Jesus’ Superiority Revisited
Being a further response to a Muslim Dawagandist
This is a continuation of our response (*) to Bassam Zawadi’s reply (*) to our articles concerning the Quran’s emphatic teaching that Jesus and his mother are vastly superior to everyone, especially to Muhammad and his family which includes his own mother as well (1, 2).
Satan’s touch and Jesus’ Sinlessness Revisited
In response to the hadith I sourced which stated that Jesus and Mary were the only individuals that Satan wasn’t able to prick at their births, Zawadi says:
This cited hadith has nothing to do with sinfulness or sinlessness; because Satan only misguides those who can distinguish between what is good and evil. At the time of birth, any person including Maryam and ‘Isa is unable to recognize good and evil, so this touch has no effect on his/her sinfulness or sinlessness.
In his haste to refute the significance that this hadith has on the status and impeccability of both Jesus and his blessed mother Zawadi conveniently fails to explain to his readers the import and meaning of this narrative. Zawadi tells us what it doesn’t mean but doesn’t bother to explain what it does mean and what relevance Satan’s failure in touching Jesus and Mary has on their status and uniqueness. In light of his failure it is up to us to educate Zawadi and to explain to his readers why this narrative is so significant in establishing the sinlessness of both Jesus and Mary.
According to the hadith literature every person has a satan or jinn attached to him, including Muhammad:
Chapter 14: THE MISCHIEF OF SATAN IN THE MUSLIM SOCIETY AND SENDING HIS DETACHMENTS FOR THE CREATION OF TURMOIL, AND THERE IS A DEVIL ATTACHED TO EVERY PERSON …
Abdullah b. Mas’ud reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: There is none amongst you with whom is not an attaché from amongst the jinn (devil). They (the Companions) said: Allah’s Messenger, with you too? Thereupon he said: Yes, but Allah helps me against him and so I am safe from his hand and he does not command me but for good. (Sahih Muslim, Book 039, Number 6757)
Aisha said: One day Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) went out of her (Aisha’s apartment) during the night and she felt jealous. Then he came and he saw me (in what agitated state of mind) I was. He said: Aisha, what has happened to you? Do you feel jealous? Thereupon she said: How can it be (that a woman like me) should not feel jealous in regard to a husband like you? Thereupon Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) said: It was your devil who had come to you, and she said: Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) is there along with me a devil? He said: Yes. I said: Is devil attached to everyone? He said: Yes. I (Aisha) again said: Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) is it with you also? He said: Yes, but my Lord has helped me against him as such I am absolutely safe from his mischief. (Sahih Muslim, Book 039, Number 6759)
Note carefully what Muhammad is reported to have said… Allah helped him against his satan’s mischief. This implies that, a) a person’s satan causes that individual to do what is wrong, and b) Muhammad’s devil was causing him to commit sins and mischief up until Allah helped his “messenger” against his demon.
We know that Muhammad’s demon was guiding him into error because both the Quran and Islamic narratives mention that Satan deceived Muhammad and had tainted his heart (meaning his inner being). This necessitated that his heart be purified in order to remove Satan’s influence and control upon him:
Anas b. Malik reported that Gabriel came to the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) while he was playing with his playmates. He took hold of him and lay him prostrate on the ground and tore open his breast and took out the heart from it and then extracted a blood-clot out of it and said: That was THE PART OF SATAN IN THEE. And then he washed it with the water of Zamzam in a golden basin and then it was joined together and restored to its place. The boys came running to his mother, i.e. his nurse, and said: Verily Muhammad has been murdered. They all rushed toward him (and found him all right). His color was changed, Anas said. I myself saw the marks of a needle on his breast. (Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Number 311)
Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Habib al-Tusi – Abu Daud al-Tayalisi – Ja‘far b. ‘Abdullah b. ‘Uthman al-Qurashi – ‘Umar b. ‘Urwah b. al-Zubayr – ‘Urwah b. al-Zubayr – Abu Dharr al-Ghifari: I said, “O Messenger, how did you first know with absolute certainty that you were a prophet?” “Abu Dharr,” he replied, ‘Two angels came to me while I was somewhere in the Valley of Mecca. One of them came down to earth, while the other remained between heaven and earth… Then one said to the other, ‘Open his breast.’ He opened my breast, and then he said, ‘Take out his heart’ or ‘open his heart.’ He opened my heart, and took out from it the pollution of Satan and a clot of blood, and threw them away. Then one said to the other, ‘Wash his breast as you would a receptacle–or, wash his heart as you would a covering.’” … (The History of al-Tabari – Muhammad at Mecca, translated and annotated by W. Montgomery Watt and M. V. McDonald [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany 1988], Volume VI (6), p. 75; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Muhammad also believed that Satan circulates in a person’s body, himself included:
Narrated Safiya bint Huyai:
The wife of the Prophet that she went to Allah’s Apostle while he was in Itikaf (staying in the mosque) during the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan. She spoke to him for an hour (a while) at night and then she got up to return home. The Prophet got up to accompany her, and when they reached the gate of the mosque opposite the dwelling place of Um Salama, the wife of the Prophet, two Ansari men passed by, and greeting Allah’s Apostle , they quickly went ahead. Allah’s Apostle said to them, “Do not be in a hurry. She is Safiya, the daughter of Huyai.” They said, “Subhan Allah! O Allah’s Apostle (how dare we suspect you).” That was a great thing for both of them. The Prophet then said, “Satan runs in the body of Adam’s son (i.e. man) as his blood circulates in it, and I was afraid that he (Satan) might insert an evil thought in your hearts.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 238)
Muhammad also came under the control of magic, a Satanic art, to such an extent that he actually thought he was having sex with his wives when he wasn’t!
The Prophet continued for such-and-such period imagining that he has slept (had sexual relations) with his wives, and in fact he did not. One day he said, to me, “O ‘Aisha! Allah has instructed me regarding a matter about which I had asked Him. There came to me two men, one of them sat near my feet and the other near my head. The one near my feet, asked the one near my head (pointing at me), ‘What is wrong with this man? The latter replied, ‘He is under the effect of magic.’ The first one asked, ‘Who had worked magic on him?’ The other replied, ‘Lubaid bin Asam.’ The first one asked, ‘What material (did he use)?’ The other replied, ‘The skin of the pollen of a male date tree with a comb and the hair stuck to it, kept under a stone in the well of Dharwan.’” Then the Prophet went to that well and said, “This is the same well which was shown to me in the dream. The tops of its date-palm trees look like the heads of the devils, and its water looks like the Henna infusion.” Then the Prophet ordered that those things be taken out. I said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Won’t you disclose (the magic object)?” The Prophet said, “Allah has cured me and I hate to circulate the evil among the people.” ‘Aisha added, “(The magician) Lubaid bin Asam was a man from Bani Zuraiq, an ally of the Jews.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 89)
If this weren’t bad enough Satan even inspired Muhammad!
We sent not ever any Messenger or Prophet before thee, but that Satan cast into his fancy, when he was fancying; but God annuls what Satan casts, then God confirms His signs — surely God is All-knowing, All-wise — S. 22:52
The expositors say that this was “revealed” in connection with Satan causing Muhammad to recite verses from the devil:
And We did not send before you any messenger (rasul) — this is a prophet who has been commanded to deliver a Message — or prophet (nabi) — one who has not been commanded to deliver anything — but that when he recited [the scripture] Satan cast into his recitation, what is not from the Qur’an, but which those to whom he [the prophet] had been sent would find pleasing. The Prophet (s) had, during an assembly of the [men of] Quraysh, after reciting the [following verses from] surat al-Najm, Have you considered Lat and ‘Uzza? And Manat, the third one? [53:19-20] added, as a result of Satan casting them onto his tongue without his [the Prophet’s] being aware of it, [the following words]: ‘those are the high-flying cranes (al-gharaniq al-‘ula) and indeed their intercession is to be hoped for’, and so they [the men of Quraysh] were thereby delighted. Gabriel, however, later informed him [the Prophet] of this that Satan had cast onto his tongue and he was grieved by it; but was [subsequently] comforted with this following verse that he might be reassured [of God’s pleasure]: thereat God abrogates, nullifies, whatever Satan had cast, then God confirms His revelations. And God is Knower, of Satan’s casting of that which has been mentioned, Wise, in His enabling him [Satan] to do such things, for He does whatever He will. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold and underline emphasis)
(Never sent We a messenger or a prophet before thee…) [22:52]. The commentators of the Qur’an said: “When the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, saw that his people were shunning him, he was aggrieved by their rejection of the message he brought them and he secretly wished that Allah, exalted is He, reveals something to him which would bring him and his people closer to each other, keen as he was to see them accept faith. One day, he sat in one of the congregations of Quraysh which attracted a huge number of its members, and he wished that Allah, exalted is He, does not reveal to him on that day anything that might repel them from him. Allah, exalted is He, revealed to him then Surah al-Najm (By the star when it stetteth…) [Surah 53]. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, recited it but when he reached (Have ye thought upon al-Lat and al-‘Uzza, and Manat, the third, the other) [53:19-20], the devil put on his tongue what he had secretly wished and hoped for and said ‘these are the mighty cranes (gharaniq) and their intercession is hoped for’. When the Quraysh heard this, they were very pleased. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, carried on reciting until the end of the Surah and then prostrated. All the Muslims followed suit and prostrated, and all the idolaters who were present prostrated too. All those who were present, whether Muslim or disbeliever, prostrated except al-Walid ibn al-Mughirah and Abu Uhyahah Sa‘id ibn al-‘As who were too advanced in age and could not prostrate, but they both grabbed a handful of dust and put their foreheads on it. The Quraysh then dispersed, happy with what they heard. They said: ‘Muhammad has mentioned our idols with complimentary terms. We know that Allah gives life and takes it away, He creates and provides sustenance, but these idols of ours will intercede for us with Him. Now that Muhammad has associated them, we are all with him’. That evening, Gabriel, peace be upon him, went to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and said: ‘What have you done? You recited to people that which I did not bring from Allah, glorified is He, and you said what I did not say to you’. (‘Ali ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab Al-Nuzul; source; underline emphasis ours)
The Quran further says that Muhammad was actually lost and was going astray when Allah guided him:
He found you astray, and guided you. S. 93:7 Khalifa
The Muslim scripture even claims that Muhammad didn’t even know what faith was until Allah decided to reveal it to him:
Even so We have revealed to thee a Spirit of Our bidding. Thou knewest not what the Book was, nor belief; but We made it a light, whereby We guide whom We will of Our servants. And thou, surely thou shalt guide unto a straight path — S. 42:52
It is therefore abundantly clear that Muhammad’s satan caused him major problems, especially during the period before his so-called prophetic ministry began since this is when he would have been lost and misguided according to the Quran.
With the foregoing in perspective we are now in a position to more fully appreciate the teaching of both the Quran and the ahadith that Allah prevented Satan from touching Mary and her blessed Son:
When she was delivered, she said: “O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!” – and God knew best what she brought forth – “And no wise is the male like the female. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from the Evil One, the Rejected.” S. 3:36 Y. Ali
Narrated Said bin Al-Musaiyab:
Abu Huraira said, “I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘There is none born among the off-spring of Adam, but Satan touches it. A child therefore, cries loudly at the time of birth because of the touch of Satan, EXCEPT MARY AND HER CHILD.” Then Abu Huraira recited: “And I seek refuge with You for her and for her offspring from the outcast Satan” (3.36) (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 641; see also Volume 4, Book 54, Number 506)
Since Allah granted the request of Jesus’ grandmother by protecting him and his beloved mother from the taint and stain of Satan this means that, unlike Muhammad and his family, Jesus and the blessed Mary are the only human beings who were absolutely free from any satanic influence. The Lord Jesus and his holy mother were the only ones whom Satan could not control, could not touch, could not influence.
Hence, contrary to Zawadi’s assertion, the hadith regarding Jesus and Mary being protected from Satan has everything to do with sinfulness/sinlessness. The narrative establishes the fact that Allah eliminated from the lives of Mary and her holy Son a chief and main cause that leads people to commit sin and evil, namely, Satan’s control and influence. This is something that Allah did not do for anyone else, not even for Muhammad whom Muslims erroneously believe was the greatest human being ever created.
John the Baptist’s Sinlessness Examined
John the Baptist is also sinless according to the Quran:
There is also evidence that God blessed John the Baptist with the same miracle…
The Birth of the Boy and His Characteristics
This also implies what is not mentioned, that this promised boy was born and he was Yahya. There is also the implication that Allah taught him the Book, the Tawrah which they used to study among themselves. The Prophets who were sent to the Jews used to rule according to the Tawrah, as did the scholars and rabbis among them. He was still young in age when Allah gave him this knowledge. This is the reason that Allah mentioned it. Because of how Allah favored him and his parents, He says…
(O Yahya! Hold fast to the Scripture [the Tawrah].) Means, “Learn the Book with strength.” In other words, learn it well, with zeal and studious effort…
(And We gave him wisdom while yet a child.) This means he was given understanding, knowledge, fortitude, diligence and zeal for good and the pursuit of good. He was blessed with these characteristics even though he was young. Allah said…
(And (made him) Hananan from Us,) [19:13] Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said…
(And Hananan from Us, ) “This means mercy from Us.” `Ikrimah, Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak all said the same. Ad-Dahhak added, “Mercy that no one would be able to give except Us.” Qatadah added, “With it, Allah had mercy upon Zakariyya.” Mujahid said…
(And Hananan from Us,) “This was gentleness from His Lord upon him.” The apparent meaning is that Allah’s statement Hananan (affection, compassion) is directly related to His statement…
(and We gave him wisdom while yet a child.) meaning, “We gave him wisdom, compassion and purity.” This means that he was a compassionate man, who was righteous. Hanan means the love for affection and tenderness (towards others). Concerning Allah’s statement…
(and Zakatan,) This is related to His statement…
(And Hananan) The word Zakah means purity from filth, wickedness and sins. Qatadah said, “The word Zakah means the righteous deed.” Ad-Dahhak and Ibn Jurayj both said, “The righteous deed is the pure (Zakah) deed.” Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas said…
(and Zakatan,) “This means that he was a blessing.”…
(and he was pious.)[19:13] meaning that he was pure and had no inclination to do sins. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Source)
Al Suyuti states…
and compassion, a mercy for mankind, from Us, from Our presence, and purity, a charity for them, and he was God-fearing – it is related that he never committed a sin,nor contemplated [committing] one; (Jalal ud-Din Siyuti, Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 19:13, Source)
Narrated Said bin Al-Musaiyab:
Abu Huraira said, “I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘There is NONE born among the off-spring of Adam, but Satan touches it. A child therefore, cries loudly at the time of birth because of the touch of Satan, EXCEPT MARY AND HER CHILD.” Then Abu Huraira recited: “And I seek refuge with You for her and for her offspring from the outcast Satan” (3.36) (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 641; see also Volume 4, Book 54, Number 506)
If the above narration is correct then John the Baptist is one of those persons whom Satan afflicted upon his birth.
there are specific narratives which contradict the Quran’s assertion that John is sinless. The famous Muslim historian and commentator al-Tabari sources a Muslim scholar named Qatadah who stated that:
“Jesus and his mother did not commit any of the sins which the REST of the children of Adam commit.” (Mahmoud M. Ayoub, The Quran and Its Interpreters: The House of Imran[State University of New York Press (SUNY), 1992], Volume II, p. 94; capital and underline emphasis ours)
John would be among the children of Adam who committed the sins which Jesus and his highly favored mother didn’t commit.
Now Zawadi may reject the statements of the Muslim scholars on the grounds that the Quran holds greater authority and weight than the statements of some Muslim expositors. Be that as it may, Zawadi would still need to contend with the teaching of the Quran that John was sent as Jesus’ forerunner:
And the angels called to him, standing in the Sanctuary at worship, ‘Lo, God gives thee good tidings of John, who shall confirm a Word of God, a chief, and chaste, a Prophet, righteous.’ S. 3:39 Arberry
According to the Islamic expositors the Word which John came to confirm is Jesus Christ:
And the angels, namely, Gabriel, called to him, standing in the sanctuary, in the temple, at worship that (anna, means bi-anna; a variant reading has inna, implying a direct speech statement) ‘God gives you good tidings (read yubashshiruka, or yubshiruka) of John, who shall confirm a Word, being, from God, namely, Jesus, that he is God’s Spirit; he is referred to as [God’s] ‘Word’, because he was created through the word kun, ‘Be’; a lord, with a following, and one chaste, forbidden from women, and a prophet of the righteous’: it is said that he never sinned and never so intended. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source)
(And the angels) i.e. the Angel Gabriel (called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary) in the mosque: (Allah giveth thee glad tidings of John) a son whose name is John, ((who cometh) to confirm a Word from Allah) Jesus son of Mary that he will be a word from Allah, created without a father, (lordly) who is clement when wronged, (chaste) has no desire for women, (a Prophet of the righteous) among the messengers. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)
(believing in the Word from Allah) Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas said, and also Al-Hasan, Qatadah, `Ikrimah, Mujahid, Abu Ash-Sha`tha, As-Suddi, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, Ad-Dahhak, and several others said that the Ayah…
(believing in the Word from Allah) means, “Believing in `Isa, son of Maryam.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; source)
That the expositors are correct can be easily proven by the fact that just several verses later this same Sura identifies Jesus as the Word from God:
Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to God; S. 3:45 Y. Ali
It is in this context of John being Jesus’ forerunner that Al-Tabari wrote the following:
“She [Mary] came to her sister who was then pregnant and to whom the birth of the Baptist had been announced. When the two met, the Baptist’s mother felt that her child was bowing within her in recognition of Jesus…” (History of Al-Tabari: The Ancient Kingdoms, translated by Moshe Perlmann [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany, 1987], Volume IV, p. 114; bold emphasis ours)
“… Her sister, the wife of Zechariah, came to visit her at night. When Mary opened the door for her, the sister clung to her. The wife of Zechariah said, ‘Oh Mary, do you know I am with child?’ Mary replied, ‘Do you know, that I too am with child?’ Zechariah’s wife then said, ‘I felt that the child in me was bowing to the child in you,’ as it is written, ‘confirming the Word of God.’” (Ibid., p. 119; bold emphasis ours)
Noted Muslim exegete Al-Qurtubi mentions Elizabeth’s visitation (called Mary’s sister) shortly after both women had conceived their sons:
“The sister visited Mary and said, ‘O Mary, do you perceive that I am with child?’ Mary answered, ‘Do you see that I am also with child?’ Her sister went on, ‘I feel the child in my womb bowing down to the child in your womb.’”
Al-Qurtubi also wrote that:
“It is reported that she felt the fetus in her womb bow down with its head turned toward Mary’s womb.” (Ayoub, The Qur’an and Its Interpreters, p. 108; bold and italic emphasis ours)
These scholars were simply echoing what is found in the inspired Gospel:
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother OF MY LORD should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.’” Luke 1:41-44
John the Baptist was caused by God to leap in his mother’s womb in honor of Christ being the Sovereign Lord.
With the foregoing in perspective it is rather evident that the Quran and the Islamic source material agree that Jesus is greater than John by virtue of the fact that the latter was sent to support and confirm the mission of the former. Hence, no matter from what angle Zawadi tries to look at it he will still be left with the problem that Jesus, according to the Quran and Islamic narrations, is greater than John the Baptist. He will also need to face the fact that John is greater than Muhammad since the Quran says that the Baptist is pure from birth, unlike Muhammad whom the Quran portrays as a sinner that was severely rebuked by his god and told to repent on a number of occasions. For the documentation we recommend the following
Are repentant sinners greater than those who never sin?
Amazingly, Zawadi actually thinks that a person who repents is somehow better than one who never sins.
Let us assume for sake of argument that Islam teaches that Jesus is sinless and that everyone else isn’t. Does this prove his superiority? Well according to Islamic and Biblical teachings, no!
It comes in a qudsi hadith…
Book 37, Number 6620
Abu Sirma reported that when the time of the death of Abu Ayyub Ansari drew near, he said: I used to conceal from you a thing which I heard from Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and I heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Had you not committed sins, Allah would have brought into existence a creation that would have committed sin (and Allah) would have forgiven them.
Here I get the impression that a repentant sinner is not inferior to the sinless person. On the contrary, I see it as vice versa.
On the contrary, what this narrative shows is that Allah is not self-sufficient and is dependant upon his creatures in order to actualize his potential. Muhammad’s statements presuppose that Allah needs sinful human beings so as to exercise his divine prerogatives of mercy and forgiveness.
Thus, Muhammad’s claims place Zawadi in a dilemma since Muhammad basically admitted that his god had to create sinners in order to express and demonstrate his attributes and characteristics.
For more on this issue please consult this article.
Moreover, there is a principle in the Quran which establishes the point that the righteous and those who perform specific acts are not equal to those who are wicked or who carry out certain duties:
What, is he who follows God’s good pleasure like him who is laden with the burden of God’s anger, whose refuge is Gehenna? An evil homecoming! S. 3:162
Do you reckon the giving of water to pilgrims and the inhabiting of the Holy Mosque as the same as one who believes in God and the Last Day and struggles in the way of God? Not equal are they in God’s sight; and God guides not the people of the evildoers. S. 9:19
Is one who worships devoutly during the hour of the night prostrating himself or standing (in adoration), who takes heed of the Hereafter, and who places his hope in the Mercy of his Lord – (like one who does not)? Say: “Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition. S. 39:9 Y. Ali
This principle refutes Zawadi’s assertion since it proves that one who is sinless is not equal to one who sins and needs to repent, just like the one who fights in Jihad is not equal to a person who provides water for pilgrims during Hajj, or the one who knows is not equal to the individual who is ignorant.
Did Jesus really mean that? Addressing Zawadi’s blatant distortion of the teachings of Christ
Zawadi now quotes Jesus to prove his assertion that repentant sinners are equal to, if not better than, those who never sin.
Jesus allegedly teaches in the Gospels…
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Here I get the impression that a repentant sinner is not inferior to the sinless person. On the contrary, I see it as vice versa.
So if according to both Islamic and Biblical teachings, the repentant sinner is not inferior to the sinless one then why would Shamoun argue that Jesus being sinless is one of the signs of his superiority over Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him?
We already addressed Zawadi’s blatant distortion and disregard of the context of this specific passage in one of our previous rebuttals (http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/zawadi_salvation.htm). Yet since our response has fallen on deaf ears it seems that we need to repeat our point once again.
We will quote the immediate section in order to fully appreciate what Christ was actually trying to convey to his audience:
“Now the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.’” Luke 15:1-7
As can be seen from the context Christ was rebuking the Pharisees and teachers of the law for their self-righteous attitude, for thinking that they were better than those “sinners” whom Jesus was dining with. Jesus went on to use three parables as a way of explaining his reason for dining with such individuals and as a means of chastising the religious leaders for thinking that they didn’t need to repent and believe in him in order to be saved (cf. 15:8-32).
To put this plainly, Jesus did not for a minute believe that the Pharisees and teachers of the law were so righteous that they did not need to repent. After all, according to the Holy Bible there is no human being who hasn’t and will not sin (apart from Christ that is [cf. Mark 1:10-11, 24; John 7:18; 8:29, 46; 14:30; Acts 3:14, 7:52, 22:14; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15, 7:26, 9:14; 1 Peter 1:19, 2:22, 3:18; 1 John 2:1-2; 3:3, 5, 7]):
“When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to his own land, far away or near;” 1 Kings 8:46
“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?” Psalm 130:3
“Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.” Psalm 143:2
“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20
“This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.” Ecclesiastes 9:3
This means that everyone needs to repent, especially the Jewish religious leaders, and confess Christ as Lord for their salvation. This is precisely what Jesus told them in another context:
“… Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” Matthew 21:31b-32
This leads us to our next point. Jesus was pretty much identifying himself as the shepherd, as the woman and as the prodigal son’s father of the parables since he is the one who seeks after the lost in order to save them from their sin and despair:
“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and ‘sinners’ came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and “sinners”?’ On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Matthew 9:9-13
“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a “sinner.”’ But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.’” Luke 19:1-10
Thus, repentance in the context of Luke 15 refers to turning away from sin and turning to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. As the Apostle Peter proclaimed by inspiration:
“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 2:38
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord… When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” Acts 3:19, 26
“God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.” Acts 5:31
Hopefully, Zawadi will now get the point and refrain from perverting Jesus’ intended meaning in order to support his erroneous conclusions.
This concludes our rebuttal. Lord Jesus willing, additional responses to the rest of Zawadi’s points will follow shortly.