This is the third part of my report on my visit to a mosque to hear Islamic scholar Yusha Evans. In Islam, Jesus (or Isa) is affirmed as a great prophet, but is not the son of God. Muslims reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity as well as the doctrine of the incarnation; that is, the idea that God became a human being and lived among us. God cannot have a son, and Jesus was not God and never claimed to be. As Evans made this statement, I reacted by bookmarking some key passages in my Bible on this question with torn off scraps of paper, and thought to myself, "Yes he did."
How could Evans reconcile this claim with the Bible's unequivocal teaching on this matter? If you were to look up a good Bible encyclopedia for an entry on "Jesus Christ-Divinity" you'd be flooded with a torrent of Bible verses to look up and correlate. These passages either imply or make explicit Jesus's identity as God. What follows is a summary of these passages.
No other spiritual leader in human history taught with the authority and conviction that Jesus did. He made the astonishing claim that he could forgive sins (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:5-6; Luke 5:17-26). His Jewish hearers understood the implications of this claim, and this enraged them. The Jewish understanding was that only God could forgive sins, in claiming the authority to forgive sins, Jesus clearly claimed to be God.
Jesus claimed to be equal to God the Father (John 8:58; 10:30, 33; 20:28). To this we can also look at several instances of Jesus declaring that he was the Messiah (Matthew 11:3-6; 26:63-64; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44; John 4:1-42; 5:33-36, 39, 46, 6:27, 8:14, 17-18, 25, 28, 56, 13:19). There are also examples of others acknowledging Jesus's identity as the Messiah (John 1:41-45; Acts 3:18:20, 24, 4:26-27, 9:22, 13:27, 17:2-3, 26:22-23, 28:23; Romans 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Peter 1:10-11, 16, 17-18; 1 John 5:6-9). By reading these passages, we can see that these declarations were not the words of a deluded individual or individuals. Jesus knew exactly who he was, and so did those who wrote about him.
Jesus also used miracles to provide evidence of his identity as the Messiah (John 10:37-38). The New Testament records these numerous miracles. For example, Jesus calmed storms (Matthew 8:23-27, 14:32; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25), fed the hungry (Matthew 14:15-21; 15:32-39; Mark 6:35-44, 8:1-9; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:5-14). He healed many people of all kinds of diseases and physical infirmities (Matthew 4:23-24, 14:14, 15:30; Mark 1:34; Luke 6:17-19, 7:21-22; John 2:23; 3:2). He brought dead people back to life, such as a widow's son (Luke 7:11-16), the daughter of a man named Jairus (Matthew 9:18, 19, 23-26; Mark 5:22-24, 35-43; Luke 8:41,42, 49-56), and his friend Lazarus (John 11:1-54). He also cast out demons (Matthew 4:23-24, 8:16-17, 28-34, 9:32-33, 12:22-37, 15:21-28, 17:14:21; Mark 1:23-26, 34, 3:19-30, 5:1-20, 7:24-30, 9:14-29, Luke 4:33-36, 40-41, 7:21, 8:26-39, 9:37-43, 11:14, 15, 17-23).
To reinforce his actions, we also have the question of Jesus's character.
What of the character of Jesus? Jesus is unique in all of human history. The Bible repeatedly states that he is the only sinless man who ever lived.
Speaking of Jesus, the apostle Paul wrote,
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The apostle Peter wrote of Jesus,
"...Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God." (1 Peter 1:19-21), and, "He committed no sin and no deceit was found in his mouth." (1 Peter 2:22).
"But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin." (1 John 3:5-6).
The writer of the Book of Hebrews described Jesus as follows:
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus clearly believed himself to be God, and never once did he rebuke anyone who affirmed and acknowledged him as such. His teachings, actions, and character back this up. To make contrary claims means disregarding all of this evidence, not to mention his greatest miracle; rising from the grave. I'll look at the resurrection in a future post.