Last Updated on 11th October 2019
Jesusas and the Attributes of God
Farhan Iqbal, Missionary, Canada
In the previous article, it was discussed that prophets of God are a manifestation of the attributes of God. Attributes of God are not inherent in the prophets. Prophets are humble humans who simply act as agents of God. The same is the case of Jesusas. As a result, one strong argument against the divinity of Jesusas is that he never demonstrated the attributes and power of God within himself, subject to his personal will. This is a subtle, but important point. While prophets of God are a manifestation of the attributes of God, they do not have control over what kinds of powers God grants them. Jesusas elaborates this himself when he says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). Here he is clearly stating that the authority is not his, nor his to give, but it actually belongs to God. This is further clarified when he says, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing…” (John 5:19) Hence, Jesusas is no different from other prophets who do nothing on their own but only what they are told to do from God.As such, it is very easy to bring the discussions about the divinity of Jesusas to a conclusion simply by asking: “Did Jesusas ever demonstrate to the world the attributes of God?” The answer is a resounding “no!” This is because at numerous occasions he seems to have been unable to demonstrate the attributes of God. For instance, one attribute of God is that He is Omnipotent – the only Being Who is the Creator of the universe and has full control of everything. Allah says:
اَللّٰهُ الَّذِىۡ خَلَقَكُمۡ مِّنۡ ضُعۡفٍ ثُمَّ جَعَلَ مِنۡ بَعۡدِ ضُعۡفٍ قُوَّةً ثُمَّ جَعَلَ مِنۡ بَعۡدِ قُوَّةٍ ضُعۡفًا وَّشَيۡبَةً ؕ يَخۡلُقُ مَا يَشَآءُ ۚ وَهُوَ الۡعَلِيۡمُ الۡقَدِيۡرُ
“It is Allah Who created you in a state of weakness, and after weakness gave strength; then, after strength, caused weakness and old age. He creates what He pleases. He is the All-Knowing, the All-Powerful.” (Surah al-Rum, Ch.30: V.55)
This same attribute of Omnipotence is described in the Book of Daniel as follows:
“For [God’s] sovereignty is an everlasting sovereignty, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does what he wills with the host of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. There is no one who can stay his hand or say to him, “What are you doing?” (Daniel 4:35)
Contrary to this, the life of Jesus Christas was full of weaknesses, trials and tribulations, and eventually he was caught, tortured and killed (according to Christian beliefs). For him to have been God, he should have displayed this attribute extensively so that people would have had no trouble in believing in him as God incarnate.
What is more is that Jesusas himself admits that he is not omnipotent when he says, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30) Also, it is stated, “[Jesusas] could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them”. (Mark 6:5)
How much of a contrast do these two verses have with the description of God above! If Jesusas was truly an omnipotent god, he should have had no trouble in healing any person or showing any miracles or doing deeds of power. The Promised Messiahas expresses this argument beautifully as follows:
“The sum and substance of the circumstances of the son of Mary contained in the Gospels, shorn of vain and senseless praise, is that he was a humble creature and was one of the prophets who were subject to the law of Mosesas… According to the Gospels, he confessed that he was neither good, nor a knower of the unseen, nor powerful, but only a humble creature.” (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 1, pp. 441-442)
Hence, the Gospels themselves provide evidence that Jesusas was simply a human being and did not display the powerful attributes of God.
Another attribute of God is that He is Omniscient and possesses knowledge of everything – present, past, and future, as it is stated, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure”. (Psalm 147:5)
The Holy Quran says:
قُلۡ اَ تَعۡبُدُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰهِ مَا لَا يَمۡلِكُ لَـكُمۡ ضَرًّا وَّلَا نَفۡعًا ؕ وَاللّٰهُ هُوَ السَّمِيۡعُ الۡعَلِيۡمُ
“Say, ‘Will you worship beside Allah that which has no power to do you harm or good?’ And it is Allah Who is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” (Surah al-Maidah, Ch.5: V.77)
Jesusas, on the other hand, does not display this quality of being all-knowing and in fact says quite the opposite on occasion, as an expression of his humility. For instance, he once became hungry and seeing a fig tree, he desired to get its fruit, but upon arriving, he realised that it did not have any fruit because it was not the season for it yet. (Matthew 21:18-19) How can an all-knowing god not know the seasons?
Similarly, when speaking about the Day of Judgment, Jesusas says, “But about that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32) Here, Jesusas not only expresses his lack of knowledge but very clearly and unambiguously makes the distinction between himself and God Almighty.
Some Christians counter this by saying that the apostles affirm of Jesusas in John 16:30, “Now we know that you know all things…”, but these are merely the words of apostles, not Jesusas, made in a very specific context. By using the phrase “all things”, they may have simply been referring to all things related to Jesus’as ministry or his specific circumstances. To assume that they were attributing omniscience to Jesusas is a far cry from the context and directly contradictory to Jesus’as own admittance of lack of knowledge at other occasions.
The Promised Messiahas expresses this argument as follows:
“Jesusas possessed no extraordinary power. He was a humble person and was characterised by human weakness and lack of knowledge. The Gospels show that he had no knowledge of the hidden, he went to a fig tree in order to eat of its fruit and was not aware that there was no fruit on the tree. He confessed that he had no knowledge of the Day of Judgement. Had he been God, he should have known of the Day of Judgement. He possessed no Divine attribute and there was nothing in him which is not to be found in others.” (Nasim-e-Da‘wat, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 19, p. 382)
When we assess Jesus’as situation in relation to the attributes of God, it becomes clear that he could not have been Divine or God. Of course, the only sense in which he was “divine” is that he was an agent of God just like other agents and messengers of God.