Jesus' Ministry

Jesus' life was full of miracles from the moment of his birth until the day he was raised to God's presence. The Qur'an reveals some of the miracles, all of which he performed by the will of God:

Remember when God said: "Jesus, son of Mary, remember My blessing to you and to your mother when I reinforced you with the Purest Spirit so that you could speak to people in the cradle and when you were fully grown; and when I taught you the Book and Wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel." (Qur'an, 5:110)

As a Messenger to the Children of Israel, saying: "I have brought you a Sign from your Lord. I will create the shape of a bird out of clay for you and then breathe into it, and it will be a bird by God's permission. I will heal the blind and the leper, and bring the dead to life, by God's permission. I will tell you what you eat and what you store up in your homes. There is a Sign for you in that if you are believers." (Qur'an, 3:49)

The Qur'an reveals several of the miracles associated with Jesus: He was conceived without a father, spoke in the cradle, had full knowledge of God's holy books (the Torah, the Gospel, and the Qur'an), made a likeness of a bird out of mud and enabled it to fly away by breathing into it, healed the blind from birth and the leper, raised the dead, knew what people ate and what they saved, and foretold our Prophet by the name "Ahmad."

Despite these miracles and his efforts to teach God's revelation, most of his people continued to deny him. Like the other nations mentioned in the Qur'an, these unbelievers simply said that he was only doing magic tricks because he was no more than a magician:

And when Jesus son of Mary said: "O Children of Israel, I am the Messenger of God to you, confirming the Torah that came before me and giving you the good news of a Messenger after me, whose name is Ahmad." When he brought them the Clear Signs, they said: "This is downright magic." (Qur'an, 61:6)

The Qur'an reveals that Jesus did not come to wipe out Judaism, but to affirm and purify religion of the myths that had crept in over the centuries and to return it to its original purity. God also sent him to resolve the issues disputed over by the various Jewish sects, which we examined earlier in the book. The Qur'an says:

[Jesus said:] "I come confirming the Torah I find already here, and to make lawful for you some of what was previously forbidden to you. I have brought you a Sign from your Lord. So have fear [and awe] of God and obey me." (Qur'an, 3:50)

And when Jesus came with the Clear Signs, he said: "I have come to you with Wisdom and to clarify for you some of the things about which you have differed. Therefore, heed God and obey me." (Qur'an, 43:63)

Jesus confirmed the matters of faith mentioned in the Torah and also brought the Gospel, God's last revelation to humanity, to guide and advise his people.

And We sent Jesus son of Mary following in their [the Prophets'] footsteps, confirming the Torah that came before him. We gave him the Gospel containing guidance and light, confirming the Torah that came before it, and as guidance and admonition for those who guard against evil. The people of the Gospel should judge by what God sent down in it. Those who do not judge by what God has sent down, such people are deviators. (Qur'an, 5:46-47)

Very few people answered Jesus' call at the beginning, for his call sought to abolish the privileges of the priestly class, which profited from the myths and traditions that had been established many years ago, and also those members of the ruling class who did not recognize God's sovereignty. The pressure they applied, when combined with their threats, scared the common people and prevented them from approaching Jesus. When Jesus' teachings began to spread and the number of his followers increased, the number of his opponents increased accordingly. More cowardly traps were prepared and more plans were made to discredit and defeat him. Such plots were nothing new, for all Prophets encountered such hostility. The Qur'an reveals the unbelievers' maliciousness toward the Messengers in the following terms:

Why then, whenever a Messenger came to you with something your lower selves did not desire, did you grow arrogant and deny some of them and murder others? (Qur'an, 2:87)

Society began to be divided by those who believed in Jesus and those who denied him, and the difference between the two groups became more and more apparent. On the one side was God's Messenger, who was teaching the true religion and calling people to believe in the one and only God, and on the other side was a group of people who had decided not to believe in him regardless of his miracles or proofs, even if they saw them with their own eyes. His enemies revealed themselves clearly. Probably there were people who were with him and heard him, but who later denied him. God reveals such a situation in the following verse: "The various factions among them differed..." (Qur'an, 43:65)

For this reason, Jesus chose his disciples from those believers whom he could really trust. The Qur'an reveals:

When Jesus sensed unbelief on their part, he asked: "Who will be my helpers for [the cause of] God?" The disciples said: "We are God's helpers. We believe in God. Bear witness that we are Muslims." (Qur'an, 3:52)


A fresco by DUCCIO di Buoninsegna depicting Jesus having dinner with the Diciples

The Qur'an reveals that the unbelievers devised a plot to take Jesus' life. According to some sources, a group of bigoted priests bribed Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples, to betray him, after which they would arrest Jesus and hand him over to the Romans. According to the same sources, the priests did not have the power to sentence someone to death and so had to make another plan to agitate the Roman regime. Thus, they portrayed Jesus as being hostile to the Roman leadership, for the Romans were highly sensitive and ruthless when confronted with dissidents. But these priests failed, for the Qur'an relates:

They [unbelievers] planned and God planned. But God is the best of planners. (Qur'an, 3:54)

As the verses reveal, they plotted and moved to kill Jesus. However, their plot failed and they ended up killing a look-alike. During this event, God raised Jesus up to His presence:

And [on account of] their saying: "We killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Messenger of God." They did not kill him and they did not crucify him, but it was made to seem so to them. Those who argue about him are in doubt about it. They have no real knowledge of it, just conjecture. But they certainly did not kill him. (Qur'an, 4:157)

Many people believe in the widespread hypothesis that the Romans crucified Jesus. The Roman soldiers and Jewish priests who arrested Jesus are said to have killed him on the cross. The majority of Christians believes this, as well as that he was resurrected three days later and, after several brief meetings with his disciples and others, ascended into the heavens.

The Qur'an, however, says otherwise. The reality revealed in the verses is clear. The Romans, abetted by Jewish agitation, attempted to kill Jesus but did not succeed. The expression "but it was made to seem so to them" reveals this fact. God showed them a look-alike and raised Jesus up to His presence. Our Lord also reveals that those who made that claim had no knowledge of the truth.

In the early years of Christianity, several views on Jesus' fate emerged. In the subsequent centuries and until the articles of faith were fully formulated at the Council of Nicea (325), these ideological differences continued to persist, and movements that claimed that Jesus had not been crucified were accused of heresy and its members were persecuted.

 

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