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Why Follow Jesus?

Chapter 8: Jesus The Messiah

Jesus is unique. We find that the whole Bible is really written about Jesus. He is the golden thread that runs from the promise of His coming in Genesis to the promise of His coming again in Revelation. [1] Muslims already know about Jesus' birth and His preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God from reading the Qur'an. [2] Among them he is known as the word of God and spirit from him. In the Qur'an wherever Jesus is mentioned, his earthly patronymic identity as Ibn Mariam is also given, so he is known as Al-Masih-u-Isa Ibn Mariam - Jesus, the Christ, son of Mary. Like the Bible, the Qur'an gives testimony that God sent him as the sign of blessing for the nations of the earth (Surah Imran & Surah Mariam). God sent him as a sign and a mercy, to present Jesus as the "Hujat ullah" - Allah's proof, to the nations. The Qur'an witnesses to Jesus being the Rahmat - mercy and ayah - sign but it does not go into full details of the reason why God acted in such a way and what in fact the Qur'anic verse means when it says, Wa kana amran Maqzia - It is a matter (so) decreed (Surah 19 : 21). We can find the full details in the Bible.

His arrival on this earth

Jesus' birth took place at a time when many were waiting for the promised Messiah to arrive. King Herod was ruling in Jerusalem and when he heard about the birth of the "King of the Jews", he tried to kill every young child in Bethlehem. Guided by God, Jesus and His family fled to Egypt. After Herod's death they returned to settle in Nazareth. The next mention of Jesus in the Gospel is when He was twelve years old. He went to the temple in Jerusalem and sat with the learned rabbis, talking to them about spiritual things. [3]

His mission

At the age of about 30, Jesus started His ministry, preaching to people about the great things God had done for them. One day he met John the Baptist (Hazrat Yahya), a prophet of God. When John saw Jesus, he pointed to Him and said to those around him, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" [4]. He was referring to the fact that Jesus was to be the sacrifice that God would provide, like the ram in the case of Abraham and his son, or the lambs sacrificed as sin offerings. [5]

Jesus, the Christ

The name "Jesus" is itself important because of its meaning: "The Lord saves" [6]. This name was given to Him not by His family but by God Himself. God was showing us that He planned to save us through the person of Jesus.

Jesus was also known as "The Christ". This word is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew "Messiah", which in Arabic is "Al-Masih", and means "anointed". In Hebrew culture, a person was anointed with oil as a sign that he was being called to some special task. The Hebrews anointed their kings and priests.

His ministry as teacher

In Jesus' day the Jewish teachers had made their religion a mechanical and outward thing, but Jesus taught that God was more interested in men's hearts and their inward motives. [7] All people were important to Him, whether they were part of a crowd or met Him individually. They felt that Jesus was different from other rabbis. His followers soon learned that He was not just a teacher; He was also "Lord". Jesus accepted both titles, saying, "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord', and rightly so, for that is what I am."[8]

The title He most often took upon Himself was "Son of Man". This is a most significant title. In the Old Testament it was used in two totally different ways. Ezekiel, an Old Testament prophet, is described as a Son of man [9]. The context makes it clear that Ezekiel's humanity is being emphasised. However, in the book of Daniel, the same phrase takes on another meaning [10]. In this context someone of great spiritual power, even divine, is being referred to. Jesus used this title for Himself to show people the two aspects of His nature.

Many people recognised something else that was unique about Jesus. Their teachers used to quote others as their authority for any ruling they made, but they realised that Jesus was different. They regarded Him as "one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law".[11] Also other prophets used to say, "The Lord your God says, .." but Jesus said, "I tell you ..." or "Truly, I tell you .."

One of the main teachings of Jesus was about God's kingdom. "The time has come," he proclaimed, "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" [12] By this He wanted to teach us that God is still in control and that He wants all men to come back to Himself. This does not mean that man has no freedom of choice.[13] Jesus' teaching was that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.

His miracles

Jesus performed miracles in response to particular needs. He cured people who were ill. [14] He fed thousands of people.[15] He even calmed the waves.[16] No wonder then, that when Jesus cured a paralysed man, just by saying, "... take up your mat and go home...", the response of the crowd was: "We have seen remarkable things today."[17] Those who followed Him marvelled, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!"[18] Gradually His followers came to understand that Jesus was no ordinary person.

His influence

Jesus was very much welcomed by ordinary people. The majority of the religious leaders, however, did not like Him, because He was a friend of tax collectors, sinners and, religious outcasts[19]. Yet many of these outcasts recognised their need to repent and follow Jesus[20]. He invited everyone to realise their need of God and come to know Him personally. The purity of Jesus' life is an example for us all to follow. He could challenge His enemies by saying, "Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?"[21]. No one did or could. It was because of Jesus' sinlessness that He was able to accomplish the great purpose for which He came.

(Further study on the subject of this great purpose is found in chapter 18.)

References

  1. Genesis 3:15; Revelation 22:20
  2. Matthew 1:18; Qur'an 19:16-35
  3. Luke 2:41-50
  4. John 1:29
  5. Genesis 22:13 ; Leviticus 6:24-30
  6. Matthew 1:21
  7. Matthew 5:21-30
  8. John 13:13
  9. Ezekiel 3:3
  10. Daniel 7:13-14
  11. Matthew 7:28-29
  12. Mark 1:14-15
  13. Matthew 13:1-23; Joel 2:32
  14. Mark 5:35-42 Luke 17:11-19
  15. Mark 6:30-46; 8:1-10
  16. Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-39
  17. Luke 5:26
  18. Matthew 8:27
  19. Matthew 9:9-13
  20. Luke 19:1-10
  21. John 8:46

 

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