The message of Jesus was as simple and straight forward as that of all his predecessors as well as that of his successor Muhammad, namely “Believe in God and keep His Commandments’. For the God who inspired His Messengers, is an unvarying God and He is consistent: He is not the ‘author of confusion”. (1 Corinthian 14:33)
A law abiding Jew comes to Jesus seeking eternal life or salvation. In the words of Matthew “And behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:16-17)
You will agree, that if you or I were that Jew, we would infer from these words that, according to Jesus, peace and blessings be upon him, salvation was guaranteed, provided we kept the commandments without the shedding of any innocent blood. Unless, of course Jesus was speaking with tongue in cheek; knowing full well that his own ‘forthcoming redemptive sacrifice’, his ‘vicarious atonement’ (?) for the sins of mankind, was not many days hence.
Why would Jesus give him the impossible solution of keeping the Law (as the Christian alleges) when an easier way was in the offing? Or did he not know what was going to happen, that he was to be crucified ? Was there not a contract between Father and Son, before the worlds began, for his redeeming blood to be shed? Had he lost his memory? No! There was no such fairy tale agreement as far as Jesus was concerned. He knew that there is only one way to God, and that is, as Jesus said, ‘keep the Commandments’!
Miracles, what they prove
Regarding his miracles: the Holy Quran does not go into any detail about blind Bartimus or about Lazarus or any other miracle, except that he (Jesus) defended his mother as an infant in his mother’s arms. The Muslim has no hesitation about accepting the most wondrous of his miracles – even that of reviving the dead. But that does not make Jesus a ‘God’ or the begotten ‘Son of God’ as understood by the Christian.
Miracles do not prove even Prophethood, or whether a man is true or false. Jesus himself said “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:24)
If false prophets and false Christs can perform miraculous feats, then these wonders or miracles do not prove even the geniuses or otherwise, of a prophet. John the Baptist, according to Jesus, was the greatest of the Israelite prophets. Greater than Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah and all, not excluding himself: in his own words “Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist…” (Matthew 11:11)
1. Not excluding Jesus: because, was he not born of a woman – Mary?
2. The Baptist, greater than ‘all’, yet he performed not a single miracle! Miracles are no standards of judging truth and falsehood.
But in his childishness, the might Christian insists that Jesus is God because he gave life back to the dead. Will reviving the dead make others God too? This perplexes him, because he has mentally blocked himself from the miracles of others who outshine Jesus in his own Bible. For example, according to his false standard: Moses is greater than Jesus because he put life back into a dead stick and transmuted it from the plant kingdom to the animal kingdom by making it into a serpent. (Exodus 7:10)
Elisha is greater than Jesus because the bones of Elisha brought a man back to life merely by coming into contact with the corpse. (2 Kings 13:21)
Need I illustrate to you a catalogue of miracles? But the sickness persists – ‘it was God working miracles through His prophets but Jesus performed them of his own power.’ Where did Jesus get all his power from? Ask Jesus, and he will tell us Power not His Own “…All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew 28:18)
“I cast out devils by the Spirit of God then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” (Matthew 12:28)
“I can of mine own self do nothing”. (John 5:30)
“I with the finger of God cast out devils”. (Luke 1 1:20)
The ‘power’ as he says is not his, ‘it is given unto me’. Given by whom? By God, of course! Every action, every word he attributes to God.
But since so much is made of Jesus’ mightiest miracle of reviving Lazarus from the dead, we will analyze the episode as recorded in John’s Gospel. It is astonishing that none of the other Gospel writers mention Lazarus in any context. However, the story is that Lazarus was very sick, his sisters Mary and Martha had made frantic calls for Jesus to come and cure his sickness but he arrived too late, actually four days after his demise.
Mary wails to Jesus that had he arrived in time, perhaps her brother would not have died; meaning that if he could heal other peoples’ sicknesses, why would he not have healed her brother, a dear friend of his. Jesus says that ‘even now if ye have faith, ye shall see the glory of god.’ The condition was that they should have faith. Didn’t he say that faith could move mountains?
He asks to be taken to the tomb. On the way, ‘he groaned in the spirit’. He was not mumbling; he was pouring out his heart and praying to God. But while he sobbed so bitterly his words were not audible enough for people around him to understand. Hence the words ‘he groaned’. On reaching the grave, Jesus ‘groaned’ again; perhaps, even more earnestly and God heard his groaning (his prayer), and Jesus received the assurance that God will fulfill his request. Now, Jesus could rest assured and command that the stone which was barring the tomb, be removed so that Lazarus could come back from the dead. Without that assurance from God, Jesus would have made a fool of himself.
Mary thinks of the stink because her brother had been dead for four days! But Jesus was confident and the stone was removed. Then he looked up towards heaven and said “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 11:41-42)
What is all this, play – acting? Why all the drama? Because he know that these superstitious and credulous people will misunderstand the source of the miracle. They might take him for ‘God’. Giving life to the dead is the prerogative of God alone. To make doubly sure, that his people do not misunderstand, he speaks out loudly that the ‘groaning’ was actually his crying to God Almighty for help. The prayer was incoherent as far as the bystanders could discern, but the Father in heaven had accepted his prayer, viz. ‘thou hast heard me’.
Furthermore, he says, ‘thou hearest me always’; in other words, every miracle wrought by him was an answer by God Almighty to his prayer. The Jews of his day understood the position well, and they ‘glorified God’, as Matthew tells us of another occasion when the Jews exclaimed “for giving such power unto men”. (Matt. 9:8)
In fact, Jesus gives his reason for speaking loudly. He says, ‘that they may believe that thou has sent me.’ One who is sent is a messenger, and if he be sent by God, then he is a Messenger of God. Jesus is referred to in the Quran as a ‘Messenger of Allah’.
Alas, this attempt by Jesus to prevent any misunderstanding, as to who really performed the miracle, and that he was in fact only a messenger of God, failed. Christians will not even accept the unambiguous disavowal of Jesus, nor the testimony of Peter, the ‘Rock’ upon which Jesus was supposed to build his Church. Peter truly testified “Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, A man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know.” (Acts 2:22)
Case not hopeless
This very same message is repeated by God Almighty in the Quran, following the annunciation. In verse 49 of chapter 3, Allah makes it clear that every sign or wonder that Jesus performed was ‘By Allah’s leave,’ by God’s permission. Jesus says so, Peter says so and God says so; but the stubborn controversialist will not listen: prejudice, superstition and credulity die hard. Our duty is simply to deliver the Message, loud and clear, the rest we leave to God. The case is not altogether hopeless for Allah tells us in His Holy Book “And among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors.” (Quran 3:110)
‘Among them’, meaning among the Jews and the Christians, there are two types of people; the one group described as people of faith to whom this book is addressed, and the other as rebellious transgressors. We must also find ways and means of getting at them. Our literature is eminently suited to cater for all. Pass them on to your non – Muslim friends after reading.
We can truly conclude
“Such was Jesus the son of Mary: A statement of truth, about which they vainly dispute. ‘It is not befitting to the majesty of God that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! when He determines a matter, He only says to it, ‘be’, and it is. ‘Verily God is my Lord and your Lord: Him therefore serve ye: this is a way that is straight.”