Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Do Not Tempt the Lord Jesus –

But Worship Him Instead! Pt. 3c

Sam Shamoun

We proceed from where we previously left off.


Sixth Case

In this next example, the disciples worship Christ in the context of Jesus’ identifying himself as the I AM who is able to walk on water and control the winds and waves:

“Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I (Gr. ego eimi – I AM); do not be afraid.’ And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’” Matthew 14:22-33

Christ is depicted here as performing the very works that the OT assigns to Yahweh God alone!

“Which ALONE spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.” Job 9:8

“And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing. They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.” Psalm 107:22-30


Seventh Case

The following episode highlights Jesus’ omniscience and omnipotence, as well as his sovereignty over both the natural and spiritual realms:

“Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” Matthew 15:21-28

Christ casts out an unclean spirit from a young girl without having to be physically present to do so. Such display of divine sovereignty explains why the following early church father and renowned biblical scholar rightly concluded that the woman was doing more than simply honoring Jesus:     

“… Now, the Canaanitish woman, having come, worshipped Jesus as God, saying, ‘Lord, help me,’…” (Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Book XI, 17. Exposition of the Details in the Narrative; bold and underline emphasis ours)


Eighth Case

In this next one, Jesus heals ten lepers simply by his word as they headed off to announce their cleansing to the priests at the temple:

“Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ So when He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.’” Luke 17:11-19

Christ’s reply is truly remarkable since the lepers didn’t need to return to him in order to glorify God. They could have done so in the temple when offering the sacrifices that the Law prescribed in cases where individuals have been cleansed of various infectious skin diseases (cf. Leviticus 13:49; 14:2-57). However, in light of the worship which the one man gave to Christ, it is obvious what the Lord meant here… Jesus is the God whom the other nine were supposed to return to glorify and give thanks to! Their failure to do so meant that they hadn’t recognized the God who was standing right before them as a flesh and blood human being! 


Ninth Case

“Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, ‘Hosanna TO THE SON OF DAVID!’ they were indignant and said to Him, ‘Do You hear what these are saying?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes. Have you never read, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise”?’” Matthew 21:14-16

The reason why the chief priests and scribes were indignant over the honor which the children were giving to Christ is because they were praising him in the exact same way that the Psalmist praised Yahweh:

Save now (hoshi’a nna’), I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.” Psalm 118:25

The Lord then appealed to Psalm 8:2 to justify such praise. What makes this appeal rather astonishing is that this particular Psalm refers to the praise that Yahweh receives from babes and sucklings in order to silence his foes!

“[For the end, concerning the wine-presses, a Psalm of David.] O Lord, our Lord, how wonderful is thy name in all the earth! for thy magnificence is exalted above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou perfected praise, because of thine enemies; that thou mightest put down the enemy and avenger.” Psalm 8:1-2 LXX

What Jesus was basically telling his enemies is that the children were doing the very thing that the God-breathed Scriptures indicate they would do when Yahweh is present. In other words, Jesus was claiming to be the very Yahweh God whom babes and infants worship!


Tenth Case

“And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.” Luke 24:49-52

Since Jesus had already physically left and entered into heaven when the disciples began worshiping him, this means that their action cannot be explained away as some type of honor or obeisance that a person normally gives when in the presence of a king or some important figure. The Apostles were clearly worshiping Jesus in the same way that believers are to worship God, which brings us to our next example. 


Eleventh Case

Here are the last words which the first Christian martyr Stephen uttered right before his death:

“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.’” Acts 7:55-60

Remarkably, Stephen prayed to the risen Lord in the same exact way that the Psalmist prayed to Yahweh his God:

Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” Psalm 31:5

Hence, not only is the risen Christ depicted as forgiving sins, a divine prerogative, he is also seen receiving the righteous dead into his heavenly presence which is another divine function!

Stephen wasn’t the only one to worship Jesus this way, as our next case shows.


Twelfth Case

The first followers of Christ, who were predominately Jewish, were known for their habit of calling on the name of the risen Lord. This was especially the case among the Jewish believers who were still living in Jerusalem. In fact, this was a major reason why Paul started to persecute the early Church:

“Then Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.’ And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’… Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, ‘Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?’” Acts 9:13-17, 20-21

Paul himself attests to this being a practice which characterized the first generation of Christians:

“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:” 1 Corinthians 1:2

To say that what these Christians were doing, especially in Jerusalem, was something truly remarkable and unprecedented would be to put it mildly, since the Hebrew Bible is crystal clear that believers are to call upon the name of Yahweh ALONE!

Here are just a few examples:

“Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God.” Genesis 21:33 – cf. 4:26; 12:8

“Exalt the Lord our God, And worship at His footstool—He is holy. Moses and Aaron were among His priests, And Samuel was among those who called upon His name; They called upon the Lord, and He answered them. He spoke to them in the cloudy pillar; They kept His testimonies and the ordinance He gave them.” Psalm 99:5-7

“I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul… I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.” Psalm 116:1-4, 13, 17 – cf. 145:18; Deuteronomy 4:7; Jeremiah 29:13; Joel 2:32

All of these examples from Matthew and Luke-Acts, which we have looked at, establish beyond any reasonable doubt that Jesus received the worship that he himself proclaimed was/is to be given to the Lord God only.

It is now time to move on to the next part of our discussion.