The Greatest Commandment in the Bible and the Qur'an
Some will say that this whole discussion over the divinity of Jesus is unnecessary. The important thing, they say, is to accept Jesus as your personal saviour. On the contrary, the Bible’s writers stressed that, in order to be saved, it is necessary to understand who exactly is God.
Failure to understand this would be to violate the
first and greatest of all the commandments in the Bible. This commandment
was emphasized by Jesus, on whom be peace, when a teacher of the Law of Moses
asked him as follows:
If Jesus thought that he himself is God, why did he not
say so? Instead, he stressed that Yahweh alone is God. The man who
questioned Jesus understood this, and what the man says next makes it is clear
that God is not Jesus, for he said to Jesus:
If Jesus knew that God is a trinity, why did he not say so? Why did he not say that God is one in three, or three in one? Instead, he declared that God is one — full stop. True imitators of Jesus will imitate him also in this declaration of God’s oneness. They will not add the word three where Jesus never said it.
Does salvation depend on this commandment? Yes,
says the Bible! Jesus made this clear when another man approached Jesus to
learn from him (see Mark ch. 10, vv. 17-29). The man fell on his knees and
said to Jesus:
Remember that the most important of all the commandments, according to Jesus, is to know Yahweh as the only God.
Jesus further emphasized this in the Gospel According to John. In ch. 17, v. 1, Jesus lifted his eyes to heaven and prayed, addressing God as Father. Then in verse three, he said to the Father as follows:
“And eternal life means knowing
you, the only true God, and knowing Jesus Christ, whom you sent” (John 17:3).
Some say that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. But Jesus said that the Father alone is the only true God. True followers of Jesus will follow him in this too. Jesus had said that his true followers are those who hold to his teachings. He said, “If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples” (John 8:31). His teaching is that people must continue to keep the commandments, especially the first commandment which emphasises that Yahweh alone is God, and that Yahweh should be loved with all our hearts and all our strengths. We love Jesus, but we must not love him as God. Today many love Jesus more than they love God. This is because they see God as a vengeful person who wanted to exact a penalty from them, and they see Jesus as the Saviour who rescued them from the wrath of God. Yet Yahweh is our only Saviour. He said so Himself (see Isaiah 43:11; 45:21-22).
The Qur’an confirms the first commandment and addresses it to all humankind (see 2:163). And God declares that true believers love Him more than anyone else or anything else (2:165).