[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3]
This is the second installment of my rebuttal to MENJ's criticism of the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Read Part 1 first.
3. Jesus(P) attributed worship to the One True God.
"...and he often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed" (Luke 5:16)
"And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up on a mountain by himself to pray" (Matthew 14:23)
These two verses which speak about Jesus(P) are of great significance. How can Jesus(P) be God if he was worshipping God as any other mortal? Who is he praying to?
The Christian may well suggest that Jesus(P) was only praying in a symbolic manner so as to teach the people how to conduct prayer. This argument is nevertheless unacceptable because the words "wilderness" and "by himself" indicate that at those specific times, Jesus was all on his own while praying. He could not have been teaching anybody!
MENJ keeps imagining how Christians will answer, and yet the answers he imagines are not ones which informed Christians give. According to the Holy Bible, prayer doesn't always imply worship, but fellowship and communion with God. Since the three Persons are distinct from one another it is only natural that they engage in intimate fellowship and communion.
Second, since the Holy Bible teaches that Jesus is also fully human it comes as no surprise to find Christ doing what every God-fearing person is suppose to do, namely pray and worship God. Since Jesus was directing his prayers to the Father, and since Jesus is not the Father, Jesus was therefore not praying to himself.
Furthermore, since MENJ assumes that prayer implies worship then what will he do with the following Quranic passages?
He it is who sends PRAYERS on you (Arabic- yusallii alaykum), as do His angels ... S. 33:43
Allah and His angels PRAY for the Prophet (Arabic- yasalluuna alan-Nabiyy): O ye that believe PRAY for him (salluu `alayhi), and salute him with all respect. S. 33:56
These verses prove that Allah is also worshiping someone since he prays. But who does he worship? Since Muslims claim that Allah is a singular entity (having no plurality of persons within his Being) and since prayer requires an object, this means that Allah must be directing his prayers to someone else. As MENJ says, how can Allah be God if he prays like any mortal? Who does he pray to, to himself?
Apparently aware of this dilemma many translations obscure the meaning of the Arabic by inserting the word "blessing" in the place of "pray". Yet the term for blessing is derived from "baraka" which does not appear in the above citations. Rather, the phrases yusallii, yasalluuna and salluu appear, being derivatives of the word salah. Moiz Amjad of the Learner provides the lexical meaning of salah in response to a reader's question:
Ibn Al-Atheer in his highly acknowledged dictionary of the Arabic language, 'Al-Nihaayah fi Ghareeb al-Athar' has explained "Sala'h" as follows:
'Al-Sala'h' and 'Al-Salawaat': used for a particular kind of worship. Its literal origin is supplication (prayer). Sometimes, 'Sala'h' is referred to by mentioning any one or more of its parts. It is also said that the literal origin of the word is 'to glorify' and the particular worship is called 'Sala'h', because it entails the glorification of the Lord. (Source; bold emphasis ours)
Noted Muslim commentator, Ibn Kathir, defines the word as:
The Meaning of Salah
In the Arabic language, the basic meaning of Salah is supplication. In religious terminology, Salah is used to refer to the acts of bowing and prostration, the remaining specified acts associated with it, specified at certain times, with those known conditions, and the characteristics, and requirements that are well-known about it. (Source; underline emphasis ours)
Muslim scholar Al-Najjary comments on the meaning of S. 33:56:
The prayers of Allah are His praises for Muhammad among the angels, and the prayers of the angels are their prayers for Muhammad, and the [angels] praying is their blessings. The prayers of Allah are mercy, and the prayers of the angels is to ask forgiveness [for Muhammad]
Sahabi Ibn 'Abbas concurs:
"The tribe of Israel said to Moses: Does your God pray? God called upon him and said: Yes, I do pray, and my angels [pray] upon my prophets, and Allah then sent down this verse: Allah and His angels pray ..." [quoted by Ibn Katheer on Surat Al-Ahzaab 33:56; Arabic online edition]
In fact, the very word salli is used elsewhere in relation to Muhammad praying for others:
Take alms of their wealth, wherewith thou mayst purify them and mayst make them grow, and pray for them (wa salli alayhim). Lo! thy prayer (salataka) is an assuagement for them. Allah is Hearer, Knower. S. 9:103 Pickthall
MENJ must tell us who exactly does Allah glorify, worship or pray to when he prays for/upon his prophet.
Some try to reason that the word salah doesn't necessarily mean to pray, but can also refer to God sending down blessings upon Muhammad. We have already seen above that the literal meaning of salah isn't to bless, but to pray and worship. As was also noted above, there is another Arabic word which could have been used (i.e., baraka) had the author of the Quran intended to convey the idea that Allah was blessing Muhammad, not praying for him. Note what the following Muslim scholar said about surah 33:56 and about those who try to make the word salah (prayer) synonymous with baraka (blessing):
Allah makes the merit of His Prophet clear by first praying blessing on Himself, and then by the prayer of the angels, and then by commanding His slaves to pray blessing and peace on him as well. Abu Bakr ibn Furak related that one of the 'ulama interpreted the words of the Prophet, "The coolness of my eye is in the prayer," as meaning Allah's prayer, that of the angels and that of his community in response to Allah's command until the Day of Rising. The prayer of angels and men is supplication for him and that of Allah is mercy.
It is said that "they pray" means they invoke blessing (baraka). However, when the Prophet taught people the prayer on himself, he made a distinction between the word salat (prayer) and baraka (blessing). We will return to the meaning of the prayer on him later. (Muhammad Messenger of Allah (Ash-Shifa of Qadi 'Iyad), Qadi 'Iyad Musa al-Yahsubi, translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K. 1991; third reprint, paperback], p. 25; bold emphasis ours)
The Prophet made a distinction between salat (prayer) and baraka (blessing) in the hadith in which he taught about making the prayer on him. This indicates that they have two separate meanings. (Ibid., p. 250; bold emphasis ours)
Finally, the Lord Jesus demanded to receive the very worship due to God:
"Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 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." John 5:22-23
The Lord Jesus states that he must be honored in the same precise way that the Father is honored. In the previous chapter of John, the Lord Jesus describes the kind of honor that the Father must receive:
"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:23-24
Since we are to honor the Son JUST AS we honor the Father this means that we are to worship the Son in spirit and truth also! This can be further seen from the following passage:
"But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, Hosanna to the Son of David, they were indignant. Do you hear what these children are saying? they asked him. Yes, replied Jesus, have you never read, "From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise?"" Matthew 21:15-16
Jesus applies to himself Psalm 8:2 [LXX] where Yahweh is seen receiving the praise of infants and children!:
"O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger." Psalm 8:1-2
Jesus is essentially stating that praising him is the same as praising Yahweh God! The only way for this quotation from Psalms to count as valid justification for Jesus not to forbid, but to confirm and encourage the praise of his own person from those children, is his self-realization that he was Yahweh God (but not the Father or the Holy Spirit).
(Note- In case MENJ wants to call into question the Lord Jesus' use of the LXX, we quote MENJ's praise of the LXX:
From the citation above, we can conclude that:
1) Septuagint is a Greek version of the Old Testament.
2) It (Septuagint) has already existed three centuries before Christ was born, and therefore it is authentic. (Source)
This is why we find the first Christians praying to and worshiping the Lord Jesus, since he himself commanded that prayers and worship be addressed either to him directly or to the Father in his name:
"And I WILL DO WHATEVER YOU ASK IN MY NAME, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask ME for anything IN MY NAME, AND I WILL DO IT." John 14:13-14
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask IN MY NAME." John 15:16
"In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask IN MY NAME." John 16:23
"Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection. So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs. Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles." Acts 1:21-26
The context shows that the Lord whom they prayed to and who knows everyone's hearts is the Lord Jesus. That the Lord Jesus knows everyone's heart can be easily proven from the following verses:
"Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?" Matthew 9:4
"Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man." John 2:23-25
"Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God. You believe at last! Jesus answered." John 16:30-31
"The third time he said to him, Simon son of John, do you love me? Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, Do you love me? He said, Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." John 21:17
"To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first ... Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds." Revelation 2:18-19, 23
Other examples of people praying to the Lord Jesus include:
"While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Then he fell on his knees and cried out, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. When he had said this, he fell asleep." Acts 7:59-60
Compare this with the following citations:
"Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth." Psalm 31:5
"Jesus called out with a loud voice, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. When he had said this, he breathed his last." Luke 23:46
"In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. THE LORD called to him in a vision, Ananias! Yes, LORD, he answered. THE LORD told him, Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight. LORD, Ananias answered, I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done TO YOUR SAINTS in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest ALL WHO CALL ON YOUR NAME. But THE LORD said to Ananias, Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry MY NAME before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer FOR MY NAME. Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, Brother Saul, THE LORD - JESUS, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here - HAS SENT ME so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit ... All those who heard him were astonished and asked, Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those WHO CALL ON THIS NAME? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?" Acts 9:10-17
"Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those WHO CALL ON THIS NAME? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?" Acts 9:20-21
These passages from Acts demonstrate that while in heaven Jesus:
"To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those EVERYWHERE WHO CALL ON THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST - their Lord and ours:" 1 Corinthians 1:2
Amazingly, examining this early Christian practice of calling on Jesus' name in light of the OT leaves us with inescapable conclusion that the first Christians believed that Jesus is Yahweh:
"Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD." Genesis 4:26
"The LORD appeared to Abram and said, 'To your offspring I will give this land. So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him. From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD." Genesis 12:7-8 cf. 13:3-4; 26:25
"Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God." Genesis 21:33
"Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the LORD and he answered them." Psalm 99:6
"Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done." Psalm 105:1
"The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: O LORD, save me! ... I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD." Psalm 116:3-4, 13
Returning to the NT data:
"If anyone does not love the Lord - a curse be on him. Come, O Lord! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen." 1 Corinthians 16:21-24
"He who testifies to these things says, Yes, I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen." Revelation 22:20-21
"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for MY POWER (dunamis) is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that CHRIST'S POWER (dunamis tou Christou) may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
These verses clearly show that the Lord Jesus receives the worship due to God.
4. Jesus(P) was tempted by the devil.
"....and Jesus for forty days in the wilderness was tempted by the devil"(Luke 4:1)
But in the Bible we also read that
"God cannot be tempted by the devil"
If God cannot be tempted by the devil, and Jesus(P) was tempted by the devil, then Jesus(P) cannot be God.
Here MENJ deceptively misquotes the Scriptures, and is perhaps the reason why he fails to provide a reference. Here is the verse which MENJ is alluding to:
"When tempted, no one should say, God is tempting me. For God cannot be tempted BY EVIL, nor does he tempt anyone;" James 1:13
MENJ erroneously assumes that just because Jesus was tempted means that he is not God. MENJ has confused two issues here. First, James 1:13 is not denying that God can be tempted, but is simply stating that there is nothing within God's nature that would lead him to act on any of these sinful attempts. The Scriptures are clear that many have tried to tempt God:
"Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, Give us water, that we may drink. So Moses said to them, "Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the LORD?" Exodus 17:1-2 NKJV
"Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;" Numbers 14:22 KJV
"On another day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD , and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the LORD said to Satan, Where have you come from? Satan answered the LORD, From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it. Then the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason." Job 2:1-3
"Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years." Hebrews 3:8-9 KJV
Hence, just because Jesus was tempted doesn't prove that he isn't God.
Second, Jesus wasn't only God but also became fully and truly human. As man, Christ could experience the same general temptations that all men experience, but with one major difference. He never acted upon these external temptations but remained completely sinless. (Cf. John 7:18; 8:29, 46; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 7:26-27; 1 Peter 1:18-19, 2:22, 3:18; 1 John 2:1, 3:5)
5. Jesus(P) himself refused to be called 'son of God' on a number of occasions. In the following verse he rebukes the ones who called him 'son of God', preferring the title of 'Messiah':
"And devils came out of many, crying out and saying, 'You are the son of God!' And he, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that he was the Messiah" (Luke 4:41)
The refusal of Jesus to be called the son of God also occurred during the trial at the Sanhedrian. When he was asked if he claimed to be the son of God he replied:
"So you say. But I tell you this: from now you shall see the son of man seated at the right hand of God" (Matthew 26:64)
As is typical of Muslim apologists, MENJ selectively cites passages which he feels prove his point, but fails to read these verses in their respective contexts. A careful reading of these citations will show that the last thing Jesus was doing was denying his Sonship:
"When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." Luke 3:21-22 cf. Matthew 3:16-17
"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, Since (ei) you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread. Jesus answered, It is written: "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. Since (ei) you are the Son of God, he said, throw yourself down. For it is written: "He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone." Jesus answered him, "It is also written: "Do not put the Lord your God to the test." Matthew 4:1-7 cf. Luke 4:1-4, 9-12
NT commentator Donald A. Hagner explains Satan's use of the Greek word ei (if/since):
"... The question has been prepared for in the baptism narrative, where Jesus is designated the Son of God (see on Comments 3:17). In the temptation pericope the relation of the Son to the will of his Father is called into question (cf. the likening of Israel to a son in Deut. 8:5). The testing is accomplished here by the suggestion of something that, looked at from another perspective or in a different context, is within the power and prerogative of the Messiah. The tempter does not suggest uncertainty on his part concerning the divine sonship of Jesus by use of ei, if" (in a first-class condition). Indeed, the situation here is like the narrative about the demons, e.g. in Mark 1:24, where with the invasion of their realm, the demons have an intuitive knowledge of the true identity of Jesus. Thus, from the perspective of the devil, we might well translate ei here as since ..." (Hagner, World Biblical Commentary: Matthew 1-13 [Word Books Publishers, Dallas TX, 1993], pp. 64-65)
Therefore, since both Matthew and Luke record the baptism and temptation of Christ where his sonship is affirmed, it becomes quite absurd to imagine that several passages later in Luke 4:41 Jesus would then deny that he was the Son of God. It is clear that Jesus was preventing the demons from making his identity known to the crowds due to their false conceptions of what the Messiah would be like. Jesus was not the kind of Messiah the masses were looking for, one who would vanquish Israel's enemies by reestablishing the kingdom of Israel. Rather, Christ came as a suffering Messiah, one who would lay his life down as a ransom for many. The following passages help clarify that Jesus wasn't denying his divine identity:
"Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ." Matthew 16:20
"While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean. Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. I am willing, he said. Be clean! And immediately the leprosy left him. Then Jesus ordered him, Don't tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them. Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses." Luke 5:12-15
It is obvious from these examples that Jesus no more intended to deny his Sonship than he intended to deny his Messiahship and his ability to perform miracles.
As far as Matthew 26:64 is concerned, this only exposes MENJ's ignorance of first century Jewish speech and expressions. Commenting on the Lukan parallel in Luke 22:70 where the same expression occurs, messianic Jewish scholar Dr. David Stern writes:
"You say I am, literally, You say, with the same import here as the modern English idiom, You said it! Yeshua's meaning here is, Yes, I am the Son of God, just as you have asked in your question. That Yeshua's inquirers understood him is clear from their response in v. 71 ..." (Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary [Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., fifth edition 1996], p. 146)
This can be further seen from other passages where the same expression is used:
"The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born. Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, Surely it is not I, Rabbi? He answered, You have said so." Matthew 26:24-25 NAB
It is obvious that Jesus was not denying that Judas was his betrayer, but was rather confirming that Judas had answered his own question.
"Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate. They brought charge against him, saying, We found this man misleading our people; he opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah, a king. Pilate asked him, Are you the king of the Jews? He said to him in reply, You say so." Luke 23:1-3 NAB
That Jesus' reply was taken as an affirmation can be seen in the charges posted above his cross:
"Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, If you are King of the Jews, save yourself. Above him there was an inscription that read, This is the King of the Jews." Luke 23:37-38 NAB
In fact, Christ's enemies started mocking him for claiming to be God's Son obviously due to his confession before the Sanhedrin:
"And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross. So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said, "I am the Son of God."" Matthew 27:39-43 RSV
Catholic NT Scholar Raymond E. Brown comments:
"In Matt Jesus answers the high priest's combined question about the Messiah, Son of God thus: That is what you say. This is an affirmative, but one that puts responsibility on the questioner for the interpretation being given to the point at issue - an interpretation about which the speaker is not enthusiastic. If one seeks on the level of the story-line why the Matthean Jesus would have been so enthusiastic when Peter used these combined titles but is now much more cautious when the high priest uses them, the solution is that Peter used them as a confession uttered under divine revelation while the high priest uses them as a disbelieving question to find evidence against Jesus." (Brown, Introduction to New Testament Christology [Paulist Press New York/Mahwah, 1994], pp. 76-77)
Brown's footnote is noteworthy:
"A few scholars try to argue to the contrary; but later in clear dependence on Jesus' having made such an affirmation, the passerby mock him as he hangs on the cross, If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross (Matt 27:40). Indeed, in their mockery the chief priests and the elders report, He said, "I am the Son of God" (27:43) ..." (Ibid)
We will have more to say about Matthew and Luke's Christology below, but for now this should sufficiently put to rest MENJ's misreading of the biblical texts in question.
6. On numerous occasions Jesus(P) speaks of himself as a prophet:
"A prophet is not without honour except in his home town and his own house" (Matthew 13:57, Mark 6:4 and Luke 4:24)
We also read:
"I must journey today, tomorrow and the day following for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem" (Luke 13:33)
"This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee"(Matthew 21:11)
Apparently, MENJ thinks that Christians deny Jesus' prophethood. The Holy Scriptures teach that the Lord Jesus is prophet, priest and king. Yet, they also teach that he is much more than this. Here are samplings of verses from both Luke and Matthew to expose MENJ's misleading selectivity. We start off with Luke:
"In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. How will this be, Mary asked the angel, since I am a virgin? The angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God." Luke 1:26-35
"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother OF MY LORD should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy." Luke 1:41-44
Interestingly, there are Muslim commentators who readily acknowledge the historicity of this episode. Al-Qurtubi mentions Elizabeth's visitation (called Mary's sister) shortly after both women had conceived:
"The sister visited Mary and said, O Mary, do you perceive that I am with child? Mary answered, Do you see that I am also with child? Her sister went on, I feel the child in my womb bowing down to the child in your womb."
"It is reported that she felt the fetus in her womb bow down with its head turned toward Mary's womb." (Mahmoud M. Ayoub, The Qur'an and Its Interpreters, Volume II, The House of 'Imran [State University of New York Press, Albany 1992], p. 108; bold and italic emphasis ours)
Noted Muslim historian Al-Tabari writes:
"She [Mary] came to her sister who was then pregnant and to whom the birth of the Baptist had been announced. When the two met, the Baptist's mother felt that her child was bowing within her in recognition of Jesus ..." (History of Al-Tabari, Volume IV, The Ancient Kingdoms, trans. Moshe Perlmann [State University of New York Press, Albany, 1987], p. 114; bold emphasis ours)
"... Her sister, the wife of Zechariah, came to visit her at night. When Mary opened the door for her, the sister clung to her. The wife of Zechariah said, Oh Mary, do you know I am with child? Mary replied, Do you know, that I too am with child? Zechariah's wife then said, I felt that the child in me was bowing to the child in you, as it is written, confirming the Word of God." (Ibid., p. 119; bold emphasis ours)
The Father himself affirms that the Lord Jesus is his beloved Son:
"About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters-one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah. (He did not know what he was saying.) While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him. When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen." Luke 9:28-36
Angels testify that Jesus is Lord:
"An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:9-11
Even demons recognized the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and his sovereign power to destroy them:
"When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!" Luke 8:27-28
Finally, Jesus himself testified to his own divine Sonship:
"When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you. Why were you searching for me? he asked. Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house? But they did not understand what he was saying to them." Luke 2:48-50
"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom THE SON CHOOSES TO REVEAL HIM." Luke 10:22
"Then the owner of the vineyard said, What shall I do? I will send MY SON, WHOM I LOVE; perhaps they will respect him. But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. This is THE HEIR, they said. Let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours. So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him." Luke 20:13-15
"Jesus called out with a loud voice, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. When he had said this, he breathed his last." Luke 23:46
To summarize the Lukan data:
We have already presented a detailed discussion of Matthew's Christology which can be found in this article.
Here, we just present a few references for the sake of brevity:
Jesus is God with Us
"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel - which means, God with us." Matthew 1:21-23
According to Matthew, the virgin born child is actually Yahweh God who came to dwell with his people.
Jesus is Lord of Judgment
Jesus claims to be the sovereign Lord that determines the eternal destiny of every human being:
"Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy IN YOUR NAME, and IN YOUR NAME drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" Matthew 7:21-23
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit ON HIS THRONE in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered BEFORE HIM, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then THE KING will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by MY FATHER; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world ... Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." Matthew 25:31-34, 41
Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath
Jesus claims to be greater than the temple of God. Just how much greater becomes evident from the following citation:
"I tell you that one GREATER than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." Matthew 12:6-8
Jesus Forgives Sins
"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS." Matthew 1:21
"Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven. At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, This fellow is blaspheming! Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up and walk"? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins ... Then he said to the paralytic, Get up, take your mat and go home. And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men." Matthew 9:2-8
Jesus is Omnipresent
According to Matthew, Jesus is omnipresent:
"For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20
"... and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20
This short list should be sufficient to expose MENJ's misleading selectivity, or what I like to call cafeteria exegesis; selecting only those verses that suit your taste buds, while rejecting those that don't sit well with your stomach. For a thorough examination of Markan Christology and how it is every bit orthodox as the other Gospels we recommend this article.
7. Jesus(P) also spoke of himself as the Messenger of God:
"He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." (Matthew 10:40)
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him." (John 13:16)
The distinction in this verse is made very clear by Jesus(P) between himself and the One who sent him. This is again made clear in the following verse:
"And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." (John 17:3)
These verses clearly speak of two separate beings. To claim that Jesus(P) and God are one reduces these verses to mere nonsense!
It is again sad to see MENJ wrench verses out of their immediate and overall contexts. For instance, he quotes Matthew and John but fails to refer to the context to see what else Jesus had to say about his own person. We have already shown that Matthew teaches that the Lord Jesus is Yahweh God the Son. Yet, here we would like to take a look at the context of Matthew 10 in order to expose more of MENJ's misleading selectivity:
"He called his twelve disciples to him AND GAVE THEM AUTHORITY to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness ... These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: "The kingdom of heaven is near." Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give ... Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven ... Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life FOR MY SAKE will find it." Matthew 10:1, 5-8, 32-33, 37-39
Jesus claims to be able to grant his disciples the power to perform miracles, and demands that his followers love him unconditionally even to the point of death.
We now turn to John 13 to see what Jesus actually said in context:
"It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love ... Jesus knew that the Father had put all things UNDER HIS POWER, and that HE HAD COME FROM GOD and was RETURNING TO GOD ... When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. Do you understand what I have done for you? he asked them. You call me "Teacher" AND "LORD", AND RIGHTLY SO, FOR THAT IS WHAT I AM. Now that I, YOUR LORD AND TEACHER, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them ... When he was gone, Jesus said, Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify THE SON in himself, and will glorify him AT ONCE." John 13:1-2, 3, 12-17, 31-32
The context shows that Jesus was teaching his disciples by personal example. Since their Master assumed the role of a slave and served them, they too must adopt the same attitude of their Lord since they are not greater than he. The context also shows that all things have been subjected to Christ who is Teacher, Lord, Son of Man and God's Son. The passage explicitly states that Christ came from God and was going to return to him where God would glorify him in himself since he is his Son.
We conclude this section here. Continue with Part 3, our final segment where we will have more to say about the Gospel according to John and where we will deal in particular with John 17:3.
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