Sunday, November 15, 2015

Part 3: Jesus & Muhammed

A Word to the Muslim Community

I pray these brief discussions on why I believe Jesus is God are challenging.  If any professing Muslim reading this finds any place where they feel I have misunderstood or misrepresented the Qur’an, please let me know and I’ll try to either clarify my meaning or make the proper corrections.

Correction is the mother of understanding.

In Review: Jesus is Sinless

In my last message we saw that the Qur’an, in agreement with the Bible, teaches that Jesus is sinless.  Furthermore, we saw that both the Qur’an and the Bible teach that all men without exception are sinners.  However, we also noted that these two teachings -  Jesus is sinless and all men are sinners - poses a contradiction inherent in the writings of the Qur’an if, as it also teaches, Jesus is a mere man.  

That is, if the Qur’an teaches that JesusChrist is merely a man and not God as a man, namely, then to also teach that he is sinless - an attribute only God possesses - while at the same time teaching that all men are sinners poses a self-contradiction.  However, these two seeming contradictory propositions - that Jesus is sinless while all men are sinners - is resolved in the Bible which teaches that Jesus is both God and man; Jesus is fully God because he is holy and only God is holy, and Jesus is also fully man yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15; 7:26).  

It is my contention that, in order to maintain the integrity of the any written source as divine revelation, self-contradictory propositions cannot be found written in the text; and wherever they are found, a coherent resolution to the text from the text must be found.  God does not contradict himself. 

Leaving the issue of Jesus’ sinlessness in the Qur’an, we come to the next reason why I believe Jesus is God.

Part 3: Jesus is the “Anointed One”

The Bible declares that Jesus is Mashiach or Messiah, which in Hebrew means “anointed one”.  In the Greek New Testament, the Hebrew for Mashiach is translated as “Xpiotos” in Greek, which is then translated as “Christ in English.”

“NT preaching, especially among Jews, focuses on presenting Jesus as the Christos,” and the apostle “Paul anguishes over the fact that his Jewish brothers do not acknowledge [Jesus as] Christ” (“Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary,” p.109).

The Qur’an, in agreement with the Bible, teaches that Jesus is Mashiach, that is, al-Masih:
  • “…his name will be Christ Jesus”(Sura 3:45)
  • “That they said (in boast), ‘We killed Christ Jesus’…”(Sura 4:157).
First, it should be noted that the term “Christ” is not a name but a title.  In Matthew 1:21, the angel of the Lord, appearing to Mary declares that she will give a miraculous birth to a son whom she is commanded to give the name of Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins.”

“Jesus” is the Greek for the Hebrew, “Joshua,” which means “Jah saves” or “God saves,” and that is the name Mary gave her Son: Jesus.  However, the term “Christ” is not his name but his title, his office as the One whom God sent to earth.

In any case, the Qur’an, in agreement with the Bible, declares that Jesus is the “Christ,” that is “the anointed one.”  I have found eight references in the Qur’an that either directly name Jesus as Messiah or indirectly reference him as such.  For brevity’s sake, I cite three, which have direct reference: 
  • “his name will be Christ Jesus” (Surah 3:45)
  • “their saying: We killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger.” (Surah 4:157).
  • “Christ Jesus the son of Mary” (Surah 4:171).
Admittedly, the Qur’an warns both Jew and Christian not to think of Jesus as more than a messenger from God, that is, a mere man; but, then again, when you consider what we previously learned about Jesus in the Qur’an - that he is peace and he is sinless - it is legitimate to question whether such a warning makes sense.

In addition, unless I am mistaken, not even Muhammed is given this title in the Qur’an, nor anyone else, for that matter, either in the Qur’an or the Bible.  Considering if the leading prophet of Islam is not vested with the title of “the anointed one,” it would make sense to suppose Jesus must be of greater significance and superiority than Muhammed and, if I am correct, the question that needs to be asked is, in what sense is Jesus greater than Muhammed?

First, in Arabic, the word “masih” is “an "intensive form" that often indicates "a very high degree of the quality which their subject possesses or an act which is done with frequency…by their subject” and “is grammatically capable of carrying the idea of ‘very anointed’ or ‘most anointed’ both of which would express a very high degree of the quality which their subject possesses” (cited from “A Grammar of the Arabic Language,” vol. 1, Edited by W. Wright, L.L.D, copyright 1967, p. 136 ; see http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Memsuah/al-masih.htm).  If such a definition for “masih” is correct, then again, it indicates Jesus as having greater significance and superiority over Muhammed.

Therefore, we see that in one sense, the divine anointing on Jesus is greater than what Muhammed, as merely a “messenger of God,” is claimed to possess.

Second, the title of “Messiah,” given only to Jesus “appears in the Qur'an after Muhammad has made some contact with the Jews and Christians of Arabia. Clearly Qur'anic use of the title is linked to Jewish and Christian beliefs about the Messiah. Therefore, we must go into Jewish expectations and Christian beliefs about the Messiah to find out what the title means” (http://www.answering-islam.org/Gilchrist/titles).

Admittedly, while the Qur’an denies it, the New Testament identifies the Messiah (al-Masih) as the Son of God:
  • “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
  • “ Nathaniel (John 1:49).
  • “the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1)
  • “I believe you are Messiah, Son of God” (John 11:27).
  • “tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.  Jesus said, You have said it” (Matthew 26:63-64).
  • Even demons recognized Jesus as Messiah, the Son of God when he commanded them to depart: “And demons also came out of many, crying, You are the Son of God!  But he rebuked them, and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah” (Luke 4:41).

“By offering no explanation of this title, the Qur’an is at the same time making no contest against the accepted longstanding beliefs of the Jews and Christians about the Messiah. To both he is far more than just a messenger. The title in Jewish and Christian scriptural usage clearly implies greatness of such a degree that all the true messengers of God will ultimately bow to him in homage and obeisance. By admitting the Christian contention that Jesus is the Messiah, the Qur’an is in fact implying that he is the ultimate man of glory in human history and that he is the one who is the final expression of the revelation of God to men” (ibid).

Therefore, in another sense, we see that Jesus, identified as the Son of God, signifies his possession of eternally divine qualities equal to God; in other words, “like father, like son.”

In my next installment, we will see that the Qur’an warns us to trust in Jesus; unlike Muhammed, to make Jesus our object of faith with a warning of dire consequences.

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