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Why Follow Jesus?

Chapter 14: Jesus, The Son of God

Some people think that the Christian belief in the Fatherhood of God and the Sonship of Jesus rests on the belief that God has a wife. The question is put in this way: "How can God have a Son when He has no wife, no consort?"

The Father & the Son

The Bible nowhere claims such a literal sonship for Jesus; it does not say that Jesus is the Son of God in the sense that God had a wife. In the Bible, God the Father and Jesus the Son are to be understood in a spiritual sense. Christians did not invent these titles. It was Jesus Himself who introduced God to us as the Father. He taught His disciples to pray, as follows, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever. Amen." [1]

The phrase "Heavenly Father" identifies God's relationship with His creatures. This is one of the most beautifully descriptive titles given to Him. In the same manner God calls Jesus "His Son". "This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased."[2] Thus the Gospel (Injil) states that Jesus is the Son of God. He is called the Son of God by His disciples: "You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God."[3] Jesus Himself confirmed this title. When the High Priest asked Him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?' Jesus replied, 'I am...".[4]

Objections

Some may say the terms 'Son of God' and 'Father' give one the idea of a physical relationship, and so should not be used. For Christians it would not be wise to abandon such terms since they have Jesus' full approval. We all know that 'fatherhood' and 'sonship' are used in various ways. For example, Muhammad Ali Jinnah is called the father of the Pakistani nation (Baba -e- Mellat), and Mahatma Gandhi is called the father of the Indian nation. In the Qur'an a wayfarer is called, "Ibnu'sabil" - son of the road.[5] This does not mean that the road has a wife or Jinnah and Gandhi were the physical fathers of their nations.

There are many similar examples. The city of Mecca is called "Om-ul-Qura" - the mother of villages. Muhammad's cousin Ali was called "Abu Turab" - the father of dust. Even today it is quite common for elderly men and women to call any young person "daughter" or "son", even though they are not their real fathers and mothers. Therefore just as it is not necessary to force an offensive interpretation on the above examples, we should not force an offensive interpretation on the Biblical statements about Jesus being the Son of God.

The heart of the matter

In the light of both the Qur'an and the Bible if God can see and hear without having eyes and ears like ours, and if He can have a face and hands different from ours, and can sit on a throne different from ours, then it is also possible for Him to have a Son in a different way from us.

Jesus as the Son of God

When the angel gave the glad tidings to Mary, he said, "... the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God".[6] The Bible does not say that Jesus was called the Son of God just because He was born of Mary. Nor does it attempt to make a mere man into God or create a god beside the one true God. God alone is God.

The First and the last

The Bible states that Jesus is God's Word. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning."[7] This passage tells us that Jesus is the eternal Word of God. As God is eternal, so also is Jesus His Son eternal. No one else has been called the Word of God other than Jesus. It was this eternal Word of God which almost two thousand years ago came from heaven into this world. He became man by being born of the virgin Mary.

Muslim friends do accept that God's eternal Word became a book. Why should it not be possible then, to accept that God's Word became a man, Jesus? Even the Qur'an, 600 years later, acknowledged that Jesus is the Word of God.[8]

The unique sonship

It is often said that the expression "son of God" is found in the Bible in the general context of humans being called children of God and, therefore, when Jesus claimed to be the Son of God He was merely speaking in a metaphorical sense.[9]

However, it is impossible to draw this conclusion from Jesus' statements about Himself. He was not using this title in the same way as others who are called "sons of God". What more systematic, categorical and emphatic statement could there be than the following?

"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."[10]

No other prophet, no other apostle used such language to identify himself. No wonder the Jews once testified, "no-one ever spoke the way this man does."[11]

He who has seen me

Jesus claimed that He had come from heaven to earth and that He had always existed. [12] He said, "Before Abraham was born, I am!"[13] We may wonder what Jesus was claiming to be, but the people around Him understood. Some of them picked up stones to stone Him to death for blasphemy. These Jewish listeners had realised that Jesus claimed to have been alive before Abraham was born and that he was using the personal name of Yahweh, revealed to Moses ('I am' see Exodus 7:14), thus making himself equal with God.

Jesus prayed to God, "Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."[14] He also told others, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father."[15]

Are these claims the same as saying that God has a partner? What was Jesus claiming? The plain answer is that Jesus was claiming to be of the same essence as God. He is the best possible representation of God. Jesus also said,"... the Father judges no-one, but has entrusted all judgement to the Son, that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father, ... who sent Him."[16]

Eye-witnesses of his majesty

At the transfiguration God told the disciples, "This (Jesus) is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!"[17] Referring to this event, one of the apostles said, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye-witnesses of His majesty. ... We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with Him on the sacred mountain."[18]

The crucial question

Why did God send His eternal Word to earth? Simply because He loves His creation and wanted to bring it back to Him. That is why the Bible says, "whoever believes in Him may have eternal life". Why? Because Jesus is the only way to reach the presence of God. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no-one comes to the Father except through me."[19] We are told that, "Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."[20]

References

  1. Matthew 6:9-13
  2. Matthew 3:17
  3. Matthew 16:16
  4. Mark 14:61,62
  5. Qur'an 2:177; 4:171
  6. Luke 1:34-35
  7. John 1:1-2
  8. Qur'an 3:45
  9. Deedat, "Christ in Islam", pp. 28-29
  10. Luke 10:22
  11. John 7:46
  12. John 6:51
  13. John 8:58-59
  14. John 17:5,24
  15. John 14:9-10
  16. John 5:22-23
  17. Matthew 17:5
  18. 2 Peter 1:16,18
  19. John 14:6
  20. Acts 4:12

 

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