The Person of Christ

By Peter Schumacher (pseudonym), November 2022

Note from David Paul. Peter Schumacher (pseudonym) is a friend and colleague who serves among the Muslims of South Asia. He and I have been discussing the importance of the doctrine of the Person of Christ for discipling Muslim-background believers (MBBs). So, Peter took some time and wrote this out to help himself and others teach this doctrine to MBBs. This doctrine is perhaps the most important of all for bringing MBBs into a strong faith in Jesus. Since Peter wanted to make this article accessible for Muslim-background believers, He uses the contextualized Isa al-Masih for Jesus. This is the first of hopefully many quest writings on No Cousins Left!

Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

Hazrat Isa al-Masih stands as the center of the faith for His followers. Therefore, understanding who He is and being able to explain who He is are vital. In South Asia, we have seen that followers of Isa al-Masih from Muslim backgrounds often have difficulty understanding the nature of Isa al-Masih. 

In Islam, Isa al-Masih is given the title Kalimatullah which means the Word of God. This title is an excellent place to start describing the person of Jesus because the Injeel Sharif (Urdu for New Testament) also calls Isa al-Masih the Word of God. But what does it mean that Isa al-Masih is the Word of God? John 1:1-3 teaches the meaning of this title. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” 

In this passage, we see “the Word was God.” The Kalimatullah, Isa al-Masih, is God! Isa al-Masih existed in the beginning. He was with God, and all things were made through Him. 

John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” So, this verse tells us that Isa al-Masih, as the Kalumatullah, “became flesh and dwelt among us.” Isa al-Masih became human! What an amazing truth that God came among us and lived as a human! How great that Isa al-Masih loved us enough to come and save us in this way. 

When we consider the deity and humanity of Hazrat Isa al-Masih, three questions should come to our minds.

  1. To what extent is Isa al-Masih human? 
  2. To what extent is Isa al-Masih God? 
  3. And why is this important? 

Question #1: To What Extent is Isa al-Masih Human?

John 1:14 says that Isa al-Masih “became flesh,” meaning he took the form of a human. He had a body just like we do. 

Read Luke 2:1-7:

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

This passage is about the birth of Isa al-Masih. Isa al-Masih was carried in the womb by his mother. He entered the world as a human by being born of a human mother. After his birth, He was wrapped in clothes and laid in the only shelter they could find. This implies that, just like us, 

Hazrat Isa al-Masih was vulnerable to the elements and required protection. 

To emphasize this point, Isa al-Masih became hungry, thirsty, tired, and needed to sleep. We see His humanity in these verses:

Matthew 4:2: “And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”

John 19:28: “After this, Isa, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.'”

John 4:6: “Jacob’s well was there; so Isa, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.” 

Matthew 8:24: “And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.”

As Isa al-Masih lived, He experienced everything it meant to have the physical body of a man. All the frailty of humanity was a part of his life. He lived as we live, requiring food, water, rest, and shelter. But the greatest example of His human weakness was His death. God doesn’t die, but Isa al-Masih died on the cross. Read in Luke 23:46, “Then Isa, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”‘And having said this he breathed his last.” Death, the greatest of human weaknesses, was experienced by Isa al-Masih. 

We see through Scripture that Isa’s body was human, but what about his mind? Luke 2:52 says, “And Isa increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” Isa al-Masih “increased in wisdom” meaning as he grew older in body, he also learned new things. God knows all things and from him is all wisdom. If Isa al-Masih’s mind was the mind of God, he would not learn and grow as we do. 

Likewise, Isa al-Masih was like us regarding temptation. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” According to this passage, Isa a-Masih understands us because He also experienced temptation. Matthew 4:1-11 shares how Satan came to Isa al-Masih to tempt him. Isa al-Masih resisted Satan by quoting Scripture. This story is an excellent example of how to resist Satan’s temptations. We were given a great example because He faced the same spiritual warfare that we experience. Temptation is a uniquely human experience. As we read in James 1:13, God cannot be tempted. As a man, Hazrat Isa al-Masih was tempted. 

Hazrat Isa al-MAsih also experienced emotions. We see His emotions in the following verses. 

John 11:5-6: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”

John 11:17-35: “Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.’ When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept.”

Isa al-Masih had a unique bond with Lazarus. He had a close friendship with Lazarus that we can all relate to. Even Isa al-Masih, having the power to bring Lazarus back to life, wept when he saw his dead friend. 

Regarding the emotions of Isa al-Masih, let’s look at how He reacted to the reality of dying on the cross. “And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:41-44).

Isa al-Masih, like us, was driven to prayer when faced with a massive trial. Even the least spiritual of us can be driven to prayer when facing a trial such as this. Isa al-Masih’s spirit drove him to speak to the Father in prayer. Also, in the passage above, we see that Isa al-Masih had such anxiety that he began to sweat drops of blood! If Isa al-Masih was God alone (and not human also), He would never experience such anxiety. But since He became flesh, He felt the same emotions we would feel in that situation.

Isa al-Masih is human in body, mind, and spirit. This means that He is fully human. Everything common amongst man was common with Jesus, except sin. He remains human even now after his death and resurrection. Before ascending to heaven, his disciples felt Him and knew He was not a spirit but man (Luke 24:39). Let’s move on to consider the deity of Hazrat Isa al-Masih.

Question #2: To What Extent Is Hazrat Isa al-Masih God?

Scripture makes clear that Hazrat Isa al-Masih is fully God. As we read in John 1:1-3 Isa al-Masih is called God. However, Muslims often argue that Isa al-Masih never claimed to be God. However, many passages of Scripture demonstrate that Isa al-Masih is God.

Let’s start by considering John 5:16-23, “And this was why the Jews were persecuting Isa, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Isa answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I am working.’ This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. For 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.'”

In this passage, the Jewish people were angry with Isa al-Masih for healing on the Sabbath. In response, Isa al-Masih said, “My Father is working,” and so He was also working. In this phrasing, Isa al-Masih claimed to be the Son of God in a way that others were not. The Jewish people recognized that Isa al-Masih was claiming equality with God. They were so surprised that they wanted to kill Isa al-Masih for what He had done. 

The disciples of Isa al-Masih also recognized Him as God. Look at these passages.

John 20:28: “Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!'”

Matthew 28:9: “And behold, Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.” It is evident that only God should receive worship! Yet, in this passage, the disciples of Isa al-Masih are worshipping Him. Therefore, by their worship, they acknowledged the deity of Isa al-Masih. Isa al-Masih acknowledged His own deity by receiving their worship! 

Matthew 16:16: “Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'”

2 Peter 1:1: “Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Scripture makes clear that Isa al-Masih is God. But if Isa al-Masih was fully man, to what extent is He God? For that, lets look at Colossians 2:8-10: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”

The Bible clearly states that the fullnesss of deity dwells in Isa al-Masih. Isa al-Masih is fully God! This is who Hazrat Isa al-Masih is. He is fully God and fully man. So, let’s finally put it together and see why this is important.

Three False Teachings about the Deity and Humanity of Isa al-Masih

Let’s talk about three false teachings from history to avoid making the same mistakes that have often been made in the past.

First, one false teaching explained the person of Isa al-Masih by saying He consisted of two parts. One part was his humanity, and the other part was his deity. This false teaching argued that Isa al-Masih was physically human but mentally and spiritually divine.

However, in the first part of this study above, we saw that Isa al-Masih did not only have a human body but also a human mind (see Luke 2:52, Hebrews 4:15, Matthew 4:1-11, John 11:5-35, and Luke 22:41-44). Isa al-Masih is fully God and fully man.

Second, Another false teaching was that Isa al-Masih existed in two persons: human and deity. One person said that the humanity of Isa al-Masih was like a drop in the ocean of His humanity.

However, we see no evidence of this. In fact, this teaching denies that Isa al-Masih is fully man. It reduces His humanity to a great degree. Isa al-Masih always refers to himself in the singular. He was not two people in one body. In John 14:23, Isa al-Masih referred to two persons of the Trinity, the Father and the Son, as “we.” Still, He always referred to himself as “I.” Isa al-Masih is consistently presented as a single person throughout Scripture. 

Third, another false teaching was that the divine and human natures of Christ mixed to become a new nature. This false teaching, however, would make Isa al-Masih neither fully man nor fully God. If He were not fully God, then we could not worship Him (Matthew 28:9). If He were not fully man, He could not relate to our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). 

Instead, the Scriptures teach that Isa al-Masih is God and has always existed. He came to earth born of a virgin. He lived and experienced all that it means to be human. He is fully God and fully man. 

Question #3: Why Is it Important that Isa al-Masih is Fully God and Fully Man? First, we will look at seven reasons that the full humanity of Isa al-Masih is essential.

1. Isa al-Masih’s obedience makes us righteous. Romans 5:18-19 says, 

“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” If Isa al-Masih wasn’t fully man, then his obedience would not be able to make man righteous.

2. Isa al-Masih’s sacrifice on the cross only applies since He is fully man. Hebrews 2:17 says, “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” This passage shows that Isa al-Masih needed to be made like us so that He could become a sacrifice (propitiation) for our sins.

3. Isa al-Masih needed to be human to become a perfect mediator between God and humanity. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” In this passage, Paul emphasized Isa al-Masih’s humanity by saying, “the man Christ Jesus.” This emphasis on “the man” affirms that being fully human was necessary for Isa al-Masih to be our mediator.

4. The humanity of Isa al-Masih fulfilled God’s design for man to rule over creation. Genesis 1:28 says, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'” In this passage, God commanded man to subdue the earth and have dominion over everything on the earth. Matthew 28:18 says that Jesus had this authority. “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.'” Isa al-Masih declared that He had been given authority over everything.

5. Isa al-Masih is our example of how to live a holy life. 1 John 2:6 says, “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” This passage affirms Christ as our example of holy living. We would only have a clear model for our lives since Christ was fully man.

6. Isa al-Masih’s resurrection is a picture of our future resurrection. In Luke 24:39 Isa al-Masih said, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Isa al-Masih still had a human body after his resurrection. In the same way, we will also experience a physical resurrection.

7. Isa al-Masih can completely relate to us as our High Priest. Hebrew 2:18 says, “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Then Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” By being fully man, Isa al-Masih experienced all it means to be human and can perfectly relate and sympathize with us as our High Priest. 

Now let’s consider three reasons that the full deity of Isa al-Masih is essential.

1. To be our Savior, Isa al-Masih had to be God. Psalm 3:8 says, “Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people!” Scripture says that God is the one who saves us. For Isa al-Masih to be our Savior, He must be fully God.

2. Since He is fully God, Isa al-Masih is the perfect mediator between man and God. No one can advocate for us to God the Father other than God the son.

3. Since Isa is fully God, He is worthy of worship. Matthew 28:9 says, “And behold, Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.” The Bible is clear that only God should be worshipped. Humankind should not worship men nor creatures nor idols. Since Isa al-Masih received worship, He is fully God.

Understanding the nature of Hazrat Isa al-Masih is essential for our faith. He is fully God and fully man. While our finite minds cannot fully understand all the intricacies of these mysteries, the Bible has clarified many things about the humanity and deity of Isa al-Masih. Let us not attempt to explain this union of man and God in any way the Bible doesn’t clarify. Most false teachings are brought about by trying to explain things that the Scriptures do not make clear. Let us reject those false teachings and stand firmly in the truth that Hazrat Isa al-Masih is fully God and fully man.

Subscribe to No Cousins Left to get an update every time we post content!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: