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Son of the Most High
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By David Foster

Son of the Most High

At Christmas we joyously celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, “ Son of the Most High” but not Muslims. Interestingly, the Qur'an agrees with the Bible that the virgin birth of Jesus/Isa flows seamlessly from his miraculous conception by the Spirit of God, nevertheless, Muslims find it extremely difficult to accept Jesus as the Son of God. Is there a way to address Muslim queries about this “with gentleness and respect” as we're told in 1 Peter 3:15? Likewise, Muslims are exhorted to be gracious as they interact with unbelievers, “Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation. And dispute with them in the most virtuous manner.” (Surah 16:125)

1. It is important to realize that the term “Son” is used figuratively among Arabic speakers. For example, the expression “Son of the road” means traveler. Similarly, “Son of the bow” in Scripture means “arrow”. (Job 41:28) The Bible and Qur'an contain similar figurative expressions when speaking of the Devil having “offspring” or a son. (Surah 18:50; Acts 13:10; John 8:42-44) The word “Son” clearly does not imply birth through biological union of a woman and man (or even a spirit being such as Satan and a woman). People can be a child(ren) of Satan if they share similar traits, as in the proverbial saying, “like father, like son.”

Similarly, people can be children of God by reflecting his qualities. Jesus said to the Jewish leaders, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God” but instead they harboured deep hatred, even wanting to kill Jesus. This contrast between love and hate is highlighted again in 1 John 3:10-13;

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. For ... we should love one another ... not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother.

Jesus instructed his followers to love fellow humans, even enemies;

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be Sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

2. Consider a different figurative use of “Son of God” in Luke 3:38. This verse concludes a long list of names tracing Christ's ancestry. The last person, Adam, is “the Son of God.” In what sense is he God's Son?

This expression means Adam is like God because he was made in God's image.

Interestingly, a team of six Islamic scholars made a remarkable admission in The Study Qur'an. A footnote to Surah 95:4 quotes a famous hadith qudsi echoing Genesis 1:27, “Truly God created Adam in His image,” and explains what this means; “This hadith is understood to mean that human beings are created with such attributes as life, knowledge, power, will, speech, hearing and sight ... to describe God which are, in fact, Divine attributes.”

3. 2 Samuel 7:12-14 predicts God will build a house, a kingdom, for David. The Lord explained that he himself would be a father to Solomon, and subsequent kings.

“When ... you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, … He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him.”

Notice how sonship implies the need for discipline when the son sins. Hebrews 12:6-7 confirms this, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastens every son whom he receives. ... God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”

We know David's son, Solomon, sinned as did subsequent kings, but the Messiah, David's greater son, lived a perfect life. He did not need to be disciplined for committing sin. In fact, he was commended as pleasing his heavenly Father. At his baptism a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Later Jesus said, “I always do the things that are pleasing to him [my Father].” (John 8:28-29) Clearly Christ alone achieved a perfect life and perfectly reflected his Father.

God welcomes us as adopted children, however, Jesus is God's Son, neither through adoption nor biology, but in the truest, fullest sense, God's unique Son. We are reminded at Christmas of the “unspeakable gift” we've been given; “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)

Son of the Most High About the Author
Born and raised in Africa, David Foster later served 30 years in South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania. These cross cultural experiences give David a rich multifaceted perspective on interfaith concerns. In this article he shares insights he taught fellow Christians on a recent trip to Mozambique.