YouTube has a film clip which has Ahmed Deedat (1918-2005) speaking to an obviously Muslim audience. In it he issues a challenge to anybody to give a single verse where Jesus claims to be God. Contrary to what Mr Deedat and the many Muslim apologists insist, that Jesus never once claimed to be God, a simple reading of the gospels will show their claim to be ignorance and wishful thinking at best. But they have to say this because the Qur’an only has Jesus as a prophet. And in the Qur’an, Allah states that he has no son and pronounces a curse on all who say he does. It is understandable that they do not wish to disagree with their holy book, and nobody has a problem with that. If they profess Islam, then they must do what Muslims do and believe what Muslims believe. If they didn’t, they would be unfaithful to their religion. But Mr Deedat and the multitude of Muslim apologists go much further than that and claim that the Jesus of the Bible never said he was God. They speak with an assumed and assured authority about a holy book which isn’t theirs. They claim to know all about the central figure in the Bible – Jesus Christ. And they cherry-pick verses from the Bible which they vainly think bolster their claims; but these verses are taken out of their context and do not mean what these Muslims would have them to mean.
Mr Deedat can’t learn anything from the Bible because he disbelieved before he’d even turned the cover; he cannot and will not hear what God might say to him because his only reason for opening its pages is to tear them apart. He knows nothing about God or the Bible, but in his pride and arrogance he thinks he knows it all. Even the best Muslim apologists reveal a wrong understanding of the bible and promote wrong theology. But this is to be expected because their sources are all from enemies of the gospel and they don’t read the works of scholars who believe that the bible, despite its seeming discrepancies, is the preserved word of God. Instead of doing honest and legitimate research by reading the defences of the Bible and not just the criticisms of it, they only take those books which support their preconceived unbelieving views and reject all else. So of course they’re going to see the Bible as a hotch-potch of errors which can’t be relied on. And this, no doubt, characterises Ahmed Deedat
Jesus Did Say he is God
Although Jesus did not come to demonstrate his deity, he nevertheless did make this claim on several occasions; but his primary focus was not to glorify himself but the Father, who had sent him to redeem fallen humanity. In prayer to the Father, Jesus prayed, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do….I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world….” (Jn 17:4, 6). And the apostle Paul tells us of Jesus: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus didn’t claim deity, because he came as a man to die in humanity’s place so that he could reconcile us to God (2 Cor 5:19). But when he returns, the deniers will become believers; but by then it will be too late for repentance and they will be lost forever; for Paul goes on to say of Jesus: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:9-11).
Jesus equated himself with the Father
When Jesus healed the lame man at the pool at Bethesda, the Jews (on this occasion the religious leaders) persecuted him because he healed the man on the Sabbath. His response, and then theirs to him, is very enlightening: “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18).
Jesus knew what he was saying and what his claims signified. Likewise, the Jews, who knew the law thoroughly, also knew what he was claiming. By calling himself the Son of God, he claimed deity. This is evident from the following verses in which he claimed the attributes of God: power to raise the dead and to give life to whomever he chooses (Jn 5:21, 25-26, 28); and authority to judge each and every person who ever lived (Jn 5:22, 27, 29), so that the Father and the Son may receive equal honour (Jn 5:23). When he says “the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do” (Jn 5:19), he is not saying he is less than God. He indicated that despite his equality with God as second Person of the Trinity, he subordinated himself to the Father in order to complete the mission for which he had been sent, as I pointed out in Philippians chapter 2. He shows his equality with God – which means he is God, as the Jews correctly concluded – and that he is separate from the Father. John earlier stated it succinctly: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14).
It is also significant that Jesus made this same claim after his arrest and interrogation by the Jews. Matthew tells us: “And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death” (Matt 26:63-67).
So again, Jesus claimed equality with God, not only by claiming the title “Son of God” but also “Son of Man”, a reference to Daniel 7:9-14. And he was consequently sentenced to death for blasphemy. These titles signify his equality with God (Son of God) and his subordination to God (Son of Man).
Jesus claimed to be the God of the Old Testament
On another occasion when Jesus was speaking with the Jews, in response to what Jesus said about Abraham, they said, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then picked they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple” (Jn 8:57-59). No wonder the Jews were so riled! Jesus was identifying himself with God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush. “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me to you…..this is my name for ever” (Exodus 3:14-15).
Jesus claimed attributes and titles of God
But Jesus claimed other names and attributes of God. To start with, the opening words of the Revelation (1:1; also 1:8,11, 17) tell us that this revelation is given by Jesus Christ; thus Jesus is telling John what to write: a record of the future which is to become Scripture. This is the prerogative of God alone (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:21). Incidentally, notice that in Rev 1:1 God gave Jesus the revelation to show to the Church, and in 2 Peter 1:21, the Holy Spirit brings the inspired word to men. Here we see that the three Persons of the Trinity are the authors of Scripture.
Then we hear Jesus saying: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8 cf Jn 1:1-2). He repeats this claim in verse 11, saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last” (Rev 1:11, 17).
After this (Rev 1:12-16), we’re given a description of a being who in appearance is just like the visions of God given to Ezekiel (1:26-28) and Daniel (7:9-10; 10:2-9). And this being is Jesus. And he again takes to himself the name and attributes of God: “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev 1:17-18).
The Old Testament names of God that Jesus takes to himself are found in Isaiah: “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God” (Isa 44:6; see also 48:12-13).
The Good Shepherd
Jesus said he was the shepherd of the sheep (Jn 10:2), and the good shepherd (Jn 10:11, 14). This is a title of deity. In Ezekiel chapter 34, God rebukes and condemns the leaders of Israel for being unfaithful shepherds of his sheep, the people of Israel. In order to rescue his sheep, God says: “Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture….I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick” (Ezek 34:11-12, 14-16). Here is God calling himself the shepherd….just as Jesus calls himself the shepherd. Jesus even said of his sheep, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one” (Jn 10:28-30). A big claim indeed, and one which only God could make. The Jews recognised that Jesus was claiming deity because “…the Jews took up stones again to stone him” (Jn 10:31).
It is so interesting and revealing that in Ezekiel chapter 34 where God identifies himself as the shepherd of Israel (which title Jesus also claims), he also said he would send an under-shepherd; and this would be none other than Jesus, known in the New Testament as the Son of David. “Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. 23 And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd” (Ezek 34:22-24). This is comparable to Isaiah chapter 49 where God the Father and God the Son covenant that Jesus will be born as a man, and that he will rescue his people; and comparable to Daniel chapter 7:9-27 where God the Father and God the Son appear together and where their people will possess the kingdom (Dan 7:22, 27). Jesus therefore repeatedly identifies himself as God but distinguishes between himself and the Father. He is God, yet a separate and distinct Person from the Father. He repeatedly says that God the Father sent him as his messenger to rescue his people. “Thus shall they know that I the Lord their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord God. And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God” (Ezek 34:30-31).
Jesus is the only Mediator between God and humans because he is God: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due right time” (1 Timothy 2:5). Of this man called Jesus who was also God, we’re told, “…without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Tim 3:16).
Strong, J. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (Ref: 5481) in “The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible”, 2001 Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN