Mr. Al-Kadhi argues that the enemies of Jesus used derogatory names in order to defame him and undermine his position as a "folk hero". These "hostile witnesses" were always plotting to create a scandal to discredit Jesus and Mr. Al-Kadhi cites several verses where Jesus was called unpleasant names by his foes. Therefore, according to Mr Al-Kadhi: "if we are to accept these people's claim that Jesus (pbuh) claimed to be God, simply because they claim that he said it, then we will need to be consistent and believe them in everything they have to say about him. For example, they describe him as a glutton and an alcoholic in Matthew 11:19. They say that he was in league with Satan in Mark 3:22. In John 8:48 they claim that he was a Samaritan and possessed by a demon. They insist that he was out of his mind in Mark 3:21. Similarly, they described John the Baptist as having a demon in him (Matthew 11:18), ..etc."
Mr. Al-Kadhi's conclusion simply does not follow his argument. First, were all of the accusations made against Jesus true?" Well, let us see. When we read the verses cited by Mr. Al-Kadhi, we see that whenever Jesus was accused of something that was untrue, he always defended himself.
In Matthew 11:18-19, Jesus was speaking, not his enemies, and he said:
Reading the previous verses (16 and 17) and the following verse (20), it is clear that Jesus is rebuking those who called him, and John the Baptists, these names.
In Mark 3:21-3:24
Once again, Jesus provided a defense against those who criticized him, even members of his own family.
After establishing the fact that the enemies of Jesus did, in fact, call him names, Al-Kadhi attempts to extend this argument into the verses where Jesus is accused of blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of God. In Mr. Al-Kadhi's words: "When people quote such verses as these in an attempt to prove that Jesus is God they follow them up with the proclamation that Jesus (pbuh) "must have" claimed to be God. They reason, how else could his enemies accuse him of blasphemy? If his enemies claim that he said it then the claim must be true."
Mr. Al-Kadhi continues by saying: "The problem with this line of logic is that these people had a vested interest in accusing Jesus (pbuh) of anything that would drive the people away from him. He was becoming too much of a folk hero and too many people were beginning to rally around him. They had to come up with a "scandal" in order to try and achieve some sort of damage control."
The problem with Mr. Al-Kadhi's' argument is that the Biblical text does not support his conclusion.
When we study the Bible, or any other book for that matter, we must be always read verses in the context of the entire text. Otherwise, we can "twist the words with our mouths" - something that Muhammad accused the Christians of doing!. In this case, Mr. Al-Kadhi cites versus 32 and 33 out of the context in which they were written. What was happening in this instance?
Jesus was on his way to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of the Dedication, a holiday that we know as Hanukkah. A crowd gathered around him and asked if he was the Christ. At this point, we do not know if the crowd was friendly or hostile.
It is now clear that the crowd was hostile since Jesus accused them of disbelief.
28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
Giving eternal life is something that only God can give, therefore, Jesus implied that he and God are one. The Jewish crowd which heard these words knew exactly what Jesus was saying and many believed that Jesus had committed blasphemy.
29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.
God, in this verse, is greater than all who could attempt to take the followers of Jesus from him.
30 "I and the Father are one."
Jesus said this, not his enemies!
31 Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him,
Now the enemies of Jesus accused him of claiming to be God. How did Jesus respond? If these accusations were false, Jesus would have refuted them as he refuted all of the false accusations made against him. Jesus made no attempt to refute this accusation.
Jesus's answer is that it is not blasphemy based on the Law (Psalm 82) to call certain people 'gods', and it is definitely not blasphemy if applied to Jesus since Jesus was more worthy to be called 'god' than any of the others in Psalm 82. In other words, it was not blasphemous for Jesus to claim divinity because he was, in fact, divine.
36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, `I am God's Son'?
Jesus clearly acknowledged that he did say that he was God's Son. This was not a statement fabricated by his enemies, Jesus clearly said it and asked why it was blasphemous for him to claim this title.
Jesus proceeds to show his opponents that he did deserve the title, by describing himself as "the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world", "God's Son", and by saying "the Father is in me, and I in the Father". Once again, the mob knew what Jesus said and they attempted to kill him for saying it.
Once again, we need to look at the context in which the statements are made. Jesus had just "broken the command" of keeping the Sabbath as a day of rest by healing a man who had been a paralytic for 38 years. The Jewish religious leaders, those who were enemies of Jesus, were outraged.
In these verses, Jesus claimed that just as God can "work" on the Sabbath, so can Jesus. Jesus did not deny the command to keep the Sabbath, he suggested that it did not apply to him because he is "active" in a similar way as God the Father is "active". The Jews clearly understood this "implicit claim" and they were angry.
19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does."
Once again, Jesus did not deny the charges (that he was the Son of God) that his enemies made against him. It is also worth noting that the Jews would never refer to God as "my father". The Jews understood that Jesus was claiming equality with God. All of the rest of chapter 5 is Jesus' answer to this accusation.
Another issue, which Muslims love to raise, is the phrase "the Son can do nothing by himself", implying that Jesus was only a Prophet. Notice that Jesus did not say: "the Son can do nothing" because Jesus is not independent from God. He has no power "apart from God", however, that does not mean he has no power or authority because he is acting, in complete harmony with the Father not against the Father. When Jesus told the people to watch what the Father does, it is Jesus himself who does. This answer annoyed the enemies of Jesus.
In conclusion, Mr. Al-Kadhi says: "One needs to ask, why then would they want to fabricate such preposterous claims against their prophets? The reason is that if they could make one of their claims stick then they would be able to find a legal excuse to execute God's prophets without fueling a riot, making them martyrs, and causing a popular uprising against their own corruption (Matthew 23). If we read the Bible we will find it chock-full of such accusations. When one did not stick they would try another, and then another."
The problem with this argument is that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and NEVER denied the claim that he was one with God. He did defend himself against charges which were untrue, but he defended his relationship to God.
Mr. Al-Kadhi ends this argument by saying "As the popular saying goes, if at first you don't succeed, try try again" and then he follows this adage!
The Rebuttal to "What Did Jesus Really Say?"
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