Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

What is God’s Will for Man According to Christ?

Sam Shamoun

There are Muslim apologists who are fond of quoting the following text to prove that Jesus taught Islam:

“Then His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. A crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, ‘Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.’ Answering them, He said, ‘Who are My mother and My brothers?’ Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, ‘Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.’” Mark 3:31-35

These polemicists argue that since Islam means submitting to God’s will, Jesus was therefore basically exhorting his followers to become Muslims by telling them that they must do the will of God. 

However, these taqiyyists conveniently forget to mention that Mark doesn’t leave us guessing as to what God’s will is for believers, but actually spells it out for us. 

Here is what God's will is according to this very same Gospel cited by these Muslim taqiyyists to establish their position:

“Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified. Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is MY BELOVED SON, LISTEN TO HIM!’” Mark 9:2-7 – cf. Matthew 17:1-5; 2 Peter 1:16-18

There are several points that need to be noted here. To begin with, we have the Lord Jesus being transformed in the presence of his followers in order to reveal to them his inner, abiding divine glory. We also have Moses and Elijah appearing as a testimony to the fact that Christ is the One whom the prophetic writings announced would be coming into the world.  We then have God the Father himself coming down in a cloud for the purpose of exhorting the disciples to listen to Christ since he is the Son whom he loves, a fact which God had already borne witness to on a previous occasion:

“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I AM WELL-PLEASED.’” Mark 1:9-11 – cf. Matthew 3:16-17; Luke 3:22

Noted NT scholar Larry W. Hurtado helps bring out the significance of this event:

9:2-13 / The open and forthright nature of Jesus’ teaching about his coming death in 8:31-32 is matched here by a powerful disclosure of his true significance as the Son of God… The placement of this account right after Jesus’ promise of his future, glorious vindication (8:38-9:1) shows the reader a glimpse of that glory. The direct connection of this event with the sayings in 8:38-9:1 is underscored by the note after six days in 9:2, meaning six days after the sayings in 8:38-9:1 (cf. Luke 9:28, “about eight days”). The mention of six days is, however, also very likely an allusion to Exodus 24:15, where after six days, Moses is summoned to a mountaintop and is given a revelation of God. We have already seen how Mark alludes to the OT to elucidate the significance of the events he recounts. Here the point of the allusion is to alert the reader that what is about to take place IS A MANIFESTATION OF GOD (A THEOPHANY) like that mentioned in Exodus 24:15-18 and that a new revelation is here given that therefore surpasses the former one to Moses. (Hurtado, Mark: New International Biblical Commentary Based on the New International Version [Hendricksen Publishers, Inc., 1989], p. 144; capital and underline emphasis ours)


“Thus, several features in the account attest that Jesus is the Messiah and that his presence is the fulfillment of hopes for God’s salvation. But the passage shows that Jesus is even more than this. Additional items in the narrative show what this ‘more’ is. First, there is the description of Jesus’ transfigured appearance in 9:2-3. The reference to the dazzling white clothes (v. 3) is an allusion to Daniel 7:9, which is a description of God. This allusion suggests that the experience of the disciples in 9:2-13 IS A DIVINE MANIFESTATION like the visions of OT prophets (in addition to Dan. 7:9-14, see also Isa. 6:1-3; Ezek. 1:4-28; 8:1-4). But this means that the ‘transfiguration’ of Jesus shows him IN A FORM LIKE GOD, meaning that he is not just as the Messiah, an especially godly human chosen to rule in God’s name, HE IS HIMSELF ‘CLOTHED’ IN DIVINE GLORY.

“Second, the voice from heaven in 9:7 confirms this transcendent significance of Jesus in acclaiming him my Son, whom I love. The phrase is exactly the same as the first part of the voice from heaven at Jesus’ baptism (1:11) and, like that statement, bestows upon Jesus AN UNEQUALED STATUS. ‘Beloved Son’ means that, of all those who have been called sons of God (in the OT, Israel, the king of Israel; in later literature, a righteous man), Jesus is superior to them all. Together with the transfigured appearance of Jesus, this statement shows that THERE RESTS UPON HIM UNPARALLELED GLORY AND DIVINE FAVOR. The cloud (9:7), recalling OT accounts in which the presence and glory of God are indicated by a cloud covering the spot where God manifests himself to someone (cf., e.g., Exod. 16:10; 19:9; 24:15-18; 34:5; 40:34-38), means that the unnamed voice from the cloud is the very voice of God.” (Ibid., pp. 145-146; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Hence, the will of God according to Mark is to believe that the Lord Jesus is the unique divine Son of God whom the Father loves and delights in!

Seeing that Muhammad denied that Christ is the divine Son of God,

The Jews say, 'Ezra is the Son of God'; the Christians say, 'The Messiah is the Son of God.' That is the utterance of their mouths, conforming with the unbelievers before them. God assail them! How they are perverted! S. 9:30 Arberry

He therefore stands condemned as a false prophet and an antichrist whose message turns God into a liar (God forbid!):

“Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.” 1 John 2:22-23

“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” 1 John 5:9-12

There is more to the story. Jesus, elsewhere, told his followers that they must give up everything they have, even their own lives, for his sake. He further warned them that failing to do so would result in his coming to denounce them when he arrives with his angels to judge the world.

What makes these statements relevant to our discussion is that the Lord Jesus said these things to his disciples shortly before his transfiguration:

“And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow ME. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for MY SAKE, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed OF ME and MY WORDS, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.’ Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not realizing what he was saying. While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him! And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen.” Luke 9:26-36 – cf. Mark 8:34-38, 9:1; Matthew 16:24-28 (See also Mark 10:17-30; Matthew 10:37-39.) 

What this basically shows is that the Father was giving his express approval to everything that the Lord Jesus demanded from his disciples. In other words, by telling them to listen to his beloved Son the Father was testifying that it is his express will for all of Jesus’ followers to be willing to give up everything – including their own lives if necessary – for the sake of his glorious Son.

This isn’t the only thing that Christ expected his followers to do. After his resurrection, Jesus commanded the disciples to go into the entire world announcing to all men that they must turn to the risen Lord and believe in his name if they want to receive salvation from their sins:

“Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed IN HIS NAME to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of MY FATHER upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’ And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God.” Luke 24:44-53 – cf. Matthew 28:16-20

And this is precisely what the Apostles went around doing, starting at Jerusalem:

“‘Brothers, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing this in advance, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: He was not left in Hades, AND HIS FLESH DID NOT EXPERIENCE DECAY. God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this. Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, HE HAS POURED OUT what you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into the heavens, but he himself says: The Lord declared to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool.” Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!’ When they heard this, they came under deep conviction and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: ‘Brothers, what must we do?’ ‘Repent,’ Peter said to them, ‘and be baptized, each of you, IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’ And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, ‘Be saved from this corrupt generation!’” Acts 2:29-40 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)


“The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you. You killed THE SOURCE OF LIFE, whom God raised from the dead; we are witnesses of this. By faith IN HIS NAME, HIS NAME has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Him has given him this perfect health in front of all of you. And now, brothers, I know that you did it in ignorance, just as your leaders also did. But what God predicted through the mouth of all the prophets—that His Messiah would suffer—He has fulfilled in this way. Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus, who has been appointed for you as the Messiah. Heaven must welcome Him until the times of the restoration of all things, which God spoke about by the mouth of His holy prophets from the beginning. Moses said: The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your brothers. You must listen TO HIM in everything HE WILL SAY to you. And everyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from the people. In addition, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, have also announced these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, And all the families of the earth will be blessed through your offspring. God raised up His Servant and sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.” Acts 3:16-26 HCSB


“The next day, their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John and Alexander, and all the members of the high-priestly family. After they had Peter and John stand before them, they asked the question: ‘By what power or in what name have you done this?’ Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a disabled man—by what means he was healed—let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST THE NAZARENE—whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead—by Him this man is standing here before you healthy. This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is salvation IN NO ONE ELSE, FOR THERE IS NO OTHER NAME under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.’ When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in response. After they had ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, they conferred among themselves, saying, ‘What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign, evident to all who live in Jerusalem, has been done through them, and we cannot deny it! However, so this does not spread any further among the people, let’s threaten them against speaking to anyone in this name again.’ So they called for them and ordered them not to preach or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.’” Acts 4:5-20


“The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (HE IS LORD OF ALL)—you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And HE ORDERED US to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him ALL THE PROPHETS bear witness that THROUGH HIS NAME everyone who believes IN HIM receives forgiveness of sins.” Acts 10:36-43

Thus, God’s will according to the inspired Scriptures is to believe in, obey and love his glorious Son, the risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ since this is the only hope of salvation. As the Lord Jesus himself proclaimed in John’s Gospel:

“Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.’ Therefore they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, THAT YOU BELIEVE IN HIM WHOM HE HAS SENT… This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.’” John 6:27-29, 39-40

Therefore, the Muslim appeal to Mark’s Gospel ends up backfiring against these dawagandists since this Gospel shows that Christ and his followers were anything but Muslims. This in turn proves that Muhammad was a false prophet who preached a false message, one which contradicted the proclamation of the Lord Jesus and his blessed disciples. 

So much for the Muslim misuse of Mark’s Gospel.

Unless noted otherwise, all scriptural quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).


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