Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Jesus Really Is Sinless! Pt. 2

The Rich Young Ruler and Jesus

Sam Shamoun

We continue with our response to Zaatari’s desperate attempt to prove that the Lord Jesus was a sinner like his false prophet Muhammad.

Zaatari quotes the following verses to establish that Jesus didn’t think he was absolutely good:

“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:16-17 King James Version (KJV/AV)

Zaatari erroneously assumes that Christ’s reply shows that the Lord didn’t think he was good in the sense of being perfect, since God alone is perfect.

Just like the story of the woman caught in adultery, Zaatari again wants us to simply brush aside and forget the following facts.

Forget the fact that Jesus goes on to explain to the man that keeping the commands are not enough, since he must give up everything, specifically his riches, for the sake of Christ if he wants to be perfect:

“Then he said to Him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER ; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ The young man said to Him, ‘All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, FOLLOW ME.’ But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.” Matthew 19:18-22

Forget the fact that Jesus then stated that salvation is a work of God since it is impossible for man to save himself, let alone anyone else. And yet Jesus is able to give eternal life to anyone who gives up everything to follow him:

“And Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ And looking at them Jesus said to them, With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ Then Peter said to Him, ‘Behold, we have left everything AND FOLLOWED YOU; what then will there be for us?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms FOR MY NAME’S SAKE, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.’” Matthew 19:23-29

Forget the fact that Jesus plainly taught that he would offer up his life as a ransom for many,

“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 – cf. Mark 10:45

And that his blood would be poured out for the forgiveness of the sins of many,

“While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ And when He had taken a cup and given 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 forgiveness of sins.’” Matthew 26:26-28 – cf. Mark 14:22-24

Something that Jesus could not do if he were just a man and less than perfectly good, since the Hebrew Scriptures testify that God alone redeems men since no human being is capable of offering a sufficient ransom to save a single life, let alone many lives: 

“No man can by any means redeem his brother Or give to God a ransom for him – For the redemption of his soul is costly, And he should cease trying forever – That he should live on eternally, That he should not undergo decay… But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, For He will receive me. Selah.” Psalm 49:7-9, 14-15

Forget the fact that Jesus claims to have the power to forgive sins:

“Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city. And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.’ And some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This fellow blasphemes.’ And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, ‘Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up, and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’–then He said to the paralytic, ‘Get up, pick up your bed and go home.’ And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.” Matthew 9:1-8

Jesus here performs functions and exhibits characteristics which both the Old Testament and Quran ascribe to God alone, such as knowing the hearts of men and forgiving sins:

And those who, having done something to be ashamed of, or wronged their own souls, earnestly bring God to mind, and ask for forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except God? – and are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in (the wrong) they have done.  S. 3:135 Y. Ali

Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of God: for God forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. S. 39:53 Y. Ali

“… For He knows well the secrets of all hearts…” S. 42:24 Y. Ali

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

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;” Psalm 103:2-4 – cf. 130:3-4, 7-8; 1 Kings 8:39, 46-50; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Isaiah 43:25; Daniel 9:9; Micah 7:18-19

Forget the fact that John the Baptist testifies that Christ is more powerful than him, whose sandals the Baptist is not worthy to remove, and who shall baptize people with the Holy Spirit and fire:

“‘As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’” Matthew 3:11-12

These again are divine functions since the Scriptures teach that it is God who gives his Holy Spirit to people and who also consumes his enemies with fire:

They have made Me jealous with what is not God; They have provoked Me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation, For a fire is kindled in My anger, And burns to the lowest part of Sheol, And consumes the earth with its yield, And sets on fire the foundations of the mountains… Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.” Deuteronomy 32:21-22, 35

“Sinners in Zion are terrified; Trembling has seized the godless. ‘Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with continual burning?’” Isaiah 33:14

“For behold, the LORD will come in fire And His chariots like the whirlwind, To render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire. For the LORD will execute judgment by fire And by His sword on all flesh, And those slain by the LORD will be many.” Isaiah 66:15-16

“Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, And that I am the LORD your God, And there is no other; And My people will never be put to shame. It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” Joel 2:27-29

Forget the fact that the Father himself bears witness that Christ is his beloved Son with whom he is well pleased, and commands true believers to listen to him:

“Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’ But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’” Matthew 3:13-17

“Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!’” Matthew 17:1-5

Here we have Jesus, who is supposed to be less than absolutely good, miraculously transfiguring before his disciples, whose face started radiating as bright as the sun and whose garments became white as light, while Moses and Elijah appear before all of them in order to bear witness to Christ. Moreover, Jesus’ transfigured appearance  is a theophany, or visible manifestation of God, just as Biblical scholar Larry W. Hurtado explains in his exposition of the Markan version of this story:

9:2-13 / The open and forthright nature of Jesus’ teaching about his coming death in 8:31-32 is matched here by a powerful disclosure of his true significance as the Son of God… The placement of this account right after Jesus’ promise of his future, glorious vindication (8:38-9:1) shows the reader a glimpse of that glory. The direct connection of this event with the sayings in 8:38-9:1 is underscored by the note after six days in 9:2, meaning six days after the sayings in 8:38-9:1 (cf. Luke 9:28, “about eight days”). The mention of six days is, however, also very likely an allusion to Exodus 24:15, where after six days, Moses is summoned to a mountaintop and is given a revelation of God. We have already seen how Mark alludes to the OT to elucidate the significance of the events he recounts. Here the point of the allusion is to alert the reader that what is about to take place is a manifestation of God (a theophany) like that mentioned in Exodus 24:15-18 and that a new revelation is here given that therefore surpasses the former one to Moses. (Hurtado, Mark: New International Biblical Commentary Based on the New International Version [Hendricksen Publishers, Inc., 1989], p. 144; bold emphasis ours)


“Thus, several features in the account attest that Jesus is the Messiah and that his presence is the fulfillment of hopes for God’s salvation. But the passage shows that Jesus is even more than this. Additional items in the narrative show what this ‘more’ is. First, there is the description of Jesus’ transfigured appearance in 9:2-3. The reference to the dazzling white clothes (v. 3) is an allusion to Daniel 7:9, which is a description of God. This allusion suggests that the experience of the disciples in 9:2-13 IS A DIVINE MANIFESTATION like the visions of OT prophets (in addition to Dan. 7:9-14, see also Isa. 6:1-3; Ezek. 1:4-28; 8:1-4). But this means that the ‘transfiguration’ of Jesus shows him in a form like God, meaning that he is not just as the Messiah, an especially godly human chosen to rule in God’s name, he is himself ‘clothed’ in divine glory.

“Second, the voice from heaven in 9:7 confirms this transcendent significance of Jesus in acclaiming him my Son, whom I love. The phrase is exactly the same as the first part of the voice from heaven at Jesus’ baptism (1:11) and, like that statement, bestows upon Jesus an unequaled status. ‘Beloved Son’ means that, of all those who have been called sons of God (in the OT, Israel, the king of Israel; in later literature, a righteous man), Jesus is superior to them all. Together with the transfigured appearance of Jesus, this statement shows that there rests upon him unparalleled glory and divine favor. The cloud (9:7), recalling OT accounts in which the presence and glory of God are indicated by a cloud covering the spot where God manifests himself to someone (cf., e.g., Exod. 16:10; 19:9; 24:15-18; 34:5; 40:34-38), means that the unnamed voice from the cloud is the very voice of God.” (Ibid., pp. 145-146; capital and underline emphasis ours)

We are also supposed to forget the fact that Matthew begins his Gospel by affirming that Jesus came to save his people from their sins, being Immanuel, the God who comes to dwell with us,

“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,’ which translated means, ‘GOD WITH US.’” Matthew 1:21-23

And that he ends his message with the same proclamation of Jesus being present with all his followers till the very end of the age:

“teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Not only is this an explicit claim to omnipresence and omnipotence (as well as omniscience), since this is the only way that Christ can be with all believers wherever they are in order to preserve them and to insure their success in accomplishing their mission, Christ once again does what the OT says only Yahweh can do, namely, save his people from their sins:

“O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption. And He will redeem Israel From all his iniquities.” Psalm 130:7-8

In fact, Jesus’ very Hebrew name, Yeshua (short for Yehoshua), means “Yahweh is salvation,” which is why the angel told Joseph to give him this name, e.g. Christ was called Jesus for the specific purpose of revealing his identity as the God who had come to save his people from their transgressions.

Yet in spite of all of this Zaatari really wants us to believe that Christ was claiming to be less than perfectly good, and therefore denying that he was God.

He has sure made a believer out of me… that is, in the absolute purity and moral perfection of the risen Lord Jesus, the sinless Son of God and the eternally beloved of the Father!

This concludes our response. Lord Jesus willing, there will be more rebuttals to Zaatari to follow in the not so distant future.

Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptural quotations taken from the New American Standard Version (NASB) of the Holy Bible.