"Jesus very clearly says and shows Who He is"
Reader comment on item: Pope Benedict XVI and the Koran
Submitted by Lactantius Jr (United Kingdom), Jun 7, 2009 at 18:53
To Mohammad Waqas Raja (upon whom be peace)
I greet you in the precious life-giving, life-saving Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of Man, Son of God, the sinners all-sufficient Saviour, Prince of Peace, author and distributor of Peace, and I wish you His peace.
Jesus never said He was God? Really? The evidence is all over the place, even in the very passages which you think strengthen your case against the deity of Christ. If you look closer and read it carefully, even those who do not believe it should be able to see it, and I am quite confident that you can give me nearly any chapter of the Gospels, and I can show you Jesus' explicit or implicit claim to be God, but for now, deal with just two of your claims to undercut the Lord Jesus Christ's divinity.
"I Am God Worship Me"
You say "there is not a single unequivocal statement in the entire Bible where Jesus (pbuh) himself says, 'I am God' or where he says, 'worship me'. You are correct in saying the Lord Jesus Christ never said these words, but wrong in denying the existence of "a single unequivocal statement in the entire Bible"No He never spoke the words you quote, neither did He ever say, "I am a man," or "I am a prophet" and neither did He ever say "I am not God, do not worship me." What really matters though, is not the existence of the statement "I am God," but whether there is clear evidence that He is indeed God, no matter in which form He issued the claim. If there is clear proof for His divine identity, then we have to worship Him, even if the wording of His self-description is not exactly the way we think it should be. We cannot prescribe for God how He has to reveal Himself before we accept it. It is not necessary for Jesus to utter the exact three words "I am God" in order for us to determine whether or not He is divine. Jesus may not have said the exact sentence "I am God" but he did claim the divine name for himself (Exodus 3:14 with John 8:58) and He also received worship (Matthew 2:2; 14:33; 28:9; John 9:35-38). Compare and contrast Jesus' acceptance of worship with the Apostles Paul and Barnabas' reaction, when a crowd started to worship them as gods:-
"While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was listening as Paul preached, and Paul noticed him and realized he had faith to be healed. So Paul called to him in a loud voice, 'Stand up!' And the man jumped to his feet and started walking. When the listening crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, 'These men are gods in human bodies!' They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus and that Paul, because he was the chief speaker, was Hermes. The temple of Zeus was located on the outskirts of the city. The priest of the temple and the crowd brought oxen and wreaths of flowers, and they prepared to sacrifice to the Apostles at the city gates. But when Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting, 'Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings like yourselves! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God……………"
Acts 14: 8-15
Jesus never did say "I am God," but just look at what happened when He said "I Am." This happened during a discussion with the Jews during which Jesus had made one of the "I am the light of the world" statements (John 8:12). But the argument had gone on from that point, with Jesus eventually saying to His audience, that those who keep His word will not see death (John 8:51). At this, the Pharisees pounce. Abraham, the greatest Jew, and all the prophets are dead. Is Jesus therefore greater than Abraham? Is Jesus therefore greater than the prophets, for they also are all dead? And if so, who or what does Jesus claim to be?
Jesus replied that Abraham had seen His day coming, and had been glad about it (John 8:56). His reply causes scorn. 'How could that be?' was the response. Had Jesus Himself seen Abraham, and Him, Jesus, being a man of less than 50 years old? Jesus replies, 'I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am.'
At the Burning Bush on Mount Horeb, Moses was commissioned by God to lead the children of Israel out of captivity in Egypt. He declined for various reasons, but once he had been persuaded otherwise, the one question he asked was this: "When I go to them and say, the God of your fathers has sent me to you," they will say, "What is his name? what shall I reply" It seems that the 'the God of your fathers' would not do (Exodus 3:13). God replies: "I AM WHO I AM. Say I AM has sent me to you (Exodus 3:14) going on in verses 15&16 to tell Moses what else to say to the Israelites, and uses the more traditional names of 'the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' But the important statement had been made earlier. God had revealed Himself as the Self-Existent One, Whose fullest Name, is I AM, YAHWEH, JEHOVA. Ever afterwards, I AM (JHWH), transliterated as Yahweh, (and in the Authorised version of the Bible as Jehova), was known to the Jews as the great and most holy Name of God. By tradition, that Name was so holy that it was not to be spoken, and whenever it appeared in the Scriptures, a pious Jew would (and still does), substitute the name God (Elohim or Adonai) for speaking the passage. So, when Jesus said to the Jews, "Before Abraham was born, I am" (John 8:58) they understood Him to be claiming to be God, His words immediately linked with the I AM of the Burning Bush. This is why the Jews picked up stones to stone Him. (John 8:59) they understood very well His claim to be God, and thinking it to be blasphemy, were prepared to carry out the lawful penalty.
"anyone who blasphemes the Name of GOD must be put to death. The entire congregation must stone him. It makes no difference whether he is a foreigner or a native, if he blasphemes the Name, he will be put to death."
Later, Jesus claimed to be one with the Father and the Jews wanted to stone Him again, because they said to Jesus, "You, being a man, make yourself out to be God." Jesus had taken the divine name for His own, and the Jews wanted to kill Him for it. Therefore, from Jesus' own mouth we see that he was claiming to be God.
" 'The Father and I are one' [said Jesus]. Once again the Jewish leaders picked up stones to kill Him. Jesus said, 'At my Father's direction I have done many things to help the people. For which one of these good deeds are you killing Me?' They replied, 'Not for any good work, but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, have made yourself God.' "
Here Jesus claimed to be One with the Father, and the Jews wanted to stone Him again because they said to Jesus, "You, being a man, make yourself out to be God." Jesus had claimed the divine name for His own, and the Jews wanted to kill Him for it. Therefore, from Jesus' own mouth, we see that He was claiming to be God.
And here is what Jesus says elsewhere, not just about existing before Abraham was born 2,000 years previously, but having existed since "before the world existed."
"And now, Father, glorify Me in your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed."
Compare this with John's prologue:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made… He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
John 1:1-3, 10, 14
Not only did Jesus Christ exist before the world itself, He also created every created thing.
Jesus claimed certain functions and abilities that were those of God alone. He said that He had authority to forgive sins, a claim understood by His hearers as usurping divine prerogative, blasphemy in fact:-
"Several days later Jesus returned to Capernaum, and the news of His arrival spread quickly through the town. Soon the house where He was staying was so packed with visitors that there wasn't room for one more person, not even outside the door. And He preached the word to them. Four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn't get to Jesus through the crowd, so they dug through the clay roof above His head. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, 'My son, your sins are forgiven.'
But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there said to themselves, 'What? This is blasphemy! Who but God can forgive sins!'
Jesus knew what they were discussing among themselves, so He said to them, Why do you think this is blasphemy? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man, Your sins are forgiven or get up, pick up your mat, and walk? I will prove that I, the Son of Man, have the authority on earth to forgive sins. Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, Stand up, take your mat, and go on home, because you are healed!' The man jumped up, took the mat, and pushed his way through the stunned onlookers. Then they all praised God. 'We've never seen anything like this before!' they exclaimed."
Jesus can forgive sins on the basis of His having the divine authority to do so, and as a result of His forfeiting His own life as a ransom for others. Again, the only way Jesus can forgive sins and die as a ransom, is if He were sinless. Otherwise, He would need to be forgiven of His own sins and would be in need of a ransom.
Jesus said He was the ultimate judge of all, the One to determine every human beings destiny:-
"Knowing the correct password--saying 'Master, Master,' for instance--isn't going to get you anywhere with Me. What is required is serious obedience--doing what My Father wills. I can see it now--at the Final Judgment, thousands strutting up to Me and saying, 'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use Me to make yourselves important. You don't impress Me one bit. You're out of here.' These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit--but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use My words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards. When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that He was living everything He was saying--quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard."
"Why do you call me good? only God is good"
You say that "Jesus refuted even the remotest suggestion of his divinity, consider the following incident mentioned in the Bible"
"A man came to Jesus and asked, 'Teacher, what good thing must I do to have eternal life?' Jesus said to him, 'Why do you ask Me about what is good? Only God is good. If you want to have eternal life, you must obey his commandments.'"
Sometimes it is very important to know WHICH WORD to stress in a sentence. The following sentence with only 7 words in it, has 3 very different "plain meanings," depending on which of the 7 words is stressed:
"I never said she stole my wallet"
What is the meaning of this sentence? Did you think:-
"I NEVER said she stole my wallet" or
which mean totally different things.
The problem is that in a written document, we don't have the intonation anymore, but then, we usually don't have "just one sentence" either, and the context will make clear what is the right intonation (and meaning) of a phrase, even if there are several possible meanings when taken in isolation.
So after this introduction for the proper "setting of the stage", lets go to the contentious text itself, remembering that a text (a source of information or authority) taken out of context (the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage, and can throw light on its meaning) is a pretext (a purpose or motive alleged, or an appearance assumed, in order to cloak the real intention or state of affairs).
Muslims quote Mark 10:17-18 and Luke 18:18-19 so often, alleging that the Lord Jesus Christ is denying His divinity, that I think a detailed explanation of this specific misunderstanding is in order.
I have the impression, that when Muslims read this statement by the Lord Jesus Christ, they stress it [in disregard of context] as: "Why do you call ME good?" as if Jesus is shocked, and emphatically denies His goodness, and is utterly opposed to such a statement. I want to show in the following that Jesus is not denying His goodness, but questioning this man's motives by asking him "*WHY* do you call Me good?" because this man is "altogether too obsequious and effusive in his approach," and "before you address Me with such a title, you had better think soberly about what the implications are, and especially what they are for you."
Let's look at what the Bible really says, before we jump to conclusions too quickly. This event as recorded by Mark, chapter 10 :13-22 reads:-
"One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could touch them and bless them, but the disciples told them not to bother Him. But when Jesus saw what was happening, He was very displeased with His disciples. He said to them, 'Let the children come to Me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you, anyone who doesn't have their kind of faith will never get into the Kingdom of God.' Then He took the children into His arms and placed His hands on their heads and blessed them. As he was starting out on a trip, a man came running up to Jesus, knelt down, and asked, 'Good Teacher, what should I do to get eternal life?' 'Why do you call Me good?' Jesus asked. 'Only God is truly good. But as for your question, you know the commandments: Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not testify falsely. Do not cheat. Honour your father and mother.' 'Teacher,' the man replied, 'I've obeyed all these commandments since I was a child.' Jesus felt genuine love for this man as He looked at him. 'You lack only one thing,' He told him. 'Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.' At this, the man's face fell, and he went sadly away because he had many possessions.
Firstly, we have to observe that this man is "praising Jesus highly" but then goes on to NOT obey what the Lord Jesus Christ tells him he should do to inherit the eternal life that he desires.
Some quick remarks about the context. The Lord Jesus Christ has just taught the people that to enter the kingdom of God (= get eternal life), we need to accept it as a gift, just like the children who have no inhibitions in accepting gifts. He tells us that we have to "unlearn" our adult behaviour of "having to earn everything" because we cannot earn God's favour and grace, but have to accept it as a free gift of love. And the next we read is that this man comes up and asks "what MUST I DO to inherit eternal life". This shows how much doing is entrenched in our nature, and how hard it is to accept the pure grace (unconditional, unearned, undeserved, unending love of God). God's grace is without pre-conditions but not without consequences. Whoever has tasted of God's grace, in thankfulness, will then strive to live a life which is pleasing to God.
We can only guess at why exactly this man is praising the Lord Jesus Christ so highly when he approaches Him. Maybe he thought if he praises Him first, he might get a more favourable answer from Him? One that is "easier to fulfil"? Isn't that a common approach of many people towards those who are (perceived to be) in authority on a certain issue? But the Lord Jesus Christ looks through these smoke screens and goes right to the core problem. He isn't swayed by this man's attempt to win His favour the wrong way. This doesn't mean that this man was a total hypocrite - just trying to manipulate a bit in his own favour. The Lord Jesus Christ won't let him do so.
I think there are several indications that this man was very serious with his quest. He was a very religious man and had diligently observed the commandments of God. When the Lord Jesus Christ gives him a short list of them, he responds that he has obeyed all these from his childhood to the present day. He was indeed a devout and committed believer. We should also observe that the Lord Jesus Christ lists the second tablet of the Ten Commandments, which deal with our relationship with our fellow men -- the examination into the relationship of this inquirer with the first tablet (about our relationship with God) will come later.
But in all his diligent observance of God's law, there still was an insecurity whether that was "enough" to get him eternal life. This didn't let him rest in peace. He wanted to make sure that God would in the end accept him in the last judgment and grant him eternal life. This man had his priorities right at least on this part. He was concerned with this most important question of what do we have to do in this life to be in the right place after it is over, and we have to face the judgment of God.("It is appointed for all men to die once, and then comes the judgement." Hebrews 8:12).
And the Lord Jesus Christ acknowledges the right and good desire of this man, we read that He looked at him and "He loved him". He sees that this man wants more and is serious about it, he knows this "religious observance of commandments" isn't "it" yet ' [otherwise he wouldn't have asked in this 'self humiliating way' of falling down before the Lord Jesus Christ in front of a whole crowd]. He sees the true desire of this man, and because of His love to him He tells him [after reviewing some basics = some of the Ten Commandments] what he needs for eternal life.
The Lord Jesus Christ says: Give away what you have to the poor. Then you will have a treasure in heaven. And then FOLLOW ME.
This answer cuts right through to the core of his problem. He was rich and his wealth and the security that comes with wealth, was too important for him to give up. He wanted eternal life, and he would have made great efforts to do many good deeds with his wealth and his abilities, no question about that. But giving it up completely? Trusting ONLY God and having his security in God only? This was too much for him. He did get the answer that he needed. But it was also the answer that exposed his true heart. His wealth and position was more important than God. And he went away sad. At another time the Lord Jesus Christ said: You cannot serve two masters. Either God or money.
"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
And the Lord Jesus' command revealed that though this man had kept all the "outward commandments of behaviour", he was guilty of breaking the first commandment "I am the Lord your God, you shall have NO other gods before me" Exodus 20:2-3. Nothing is allowed to take priority over God. For the man asking Jesus "what must I do?" it was money, security, position, ...
Yes, God is the source of all goodness and truth. [But God in the creation account pronounces His creation to be "very good" - a goodness derived from the one who made it. And there are many people called "good" in the Bible. The Lord Jesus Christ has no problem with that at all. But He points to the source of all goodness - and He doesn't say that He has nothing to do with this source.]
The Lord Jesus Christ peels away the man's attempt to 'manipulate' in his favour. And He says to him, "don't use divine attributes for Me IF you are not willing to follow what I am going to tell you". He does then make this clear to the rich young man, by showing him WHO [what] really is his 'god'. The Lord Jesus Christ, with this question "WHY do you call me good -- only God is good" and His exposure of the man's true heart makes clear that this statement has to be read as "Only call me "good" [meaning: (from) God], if you are prepared to fully submit to what I will tell you".
And though this does explain the statement, to fully understand the dynamic of this incident, we have to look even more carefully. There is much more. No prophet has ever talked in this "presumptious" way.
"How can I get eternal life?" is the question. "Follow ME!" is the answer that the Lord Jesus Christ gives.
Do you see what He is claiming? He does NOT say, these are the teachings that God has given Me. Follow these rules and you will get to heaven. Neither did he just say, "follow God, submit to God", but he said "Follow ME!".
The Lord Jesus Christ talks to this man as if it is in His hand to give eternal life. Follow Jesus and you have eternal life. And that by the way is a constant topic in the teaching of Jesus. And it is completely against the tradition of Jewish teachers, who are approached and chosen by their students. But none of the disciples chose the Lord Jesus Christ. It is always Jesus Who comes up to them and "claims them" and commands them to follow Him.
Do I read into the text that the Lord Jesus Christ connects "obtaining eternal life" with "following Him"? I don't think so. This is a constant theme of Jesus' teaching:
I AM the resurrection and the life, who believes in ME will live (eternally), even though he dies (physically); and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die (spiritually). -- John 11:25-26
I will give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand. -- John 10:28
In the Gospel of John alone there are 16 passages connecting the very words "eternal life" with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And not only with the faith in Him, but that it is Jesus Himself Who is GIVING this eternal life. Indeed Jesus several times says: I AM the LIFE.
I cannot understand how you can read this and claim that Jesus never claimed to be God. Half of Jesus' preaching is blasphemous if he was NOT God.
Jesus didn't say "I show you the way". He said "I AM the WAY"
Jesus said: Follow me. [dozens of times]
Back to our text in Mark chapter 10, the next 5 verses (23-27) being:-
"Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, 'How hard it is for rich people to get into the Kingdom of God!' This amazed them. But Jesus said again, 'Dear children, it is very hard to get into the Kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!'
The disciples were astounded. 'Then who in the world can be saved?' they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, 'Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.' "
There is a lot in this text which I don't go into right now, but it was the understanding of the disciples, that wealth is the visible blessing of God, and so they are astonished that the Lord Jesus Christ says it is hard for rich people to get to heaven. They ask, if not even those on whom God's favour already rests, who then? The Lord Jesus Christ says, humanly it is impossible. NO MAN can enter heaven out of his own power. He goes back to the teaching He was giving just before this man came up to him. Like the children we have to receive it from God as a gift. With MAN it is impossible [out of his own righteousness and good deeds], but God makes it possible [by His grace]. It isn't free of cost though. It does cost a hefty price to get to heaven. In fact, the cost is so high that no man can pay it. Therefore it is impossible with man. God has to pay, so that we can come in for free. What is the price for entering heaven? Let us read on, it is all in the next 4 verses (28-31) of text.
"Then Peter began to mention all that he and the other disciples had left behind. 'We've given up everything to follow You,' he said. And Jesus replied, 'I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for My sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return, a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property--with persecutions. And in the world to come they will have eternal life. But many who seem to be important now will be the least important then, and those who are considered least here will be the greatest then.' "
Leaving ... to follow the Lord Jesus Christ results in receiving ... eternal life.
How? How is this price paid that offers us heaven and eternal life which we can't possibly earn on our own? Just read on, it is all there:- Mark 10:32-34
"They were now on the way to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. The disciples were filled with dread and the people following behind were overwhelmed with fear. Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus once more began to describe everything that was about to happen to Him in Jerusalem. 'When we get to Jerusalem,' He told them, 'the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence Him to die and hand Him over to the Romans. They will mock Him, spit on Him, beat Him with their whips, and kill Him, but after three days He will rise again."
and in Mark 10:45 we read:-
"For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give My life as a ransom for many."
The Lord Jesus Christ's death on the cross is the price. There He will pay the price for our sin and ransom us from hell. Jesus, AGAIN predicts His death and resurrection and also says WHY it is going to happen.
Jesus didn't die? Why does He talk about it then all the time? Jesus never said He was God? Really? The evidence is all over the place. Even in the very passages which Muslims think strengthen their case against the deity of Christ. If you look closer and read it carefully, even those who do not believe it should be able to see it. I am quite confident that you can give me nearly any chapter of the Gospels, and I can show you Jesus' explicit or implicit claim to be God.["I am the resurrection and the life" is explicit in my eyes, while Jesus' comparison of His body with the Temple of God [God's dwelling place] is an implicit claim.]
Summary and Conclusion:
The statement/question by Jesus "Why do you call Me good? Only God is good" does ask the rich young man for his motivation in praising Jesus. And it admonishes him not to attribute to Him a quality which he is ultimately not willing to accept and act upon in obedience. Jesus does not reject that this attribute is appropriate for Him, but more than just "any praise" Jesus desires that the praise that is offered to Him is true and genuine. Furthermore, this passage contains some clear statements that link eternal life with our relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. These claims would be blasphemous if indeed He were just a man like any other prophet. Only God is the giver of life. So, this very passage contains a quite strong (implicit) claim to divine status.
By taking such statements out of their immediate and overall contexts, the impression is given that the Lord Jesus is actually denying He is God, since He denies that He is good in the sense that God is good
In the first place, Jesus didn't say "I am not good, only God is good", but simply poses a question to the man to think more deeply about the implications of his words. The implication being that if Jesus is good, and only God is good, then Jesus is God. Again, note the logic behind this:
God alone is (absolutely) good.
Jesus is (absolutely) good.
Therefore, Jesus is God.
If the man truly believed this, then he must be willing to abandon everything for Christ. This is precisely what Jesus demanded:
"And looking at him, Jesus felt love for him, and said to him, 'One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, FOLLOW ME.'"
The Lord Jesus Christ demands a devotion that is to be given solely to God. This is clearly seen in light of the fact that Jesus' demand was made right after the man had indicated his observance to the last six commands of the Ten Commandments. These commands were given to govern a person's relationship with others. The first four commandments govern a person's devotion to God. The man's trouble was that he loved money more than God, and hence his money became an idol. He had to be willing to die to his idolatry by giving it up in order to devote himself completely to the pure worship of God. Yet, amazingly, the Lord Jesus Christ never asked the man to follow the first four commandments, or to follow God completely, but directed the man to follow Him. The reason being, is that to wholeheartedly follow the Lord Jesus is to fulfill one's obligation to God. Thus, Jesus was implicitly claiming to be God since He was clearly saying that to follow Him is to follow God, to obey Him is to obey God, to love Him is to love God. Therefore Jesus is God!
Why do we call Him good? Because He is - AND He is the Lord God.
You're going to live forever Mohammad, please choose your address
With kind regards and best wishes
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