A scholar once compared the stories about Jesus in the Bible and the Qur’an to mosaics. With the same-coloured stones, he said, very different mosaics can be made.
What are these stones that make up the story of Jesus?
Both the Bible and the Qur’an mention Jesus’ virgin birth, his miracles, his apostles, a murderous opposition, his ascension to heaven and his return at the end of time: same stones but different mosaics.
So what does the Qur’anic mosaic of Jesus look like?
In the Qur’an the infant Jesus declares I am the servant of God. Jesus is a prophet. His principal role is to preach a scripture to the Israelites. This scripture is known as the injil, an Arabic word that comes from the Greek Euangelion or Gospel.
But Jesus does more than preach. Jesus performs miracles in the Qur’an: he brings a clay bird to life, cures lepers, heals the blind, even raises the dead.
When mentioning these miracles, however, the Qur’an explains that he performs them with the permission of God. Among the people of Jesus some reject his message. They consider his miracles to be magic and plot to kill him.
But do they succeed?
The Qur’an explains that the Israelites boasted of having killed Jesus, but then adds: it only seemed to them that way. This phrase has led to the belief in Islamic tradition that someone else was changed into the likeness of Jesus and crucified in his place. Jesus lived on, and will return in the end times.
What’s different with the Biblical mosaic of Jesus?
In the Gospels, the Cross is at the center of Jesus’ mission. At the very beginning of his ministry John the Baptist says of Jesus: Look, there is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Long before the crucifixion Jesus begins to teach his disciples that he is destined to die in Jerusalem and rise on the third day.
Before his own sacrifice on the Cross Jesus clears out the Temple in Jerusalem. This was a symbolic act expressing his authority over the house of God. When Jesus dies on the cross the curtain in the Temple that separated the holiest part of the sanctuary is torn.
What does this mean?
To the first Christians it meant that the sacrifices of the Temple are now fulfilled in the sacrifice of Christ. Yet this is not simply the end of Jesus’ life, but the beginning of something new.
The apostles, his friends, claimed to have seen Jesus after his resurrection. They went far and wide sharing the good news. What was their message? They did not preach that Jesus was simply a messenger who received a scripture from God. They preached that he is the Prince of Life who rose from the dead.
Those are big claims. Are they believable?
This question calls for a deeper appreciation of the Qur’an and the Bible. And in the next video Reasons for our Hope will offer you just that.
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