While in Jordan some time ago, I met two young shepherd boys while they were moving their sheep. I was intrigued by them. As you can see in the picture below, the land where they tended their sheep was a very rough and barren terrain.
I had to ask myself, What makes a “good shepherd?” What does it take?
Maybe I should start with a different question, “What are sheep like?”
With no personal experience but through a little research, this is what I learned about the characteristics of sheep:
1. constantly need fresh water, fresh pasture grass – but have very little discernment in choosing food or water (even eating poisonous plants or drinking dirty water)
2. timid, fearful, easily panicked – they need a calming influence
3. very vulnerable to enemies – easily killed since they have little or no means of self-defense; they can only run
4. easily “cast” and helpless – sheep can get flipped over on their back and since they are unable to right themselves, they will eventually die if not turned over by the shepherd
5. vulnerable to mob psychology – they are truly “followers”
6. jealous, competitive – rivalry for status, dominance
7. stubborn & demanding – will insist on their own way
8. creatures of habit – if left to themselves they will follow the same trails until they become ruts; graze the same hills until they turn to desert wastes; pollute their own ground until it is corrupt with disease and parasites
9. foolish, slow to learn – perhaps it sounds unkind but from what I have read, sheep are not the most intelligent of animals!
10. prone to wander, to stray – always looking for a hole in the fence; always looking for “greener pastures”
To sum up, sheep are. . .well, sheep are. . .a lot like. . .us.
No wonder the ancient prophet Isaiah said, “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. . .” (Isaiah 53:6).
Like sheep, there is an inherent stubbornness and arrogance in all of us to do our own thing, to go our own way. We pridefully want to rule our lives. But it won’t work. We all need a shepherd to help keep us on God’s righteous path.
Also. . .sheep are totally dependent on a shepherd for their every need. They simply cannot thrive (or even live) without close supervision and without the calm, strong voice of their shepherd. In short, they need constant care.
What are the characteristics of a shepherd? What do they do?
Again, with no personal experience but through a little research, this is what I learned about the job description of shepherds – “good” shepherds that is (mostly from Phillip Keller’s book, A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23):
1. leading the sheep – “no other class of livestock require more careful handling, more detailed direction, than do sheep;” for the most part, the shepherd goes ahead of the sheep rather than driving them
2. feeding the sheep – “he will go to no end of trouble and labor to supply them with the finest grazing, the richest pasturage, ample winter feed, and clean water”
3. protecting the sheep – “he will spare Himself no pains to provide shelter from storms, protection from ruthless enemies (dogs, coyotes, cougars, bears) and the diseases and parasites to which sheep are so susceptible”
4. inspecting the sheep – inch-by-inch examination of each sheep is performed in intimate detail; looking for wounds or diseases
5. counting the sheep – making sure not one is missing!
6. searching for lost sheep – wherever they may have strayed; when he finds one, he puts it on his shoulders and carries it joyfully back home
7. loving the sheep – “for him there is no greater reward, no deeper satisfaction, than that of seeing his sheep contented, well fed, safe and flourishing under his care;” a good shepherd loves his sheep!
I wonder if my young shepherd friend I met in the hills of Jordan was a “good shepherd.”
But what about us – you and me – as “sheep”?
Have we gotten off of God’s path? Are we straying?
Do we feel that no one is concerned about us – that no one cares for our souls? That no one cares about the deepest parts of us?
At one point in his life, King Dawud (David) felt like this. He cried out in despair, “no one is concerned about me. . .no one cares for my soul” (the Zabur, Psalm 142:4).
1,000 years later, a man appeared upon the scene in the same land of Palestine. He was a descendent of King Dawud. He healed lepers and raised people from the dead. You already know who it was. Jesus. Perhaps you call him Isa.
Jesus not only did miracles, he came to rescue “lost sheep” – people like you and me (see Luke 15:1-7 in the Injeel).
Jesus said about himself,
“I am the good shepherd. . .” (the Injeel, John 10:11). In other words, “I care about you. I care about your soul – all your fears, hurts, struggles, and yes, even your sins and failures. I care about all of it.”
He cares. He is a “good shepherd.”
Jesus said 2,000 years ago that he cares for us – no matter how far we have strayed from God. No matter how lost we feel (or actually are). His word still stands. He still cares for our souls – the deepest parts of us. Totally, completely, unreservedly. He proved it. He backed up his words with action. Hear the rest of his statement:
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep” (the Injeel, John 10:11).
Jesus did that. He gave everything for you, for me.
He is the shepherd.
And he is good.
Ask him – invite him – to be your good shepherd.
He promises that he will.
The Muslim perspective—“I am the good shepard”
Another way to look at this symbolism is to understand the “Shepard” as the model for humanity and the sheep as “all of God’s creations”—including earth and all that is living and non-living in it.
The purpose of the Shepard (as you listed) is to care/sustain and protect the sheep.
If the shepard is negligent in his duties he will loose his sheep and deplete his flock and thereby bring poverty upon himself. If he cares for his sheep with responsibility, his flock will prosper and this will bring him abundance.
likewise—if humanity neglect their responsibility towards all of God’s creations, they will suffer poverty, but if they care for, protect and respect God’s creations then they will prosper in abundance.
The Quran gives Guidance so that human beings can unite together and share in the blessings God provides—but this may also be the teachings of Jesus Christ (pbuh) in the NT Mathew 6:31…?….
“So do not worry saying “what shall we eat” or what shall we drink? or what shall we wear? for the Pagans run after these things, and your heavenly father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”………..
Dear Anonymous Muslim Friend,
Thanks – as always – for a Muslim perspective.
For me, Jesus is my shepherd – much like what King Dawud said about God in the Zabur (Psalm 23) and what the prophet Ezekiel said about God in Ezekiel 34, particularly verses 15 & 16:
“‘I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,’ declares the Lord God. ‘I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick. . .'”
God’s care is so personal and real. There is a genuine caring for my soul – for the deepest part of who I am. So when I pray, I know God is listening. He is not too transcendent to hear my cries, my pleas for help.
And yes, you are so right: Jesus tried to teach people (in the Bible verses you quoted) about God’s care for their daily needs. But interestingly enough, he also links himself to this same shepherd role in John 10:11, 14. And this is what Jesus continually has the audacity to do: link himself to God and His work.
As far as I understand, (Western)Christianity says Jesus Christ(pbuh) is 100% God and 100% human. To me it seems that no compromise of faith is required for a Christian to speak of and celebrate the human aspect of Jesus Christ (pbuh).
However—for a Muslim—it is a massive (and irreconcilable) compromise of faith to speak of or celebrate IN ANY WAY–the Divinity of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, any bridge-building will have to take into account this aspect of our respective faiths. In other words–what Christianity and Islam have in common is only the humanity of Jesus Christ(pbuh). If a Christian insists on celebrating his Divinity—a Muslim cannot participate.
You are so right about the theology you mentioned (Christology) – that Christianity, particularly the Bible – affirms the mystery that Jesus Christ is 100% God and 100% human. I want to emphasize that this is pure mystery. I do not understand it and I cannot explain it. My little mind won’t even try to explain 3 persons in 1. Sometimes faith believes what reason cannot fathom.
But listen, both of us believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, right? Both the Bible and the Qur’an clearly teach it. We take that for granted, don’t we? Our minds don’t even question it. But. . .neither of our Books really explain it. It defies known science. It is not logical. It is not reasonable. It is simply something God chose to do – and He can do anything. It is a miracle no adherent of Christianity or Islam can understand or explain. We simply chose to believe it because our Books say it and we believe our Books. Amin?
I believe the same is true of Jesus somehow being both divine and human. It seems strange. Weird. Illogical. Unreasonable. Seemingly impossible. Blasphemous. Shirk! Yes, I truly realize that it sounds like shirk to you – ascribing a partner to God. As you said, it is “a massive (and irreconcilable) compromise of faith” for a Muslim. It was also blasphemous to the Jews of Jesus’ day (as strongly monotheistic as you) and they tried on more than one occasion to stone him for his claims to be one with his father. But – the Jews who believed in Jesus – saw something in him they could not explain with their minds. His words, his actions were like no other man. Not even any other prophet. This man was love personified. This man was sinless. And this man made claims for himself that no righteous person would ever make. They “believed” – with their hearts.
I understand your position and I absolutely take it into account in bridge-building. However, just this past Friday I attended jummah prayer in a local mosque. I spoke to the speaker (not an imam) afterwards about bridge-building. He said, “We have to talk about our differences to have true dialogue.” I so agree.
virgin birth—It is not strange—ALL birth natural or unnatural is by God’s will. Therefore, the birth of Jesus Christ (pbuh) is just as miraculous as the birth of you or me—in that, Divine participation (Divine will) is a necessary element of any creation. Therefore, when a farmer plants the seeds and these grow into crops—it is not just the human agency that is involved—but Divine will as well.
Likewise, the birth of Prophet Adam (pbuh) —also without a parent, is by Divine will.
Faith believes what reason cannot fathom—I may have misunderstood your point—but this would be a definition of “blind belief” and the Quran is against it—it calls it (blind belief) superstition.
Iman (Faith/trust) = the use of ones intellect and reason to arrive at (heartfelt) conviction.
1) Intellectual assent to certain propositions
2) engagement in just actions.
A dialogue requires the participation of the partner—talking about differences may be necessary now and then—but an exclusive focus on differences does NOT build bridges. Compromise does. —for example, If I insisted on using the term Prophet Jesus (pbuh) it might create a jarring effect—whereas the use of Jesus Christ (pbuh) would be more respectful of Christians without compromising my religious belief.
Therefore, if the generic term of God could be used to discuss Divine mercy, compassion, justice….etc would this compromise Christian belief?
I certainly do not equate faith with superstition. No way!
No, I agree with you completely that faith – iman – usually involves human faculties of reason and logic. Actually, that is why people choose to follow Jesus (we are not born “Christians” – it is a choice of the will). They use reason and logic to examine his life and verbal claims for himself. They then make a heartfelt decision to give their lives to him or reject him. This involves both faith and reason. No, like you, I don’t think anyone should “leave their brain at the door” when it comes to faith.
What I hoped to convey was that there are some things we both believe that defy what is normal, scientific, rational. Yes, I know that God is involved in all of life but the virgin birth of Jesus defies the normal laws of human reproduction. Would you agree?
The night journey of Muhammad to Al Quds from the Arabian Peninsula and his ascension into Paradise from the area now known as the Dome of the Rock defies what is normal, scientific, and rational. Right? I mean really, how many people have you heard of that have done such a thing? But you believe it. You have faith that it is true.
The identity of Jesus as fully human and fully divine is something that I believe from both reason and faith. The actions and claims of Jesus move me to love him, give my life to him, follow him. They stir me to make a rational and heartfelt faith-filled decision to place all my trust in him for my eternal destination.
Let us keep talking – about similarites and differences.
“God’s care is so personal and real. There is a genuine caring for my soul – for the deepest part of who I am. So when I pray, I know God is listening. He is not too transcendent to hear my cries, my pleas for help.”
I agree totally with this. The Quran is a personal letter from God to me (the individual) and as such I can also feel the intimacy and presence of God when I read the Quran.
“When my servants ask thee concerning Me,
I am indeed close (to them): I respond to the prayer of every Suppliant
when he calls on me: Let them also with a will, listen to my call, and believe in Me:
That they may walk in the right way.”
In John 14:6 (? I think) it says “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It seems to me that Jesus Christ (pbuh) is also saying something similar in that his wisdom teachings show the “right way” —by following the ethico-moral principles that he laid out in his teachings and his life—humanity can walk the path to God.
I understand Christians interpret this passage differently—this is a Muslim interpretation……..made in light of the Quran………………..
I very much appreciate the Quranic verses you shared and I am so glad to hear of your experience of “intimacy and presence of God.” Beautiful. Wonderful. There is nothing like experiencing God instead of just hearing about him from an imam or a pastor – as valuable as that might be!
Regarding John 14:6, you are so right in that we have a different interpretation. For us as Christians (I actually prefer to be known as a “follower of Jesus” or a “Christ-follower”), Jesus doesn’t just point to truth or peace or righteousness. He doesn’t just point people to the path to God or the way to Paradise. He IS all these things – completely personified, totally embodied.
(by the way, this is why I don’t promote Christianity as such – I promote Jesus because I don’t believe any religion can “save” someone from their sins – but I absolutely believe Jesus has the power and the authority to rescue people from their sins)
How do I arrive at this conclusion about Jesus himself being the path to God, the way to Paradise vs. just pointing the way? From the claims that he made about his unique, one-of-a-kind identity. For example, Jesus makes numerous “I am” statements that are recorded by an eyewitness – his disciple, John. One example is as you mentioned, John 14:6. . .
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”
Jesus begins all his “I am” statements with those very words, “I am.” But the English translation does not do it justice. It is much stronger in the original Greek that John used to write his gospel. It says, “Ἐγώ εἰμι” (Egō eimi), literally, “I. . .I am. . .” Jesus is in essence saying, “Look at me. Look at ME! I – and I alone – am the way to God, the path to heaven.” Because of his love for all of lost humanity, he is uncompromisingly emphatic about who he is and why he came.
Jesus repeatedly calls attention to himself for the same reason that a man running a lifeboat emphatically yells to people helplessly drowning in the water (an apt description of us dying in our sins by the way): he alone can save them!
For Muslims, God’s will is supreme. God, most compassionate, most merciful—chooses who is deserving of forgiveness. His decisions are compassionate, merciful and just.
I so, so agree that God’s will is supreme. Yes, praise Him!
But I don’t believe anyone “deserves” forgiveness – not even the greatest of men or women of faith that have ever lived. No, I believe we all deserve just the opposite – hellfire:
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23).
“For the wages (penalty, product) of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Yes! God is most compassionate, most merciful. Oh how I believe it! The free gift He offers through Jesus proves it for all eternity.
“What I hoped to convey was that there are some things we both believe that defy what is normal, scientific, rational. Yes, I know that God is involved in all of life but the virgin birth of Jesus defies the normal laws of human reproduction. Would you agree?”
—No I don’t agree. In Islam ALL KNOWLEDGE—even scientific knowledge, is from God—only its mode of transmission is different. Revelation is direct transmission—other types of knowledge are what the Quran calls “a lifting of the veil”. In other words—knowledge (such as physical laws or biological laws…etc) has always existed—Human beings “find”/acquire it when God wills.
Therefore, human beings cannot say with any certainty that a law has been defied—because we do not have full knowledge—at most, we can only say that the birth of Jesus Christ (pbuh) happened in a way science cannot explain now—but may be able to in the future…….or not……in any case, it happened exactly as God willed, just as your birth also happened exactly as God willed……
1) What human beings know/do not know depends on God’s will
2) All creation is created with God’s will—Both when human beings understand the process and also when they do not.
3) If we understand the term “miracle” as an act where Divine will is involved—then every act of creation—even that of a flower blooming in a meadow—is a miracle because Divine will is involved—-or one could say that there is no such thing as a miracle—because ALL process of creation involves Divine will and thus all are the same………………
Al Hallaj a sufi mystic said “I am Truth”. Ofcourse with such an outrageous statement, the people around him accused him of blasephemy—after long trials—he was executed. Rumi, another sufi mystic explained this statement as Tawheed (Unity)—that is, when a human achieves a high level of spiritualtiy, he no longer has an “ego” (self/will) he becomes one/Unity with the Divine will.
Al-Hallaj also said “I saw my lord with the eye of my heart”.
To those of us with immature levels of spirituality—such statements can be misunderstood. I feel Christians may have misunderstood the High level of Spirituality that Jesus Christ (pbuh) possesed and instead of following the message—they began to worship the messenger.
The Quran is from God—it contains his words/Guidance/Message—-Yet we Muslims do not worship the Quran as God. We make a distinction between God and his message—we worship God and follow his message.
Sin—as I mentioned before—-
Surah 39 verse 53
“Say: O my servants who have transgressed against their souls, despair not of the mercy of God: For God forgives all sins: for he is most forgiving, most merciful.”
We Muslims do not need any intermediaries between us and God.
I certainly agree that Jesus possessed a “high level of spirituality.” From the Biblical standpoint, that would actually be quite an understatement! And yes, he certainly had a will that was “one. . .with the Divine will.” Ego? Self-will? No.
But for Jesus – unlike Sufi or Hindu mystics – these were not rungs of some spiritual ladder that he climbed. He had an inherent oneness with God. He carried it with him from heaven to earth:
“So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” (The Injeel, The Good News of John, Chapter 5, verses 16-18)
“‘I and the Father are one.’ The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?’ The Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.'” (The Injeel, The Good News of John, Chapter 10, verses 30-33)
Actually Hinduism is very much like Christianity. Both have the concept of God incarnating into a created form. This concept in Hinduism is called Avatar. In Christianity the Avatar is Jesus and this phenomenon is one time only—in Hinduism, God incarnates all the time throughout history. Islam does NOT have any incarnation therefore I cannot agree to either Christian or Hindu ideas of incarnation—-however, when the two are compared—the Hindu idea makes more sense than the Christian one. After all, if God can incarnate—why confine himself to one time only at some random time ? Also—if a sacrifice was all that was necessary for forgiveness—then God could have incarnated into a cow/bull or goat or whatever it was the Jews sacrificed at their temple—and the result would have been the same—sins would be forgiven because “God dies” (Deicide). This at least would have created a less gruesome religion than having human sacrifice. Also—the timing does not make sense at all—if God had wanted to forgive sins by this method (Deicide) he should have picked a better time—such as the time period of Prophet Adam(pbuh) ! instead he picks some random time as if he threw darts on a calender to come up with a date!!!
Wow, you have really left me kind of speechless! But here are my thoughts.
Hindusim: are you serious? With all respect to your opinion (and to Hindus), do you honestly think – as a monotheist – that a religion with countless thousands of gods makes more sense than Christianity? Really?!
Which Hindu Avatar loves you today – right now? None of them! But Jesus does. Which Hindu Avatar cares about your eternal destination – right now? None of them! But Jesus does! Right now. This very second. As you are reading.
Jesus, the Word of God – Kalimaat Allah – did not put on animal flesh to rescue cows or bulls or goats! He put on human flesh to rescue humans! Lost, hopeless, dying in their sins humans – like you and like me. Like every person who has ever lived.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. . .The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (The Injeel, The Good News of John, chapter 1, verses 1-4, 14)
Can you imagine this kind of love? Who would leave heaven to come to this fallen, depraved people? To give one’s life for them? Jesus. Only Jesus.
You are so right. Jesus’ death was gruesome. It was beyond horrible. But so is sin. So is God’s hatred for sin. It has to be punished by any logical, rational definition of justice. Justice requires punishment. God is just. He is also “most merciful, most compassionate.” Because of that, God created a plan whereby His justice and his mercy could both be satisfied: the sacrifice of Jesus in our place for our sins.
God throws no darts at calendars. Please. We both believe in a God who is all-wise, all-knowing, all-powerful. The life and death of Jesus was according to God’s perfect, wise, loving plan. This plan was carried out at precisely the time God determined:
“. . .when the right time came, God sent his Son. . .” (Galatians, chapter 4, verse 4)
The apostle John writes of “the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world” (Revelation, chapter 13, verse 8).
So you see, there was a plan. A perfect plan carried out in perfect timing with perfect love.
For you. . .and me. . .and the whole world.
Perhaps I was rude?—If so, I apologize….I am enthusiastic about our conversation and perhaps my wording or phrasing may not have been sensitive…?….
Hinduism is such a broad religion that it is difficult to define it—however, in the concept of Divine incarnation/Avatar there is somewhat of a similarity to Christianity. And many incarnations makes more sense than just one…..?…..
anyway—here is my reaction…………..
1) What difference between countless Gods or 3 Gods?
2) If the logic is that God incarnates because he wants to “experience” the world then it is more reasonable that he do so often and in many “forms” than only once.
3) If God needs to kill himself to forgive sins—he can do so in any form—its not the form that matters—what matters is that God kills himself to forgive sins. Therefore, it is not the “form” that conveys this “love” you speak of—it is the act……….
If it is not the form but the act—then an animal sacrifice would have made more sense if it is indeed the God of the O/T.
4) Which Avatar loves me?—I’d say none—because Muslims do not believe in incarnation/avatars.
5) “rescue….every person that ever lived”—-If by this you mean that those who have lived before this “sacrifice” have been “rescued”—then what is the reason for me to believe in any of the assumptions of Christianity?—I am automatically “rescued”…..just as that humanity before this “sacrifice” took place……
6) Love—is when God forgives the sins of those who ask for forgiveness.
7) What may seem like a “plan” to someone from a Christian background may seem like madness to one from a non-Christian background!.
8) Is there a reason for the timing of this “sacrifice” or is it one of those things that are a mystery?
Dear Muslim Friend,
First, please forgive me for any rudeness that I conveyed in my response! It is just that my heart was hurt to think that Hinduism makes more sense in your thinking than following Jesus (remember, I am not trying to promote or explain “Christianity”). Secondly, I rejoice that you are enthusiastic about our conversation!
I can tell from your responses that you value intellect and most likely possess a keen one yourself. I simply love Jesus. I owe him my life. He has captured my heart with his love. I am – like you – an avowed monotheist. I do not believe in 3 gods. God forbid!
“God” did not kill Himself. In his eternal plan, God the Father allowed Jesus to be killed. Jesus possessed the nature of God. He was Kallimatallah who took on human flesh. Sure, God could have chosen any form but a human form like ours is relatable. And it shows the ultimate love possible! The “act” involved and impacted God Himself.
Prior to Jesus’ life and sacrifice on earth, people were granted forgiveness for their sins based on faith in God expressed in loving obedience to his commands – including animal sacrifices. Animal sacrifices did not remove sins but they covered them until Jesus came. Animal sacrifices were God’s way of showing people the seriousness of sin in God’s sight. They showed that sin must be punished. Someone or something must die! In His mercy, God allowed people to use a substitute – lambs for example – to take their place in sacrificial death. You have something similiar to this in your Eid Al Adha sacrifices of animals pointing back to when Allah spoke of a ransoming. Something – an animal – died, so someone – Ibrahim’s son – could live.
No one is automatically rescued or forgiven for their sins. All people must deliberately, consciously put their faith in the person and work of Isa and understand that none of their own acts of goodness are enough to gain God’s favor for Paradise.
Why didn’t Jesus come earlier? Such as the time of Adam? I am not certain. But I assume that He wanted to let people see over many centuries (since Adam) that all their efforts to climb the ladder to Heaven were doomed to failure. It was to humble them so they would cry out for a savior. It was to bring them to a point of accepting a gift from Heaven – Jesus – Isa Al Masih.
I am interested in an “explanation” of Christianity because I do not understand it. Of all the world religions—it is one that makes the least sense. I am assuming that my intellectual capacity may be inadequate to understanding it………….or perhaps it is simply an illogical religion…..?……….
–“I do not believe in 3 gods.”
That is what Christians say—yet they worship Jesus not God (the father)…?….and Jesus IS God (at least according to the Nicene creed) and so is this thing called Holy Spirit. Of these three—Christians do not worship God (the father) or the Holy spirit—they worship Jesus. Therefore—-perhaps it is possible to say you worship only one God…….the one that is Jesus. However, you cannot say you do not believe in 3 Gods-in-1—because that is the Trinity—unless you are a non-Trinitarian Christian.
Some Christians also claim that this thing called “Word” is also Divine—this ups the tally to 4 Gods. God the Father, the Holy Spirit, Jesus and the Word.—-Yet these same Christians refer to themselves as “Trinitatians”
–its all very confusing.
Faith and superstition are different—superstition is blind faith.
—-“God” did not kill Himself.
That is NOT how the Western Church (Roman Catholic) has looked at it—for centuries they have accused the Jews of “Deicide” (Killing God).
However, even if we say God allowed human beings to kill him—it is still equivalent to “God killed himself”…..since his will made it happen….?…..
—-“a human form like ours is relatable.”
Precisely why in Islam God is NOT anthropomorphized and why religions like Hinduism often have Gods in human form. To anthropomorphize God is to make him into an idol—-Something that the O/T and Judaism is very much against (and also Islam)
“Prior to Jesus’ life and sacrifice on earth, people were granted forgiveness for their sins based on faith in God expressed in loving obedience to his commands ”
—the statement above contradicts your following statement
“Animal sacrifices did not remove sins but they covered them until Jesus came. ”
—Did God forgive sins or not?—if he did, then sins were not “covered” they were erased—if he did not forgive but only “covered” sins, then all those before are not “rescued”.
The problems mentioned in #3, 5 remain unresolved……
In Islam—a sacrifice is not required for God’s forgiveness—As I have already explained many times—One simply asks God for forgiveness and is forgiven by God most compassionate, most merciful.
In the story of Prophet Abraham (pbuh) his, actions were a test—they had nothing to do with the Christian concept of human/animal sacrifice for forgiveness or of ransom or any other Christian concepts.
My friend, as I told another Muslim person on this blog, I too believe in the justice & forgiveness of God.
But please let me ask, how can Allah forgive without justice being done?
Mercy is an essential attribute of God. But so is justice. God is the ultimate Judge. Like an earthly judge, He can’t just have a guilty person appear before Him for a crime – rape, murder, theft, etc. – and forgive them. . .just because they ask! Someone has to pay for those crimes. That is part of the definition of justice.
In the Bible, God is both merciful and just. Both of them were fully satisfied when Jesus gave his life for us. Yes, we can be forgiven by just asking but. . .someone still paid the full penalty for our wrongs. Isa.
This is love. Unfathomable, amazing. . .love.
1 God, 3 Gods, 4 Gods? No, the Bible teaches that there is only 1 God eternally existing in 3 persons. Father, Son, Holy Spirit. The “Word” is not another God. The “Word of God” is another name for Jesus (see the Injil, the Good News of John, chapter 1).
Worshipping or praying to 3 Gods? No, the Bible generally teaches that we should worship the Father and also pray to the Father. Jesus taught his followers to pray saying, “Our Father. . .”
Are there occasions where Jesus is worshipped or prayed to? Yes, a few times. Jesus actually did receive worship while on earth. The best example is by Thomas after Jesus rose from the grave (the Injil, the Good News of John, chapter 20, verse 24-28):
“Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’
Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!'”
Jesus never rebuked Thomas for his statement joyfully proclaiming Jesus’ divinity – only his lack of faith in Jesus’ words that he would be resurrected from the dead.
God cannot die. Impossible. You are most certainly correct.
You see, we believe that Jesus was fully divine and fully human at the same time.
God in heaven did not – could not – die.
But the body of Jesus – Isa Al Masih – could. It was fully human. Subject to all the frailties we have: hunger, thirst, exhaustion, pain, and finally. . .death.
For us. For you. Because he loves you!