Monday, September 10, 2012

Jesus is God

Although the Muslims will not tolerate any criticism of their religion, they nevertheless are not reluctant to criticize Christianity. One Muslim Facebooker wrote:

  • Jesus (PBUH) never said that he is Allah [God] or he has divinity or worship him, but he only said that the miracles he did, spirits he casted out were all with the help of Allah [God].
While there is little problem with the second phrase, there are many problems with the first. Let’s start with the first critique – that Jesus never said that He is God. While Jesus was cryptic about much – even the fact that He is the Messiah – He said many things that suggest that He is God:

  • For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth…[21] For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. [22] Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, [23] that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. [24] I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. [25] I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. [26] For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. [27] And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. [28] "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice [29] and come out--those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:18-29)
Notice that the religious leadership correctly understood that Jesus was “making himself equal with God,” and Jesus never contradicted their impression.

In verse 21, Jesus claimed that He gives eternal life. In the Hebrew Scriptures, this is something only possible for God to do. Therefore, Jesus cryptically claimed to be God.

In verse 22, Jesus claimed that He is the judge. Once again, Scripture informs us that only
God can judge.

In verse 23, Jesus claimed that the same honor due to God was also due to Him, equating Himself with God. No human can claim anything distinctly close to this. It would be the worst blasphemy, and the Muslim knows this.

In verse 24, Jesus claimed that His word brought eternal life. Only God could say such a thing.

In verses 25-29, Jesus claimed that He would call forth the dead. This is something that only God can do. Therefore, Jesus was equating Himself with God.
Jesus also proclaimed that eternal life was a matter of trusting in Him:

  • “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins." (John 8:24)
  • Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." (John 6:29)
The Hebrew Scriptures demanded that trust be placed only in God:

  • This is what the Lord says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:5)
If Jesus was a mere human, trusting in Him would make us accursed. Therefore, if Jesus isn’t God, He is a false teacher!

Jesus equated Himself with God in many other ways. He taught that He is pre-existent, and only God is pre-existent:

  • "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (John 8:58-59)
The Jewish leadership knew that He was equating Himself with God – a blasphemy which deserved stoning. Therefore, they tried to kill Him. (I trust the Jews understanding of Jesus’ self-revelation far more than I do the Muslim understanding!)  Jesus had not only indicated His pre-existence, He also applied to Himself the divine name of God – “I am.” This was how God had identified Himself to Moses (Exodus 3 and 4).

Afterwards, the leadership pressed Him to tell them explicitly if He was the Messiah. Jesus answered:

  • "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, [26] but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. [27] My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. [28] I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:25-28)
Once again, Jesus claimed for Himself powers and authority that only God can have. It is Jesus who gives “them eternal life” and is able to protect them against any adversity (verse 28). Only God can do this. Therefore, anyone else saying this would be stoned.

The leadership understood His words and wanted to stone Him to death. They explained that they were doing this because Jesus, “a mere man, claim[s] to be God” (John 10:33).

Instead of correcting their “misunderstanding,” Jesus continued to affirm what they already understood:

  • “Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father." (John 10:37-38)
This doctrine of the Deity of the Messiah is not an invention of the Apostles. There is even a lot of evidence for this in the Hebrew Scriptures:

  • "The days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will raise up to David a righteous branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
  • For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
This type of evidence is important because the Muslim, when backed into a corner, will claim that the NT has been altered, even though the Koran doesn’t support this claim.

The Muslim apologist also claimed that Jesus never taught that He should be worshipped. However, as these verses point out, He did teach this. In fact, He never forbade people from worshipping Him (Matthew 9:18; Matthew 14:33; Matthew 15:25; Matthew 20:20; Matthew 21:9; Matthew 28:9; Matthew 28:16-17; Mark 3:11; Mark 5:6-7; Mark 11:9-10; Luke 4:41; Luke 5:8; Luke 23:42; Luke 24:52; John 5:23; John 9:38; John 12:13). Even kings worshipped Him:

  • And [the Magi] asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." (Matthew 2:2, 11)
In contrast to the worship of Jesus, Paul and even an angel had strictly forbade others from worshipping them.

There are many more lines of reasoning in support of the claim that Jesus is God, especially the more explicit affirmations found in the Epistles and the wealth of OT evidence, but this would require volumes.   

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