Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Jesus Christ – The Divine Lord of Glory Pt. 2

Sam Shamoun

We resume from where we left off.

God’s Glory equated with His Praise and Honor

Another indication that Jesus shares in the glory of God is that he receives the very honor and praise which only God is supposed to receive. According to the book of Isaiah, Yahweh says that he will not share his glory and praise with any other so-called god:

“Thus says God, Yahweh, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am Yahweh; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am Yahweh; that is my NAME; my GLORY I give to no other, nor my PRAISE to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them. Sing to Yahweh a new song, his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants. Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar inhabits; let the habitants of Sela sing for joy, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give GLORY to Yahweh, and declare his PRAISE in the coastlands.” Isaiah 42:5-12

Here we have God’s name, glory and praise being equated with one another, just as in the following text:

“For my NAME's sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my PRAISE I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my NAME be profaned? My GLORY I will not give to another. Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I AM he; I am the first, and I am the last. My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together.” Isaiah 48:9-13

This suggests that the glory which Yahweh will not share with any other is the honor and praise due to his name.

As such, God condemns anyone who would fall down to worship before and pray to an idol, or false god, since he alone is a righteous God and Savior, and his name alone is to be worshiped and confessed:

“Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, ‘Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!’ And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” Isaiah 44:15-17


“Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, Yahweh? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.” Isaiah 45:20-23


“Those who lavish gold from the purse, and weigh out silver in the scales, hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god; then they fall down and worship!” Isaiah 46:6

One of the ways in which Yahweh demonstrates that he is the only God who is worthy of glory, honor and praise is by foretelling the future and bringing it to pass. In that way, his people and the nations will know and believe that he is the great I AM from whose hand none can deliver:

“‘You are my witnesses,’ declares Yahweh, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I AM he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am Yahweh, and besides me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses,’ declares Yahweh, ‘and I am God. Also henceforth I AM he; there is none who can deliver from my hand;’” Isaiah 43:10-13

Jesus receives the very praise and honor due to God

Astonishingly, Jesus claims to be worthy of this very same honor and praise!

For instance, Jesus says that the Father demands that everyone honor the Son in the same way that they honor him:

“The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, JUST AS they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” John 5:22-23

This explains why Jesus accepted worship:

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘And who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.’ He said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.” John 9:35-38

It also helps us understand why Jesus would tell his followers that they could actually direct all their prayers to him in his name, and that he would personally do whatever they asked him:

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14

As if it couldn’t get any more amazing, Jesus is even depicted as receiving glory, honor and praise from every created thing that exists!

“And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’ Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom AND STRENGTH and honor AND GLORY and praise!Then I heard EVERY CREATURE in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: ‘To him who sits on the throne AND TO THE LAMB be praise and honor AND GLORY and power, for ever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.” Revelation 5:8-14

Not only do the hosts of heaven ascribe the same glory and praise to Christ that Psalm 29:1-2 portrays them as ascribing to Yahweh,

“Ascribe to Yahweh, O sons of God, ascribe to Yahweh glory and strength. Ascribe to Yahweh the glory due his name; worship Yahweh in the splendor of holiness.”

The entire creation is depicted as rendering to Christ the very worship and praise that God alone is supposed to receive!

Hence, this not only distinguishes Christ from all creation, it further establishes the fact that the glory which Jesus possessed (and now currently possesses) with the Father before the world was created, was(is) that which properly belongs to Yahweh God alone. And the reason why he could possess such glory is because Jesus happens to be Yahweh God, even though he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit.

To top it off, Jesus even applies some of the very titles and functions of Yahweh to himself in the inspired writings of John. For instance, he is the First and the Last who died and came back to life:

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.’” Revelation 1:17-18 – cf. 2:8; 22:12-13, 16, 20-21; 1:8; 21:6-7

He is also the Savior of the world, the One to whom every one must turn in order to be saved:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:16-18

“They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.’” John 4:42 – cf. 12:47; 1 John 4:14; Isaiah 45:21-22

Jesus even foretells the future so that, when it occurs, his disciples will come to know and believe that he is the I AM!

“I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I AM he.” John 13:18-19

In fact, Jesus says that a person shall die in his/her sins unless s/he believes that he is the I AM who comes from above and is not of this world:

“He said to them, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I AM he you will die in your sins.’” John 8:23-24 – cf. Isaiah 43:10, 25

Whose Glory did John and Isaiah see?

The Evangelist provides further details which leaves absolutely no doubt as to what he believed about this matter.

According to his prologue, Christ is the eternal, divine Logos or Word who became flesh:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In him was Life, and that Life was the Light of all mankind… The true Light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world came into being through him, the world did not recognize him… The Word became flesh and pitched his tent/tabernacled (eskenosen) among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from beside (para) the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness about him, and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.”’)… He [the Baptist] said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” as the prophet Isaiah said.’” John 1:1-4, 9-10, 14-15, 23

John not only identifies Christ as the divine Agent of creation who brought the entire cosmos into existence, and must therefore be eternal, he even describes Jesus’ glory in respect to the OT tent of meeting/tabernacle.

The Greek word eskenosen is the verbal form of the noun skene, which the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible uses in reference to the tent of meeting/tabernacle that God commanded Moses to construct. This is the place where Yahweh would descend in a cloud in order to speak directly with Moses.

The Hebrew Bible says that whenever Yahweh would descend upon the tent, it would be filled with his glory:

“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of Yahweh filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of Yahweh filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of Yahweh was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.” Exodus 40:34-38 – cf. 33:7-11

Thus, by referring to Jesus pitching his tent among us, the Evangelist was thereby describing Christ’s physical body as the very tabernacle/temple where the fullness of God’s own glory dwells.

Jesus himself referred to his body as the temple which he would raise up on the third day after being destroyed by his enemies:

“So the Jews said to him, ‘What sign do you show us for doing these things?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.” John 2:18-22

John also mentions the Baptist testifying about Christ right after speaking of having seen the glory of the Son, and even quotes the Baptist as referring to himself as the herald of Isaiah 40:3 whom Yahweh would send to prepare for his coming. Here is that passage in context:

“A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of Yahweh; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of Yahweh shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.’… Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’ Behold, the Lord Yahweh comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:3-5, 9-11

Isaiah prophesied that God would send an envoy to prepare for the coming of Yahweh whose glory all flesh would see. According to the Evangelist, that herald was John Baptist, and yet the latter clearly says that he was sent to prepare for the appearance of Christ.

Jesus even refers to himself as the good Shepherd who comes to gather his flock together, which is the very role that Isaiah 40 ascribes to Yahweh!

I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… I am the good Shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” John 10:11, 14-16

All of this shows that, as far as the Evangelist is concerned, Jesus is Yahweh God Incarnate whose glory was to be seen by all flesh!

John doesn’t stop there, since later on in his Gospel he will go on to show that even the prophet Isaiah saw the glory of Christ:

“Though he [Jesus] had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.’ Isaiah said these things because he saw HIS [Jesus’] glory and spoke of HIM. Nevertheless, many did believe in him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, so they would not be banned from the synagogue. For they loved praise from men more than praise from God. Then Jesus cried out, ‘The one who believes in Me believes not in Me, but in Him who sent Me. And the one who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.’” John 12:37-45

John cites Isaiah 53:1 to illustrate that the Lord had already announced beforehand through his inspired prophet that the Jews of Jesus’ days would not believe in him, despite all the numerous signs he ended up performing. The Evangelist further quotes Isaiah 6:10 to explain that the reason why they did not believe is because they could not do so, since by this time God was pretty much fed up with his people’s persistent rebellion and wickedness, and therefore decided to blind their eyes and harden their hearts as part of their judgment.

John then goes on to say something rather remarkable. He states that the reason why Isaiah said these things concerning Christ is because he actually beheld Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

However, according to the context of Isaiah 6, the One whose glory Isaiah actually saw and spoke of was none other than Yahweh God himself!

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another: Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh of Hosts; His glory fills the whole earth. The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke. Then I said: Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, Yahweh of hosts. Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said: Now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed and your sin is atoned for.” Isaiah 6:1-5

John’s point cannot be denied or easily dismissed. According to the Evangelist, when Isaiah saw Yahweh seated on the throne he was actually beholding the Lord Jesus Christ in his pre-incarnate glory.

Christ himself confirms that he is a King whose kingdom is not of this world:

“So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’” John 18:33-36

This means that Jesus is claiming to be a king who reigns from heaven itself, from the very throne of God, thereby further connecting him with the God whom Isaiah saw seated on his throne. And yet, both the Holy Bible and Jewish sources plainly teach that Yahweh alone sits enthroned in the heavens above, especially over Israel since he hasn’t granted any spirit being the authority to rule his people:

“And He sanctified it, and gathered it from amongst all the children of men; for there are many nations and many peoples, and all are His, and over all hath He placed spirits in authority to lead them astray from Him. But over Israel He did not appoint any angel or spirit, for He alone is their ruler, and He will preserve them and require them at the hand of His angels and His spirits, and at the hand of all His powers in order that He may preserve them and bless them, and that they may be His and He may be theirs from henceforth for ever.” Jubilees 15:31-32

This helps us understand why Jesus could say in the very same context of John 12 that to see him was to see the Father, since he happens to be Yahweh God and is therefore identical to the Father in essence, glory and majesty.

As Larry W. Hurtado puts it:

“One of the recurrent themes in GJohn is divine ‘glory’; it is attributed both to God and to Jesus. One of the most extraordinary references is in 12:37-43. After describing the unbelief of Jesus' contemporaries in 12:37-38 as fulfillment of the words of Isaiah 53:1, the author (in 12:39-40) cites Isaiah 6:10 as further explanation of this unbelief. Then we are told in 12:41 that Isaiah 'saw his glory and spoke about him.' In the immediate context, the antecedent of 'his' and 'him' has to be Jesus. For example, in 12:37 there is the complaint about this unbelief, in spite of Jesus’ many signs. It may not be unambiguously clear whether it is God or Jesus whom the author intends as the ‘Lord’ (Kyrie) addressed in the quotation of Isaiah 53:1 in John 12:38, but Jesus is surely the ‘arm of the Lord’ of the Isaiah passage who is now revealed, though not properly recognized. Thus 12:41 seems to claim baldly that Jesus was the glorious figure seen in the prophetic vision in Isaiah 6:1-5! GJohn is not alone in this stunning understanding of Isaiah’s vision, but it is the earliest explicit reference to the idea that Isaiah saw the glorious/glorified Jesus.” (Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, pp. 374-375; bold emphasis ours)


“This Johannine appropriation of 'glory' from Isaiah fits with the christological adaptation of the 'I am' expression that is also used so prominently in Isaiah, providing (along with other terms and motifs used in GJohn) further indication of how GJohn reflects a vigorous mining of passages in Isaiah in particular for resources to understand and declare Jesus' significance. Like the appropriation of the 'I am' formula, this Johannine use of the Isaiah 'glory/glorification' motif signals an intimate association of Jesus with God that is unparalleled in any known Jewish traditions of the time. This is also clearly indicated in the mind-boggling Johannine statement in 12:41 that Isaiah 6:1-5 was a vision of Jesus. For the author(s) of GJohn, Jesus was the 'Lord' (ton Kyrion; Adonay in the Hebrew) seated in glory in Isaiah 6:1. Whether the author of John meant to say that Isaiah saw the glory of the preexistent Son or had a prophetic vision of the heavenly glory that was given to Jesus at/after his resurrection (and as John 17:5 indicates, the author thought in terms of both stages of Jesus' glory), either way it was a completely novel assertion in Jewish tradition. As I have stated already, however, GJohn does not replace the God of the Old Testament with Jesus. Instead, there is this amazing linkage and extension to Jesus of Old Testament ways of referring to God.” (Ibid, p. 379; bold emphasis ours)

Hurtado proceeds to offer the following explanation as to how it could be possible for a monotheistic Jew like John to accord such divine honors to Christ, and describe him in ways that were unprecedented in the Judaism of that time:

“Nevertheless, the Johannine treatment of Jesus amounts to him being the one in whom God's glory is manifested, the unique human embodiment of God's glory on earth. This is why the Johnannine Jesus can say, in reply to Philip's request to be shown the Father, 'Whoever has seen me has seen the Father' (14:9). In GJohn Jesus not only is associated with the glory of God, he is the glory of God manifest.

“But how could early Christians such as the author of GJohn have made this astonishing appropriation of material from passages generally regarded as expressing emphatically the uniqueness of Yahweh, the God of Israel? In particular, how could they associate so directly the 'glory' of God with Jesus (e.g., 11:4, 40)? How could they go so far as to claim that 'the Father' gave heavenly glory to Jesus (17:5, 24) and glorified Jesus (e.g., 7:39; 12:16; 13:31-32; 14:13), when statements in these same Isaianic passages expressly say that God's glory is uniquely his? Twice, in Isaiah 42:8 and again 48:11, Yahweh states, 'I will give my glory to no other.' It is difficult to think that the author of GJohn somehow missed these emphatic statements. Even if he had missed or chosen to ignore them, we can be sure that the Jewish critics of Johannine christological claims, who are commonly seen as reflected in the objections voiced to Jesus' claims in GJohn, would have pointed to these statements in Isaiah.

“I propose, therefore, that the Johannine references to God giving glory to Jesus may in fact be deliberate allusions to these Isaiah passages which state that God does not give his glory to another, and that the Johannine statements reflect a creative and distinctive early Christian reading of these Isaiah statements and the larger body of material in Isaiah 40-66. Specifically, I suggest that behind (i.e., even earlier than) GJohn there was a Christian pattern of reading Isaiah 40-55 in particular that involved seeing two divine figures, the Lord God and another figure to whom God was understood to have given unique status that included sharing in God's glory. It is widely thought that GJohn and other early Christian texts evidence an interpretation of the 'servant' of Isaiah 40-55 as (fulfilled in) Jesus. I contend, however, that Isaiah was read much more creatively and daringly still. I propose that the servant and other features of the Isaiah passages were combined to refer to Jesus in such a way that they confirmed early Christian views of him sharing in divine status and worthy of worship, and that this reading of Isaiah facilitated the first-century Christian effort to articulate those views in biblical vocabulary and conceptual categories…” (Ibid, pp. 380-381)

For more on the issue of Isaiah seeing the glory of the prehuman Christ we recommend reading the following article.

Concluding Remarks

Our examination of Jesus’ words in John 17:5 demonstrated that Christ was claiming to have shared in the visible majesty and splendor which belongs to Yahweh God. This glory, which Christ had relinquished while on earth, would have caused all those who were beholding him in heaven to realize that they were gazing upon Yahweh God.

Our analysis also showed that Jesus could only possess such glory if he were truly God, and coequal with the Father in essence, since the inspired Scriptures explicitly teach that such visible radiance and splendor can never be ascribed to any creature, no matter how exalted.

Thus, John 17:5 provides further proof that the historical Jesus claimed to be Yahweh God Incarnate, while also emphatically denying that he is the same Person as the Father or the Holy Spirit.