Did Isa say, ‘I am god, worship me!’?
Isa was born in very humble circumstances, in a stable. As a baby, his mother Miriam wrapped him in cloths and laid him in the animals’ feeding trough. He grew up as a boy and then a young man. The people of his hometown, Nazareth, thought he was the son of Joseph the carpenter.
At the age of thirty, Isa began to preach. He called the people of Israel to turn from their sins and wrong doings and get themselves right with God. But Isa did not just preach. He also performed amazing miracles – giving sight to the blind, healing lepers, calming a violent storm and even raising the dead. Some of God’s prophets had performed similar miracles before, but none of them had forgiven people’s sins, because only God could do this. Yet Isa claimed the authority to forgive sins:
Some men came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralysed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’
Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralysed man, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up, take your mat and walk”? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So he said to the man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’ (Mark 2:3-12)
Isa spent three years with his close disciples. During this time, they began to realise that he was no ordinary man, nor even a prophet like the other prophets God had sent to the people of Israel in the past.
Isa knew that the time was coming near for him to go to Jerusalem, suffer and die, and rise again. He wanted to know if his disciples had understood who he really was. So he asked them directly:
Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’
They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist [Yahya ibn Zakaria]; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’
‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’
Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah.’ (Mark 8:27-29)
Peter had realised that Isa was more than a prophet. He was the chosen deliverer and Saviour God had promised to send – the Messiah or Christ.
But Isa knew that his disciples would face one more tremendous test. He warned them, again and again, that he must be rejected by the people, insulted and humiliated, beaten, and put to death on a cross. But then he would rise again from the dead. His disciples could not understand this. Surely Isa, as God’s chosen deliverer, would be victorious over his enemies! Why should he have to suffer and die?
Isa’s disciples were not strong enough in their faith to believe that he would die and then rise again. When Isa was captured by his Jewish enemies, they all ran away. When he was put to death by the Romans, nailed to a cross, only a few of them were brave enough to watch.
But Isa did rise again! He was crucified on a Friday. On the Sunday, the women went to his tomb to anoint his body with spices. But the tomb was empty! An angel told them that he had risen and that they must go and tell his disciples.
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him. (Matthew 28:8-9)
A week later, Isa’s disciple Thomas, who had not at first believed, also met him:
Then he [Jesus] 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!’
Then Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:27-29)
Isa was not just a man. As his disciples remembered all that Isa had done and how he had risen from the dead, just as he said he would, they came to realise that God himself had come to earth in the person of Isa. God was still God, ever to be worshipped in heaven. But at the same time, he became a man and lived among us – for nothing is impossible for God.
Isa’s disciple John explained it in this way:
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 light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The Word became flesh [became a man in the person of Isa] 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. (John 1:1-5 & 14)
Isa did not command people to worship him. But when his disciples realised that he was not just a man, but rather that God himself had become a man in the person of Isa, they worshipped him of their own free will and he accepted their worship. Still today, Isa does not command people to worship him. Rather, he calls people to come to him, to understand who he really is, and then to worship him of their own free choice.
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