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Jesus as God in the Gospel of Mark: Addressing a Common Muslim Objection

In this post, I am going to show how Jesus in Mark’s Gospel claims to be God (though not the Father) by ascribing to himself the very functions, titles, and attributes, which the Quran itself confirms belong only to God. I do so because Muslims are fond of arguing that it is only in John’s Gospel that Jesus ascribes divinity to himself, since the earlier Gospels, specifically Mark, portray Christ as a supernaturally empowered agent of God, but not God incarnate. I will refute this assertion by showing that the Jesus of Mark’s Gospel does, in fact, describe himself as the unique divine Son of God who is essentially one with the Father.

The Omniscient Forgiver

The Quran testifies that Allah is the only one who can forgive sins,

who, when they commit an indecency or wrong themselves, remember God, and pray forgiveness for their sins — and who shall forgive sins but God? — and do not persevere in the things they did and that wittingly. S. 3:135

And who knows the thoughts within the breasts(hearts) of men:

Behold, they fold their breasts, to hide them from Him; behold, when they wrap themselves in their garments He knows what they secrete and what they publish; surely He knows all the thoughts within the breasts. S. 11:5

This is why Islamic theology gives Allah the names “The All-Knowing” and “The Ever-Forgiving/All-Pardoning One”:

Al-‘Âlim, Al-‘Alîm, Al-‘Allâm: The All-Knowing

The Knower. He who knows what has been and what will be, who ever has known and ever will know what has been and what will be, from whom nothing is concealed in the earth nor in the heaven, whose knowledge comprehends all things in the most complete manner. His knowledge is timeless and essential.

Al-‘Alim is one of the Ninety-Nine Names…

Al-Ghâfir, Al-Ghafûr; Al-Ghaffar: The Forgiving, The Ever-Forgiving,
The Endlessly Forgiving

Al-Ghafir who pardons a particular sin; Al-Ghafur who is in the habit of forgiving sins and covering them up; Al-Ghaffar is the One who does not cease to pardon them, one after the other. Ghafr, in the root, means to cover, veil, so to make hidden (unlike ‘afw, to efface), not to punish, to cause them to be undisclosed. The One who covers and forgives the sins of His servants.

Al-Ghafur and Al-Ghaffur are two of the Ninety-Nine Names… 

Al-‘Afuw: The All-Pardoning

He who makes disappear, effaces; also has the meaning of fadl, superfluous and so it is resembles Al-Wahhab and Al-Jawad. He forgives much. He passes over wrong actions and pardons faults. More far-reaching than Al-Ghafur, which is veiling. ‘Afw is effacing.

Al-‘Afuw is one of the Ninety-Nine Names. (Aisha Bewley, Divine Names http://bewley.virtualave.net/names.html)

And yet in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus has the power to forgive all sins, heal all diseases and even knows the innermost thoughts of the hearts of men:

And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.” Mark 2:1-12

Astonishingly, not only does Jesus know and do what the Quran says only Allah can know or do, but he also possesses the very same characteristics and performs the exact same functions, which the Hebrew Bible ascribe to Jehovah God alone!

“then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)” 1 Kings 8:39

“shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.” Psalm 44:21

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;” Psalm 103:2-4

Christ even redeems human lives from destruction, just like Jehovah does!

“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

And the reason is plainly obvious, namely, Jesus is Jehovah God in the flesh even though he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit.

The Divine Heir

The Quran states that Allah is the heir of the heavens and earth, the one who inherits everything in creation:

But as for those who are niggardly with the bounty God has given them, let them not suppose it is better for them; nay, it is worse for them; that they were niggardly with they shall have hung about their necks on the Resurrection Day; and to God belongs the inheritance of the heavens and earth; and God is aware of the things you do. S. 3:180

It is We who give life, and make to die, and it is We who are the inheritors. S. 15:23 Arberry

Surely We shall inherit the earth and all that are upon it, and unto Us they shall be returned. S. 19:40 Arberry – cf. Q. 19:80

Allah is even called the best of those who receive an inheritance!

And (remember) Zakariya, when he cried to his Lord: “O my Lord! leave me not without offspring, though thou art the best of inheritors.” S. 21:89 Y. Ali

In fact, one of the so-called beautiful names of Allah is al-Warith, which means “the Inheritor”:

Al-Wârith: The Inheritor

The One who inherits and continues after all others have ceased to be; thus all returns to Him. He is the true owner of all.

Al-Warith is one of the Ninety-Nine Names. (Bewley, Divine Names)

Jesus, however, claims to be the unique beloved Son and Heir of God, who is greater than all the prophets:

“And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.” Mark 12:1-12

In the parable, the owner represents God, the vineyard is Israel, and the vinedressers are the religious establishment. The servants whom God sent are supposed to be the prophets:

“Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them:” Jeremiah 7:25 – cf. 26:5; 29:19; 44:4

“And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” Revelation 11:18

Not only does Jesus distinguish himself from the prophets who are mere servants, but he also claims to be the Heir, being the One who owns everything that belongs to God. And since Israel, the prophets and all of the creation belong to God, this means that the entire creation, including the prophets, belong to Christ as his very own possession!

Mark isn’t the only inspired writer to confirm that Jesus is the divine Heir of all creation, who owns everything that the Father has and possesses:

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Matthew 28:18

All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.” Luke 10:22

All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” John 16:15

And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.” John 17:10

“who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and FOR HIM: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Colossians 1:15-17

“hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” Hebrews 1:2

The Lord of All

The Islamic scripture depicts Allah as the sovereign Lord of all beings, meaning all creation,

Praise belongs to God, the Lord of all Being, S. 1:2

Who does not permit there being any other lord besides him, especially from among the angels and prophets:

It belongs not to any mortal that God should give him the Book, the Judgment, the Prophethood, then he should say to men, ‘Be you servants to me apart from God.’ Rather, ‘Be you masters in that you know the Book, and in that you study.’ He would never order you to take the angels and the Prophets as Lords; what, would He order you to disbelieve, after you have surrendered? S. 3:79-80

That is why the Quran adamantly proclaims that Allah does not allow anyone to share in his sovereign rule over all creation:

Say: ‘God knows very well how long they tarried. To Him belongs the Unseen in the heavens and in the earth. How well He sees! How well He hears! They have no protector, apart from Him, and He associates in His government no one.’ S. 18:26

to whom belongs the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth; and He has not taken to Him a son, and He has no associate in the Kingdom; and He created every thing, then He ordained it very exactly. S. 25:2 – cf. 17:111

This is also the reason that Islamic theology teaches that the title “the Lord” is one of the unique names of Allah, which cannot be ascribed to anyone else:

Ar-Rabb: The Lord

Lord: master, owner; chief; the Cherisher, the one who takes care of a thing. Ar-Rabb is the one who puts right, manages, compels and guards. He is the One worshipped. Some scholars say that the name is the greatest name of Allah because of the great number of those who make supplication using it. It reflects the true relationship of a person with his Lord, containing both mastery and kindness, concern, and nurture. (Bewley, Divine Names)

And yet Christ claims to be the one Lord whom David worshiped and who sits enthroned with God over all creation:

“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord (Kyrios ho Theos hemon Kyrios heis estin): and thou shalt love the Lord thy God (Kyrion ton Theon sou) with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question. And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord (Eipen Kyrios to Kyrio mou), Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. David therefore himself calleth him Lord (Kyrion); and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.” Mark 12:28-37

After quoting Deuteronomy 6:4, which affirms that Israel’s God is the one Lord whom they are to wholeheartedly worship, Christ then quotes the prophet David to show that the Messiah is included within the identity and Being of Israel’s one Lord!

Here’s the passage that our Lord cited:

“The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” Psalm 110:1

According to the Psalms, Jehovah sits enthroned in the heavens above and is the “place” from where he rules over all beings:

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” Psalm 2:4

“The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” Psalm 11:4

“The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.” Psalm 103:19

Since the Messiah is seated at the right hand of Jehovah he must, therefore, be ruling from God’s own heavenly throne as the sovereign Lord of all creation.

This also means that the Holy Spirit had revealed to the prophet David that the Messiah is the one Lord of Israel who reigns over all creation from heaven itself. There’s simply no way around this revealed truth.

Once again, Mark isn’t the only one to speak of the Messiah’s heavenly enthronement as the sovereign Lord of all creation:

“Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” John 13:13-14

“Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” John 18:33-37

For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:33-36 – Cf. 5:31

“The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)… And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.” Acts 10:36, 42

“For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Romans 14:9 – Cf. Romans 8:34

“but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” 1 Corinthians 8:6 – Cf. 15:24-28

“and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, FAR ABOVE all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” Ephesians 1:19-23

“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power… If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Colossians 2:9-10, 3:1

“who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high… But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” Hebrews 1:3, 13

“who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.” 1 Peter 3:22

“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:” Revelation 22:1-3

This brings me to my final point.

The Cloud Rider and the Judge of All

The Muslim scripture mentions the belief of the Jews that Allah (or God) would come on judgment day in the shadows of a cloud along with his angels:

What do they look for, but that God shall come to them in the cloud — shadows, and the angels? The matter is determined, and unto God all matters are returned. S. 2:210

The Quran itself testifies that Muhammad’s lord is coming with his angels to judge the earth:

No indeed! When the earth is ground to powder, and thy Lord comes, and the angels rank on rank, and Gehenna is brought out, upon that day man will remember; and how shall the Reminder be for him? S. 89:21-23

According to Mark, however, Jesus is the Son of Man who comes in the clouds of heaven along with his angels to judge the wicked and save his elect:

“And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send HIS angels, and shall gather together HIS elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.” Mark 13:26-27

“But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Mark 14:61-62

Our Lord was identifying himself as the same divine figure that the prophet Daniel saw and wrote of:

“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14

The Being that Daniel beheld is an eternal king with an indestructible kingdom whom all the nations must worship in the same way that God is to be worshiped:

“And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” Daniel 7:27

What this shows is that the Son of Man whom Daniel wrote of is actually a divine Being appearing in human semblance. As such, by identifying himself with that figure, Christ was claiming to be God in human flesh, since he is the eternal King of all creation whom all nations must worship forever and ever.

Our Lord’s testimony in Mark is, therefore, crystal clear. Christ is Jehovah God incarnate, being the unique divine Son of God, who is equal to the Father in glory, power, and majesty.

So much for the Muslim objection.

Quranic citations are from Arthur J. Arberry.

All scriptural quotations are taken from the Authorized King James Version (AV) of the Holy Bible.

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