In one of the most profound and important moments in the Bible, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13) Responses included, John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, and one of the prophets (v. 14). At this point Jesus asked a pivotal question that all of us must eventually answer, “But who do you say that I am?” (v.15)
Peter’s response was praised by Jesus as God inspired. His answer, “You are the Christ the Son of the living God.” (v.16)
In my last blog, I began discussing how Muslims and Christians answer this question differently. We looked specifically at Jesus as the Son of God and the idea of God made flesh. If you missed it, you can read part 1 here.
Today we take a look at the idea of Jesus’ death on the cross, the Resurrection and the Ascension to Heaven.
The prevailing view of Christians is that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. This is memorialized on Good Friday and recognized by the symbol of the cross on everything from church steeples to ear rings. Consider the following scripture:
Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” Matthew 26:1-2 (NKJV)
And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take. Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. Mark 15:24-25 (NKJV)
And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ “ Having said this, He breathed His last. Luke 23:46 (NKJV)
The Qur’an teaches it differently:
…but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of ‘Iesa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts…. (Surah 4:157)
Islam teaches that the Jews wanted to kill Jesus but Allah saved him and replaced him with someone else (possibly Judas Iscariot) who Allah made everyone believe was Jesus. According to their teaching, Jesus was swept away into Heaven without ever dying.
The Bible clearly teaches the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as a first fruit of all men who will one day rise again either to everlasting life or everlasting judgment. Consider:
…let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. Acts 4:10 (NKJV)
…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NKJV)
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:20 (NKJV)
For Islam, the idea of Christ’s resurrection is a non-starter. Since they do not believe He died, then there is obviously no discussion of the resurrection of Jesus. It is interesting to note, however, that they do believe in a resurrection of people at the end of time:
And on the Day of Resurrection, he [‘Iesa (Jesus)] will be a witness against them. (Surah 4:159)
The Bible teaches that after Jesus rose from the dead He appeared to His disciples and helped them understand Scripture in light of His death, resurrection and imminent return. (Luke 24:36-49)
Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. Acts 1:9 (NKJV)
Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” Ephesians 4:8 (NKJV), (from Psalms 68:18)
Islam also teaches the concept of the ascension, but as we have already reviewed, they do not believe that He died and rose first.
…For surely; they killed him not [i.e. ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)]:
But Allah raised him [‘Iesa (Jesus)] up (with his body and soul) unto Himself (and he is in the heavens). And Allah is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise. (Surah 4:157-158)
So, distilling the topic of Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension down to the basics, the Christian Bible teaches that you must believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead in order to be saved. (Romans 10:9) Islam teaches that the idea of Jesus’ death is mere inaccurate conjecture. (Surah 4:157)
The most important question, “Who do you say that Jesus is?”
Next time, we will look at what these two belief systems believe about the return of Jesus. You definitely do NOT want to miss that one.