(Or the Sign of Jesus)
The Story and the meaning: John is the one who revealed Jesus as the great sacrifice for us, so now we need to simply review why this is and bring the whole story together. It can be said like this: “Jesus is the great coming sacrifice Adam first told us about. He is like the ark Noah built that all the true believers placed their faith in. He is like the sacrifice God provided for Abraham and he came in the form of lamb. Moses showed he is like the blood of the lamb by which all the true believers put over the door of their home to receive mercy and protection from God’s judgment. David said in the Psalms he would die on a cross. But he didn’t stay dead! Jonah showed how he conquered death itself and rose again after three days. And finally John the Baptist showed that he is Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Main Point: So Jesus is the Lamb that God provided to die in our place. By receiving this sacrifice and believing that Jesus rose again we can receive the mercy of God, a covering of our sin and shame and give us permission to enter the kingdom of God.
Main Point with Qur’an references: So Jesus is the momentous sacrifice and the Lamb that God provided to die in our place. Just as Adam and Eve received God’s mercy through putting on the robe of righteousness, by placing our faith and hope in the death and resurrection of Jesus we can today spiritually receive this same righteous state, be presented clean and beautiful before a holy God and enter God’s kingdom.
Optional use of the Quran: There are many unique occurrences and titles given to Jesus in the Qur’an and, if your friend has doubts, they can be used to confirm what has already been shared. Here is a short list with a brief explanation.
1. Born of a virgin. (The Family of Imran 3:47; Mary 19:20)
It is crystal clear in the Qur’an that Jesus is the only human in history that was born of a virgin. Some Muslims like to downplay this and say ‘Jesus isn’t the only one, Adam and Eve were never born’ but this doesn’t seem to be much of an argument. Of course the first humans were not born of humans! However, after the initial days of creation, Jesus is the only one born of a virgin, which is a monumental event any way you look at it.
Example of use: “I think that fact that Jesus was born of a virgin demonstrates that God is up to something big and starting a new thing!”
2. Sinless from birth. (Mary 19:19)
The Qur’an is incredibly clear that Jesus was born sinless. Some Muslims will say this is true of all prophets but the Qur’an only says this about Jesus.
Example of use: “We saw that only a perfect lamb was fit for a blood sacrifice before God. Since Jesus was the sacrifice who died in our place it is vital that he lived a perfect sinless life. This is why the Bible and Qur’an only designate him as being without sin his entire life.”
3. Called “Word of God”. (The Family of Imran 3:45)
This is a unique title to Jesus in the Qur’an and is the same title as in John 1:1.
Example of use: “Jesus lived his entire life as an example of what God wants us to know. Think of it as Jesus’ life speaking for God, which is one reason why he is called ‘the Word of God’. This is a title only given to Jesus, so we need to be careful to examine his life and to obey everything he told us to do.”
4. Called “Messiah”. (The Family of Imran 3:45)
This is a unique title to Jesus in the Qur’an and is the same title as in John 1.41.
[Some may find “Christ”, but in the Bible and in the Qur’an this means Messiah. For those new to the Bible, please note that “Christ” is a title, so the name does not imply that Jesus is the son of Joseph and Mary Christ.]
Example of use: “Although the Jews of Jesus’ day were looking for a political liberator, Jesus came as a Messiah who would liberate the world from sin by offering himself as a sacrifice. Just as Moses came to liberate the Israelites from Pharaoh, Jesus came to set us free from the bondage of sin and shame.”
5. Called “Mercy (from God)”. (Mary 19:21)
This is a unique title to Jesus in the Qur’an. Although Jesus is not explicitly given this title in the Bible, it is very clear that Jesus represents the mercy of God (Romans 5:6) and often responded to people pleading for mercy (Matthew 9:27-30).
Example of use: “By offering his life as a sacrifice, Jesus became the a visible demonstration of the mercy of God. This title could not be given to anyone who did anything less.”
6. Called “Sign (from God) unto men”. (Mary 19:21)
Generally, a sign is an object or event that has spiritual significance like the Ark of Noah or the how Jonah was swallowed by a whale. However, with Jesus, he himself is a sign whereas all other prophets bring a sign.
Example of use: “The Qur’an says very clearly that nobody can go to paradise without knowing and understanding all the signs of God. Every prophet may bring a sign, but Jesus is the only one who is himself a sign. Therefore, entrance to paradise must require that we understand why his is a sign and obey what God is telling us.”
7. Healed the blind and the leper, brought the dead to life. (The Family of Imran 3:49)
Jesus was given incredible authority by God to heal and even raise the dead. We see this in the Bible in Matthew 4:24 and John 11:43-44.
Example of use: “Although some prophets did some amazing things, no other person in history had the authority to do miracles for the multitudes as Jesus did. Jesus himself did these thing to prove that his message is true, so we need to listen and obey what he tells us.”
8. Died by the will of God and raised again. (The Family of Imran 3:55)
As in John 10:18, the Qur’an says that Jesus died and was raised to life by the will of God.
Note: Although not all English translations of the Qur’an say this, the Arabic is very clear and should read “(God speaking) Oh Jesus, I will cause you to die and will raise you up to me.” Some Arabic speaking Muslims deny the Arabic word for “to die” (i.e. physical death) means this and suggest something like “went away”. One Arab believer involved in this discussion simply got a local newspaper out and turned to the obituary. The word “obituary” is constructed of the same root work used to say Jesus died, so he simply asked “Did all the people on this page go on a trip or are they dead?” I usually just say, “Let’s look that word up in an Arabic/English dictionary” which can also bring the disagreement to a close as my friend knows very well what the dictionary will say. Generally I don’t waste time arguing beyond this point with an Arab speaker as they know in their heart what the word really means.
One time I showed a couple from Iraq who told me “We love Jesus but we don’t think he died.” However, when I showed them this passage they immediately said, “Oh, he really did die!” From there I took them to the Bible to explain why this was so important.
Example of use: If a Muslim disagrees Jesus died I respond, “Even the Qur’an says he died in 3:55. I’m just telling you why he died and how he rose again!”
9. Called “The Sign of the Hour of Judgment”. (The Gold Adornments 43:61-64)
On the day of judgment, Jesus will be the judge.
Example of use: “Jesus will be the judge on the day of judgment, so we need to be careful to follow everything he told us to do.”
10. Confirms the Bible. (The Table Spread 5:46)
Jesus confirms that the books before him are true and that God gave him the gospel.
Note: The Qur’an specifically says Jesus confirms “the law which came before him”, so some Muslims will think this is only Genesis through Deuteronomy, others will include the Psalms as well, while others will accept the entire Old Testament as being confirmed here. In a similar fashion, when the Qur’an refers to the “Gospels” some Muslims will see this only as the four Gospels (sometimes called “the books of Jesus” by Muslims) while others will accept the entire New Testament. Either way, whatever they accept I attempt to use those books as much as possible.
This can be a much larger conversation, so I will provide more materials about this soon.
Example of use: If a Muslim doubts that passages from the Bible are true you can say, “Jesus himself testified that these books are true. We have some copies of these books from the very days of Jesus. We also have a complete Bible from the period when Muhammad wrote this. So if Muhammad said they were reliable at that time then they must still be reliable today.”