By Sam Shamoun
I recently watched a youtube video that featured Muslim polemicist Paul Williams interrogating a group of Christians on the subject of intercession and the Deity of Christ (Irish Christian vs English Muslim | Religious Debate | Speakers Corner).
Williams appealed to “The Lord’s Prayer” to prove that Jesus was in agreement with the message of Islam that a person can pray directly to God, and therefore doesn’t need a middle man as the apostle Paul claimed in 1 Timothy 2:5 where he proclaimed that Christ is the one Mediator between God and mankind. Williams even alluded to John 20:17 to show that Jesus himself cannot be God since he has a God that he worships and submits to.
It is these assertions that we will be addressing here by the grace of our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The God that Jesus Proclaimed is not the god preached by Muhammad
To begin with both Matthew and John make it clear that the God to whom Jesus submits, and commanded his disciples to pray to, is the Father:
“Pray then in this way: OUR FATHER in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:9-13 – cf. Luke 11:1-4
“Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending TO MY FATHER AND YOUR FATHER, to my God and your God.”’” John 20:17
Muhammad, on the other hand, denied that his god is anyone’s father,
The Jews and Christians say: We are sons of Allah and His loved ones. Say: Why then doth He chastise you for your sins? Nay, ye are but mortals of His creating. He forgiveth whom He will, and chastiseth whom He will. Allah's is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, and unto Him is the journeying. S. 5:18
And they say: The Beneficent hath taken unto Himself a son. Assuredly ye utter a disastrous thing Whereby almost the heavens are torn, and the earth is split asunder and the mountains fall in ruins, That ye ascribe unto the Beneficent a son, When it is not meet for (the Majesty of) the Beneficent that He should choose a son. There is none in the heavens and the earth but cometh unto the Beneficent as a slave. S. 19:88-93
And they say: The Beneficent hath taken unto Himself a son. Be He Glorified! Nay, but (those whom they call sons) are honoured slaves; S. 21:26
Let alone the Father of Christ:
And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they! S. 9:30
As such, the God that Jesus proclaimed IS NOT the same god that Muhammad preached. Therefore, the very texts that Williams appealed to end up backfiring against him, since they prove that Jesus was not a Muslim nor was Muhammad a true prophet!
The Witness of Matthew and Luke
However, this is the least of Williams’ problems since the very Gospels that he appealed depict Jesus as receiving the very worship that is to be given God Almighty alone:
“But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they became angry and said to him, ‘Do you hear what these are saying?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Yes; have you never read, “Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself”?’” Matthew 21:15-16
In the above episode, Jesus justifies the children’s praising him by citing the following Psalm:
“O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.” Psalm 8:1-2
What makes the appeal to the foregoing citation rather remarkable is that the Psalm is speaking of the praise that Yahweh procures from the mouths of babes and infants in order to silence his enemies who lack the sense to worship him. And yet Jesus quotes this passage to approve of the worship he was receiving from the children!
Christ’s point is crystal clear. He is the Yahweh whom babes and infants could not help but to praise and worship since, unlike Jesus’ enemies, they recognized that the One standing in their midst was no mere man, but their eternal Creator who had come into the flesh!
In this next example,
“Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I (Ego Eimi – I AM); do not be afraid.’ Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” Matthew 14:22-33 – cf. Mark 6:45-52; John 6:16-21
The disciples worship Jesus as the I AM who commands the seas and winds. This also is an amazing event since Christ displays the very same sovereign power over creation that the OT ascribes to Yahweh alone:
“who ALONE stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the Sea;” Job 9:8
“Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity; they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.” Psalm 107:23-32
Christ was further worshiped after his resurrection and subsequent ascension into heaven:
“Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him… Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” Matthew 28:9, 16-17
“Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.” Luke 24:50-53
That’s not at all. Jesus’ Jewish followers prayed to him,
“While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died.” Acts 7:59-60
“But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to YOUR saints IN JERUSALEM; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who INVOKE YOUR NAME.’… and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ All who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc IN JERUSALEM among those who INVOKED THIS NAME? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?’” Acts 9:13-14
In the exact same way that the OT saints would pray to Yahweh!
“Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.” Psalm 31:5 – cf. Ecclesiastes 12:7
“Extol the Lord our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he! Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried to the Lord, and he answered them. He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept his decrees, and the statutes that he gave them.” Psalm 99:5-7
They even ascribed the exact same saving significance to Jesus’ Person and name,
“She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.’” Luke 2:10-11
“Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’” Luke 24:44-47
“God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31
“All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Acts 10:43
“Of this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised… Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; by this Jesus everyone who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” Acts 13:23, 38-39
That the OT attributes to Yahweh alone.
For instance, it is Yahweh who redeems Israel from their sins,
“If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered… O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.” Psalm 130:3-4, 7-8
And it is his name that brings about forgiveness and salvation:
“For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.” Psalm 25:11
“Save me, O God, by your name, and vindicate me by your might.” Psalm 54:1
“Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and forgive our sins, for your name’s sake.” Psalm 79:9
The Hebrew Bible further testifies that Yahweh alone is able to redeem, since there is no man who is capable of ransoming a single human soul, let alone countless ones:
“Truly, no ransom avails for one’s life, there is no price one can give to God for it. For the ransom of life is costly, and can never suffice, that one should live on forever and never see the grave… But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.Selah” Psalm 49:7-9, 15
And yet, the Lord Jesus is able to redeem an innumerable host of human lives by his vicarious death on Calvary’s cross!
“just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
“While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” Matthew 26:26-28 – cf. Luke 22:19-20
“For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all—this was attested at the right time.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6
“After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, AND TO THE LAMB!’ And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.’ Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you are the one that knows.’ Then he said to me, ‘These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white IN THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB. FOR THIS REASON they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” Revelation 7:9-17