Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Even More Proof that Jesus is God Incarnate! Pt. 2

Sam Shamoun

Continuing from where we left off, it is ironic that in the very same chapter that MDI selectively quoted from, Christ performs specific functions which the OT ascribe to Yahweh alone:

“Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning[i] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage! I am here (ego eimi)![j]’ Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.” Mark 6:45-52

i. 6:48 Greek About the fourth watch of the night.

j. 6:50 Or The ‘I am’ is here; Greek reads I am. See Exod 3:14.

In this pericope, Jesus Christ saw that his disciples were in serious need of help, even though they were a great distance away and it was completely dark. This in itself suggests supernatural sight on the part of the Lord.

Moreover, Mark’s statement that Jesus intended to go past them, along with Christ’s declaration to his disciples to not be afraid, all point to this being an epiphany or theophany, e.g., a visible appearance and unveiling of a divine Being, which in this case would happen to be Yahweh the God of Israel.

This is brought out by the fact that the Hebrew Scriptures proclaim that Yahweh is the I AM,

“But Moses protested, ‘If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,” they will ask me, “What is his name?” Then what should I tell them?’ God replied to Moses, ‘I am who i am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.’ God also said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.’” Exodus 3:13-15

Who exhorts his people to not be afraid, since he shall be with them even when they pass through the waters in order to make sure that they are perfectly safe,

“But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, “Give them up!” and to the south, “Do not hold them back. Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf.” All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of their gods foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, “It is true.” You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?’” Isaiah 43:1-13 New International Version (NIV)

And who alone walks and tramples on the waves and the sea:

“He alone has spread out the heavens and marches on the waves of the sea… Yet when he comes near, I cannot see him. When he moves by, I do not see him go.” Job 9:8, 11

This is further highlighted by the following verses where Yahweh informs both Moses and Elijah that he would pass before/by them for the purpose of visibly manifesting his presence to them:

“Moses responded, ‘Then show me your glorious presence.’ The Lord replied, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.’ The Lord continued, ‘Look, stand near me on this rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.’” Exodus 33:18-23

“Then the Lord came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh. The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, ‘Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.’ Moses immediately threw himself to the ground and worshiped.” Exodus 34:5-8

“Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, ‘Get up and eat!’ He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.’ So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. There he came to a cave, where he spent the night. But the Lord said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ Elijah replied, ‘I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.’ ‘Go out and stand before me on the mountain,’ the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.” 1 Kings 19:5-13a

The following Bible expositor helps to put this all together:

“Separated from their Master, the disciples undergo an ordeal, fighting against the waves. A storm does not endanger their lives as earlier (4:35-41), but they find themselves stuck in the middle of the lake, fighting against the wind after hours of strenuous rowing. Jesus can see their struggle (one must assume supernaturally in the darkness) and rejoins them during the fourth watch of the night (3:00 A.M.–6:00 A.M.) by walking on the sea. Just as Jesus did not first feed the hungry multitudes but taught them (6:34), so he des not first rescue the disciples from their predicament but tries to teach them something by passing by them. Their eyes and ears are not up to it, however; they see only a phantom, a ghost. The waves and the wind have not thrown them into a panic, but the sight of Jesus passing by on the water does.

“The wind poses no obstacle to Jesus and the waves provide firm footing as he marches across the sea. Treading the waves, however, is something that only God can do (Job 9:8; Isa. 43:16; 51:10; Sir. 24:5-6). When Jesus comes strolling across the waters, he shares the unlimited power of the Creator. In Habakkuk 3:15, the image of God trampling the sea conveys his power to control the chaos of the seas to save his people Israel (see Ps. 77:19-20; Isa. 51:9-10).

“Mark’s explanation that Jesus ‘wanted to pass by them’ (6:48, lit. tr.) has caused confusion and prompted numerous interpretations… Since walking on the sea is something no ordinary mortal can do, Jesus’ desire to pass by the disciples is not related to some mundane purpose. The verb parerchomai (‘to pass by’), when connected to a divinity, refers to an epiphany. The Old Testament records that God made ‘striking and temporary appearances in the earthly realm to a select individual or group for the purpose of communicating a message.’2 

“This verb occurs in two key passages in the Old Testament. In Exodus 33:19-34:7, Moses asks God to show him his glory, and God responds by passing before him and proclaiming his identity…

“And in 1 Kings 19:11-12, the Lord tells Elijah to stand on the mountain, ‘for the LORD is about to pass by.’3 One can conclude from these passages that when Jesus wants to pass his disciples, he wills for them to see his transcendent majesty as a divine being and to give them reassurance.4

“God cannot be fully seen, but Jesus can. The one who comes to them on the sea is not simply a successor to Moses, who fills baskets with bread in the desert. Only God can walk on the sea, and Jesus’ greeting is not simply a cheery hello to assuage the disciples’ fears. He greets them with the divine formula of self-revelation, ‘I am.’ Isaiah 43:1-13 is significant as a backdrop for interpreting this passage. The disciples have been summoned by Jesus to pass through the waters, and Jesus is with them (Isa. 43:2)…

“Here is the answer to the disciples’ question in 4:41, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’ This person is God who needs only say, ‘I am.’ But that answer sails by the disciples.

“Jesus displays his divine power further when he gets into the boat. His mere presence causes the wind to cease howling and enables the disciples to continue on their journey. It does not calm their apprehension, however. Mark offers a surprising explanation for the disciples’ terror and amazement: ‘For they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened’ (6:52). The two incidents are somehow connected. What is it that they do not understand about the loaves? What does it have to do with walking on the water? Minear is on target when he comments that the disciples are ‘blind to the presence of God and his care for men … to the full glory of the revelation of God “in the face of Christ.”’6 They do not recognize that the blessing pronounced at the meal, ‘Praise be Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who causes bread to come forth from the earth,’ applies to Jesus…” (David E. Garland, Mark: The NIV Application Commentary [Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI 1996], pp. 261-265; bold emphasis ours)

2. John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus; vol. 2: Mentor, Message, and Miracle (New York: Doubleday, 1994), 2:996, n. 118.

3. In the Septuagint, the verb parerchomai is used to refer to an epiphany. In Gen. 33:31-33, the face of God “passed by” Jacob when he was wrestling with the angel (see 2 Sam. 23:3-4). Job 9:8, 11 reads, “He … treads on the waves of the sea … When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him.” See also Dan. 12:1, which refers to the glory of the Lord passing by; Amos 7:8; 8:2.

4. The fourth watch becomes significant when one remembers that God delivers his people early in the morning. Barry Blackburn (Theios Aner and the Markan Miracle Traditions [WUNT 2/40: Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Sieback) 1991] 146), writes: “Thus Jesus, like Yahweh in the O. T. (and the New), manifests his saving power proi [early]” (see also Ex. 14:24; Ps. 46:5; Isa. 17:14). (Ibid., pp. 263-264)


“… Jesus did not walk across the water as an amusing gimmick to astound his friends. His action conveys to the disciples and to the reader schooled in Scripture who he is. He comes as a divine figure to rescue his floundering disciples… This is an epiphany, a surprise self-disclosure of Jesus’ deity to bewildered disciples.

“This epiphany does not occur on a mountain, the traditional locale for encountering the divine presence, where one’s vision seems unlimited, but on the deep waters, traditionally viewed by Israel as a place of dangerous storms and sinister power, where one’s vision is blinded by fear. The sea, however, was the scene of Israel’s greatest deliverance, when God parted the waters of the Red Sea and revealed his divine power over both the deadly forces of nature and humans. The Old Testament motifs in Mark’s account of Jesus’ walking on the water recall God’s mastery over the waters of chaos as Creator and Savior. Jesus walks on the waves like God and speaks like the one true God, ‘It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ Jesus wants to show his disciples a glimpse of his divinity in order to help them unravel the clues to his identity. They do not follow a great prophet or superhero but the very Son of God. He does what no human can do and will do what no human can do–redeem humankind from the bondage of Satan and sin… Many may fail to appreciate the Christological implications of this miracle and, in that sense, are like the disciples who do not understand about the loaves. Jesus is not pulling off a staggering visual stunt to amaze his friends. Rather, the miracle attests that God himself has visited us in the flesh… Christians believe that they know God through Jesus Christ. In this account, Mark presents Jesus’ revelation of himself to his disciples as God incarnate. But he comes as ‘an elusive presence they cannot control.’11The disciples see more than God’s back, as Moses did; they saw the face of God in the face of his Son. He is the Savior, who brings calm and deliverance…” (Ibid., pp. 266-267; bold emphasis ours)

Hence, the very chapter of Mark 6, which the MDI team quoted to prove that Christ is not God, actually ends up proving the exact opposite point!

The fact is that both this chapter and Mark’s Gospel as a whole identify the Lord Jesus as Yahweh God in the flesh, being the unique, divine Son of God who became man for the redemption of his people,

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

“As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, ‘Take it, for this is my body.’ And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And he said to them, ‘This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many.” Mark 14:22-24 

As well as the divine Son of Man,

“Then the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ Jesus said, ‘I am.[i] And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand[j] and coming on the clouds of heaven[k].’” Mark 14:61b-62

i. 14:62a Or The ‘I am’ is here; or I am the Lord. See Exod 3:14.

j. 14:62b Greek seated at the right hand of the power. See Ps 110:1.

k. 14:62c See Dan 7:13.

Whom the prophet Daniel saw in a vision coming to reign forever, the One that shall be worshiped by all nations in the same way that God Most High is worshiped!

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed… hen the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.” Daniel 7:13-14, 27 NIV

Let us not forget that the whole purpose of chapters 6-8 to answer the question “who is Jesus?”, and it starts off with the unbelief and blindness of the people in his hometown, who do not even give him the honor of a prophet! Then it progresses to some who conclude he is a prophet, based on some of the miracles he did, including the disbeliever and enemy of God King Herod, who killed John the Baptist. Then the rest is about the many things Jesus does which the disciples observe, but do not understand, such as Christ multiplying fish and bread, walking on the water etc. (where it says explicitly in v. 52: “for they had not understood about the loaves…,” something they should have understood). We then have the Pharisees challenging his authority in chapter 7, with a Gentile woman believing in him. This is then followed by Christ healing a mute and deaf, then multiplying food again, and in 8:21 we come again to the question: do you still not understand? And then comes the healing of a blind man, and FINALLY it comes the confession of Christ by Peter.  

When one sees that the whole purpose of these chapters is to ask and answer the question who Jesus is, and do that by presenting a development of insight from unbelief and blindness to finally sight and insight, then it is rather silly to take one statement from near the beginning of that sequence, where people are relatively blind, and only observed Jesus from a distance, and on that basis claim that nobody believed that Jesus was more than a prophet.  The whole purpose of these chapters is to challenge exactly that lack of belief and insight!

So much for MDI’s appeal to Mark 6:14-15 to prove that Jesus isn’t God Incarnate.

Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptural quotations taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) of the Holy Bible.


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