Inside Islam: Jesus’ Deity, Death and Resurrection with Nabeel Qureshi

Inside Islam: Jesus’ Deity, Death and Resurrection with Nabeel Qureshi April 19, 2016

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Now, remember that Muslims believe that the Gospels are the inspired word of God. They refer to the story of Jesus Christ as the Injil, and it is one of the four Islamic holy books. And, when we take a look at what Jesus said and did, as well as what others said about Him and how they reacted to Him, it becomes very clear that Jesus did claim to be God.

In Mark 14:62, the Jewish High Priest asks Jesus, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” And Jesus’ response is, “I AM. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

When we read Jesus’ words today, it doesn’t seem to make much sense. But, when we read it from the perspective of a first century Jew, it makes all the sense in the world.

Jesus starts out by saying the words, “I AM”. These are the same words God answered with when Moses asked Him, “Who are you?” as he stood before the burning bush. Many other times throughout the Old Testament, God uses the words, “I AM” in reference to Himself. Then, in John’s Gospel, we see Jesus using the same words in reference to Himself.

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.”

57 The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?”

58 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am!” (John 8:56-58)

But, John isn’t the only account that quotes Jesus in this way. We read Mark 14, and earlier in Mark’s Gospel (chapter six) when Jesus’ disciples saw Him walking on the sea of Galilee, they were filled with fear. But, Jesus’ response to them was, “Take courage. I AM.”  

Now, in most English translations, we read Jesus’ words as, “Don’t be afraid, it’s Me.” But, when we look at the original Greek writings describing this moment, it says “Take courage. I AM.”

This matters because the Old Testament says that only Yahweh can walk on water:

He alone has spread out the heavens
    and marches on the waves of the sea. (Job 9:8)

Yet, we read in both Matthew and Mark’s Gospels about Jesus walking on water. Then He referred to Himself with “I AM”.

Image: Darla Jones
Image: Darla Jones

Going back to Mark 14:62, Jesus went on to say, “you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power…”

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus calls Himself the “Son of Man” more than anything else. This particular time, He is once again referencing the Old Testament, going back to one of Daniel’s visions:

13 As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.

And that’s the Guy who Jesus claims to be!

Jesus also claims to be the One sitting at the right hand of Power, which is a reference to Psalm 110:1,

The Lord says to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

In addition to what Jesus said, lets look at what Jesus did.

He forgave people’s sins. Yet, the Old Testament says that only God alone has the prerogative to forgive sins.

And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:5-12)

Jesus also performed miracles in His own Name. Throughout the Old Testament, whenever someone does something miraculous, they pray in God’s name in order for it to be done. But, when Jesus raised a little boy from the dead in Luke 7:11-17, Jesus used the words, “I say to you, arise.” (Not “in the Name of God, arise”, as Old Testament prophets would have said).

“Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” (Luke 7:14-16)

Also, in Matthew 9:27-31, when two blind people approached Jesus and asked Him to heal them, He asked them, “Do you have faith that I can do this?” They respond, “Yes. We have faith that YOU can do this.”

Jesus then told them, “By your faith, it shall be done.”

Did you catch that? Not by their faith in their Creator, but faith in Him… Jesus! Jesus did something no one has ever done… He performed Godly miracles in His own Name!

Also, what other people said about Jesus throughout the Gospels indicates that Jesus claimed to be God as well. In John 20:28, the Apostle Thomas stood before Jesus after His resurrection and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”

And, of course, we see Jesus being worshipped as God throughout the New Testament. Additionally, the Jews killed Him for the crime of blasphemy. The only way that He could be found guilty of that is if He claimed to be God.

Finally, throughout the New Testament, there are quotations of things that were written before the New Testament. For instance, Philippians 2:5-11 tells us,

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

These words in Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi aren’t his own. Paul is quoting Daniel 7 as well as other Old Testament writings. Paul is also saying that, by His very nature, Christ is God. Paul quotes Old Testament writings regarding Jesus’ death, deity, and His resurrection.

Also, many scholars believe that Mark’s passion narrative – his account of Jesus’ beating, crucifixion, and death – predates the rest of Mark’s Gospel. It also testifies to Jesus’ death, deity and His resurrection.

Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth – believed by scholars to be written less than two years after Jesus’ death says,

Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

The earliest stratum of Christian history that we have proclaims Jesus’ death, deity, and His resurrection. That is something that we all ought to take with us. The core of the Christian faith is the very first thing that we ever had: Jesus is God, He claimed to be God, He died for our sins and He rose from the dead.

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