Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Having Eyes He’s Still Unable To See Pt. 3

Sam Shamoun

We have now come to the final part of our response.

Jesus did two other miracles which the OT ascribes to Yahweh alone, such as cleansing people of leprosy and other infectious skin diseases:

“And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons. Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, ‘If You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ As soon as He had spoken, IMMEDIATELY the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, and said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.” Mark 1:39-45

As well as forgive sinners,

“And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’ And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ But immediately, when Jesus perceived IN HIS SPIRIT that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, ‘Why do you reason about these things IN YOUR HEARTS? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven you,” or to say, “Arise, take up your bed and walk”? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’—He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’ Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’” Mark 2:1-12

Hence, like Yahweh Jesus was able to heal all diseases such as touch and cleanse a leper, forgive sins, and know what people were/are thinking within their hearts:

Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper. And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, ‘If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.’ And Naaman went in and told his master, saying, ‘Thus and thus said the girl who is from the land of Israel.’ Then the king of Syria said, ‘Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.’ So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. Then he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said, Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy. And it happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, ‘Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy? Therefore please consider, and see how he seeks a quarrel with me.’ So it was, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, ‘Why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.’ Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, ‘Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.’ But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, ‘Indeed, I said to myself, “He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.” Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?’ So he turned and went away in a rage. And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, “Wash, and be clean”?’ So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. And he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, ‘Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel; now therefore, please take a gift from your servant.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive nothing.’ And he urged him to take it, but he refused.” 2 Kings 5:1-16

{Sidenote: Pay close attention to the fact that Elisha never went out to meet Namaan directly, nor did he touch or wave his hand over the leprosy. This shows that the prophet had nothing to do with the healing, except for passing on the instructions that God had given him. This way God got the sole credit for the miracle. Besides, as a Torah-observant Israelite Elisha was expressly forbidden from touching a person with leprosy or any other infectious skin disease since such contact would have left him ceremonially unclean before God [cf. Leviticus 5:1-6; 7:21; 13:45-46; Numbers 12:9-15; 2 Chronicles 26:16-21]. This is in marked contrasted with the Lord Jesus who, instead of becoming defiled by such contact, was able to actually miraculously cleanse such individuals by the power of his touch!} 

“then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men)… When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to the land of the enemy, far or near; yet when they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You in the land of those who took them captive, saying, ‘We have sinned and done wrong, we have committed wickedness’; and when they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who led them away captive, and pray to You toward their land which You gave to their fathers, the city which You have chosen and the temple which I have built for Your name: then hear in heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people who have sinned against You, and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against You; and grant them compassion before those who took them captive, that they may have compassion on them.” 1 Kings 8:39, 46-50

“Would not God search this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.” Psalm 44:21

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies…He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:2-4, 10-12 – cf. 139:1-16; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Isaiah 43:25; Daniel 9:9; Micah 7:18-19

Here is what The New Jerome Biblical Commentary says in regard to Jesus possessing the ability to forgive sins:

“… According to several OT passages (Exod 34:6-7; Isa 43:25; 44:22), the one who forgives sins is God. According to the reasoning of the scribes (they do not say it directly; see 2:6, 8), Jesus’ claim to forgive sins would thus qualify as blasphemy. Indeed, it does constitute an implicit claim to divine authority – something perfectly acceptable to early Christians who read Mark’s Gospel…” (Ibid., p. 602; bold emphasis ours)

The following Christian scholar does an excellent job of summing all of this up:

“But it is also in his miracles that Jesus displays a unique sense of deity. We must not view the miracles of Jesus as merely evidence of a Spirit-empowered individual who acts on behalf of God. Rather, all Jesus' miracles are set within the larger context of the inauguration of the ‘age to come’ – something which only God can do. The healing miracles are evidence of the arrival of the messianic age (Luke 7:22-23; cf. Isa. 29:18; 35:5-6; 61:1). They are visible manifestations of the presence of the supernatural rule of God coming in and through Jesus. For example, the nature miracles are displays of the work of God. In Matthew 8:23-27 we are told that Jesus exercises his authority over nature. He speaks a word, and the storm instantly calms. But what would this bring to mind for the Old Testament reader? It would remind them of the Lord himself, who triumphs over the stormy sea (see Ps. 107:23-32); cf. Job 9:8; Pss. 65:7; 77:19; Isa. 43:16; 51:9-10; Hab. 3:15).

“In a similar nature miracle when Jesus walks on the water (Matt. 14:25; Mark 6:48; cf. John 6:19), Old Testament readers would be reminded of the Lord who walks upon the sea (Job 9:8 LXX; cf. Ps. 77:19; Isa. 51:9-10). In fact, as the Gospels present this account each one of them recounts how the disciples were filled with terror. But, as Schreiner points out, ‘Jesus replies with the exact same words: ego eimi, me phobeisthe (‘I am; do not fear’).’ As Schreiner rightly argues, in John's Gospel ego eimi is full of christological import and hearkens back to ‘Exodus 3:14 and to texts in Isaiah that refer to the one and only God (e.g., Isa. 41:10; 43:10; 45:18). Given John's Christology, it is clear that Jesus is considered to be God–theos (John 1:1).’ That is why in the Gospels the proclamation of th gospel of the kingdom is accompanied by many miracles, healings and exorcisms of demons (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; 10:7-8; Luke 9:11; 10:9, 17; 11:20). In fact, Matthew 12:28 makes clear that Jesus' exorcisms of demons by the power of the Spirit is proof-positive that God's saving reign has now come to this world. Jesus' miracles, then, as Schreiner correctly notes, ‘are signs of the kingdom, manifestations of the new creation.’ In light of this, what is Jesus' self-understanding? It is this: he is not only the Messiah but also the unique Son vis-à-vis his Father and thus closely identified in authority and power with him.” (Stephen J. Wellum, The Deity of Christ, eds. Christopher W. Morgan & Robert A. Peterson [Crossway, Wheaton, IL 2011], 3. The Deity of Christ in the Synoptic Gospels, pp. 75-76; bold emphasis ours)

38 See Simon J. Gathercole, The Pre-existent Son: Recovering the Christologies of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006), 64. Gathercole states: ‘The reference to walking on the sea is a ‘theophany’ motif which is taken over from Yahweh to Jesus … For the moment, however, the combination of the two passages showing Jesus' mastery of the sea (Matt. 14:22-23; Mark 6:45-52) points very strongly to a close identification of him with Yahweh in the Old Testament. (Ibid., p. 75; bold emphasis ours)

Even the Quran agrees that these are functions and abilities which only God possesses:

And those who, when they do an evil thing or wrong themselves, remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins – Who forgiveth sins save Allah only? – and will not knowingly repeat (the wrong) they did. S. 3:135 Pickthall – cf. Q. 39:53

“… but (all this was) that God might test what is in your breasts and purge what is in your hearts. For God knoweth well the secrets of your hearts.” S. 3:154 Y. Ali

What makes this all the more ironic is that the Quran also bears witness to the fact that Jesus performed all these same miracles that God is supposed to perform when he comes to dwell on the earth!

“to be a Messenger to the Children of Israel saying, ‘I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. I will create for you out of clay as the likeness of a bird; then I will breathe into it, and it will be a bird, by the leave of God. I will also heal the blind and the leper, and bring to life the dead, by the leave of God. I will inform you too of what things you eat, and what you treasure up in your houses. Surely in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.’” S. 3:49 Arberry

“When God said, 'Jesus Son of Mary, remember My blessing upon thee and upon thy mother, when I confirmed thee with the Holy Spirit, to speak to men in the cradle, and of age; and when I taught thee the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, the Gospel; and when thou createst out of clay, by My leave, as the likeness of a bird, and thou breathest into it, and it is a bird, by My leave; and thou healest the blind and the leper by My leave, and thou bringest the dead forth by My leave; and when restrained from thee the Children of Israel when thou camest unto them with the clear signs, and the unbelievers among them said, “This is nothing but sorcery manifest.”’” S. 5:110 Arberry

As if this weren’t enough to prove that Jesus is God in the flesh, Christ also gave others the power and authority to perform miracles in his glorious and majestic name!

“And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons:” Mark 3:13-15

“And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spiritsAnd they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.” Mark 6:7, 13

“Now John answered Him, saying, ‘Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons IN YOUR NAME, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle IN MY NAME can soon afterward speak evil of Me.’” Mark 9:38-39

Williams will not be able to cite a single example from the Holy Bible – or the Quran for that matter – where an individual performs miracles in the name of a prophet or angel with God’s approval.

In light of the foregoing, can there be any doubt that Mark depicts Jesus as Yahweh God Incarnate? More importantly, how long shall Williams continue to deny the plain and explicit evidence from Mark’s Gospel that the reason Jesus does the works which both the Hebrew Bible and the Quran testify that only God can do, is because Mark presents Jesus the LORD God whom the prophets said was going to come and dwell on the earth?

All scriptural quotations taken from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Holy Bible.

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