting Ask About Islam.
The First Commandment
In this response, I directly address the Christian friend, who said that “Muslims always try to prove by the verses of the Bible that Jesus is not God.” So I would say the following:
Please see the First of the Ten Commandments given to Moses. Read the Book of Deuteronomy, verse 4:
[Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord]
The very same First Commandment is endorsed by Jesus in Mark:
[And one of the scribes came, and … asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:] (Mark 12:28-29, KJV)
We do not find Jesus making any amendment to the First Commandment to suggest that Jesus is God Himself, or God incarnate! Isn’t it odd?
With regard to your question:
[…for the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.] (Matthew 18:11) How did Jesus save?
To understand what Jesus meant by this verse, you need to quote the next verse too:
[How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?] (Matthew 18:12, KJV)
From this it is clear that Jesus’ mission was to bring those Children of Israel who had deviated from the Religion, back to the fold. Thus “saving” in this context does not signify, as is claimed by Christians, “redemption through vicarious sacrifice”. It simply means rescuing from perdition those who had gone astray.
As for your quote:
[For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.] (John 12:49)
John 12:49 underscores the fact that Jesus is the Messenger — one who is sent — of God. So, whatever Jesus said was revealed to him by God. This also very clearly shows that Jesus was not God. Note that he does not say that he spoke for himself as God. Where does the verse say that Jesus ‘is the Son before creation’? The whole Pauline theology about God becoming flesh is completely alien to Jesus’ teaching here.
Commenting on this quote,
[Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.] (Matthew 5:17)
Certainly, one wonders how the quoted verse can mean what you are saying. There is nothing there to even remotely suggest that ‘Jesus overcame sin and death that man could be rejoined to God through the righteousness of Christ for eternal life.’
Jesus and the Torah
Instead, it is obvious that Jesus did not want to destroy the Law, namely the Torah and its commandments, as well as the teachings of the earlier prophets. His mission was to fulfill the mission of the earlier prophets. That is to say, He meant NOT to invalidate the Law, but to take it towards its completion.
We see Jesus in the Gospels as a Jewish rabbi who always upheld the Law. Read the verses:
[For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.] (Matthew 5:18-19, KJV)
Indeed Jesus never detracted anything from the Law of Moses; whereas see what Paul did. Read this verse,
[For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for everyone who believes.] (Romans 10:4, KJV)
Indeed, this is a blatant contradiction of what Jesus taught: that not one dot or iota in the Law will be affected until heaven and earth pass.
The present Christian belief suggests that heaven and earth have already passed.
Did Jesus Claim That He Is God?
In this quote,
[And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.] (Mark 10:18)
Jesus emphatically corrects any notion that he was God; he does not like to be called even good, as genuine goodness is a quality of God alone. If Jesus were God, his words do not make sense; because, it does not befit God to humble Himself before His creatures.
Commenting on this quote:
[Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.] (Mark 9:37)
Read the previous verse, and the confusion will vanish.
[And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them.] (Mark 9:36, KJV)
By the analogy of receiving a child in Jesus’ name, Jesus teaches his followers that whoever accepts Jesus, effectively accepts God Who sent Jesus. This does not mean that those who receive Christians, would be considered as receiving God or Jesus.
Jesus Never Claimed to be God
You stated that: “You are correct in the fact that Jesus did not scream out I am God worship me.”
This is also by the order of God and according to the prophecies of his coming. Jesus referred to himself as “The Son of God” and as “I am” which is as God referred to himself to Moses. Jesus did not come to the world to prove he was God nor to prove God exist but to save man from sin and death.
Indeed, if Jesus had been God, he should have screamed out, “I am God”, as he looked so human. As noted above, this was essential, because of the repeated declaration in different verses of the Bible that God is one only, such as this verse from Hosea 13:4: “.. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me.”
Meaning of Son of God
‘Son of God’ is a phrase used in the Bible for several persons; and so it does not denote that God had literally a son:
[The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.] (Genesis 6:2, KJV)
In this verse, all men were called “the sons of God”.
[…Adam, which was the son of God.] (Luke 3:38, KJV)
Here Adam is called the son of God.
[Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.] (Matthew 5:9, KJV)
Here we find none other than Jesus saying that all the peacemakers will be called the sons of God.
Do Christians argue that Jesus was God’s son in a literal sense, as Abel was Adam’s son, or Jacob was Isaac’s son?
About the name: “I am”: Moses asked God what his name was; and God answered thus:
[And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you] (Exodus 3:14, KJV)
We need to understand that “I am” stands for the original Hebrew phrase: YHWH or Yahweh.
“Most scholars believe YHWH is related to a root word meaning “to be present” or “to exist” and probably meant either “He creates or causes” or simply “I AM”, meaning that God did not depend on anyone or anything for His existence.”
In fact the verse “I am has sent me unto you” could be rendered, “He who creates has sent me unto you”. Indeed “I am that I am” is God’s answer to the impertinent question: “What is your name?” asked of Almighty God.
Eager to prove the divinity of Jesus, Christians argue that simply because Jesus used the phrase “I am” in certain contexts (Examples: Matthew 16:15; Mark 14:62), he must be God. In which case, don’t we all use the phrase “I am” in some context or other?
With regard to this quote,
[Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? 36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshiped him.] (John 9:35-83)
the verses do not prove that Jesus was God. The man whom Jesus addressed asked him about the Son of God, and Jesus said he himself was the Son of God. And note that Jesus had asked him only to believe in the Son of God, and not to worship him.
But then, we are told that the man ‘worshiped’ him. From the context, we do not know what he exactly he did by way of worshiping. Probably, the man bowed to Jesus or showed some sign of obeisance to him, the way people show respect to a great man. But that does not in any way indicate that Jesus allowed the man, let alone asked him, to worship him as God.
Finally, you quoted:
[He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.] (Matthew 16:15-17)
The above verses also do not mean that Jesus claimed to be God. They only mean that Simon Peter acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God, and then Jesus said that it was revealed to him, by God the Father. How could this mean that God the Father who is in heaven is the same as ‘the Son of God’ who was standing before Peter?
I hope this answers your questions. Please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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