The original question was:
Muslims say they cannot believe that Jesus is a part of the Godhead because even on earth God would not get tired, dirty, need to use the toilet and so on; therefore Jesus was only a man, a prophet. I’m wondering about how best to answer this?
Answer by John Mackay and Diane Eager
You will find it much easier in dealing with most Muslim objections to Christianity, to realise that Mohammed was exposed to the Roman Catholic Church of the 6th and 7th Centuries and was influenced by much of their practice, including prayer beads, prayers to saints, etc. Likewise his misunderstanding of the Trinity was derived from his distant view of Catholicism with Mary as the mother of God who was the Father and their joint son Jesus Christ. Muslims find this apparent mixing of God and the material world unacceptable, and teach that Allah alone is God, there is no Trinity and Jesus was just a human prophet. Thus their God is not the Biblical Yahweh, who is Father, Son and Spirit and yet One.
The belief in the incompatibility of the spiritual and physical also comes from the 6th century Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church had taken over the Roman Empire which had previously conquered a world that had been dominated by the Greeks. The Greeks may have lost their physical empire, but they had conquered the minds of men and still do. The Roman Catholic Church and many of the early thinkers in the Church, heretical or otherwise, were very influenced by ancient pagan Greek beliefs such as those that would eventually lead to the Astronomical conflict between the “Ptolemaic” view and Copernicus. But in the 6th Century a much more prevalent problem was the old Greek view that spirit was pure and flesh was inherently evil. This belief that the spiritual and physical are opposed to one another has remained in some ascetic and monastic groups.
Whilst there is no doubt that the Bible from Genesis onwards teaches that the physical world, and therefore human bodies, have certainly been corrupted by sin, and our bodies have certainly degenerated since the fall of man. However, the Bible does not teach there is anything intrinsically evil about the material world and physical bodies. After all, in the beginning God had created all things “very good” ( Genesis 1:1-31), and that included normal bodily functions. So being tired, hungry and thirsty is not intrinsically evil. These sensations are normal signals that remind us to attend to the body’s needs of sleep, food and fluid. For Jesus to be fully human, as the Bible tells us he was (John 1:14), he would have experienced all of these. Scripture also teaches He bore our sorrows and griefs. He therefore experienced the pain, stress and weariness involved in living in a fallen world throughout his whole earthly life, and not just at his crucifixion.
Neither are the body’s excretions intrinsically evil. The problems we experience with human excretions are due to degeneration of our immune systems, degeneration of the environment, and lack of care by people. In the original good world there would have been a perfect balance between human (and animal) excretions and what the environment could recycle by the activity of microbes, fungi, insects, etc. and by chemical breakdown. This balance has now broken down and we need to take extra precautions to maintain the balance. The main problem coming from human waste is caused by overcrowding, which is why we need elaborate waste disposal systems in our cities.
The Bible never regards the physical realm or the human body as being opposed to the spiritual realm. The physical and spiritual realms are both God’s creation and this is why God makes laws about how to care for our bodies and the physical environment. The Law of Moses not only told God’s ancient people how to worship Him and behave towards one another, but also about what to eat, how to farm and look after animals. It also included instructions on caring for the physical body, including where to go the toilet (Deuteronomy 23:11-13), dealing with biological hazards, (Leviticus 11:39-40) and even what to do if clothing, furnishings and household items are affected by mould. (Leviticus 13:47ff).
But the reason for the Muslim’s question is not just about Jesus private habits. They know very well it does matter that Jesus was fully human and not just God appearing in the outward form of a man to be more visible. Jesus came not only to show us how we should live and to teach us about the Kingdom of God, but to pay the penalty for our debt of human sin. Since God’s rule for the payment of debt was eye for eye and tooth for tooth and life for life, only a human could pay the penalty for a human’s sin. The Apostle Paul sets out this “one man” principle in Romans 5, where he explains that one man, Adam, brought sin into the world, and one man, Jesus, paid the penalty. (Romans 5:12-21) The whole basis of the Christian Gospel is that the man Jesus has paid sin’s penalty, and bodily risen from dead, and all who put their faith in Jesus can look forward to eternal life in a new and real body that functions perfectly in a new earth with a perfect environment.
As for Mohamed and his followers, they certainly contrived some good sanitary rules for surviving in a desert where you eat food with your right hand and wipe your bottom with your left, but they still offer nothing to pay the debt of human sin: no Saviour you can ever know and no God you will ever see.
Were you helped by this answer? If so, consider making a donation so we can keep adding more answers. Donate here.