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Don Stewart :: How Does Islam Understand the Death and Resurrection of Jesus?

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How Does Islam Understand the Death and Resurrection of Jesus?

Islam – Question 12

The central message of the New Testament is the death and resurrection of Jesus, the promised Messiah. Three days after His death on the cross, Jesus was alive forevermore.

While Muslims accept Jesus Christ as a great prophet they do not believe the New Testament account about His death on the cross or His resurrection from the dead. Their view can be summed up as follows.

1. Jesus Did Not Die on the Cross

The Quran teaches that Jesus did not die on the cross. Muslims do not believe that Allah would allow one of their prophets to be killed in the manner Jesus was killed. Instead of dying on the cross, He was protected from a death of crucifixion. The Quran says,

And for their unbelief, and their uttering against Mary a mighty calumny, and for their saying, “We slew the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of God”...yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them. Those who are at variance concerning him surely are in doubt regarding him, they have no knowledge of him, except the following of surmise; and they did not slay him of certainty...no indeed; God raised him up to Him; God is Almighty, All-Wise. There is not one of the People of the Book but will assuredly believe in him before his death, and on the Resurrection Day, he will be a witness against them. (Quran 4:156-159)

It was not Jesus that was crucified, but only a likeness of Him. According to Islam, it was Judas or Simon the Cyrene, the man who carried Jesus’ cross, which was actually crucified in His place. It was not Jesus that died on the cross. This is something which Islam insists upon.

2. Jesus Did Not Come Back from the Dead

Since, according to the Quran, and Muslim belief, that Jesus did not die on the cross, He certainly did not come back from the dead three days later. Muslims do not accept the New Testament teaching of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, the key teachings of the New Testament, the death of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world and His resurrection three days later, are rejected by Islam.

The Christian Response

The Christian response to Islamic teachings concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is as follows.

1. Jesus Died on a Cross for the Sins of the World

The Bible not only says that it was Jesus who died on the cross and not Simon or Judas, it says that He died on a cross for the sins of the world. In other words, He died in our place so that we could live. Paul wrote the following to the Corinthians.

For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. We are Christ’s ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, “Be reconciled to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:19-21 NLT)

Therefore, not only did Jesus die, His death was of the utmost importance for the world. He died in our place so that we would not have to suffer for our own sins.

2. Jesus Was Raised Bodily from the Dead Three Days Later

Jesus did not stay dead. Three days later, He was raised from the dead. The Bible says that some forty days later He ascended to heaven after his death and resurrection. It also proclaims that He will return to earth as Savior and Judge. This is the gospel, or good news which believers are to preach.

The Apostle Paul explained the contents of the gospel, or good news, in this manner as he wrote to the Corinthians.

Brothers and sisters, I’m making known to you the Good News which I already told you, which you received, and on which your faith is based. In addition, you are saved by this Good News if you hold on to the doctrine I taught you, unless you believed it without thinking it over. I passed on to you the most important points of doctrine that I had received: Christ died to take away our sins as the Scriptures predicted. He was placed in a tomb. He was brought back to life on the third day as the Scriptures predicted. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 God’s Word)

Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Without it there is no Christianity. It is the Christian message.

There Are Huge Differences between Christianity and Islam

Here again we have another example of the differences between Christianity and Islam. Islam rejects the clear teaching of the New Testament with respect to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Someone has to be wrong. Either Jesus was crucified in the city of Jerusalem and then raised bodily from the dead, as Christianity teaches, or He was not, as Islam teaches. There is no possibility to compromise between these two positions.

The firsthand evidence supports the Christian explanation. Indeed, it was the testimony of the eyewitnesses that Jesus was crucified and buried. Yet they saw Him alive three days later as He was raised bodily from the dead. The appearances of the risen Christ changed the lives of Jesus’ disciples, and of Saul of Tarsus. This message of the resurrection has changed lives for the last two thousand years and it is still changing lives today. Why? Because it is true!

Summary – Question 12
How Does Islam Understand the Death and Resurrection of Jesus?

The cornerstone of the Christian faith is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In fact, this is the gospel message; Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.

Muslims deny the death of Jesus Christ was for the sins of the world. In fact, they deny that Jesus, who they believe was one of their prophets, was actually crucified. Islam teaches that it either Judas, or Simon of Cyrene, and not Jesus who actually died on the cross. While they are unclear as to whom it was that actually died on the cross, they know it was not Jesus. They do not believe that a prophet of God would be killed in such a terrible way.

Since, they do not believe He was crucified they reject the idea that came back from the dead three days later. A resurrection is not necessary if Jesus did not die. Therefore, Islam denies two of the main truths of the Christian faith, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The New Testament, however, is clear on this matter. Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary for the sins of the world. It was not somebody else who died in His place. Indeed, He suffered and died in the place of sinful humanity. Three days later, He came back from the dead. This is the testimony of the eyewitnesses. They had seen Him dead, they had seen Him buried, and they had seen Him alive again. This is the central message of the New Testament; a message Islam rejects.

The lines are clearly drawn. Either Jesus Christ died on a cross or He did not. Either He cam back from the dead three days later or He did not. Christianity says He did to both of those questions while Islam says He did not to both of them. Someone is not telling the truth.

How Does Islam View the Person of Jesus Christ? ← Prior Section
How Does a Person Achieve Salvation in Islam? Next Section →
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