Resurrection First Fruits: Life for you

We carefully followed the daily events of the Prophet Isa al Masih’s last week recorded in the Injil.  At the week’s end he was crucified on Passover Day, a sacred Jewish festival.  Then he rested in death through the Sabbath, the Holy 7th day of the week.   These Holy days had been instituted by Allah long beforehand through the Prophet Musa (PBUH) in the Taurat.  We read those instructions here:

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.

The Sabbath

“‘There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the Lord.

The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread

“‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.  (Leviticus 23:1-5)

Is it not curious that both the crucifixion and rest of the Prophet Isa al Masih coincided exactly with two Holy festivals prescribed 1500 years beforehand as shown in the timeline?  Why is this?

The Sabbath rest of Death for the Prophet Isa al Masih
The death of Isa al Masih occurred on the day of Passover sacrifice (Day 6) and his rest occurred on the Sabbath rest (Day 7)

This coordination of the Prophet Isa al Masih with the festivals of the Taurat continues. The recitation from Taurat above dealt only with the first two festivals.  The next festival was called ‘first fruits’ and the Taurat gave this instruction about it.

The Lord said to Moses, 10 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. 11 He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath… 

14 You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.  (Leviticus 23: 9-11, 14)

So ‘the day after the sabbath’ of the Passover was a third Holy day.  Every year on this day the High Priest entered the Holy Temple and waved the very first grain harvest of the spring before the LORD.  This signified the start of new life after the death of winter, looking forward to a plentiful harvest so the people could eat and be satisfied.

This was the exact same day after the Sabbath when Isa al Masih PBUH had rested in death, the Sunday of a new week on Nisan 16.  The Injil records startling events on this same day that the High Priest went in the Temple to offer ‘first fruits’ of new life.  Here is the record:

Isa al Masih Risen from the Dead

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

On the Road to Emmaus

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19 “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him,and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.”  (Luke 24: 1-48)

Isa al Masih’s Victory

The prophet Isa al Masih PBUH on that Holy day of ‘First Fruits’ achieved a great victory that his enemies and his companions did not believe possible – he came back to life victorious over death.  As the Injil explains:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15: 54-56)

But this was not just a victory for the prophet.  It is also a victory for you and me, guaranteed by the timing with the First Fruits festival.  The Injil explains it like this:

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15: 20-26)

The prophet was raised to life on the same day as the First Fruits festival so we would know that we can participate in this same resurrection from death.  Just as the First Fruits festival was an offering of new life with the expectation of a great harvest later in the spring, the Injil tells us that the raising of Isa al Masih was a resurrection first fruits with the expectation of a larger resurrection later for all ‘who belong to him’.  We saw in the Taurat and Qur’an that death came because of Adam.  The Injil tells us that in a parallel way resurrection life comes through Isa al Masih.  He is the first fruits of new life that we are all invited to participate in.

Easter: Celebrating the Resurrection of that Sunday

Today the resurrection of Isa al Masih is often referred to as Easter, and the Sunday that he rose is often remembered as Easter Sunday.  But these words only came into use hundreds of years afterwards.   The actual words used to remember the resurrection of Isa al Masih are not important.  What is important is the resurrection of the Prophet as a fulfillment of the Festival of First Fruits begun hundreds of years earlier in the time of the Prophet Musa, and what this means for you and me.

This is seen for Sunday of the new week in the Timeline:

Isa rises on the Day of First Fruits - new life from death
Isa al Masih rises from Death on the Day of First Fruits – new life from death offered to you & me.

‘Good Friday’ answered

This also answers our question  about ‘Good Friday’.  As the Injil explains:

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:9)

When he ‘tasted death’ on Good Friday he did so for you, me and ‘everyone’.  Good Friday has its name because it was good for us.  When he rose on the First Fruits Festival he now offers new life to everyone.

Resurrection of Isa al Masih considered

The Prophet Isa al Masih showed himself alive from death over many days to his companions.  These events from the Injil are narrated here.   But it is instructive to note that even at his first appearance to his disciples it:

…seemed to them like nonsense (Luke 24: 10)

The prophet himself had to:

beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)

And again later:

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24: 44)

How can we be sure if this is indeed Allah’s plan and straight way to give us life from death?  Only God can know the future, so Signs revealed hundreds of years previously through the Prophets in Taurat and Zabur, and fulfilled by Isa al Masih were written to give us assurance:

so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1: 4)

So we can be informed on this vital topic of the sacrifice and resurrection of the Prophet Isa al Masih, links to four different articles are available:

  1. This article reviews the Signs given in the Taurat (Law of Moses) pointing to Isa al Masih.
  2. This article reviews the Signs in ‘the Prophets and the Psalms’.  The goal of these two articles is to allow us to judge for ourselves whether it was indeed written that “The Masih will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day” (Luke 24:46) in these books.
  3. This article will help us understand how to receive this gift of resurrection life from Isa al Masih.
  4. This article addresses some confusion about the crucifixion of Isa al Masih, reviewing what the Holy Qur’an and different Islamic scholars have written about it.

Day 7 – Sabbath Rest

The Prophet Isa al Masih had been betrayed and crucified on the Jewish holy day of Passover, now known as Good Friday.  Passover began Thursday evening at sundown and ended on Friday sundown – day 6 of the week.  The last event of that day was the burial of the dead prophet.  The Injil records how the women who followed the prophet witnessed this.

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. (Luke 23: 55-56)

The women wanted prepare the body of the prophet but time had run out and the Sabbath began at sundown Friday evening.  This was the 7th day of the week and Jews were not permitted to work on this day.  This command went back to the creation account in the Taurat.  Allah had created everything in 6 days.  The Taurat stated:

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:1-2)

So the women, though they wanted to prepare his body, were obedient to the Taurat and rested.

But the chief priests continued their work on the sabbath.  The Injil records their meetings with the governor.

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.  (Matthew 27: 62-66)

So that Sabbath day saw the chief priests working to secure a guard around the body in the tomb.  The body of the Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH rested in death while the women rested in obedience on that Sabbath day of the Holy week.  The Timeline shows how their rest that day mirrored the 7th day of Creation where the Taurat says that Allah rested from Creation.

The Sabbath rest of Death for the Prophet Isa al Masih
The Sabbath rest of Death for the Prophet Isa al Masih

The next day an astonishing victory occurred as we see here.

Day 6 – Isa al Masih and Good Friday

Our avowed enemy, Shaytan, had entered Judas on Day 5 to betray the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH.  The next evening on Day 6 the prophet shared his last supper with his companions (also called his disciples).   At that meal he explained through example and teaching how we should love one another and about God’s great love for us.  Exactly how he did this is described here from the Injil.  Then he prayed for all believers – which you can read here.  The Injil describes what happened next:

The arrest in the Garden

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.

Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.

Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”

10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.   (John 18: 1-13)

The prophet went to the garden just outside Jerusalem to pray.  There Judas brought soldiers to arrest him.  If we face arrest we might try to fight, run or hide.  But the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH did not fight or run.  He very clearly admitted that he was indeed the prophet that they were looking for.  His clear confession (“I am he”) startled the soldiers and his companions escaped.  The prophet submitted to arrest and was taken to the house of Annas for interrogation.

The First Interrogation

The Injil records how the prophet was interrogated there:

19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”

22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.

23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.  (John 18: 19-24)

The prophet Isa al Masih PBUH was sent from the former high priest to the high priest of that year for a second interrogation.

The Second Interrogation

There he would be interrogated in front of all the leaders.  The Injil recorded this further interrogation:

53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.

57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.

60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?”61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.  (Mark 14: 53-65)

The Jewish leaders condemned the Prophet Isa al Masih to death.  But since Jerusalem was ruled by Rome, an execution could only be approved by the Roman Governor.  So they took the prophet to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate.  The Injil also records what happened at the same time to Judas Iscariot, the one who had betrayed him.

What happened to Judas the betrayer?

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day.  (Matthew 27: 1-8)

Isa al Masih interrogated by the Roman Governor

Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer.13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.

15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.

19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.

“Barabbas,” they answered.

22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.  (Matthew 27: 11-26)

The Crucifixion, Death & Burial of the Prophet Isa al Masih

The Injil then records in great detail how the Prophet Isa al Masih was crucified.  Here is the account:

27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews.

38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar,put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[e] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. (Matthew 27: 27-56)

‘Pierced’ in his side

The Gospel of John records a fascinating detail in the crucifixion.  It states:

Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” (John 19: 31-37)

John saw the Roman soldiers pierce the side of Isa al Masih with a spear.  Out came blood and water separated, indicating that the prophet had died of heart failure.

The Injil records a final event on that day – the burial.

The Burial of Jesus

57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.  (Matthew 27:57-61)

Day 6 – Good Friday

Each day in the Jewish calendar began at sunset.  So that day 6 of the week began with the Prophet sharing his last supper with his disciples.  By the end of the day he had been arrested, put on trial many times, crucified, pierced with a spear, and buried.  This day is often referred to as ‘Good Friday’.  That raises the question:  How can a day of betrayal, torture and death of a prophet ever be referred to as ‘good’?  Why Good Friday and not ‘Bad Friday’?

This is a great question that we answer by continuing the Injil’s account over the next days.  But a clue is found in the timeline if we notice this Friday was on the holy day of Nisan 14, the same Passover day the Jews sacrificed a lamb for their deliverance from death in Egypt 1500 years before.

Day 6 - Friday - of the last week in Isa al Masih's life compared to the regulations of Taurat
Day 6 – Friday – of the last week in Isa al Masih’s life compared to the regulations of Taurat

Most accounts of men conclude at their death, but the Injil continues so we can understand why this day could ever be thought of as Good Friday.  The next day was the Sabbath – Day 7.

Day 5 – Shaytan descends to strike the Masih

The prophet Isa al Masih PBUH had prophesied the signs of his return to earth on Day 4 of his final week.  The Injil then narrated how the religious leaders wanted to arrest him.  Shaytan (or Iblis) used this as a way to strike at the prophet – his avowed enemy.  Here is how it is recorded.

Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people.   Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.  And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money.  He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. (Luke 22: 1-6)

We see that Satan/Shaytan took advantage of this conflict to ‘enter’ Judas to betray the prophet.  This should not surprise us.  The Holy Qur’an  says of Satan that:

Say to My servants that they should (only) say those things that are best: for Satan doth sow dissensions among them: For Satan is to man an avowed enemy. (Al-Isra 17:53; see also Az-zukhruf 43:62, Ya sin 36: 60, Al-Baqarah 2:168)

Towards the end of the Injil, Satan is described in a vision:

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon,and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.  (Revelation 12: 7-9)

Satan is also your avowed enemy, pictured as a powerful dragon with enough cunning to lead the whole world astray.  This enemy took control of Judas to destroy the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH.   As the Injil records:

From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. (Matthew 26: 16)

The next day – Day 6 – was the Festival of Passover that the Prophet Musa PBUH had begun 1500 years beforehand.  How would Satan, through Judas, find his opportunity on this Holy day?  We look at this next.

Day 5 Summary

The timeline shows how on the 5th day of this week, the great dragon, Satan, moved to strike at his greatest enemy – the Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH.

Shaytan, the Great Dragon, enters Judas to strike the Prophet Isa al Masih
Shaytan, the Great Dragon, enters Judas to strike the Prophet Isa al Masih

Days 3 & 4 – Isa al Masih foretells the future and his Return

After entering Jerusalem on Sunday Nisan 9 according to the prophets Daniel and Zechariah, and then entering the Temple on Monday Nisan 10 according to the regulations of the Prophet Musa PBUH in Taurat to be selected as Allah’s lamb, the Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH was rejected by the Jewish leaders.  In fact, while he was clearing the Temple they started planning how to kill him.  The Injil records what the prophet Isa al Masih did next:

Cursing the Fig Tree

17 And he left them (the Jewish leaders at the Temple on Nisan 10) and went out of the city to where he spent the night.

18 Early in the morning (Tuesday Nisan 11, Day 3), as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. (Matthew 21: 17-19)

Many wonder why Isa al Masih spoke and withered the fig tree.  The Injil does not directly explain, but the earlier prophets can help us understand.  These prophets, when warning of coming judgment would often use the image of a fig tree withering.  Notice how the withering fig tree image is used by the previous prophets in their warnings:

The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered;
the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree—
all the trees of the field—are dried up.
Surely the people’s joy is withered away. (Joel 1:12)

“Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards,
destroying them with blight and mildew.
Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees,
yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord. (Amos 4:9)

Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit. (Haggai 2:19)

All the stars in the sky will be dissolved
and the heavens rolled up like a scroll;
all the starry host will fall
like withered leaves from the vine,
like shriveled figs from the fig tree. (Isaiah 34:4)

“‘I will take away their harvest,
declares the Lord.
There will be no grapes on the vine.
There will be no figs on the tree,
and their leaves will wither.
What I have given them
will be taken from them.’” (Jeremiah 8: 13)

The prophet Hosea PBUH went further, using the fig tree as a metaphor of Israel and then pronouncing a curse:

“When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert;
when I saw your ancestors, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree. But when they came to Baal Peor,
they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol
and became as vile as the thing they loved.
11 Ephraim’s glory will fly away like a bird—
no birth, no pregnancy, no conception.
12 Even if they rear children, I will bereave them of every one.
Woe to them when I turn away from them! …
16 Ephraim is blighted, their root is withered, they yield no fruit.
Even if they bear children, I will slay their cherished offspring.”

17 My God will reject them because they have not obeyed him;
they will be wanderers among the nations.  (Hosea 9:10-12, 16-17; note Ephraim = Israel)

These curses were fulfilled when Jerusalem was first destroyed in 586 BCE (see here for history of Jews).  When the prophet Isa al Masih withered the fig tree, he was symbolically prophesying another coming destruction of Jerusalem and Jewish exile from the land.

After cursing the fig tree, Isa al Masih continued to the Temple, teaching the people and debating the Jewish leaders.  He gave many warnings about the Judgment of Allah.  The Injil records the teachings and they are in full here.

The Prophet Predicts the Signs of His Return

The Prophet Isa al Masih then concluded with a dark prophecy of the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.  At that time, this temple was one of the most impressive buildings in the whole Roman Empire.  But the Injil records that he foresaw its ruin.  This began a discussion about his return to earth, and the signs of his return.   The Injil records his teachings

Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.”

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

The prophet began by predicting the complete destruction of the Jewish Temple.  We know from history that this happened in 70 C.E.  Then in the evening[i] he left the Temple and was at the Mount of Olives outside the city of Jerusalem.  Since the Jewish day began at sunset, it was now the start of the 4th day in the week, Wednesday Nisan 12, when he answered their question and taught about the end of the age and his return.

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.25 See, I have told you ahead of time.

26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

29 “Immediately after the distress of those days

“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Here the prophet Isa al Masih looked past the coming destruction of the Temple.  He taught that the period from the destruction of the Temple to his return would be characterized by growing evil, earthquakes, famines, wars, and persecution of his followers.  Even so, he predicted that the Injil would be ‘preached in the whole world’ (v 14).  As the world learned about the Masih, there would be a growing number of false prophets and false claims about him and his return.  The true sign of his return in the midst of the wars, chaos and distress would be undisputable disturbances of the sun, moon and the stars.  Somehow they will be darkened.

We can see that war, distress and earthquakes are increasing – so the time of his return is getting closer.  But there are still no disturbances in the heavens  – so his return is not just yet.  But how close are we?  To answer this question, Isa al Masih continued

32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Remember the fig tree, symbolic of Israel, which he had cursed and had withered the day before?  When the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE the withering of Israel occurred and it remained withered for thousands of years.  The prophet told us to look for shoots of green and leaves coming out from the fig tree – and then we would know the time would be ‘near’.  Our generation has seen a change in the ‘fig tree’ as Jews have returned to Israel.  Yes, this has added to the wars, distress and troubles for many in our times, but this should not surprise us since the prophet warned about this in his teaching.  In many ways, there is still a deadness to this ‘tree’, but the leaves of the fig tree are starting to green.

This should make us careful and watchful in our times since the Prophet warned us of being careless and indifferent regarding his return.

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:1-51)

Isa al Masih continued to teach in the Injil about his return and the link to it is here.

Summary of Day 3 and Day 4

The updated timeline shows how the prophet Isa al Masih cursed the fig tree on Day 3 – Tuesday – ahead of lengthy debates with the Jewish leaders.  This action was symbolically prophetic of Israel.  Then, on Wednesday, Day 4, he described the signs of his return – the greatest being the darkening of all the heavenly bodies.

Signs of Isa al Masih on Days 3 and 4 of his last week compared to regulations of Taurat
Signs of Isa al Masih on Days 3 and 4 of his last week compared to regulations of Taurat

Then he warned all of us to carefully watch for his return.  Since we can now see the fig tree becoming green again, we should live carefully and watchfully.

The Injil records next how Shaytan (Iblis) moved against the prophet on Day 5, which we look at next.

[i]  Describing each day that week, the book of Luke summarizes that:  “Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives” (Luke 21:37)

Day 2: Isa al Masih selected – where Al-Aqsa & Dome of the Rock are today

Why is the location of Al-Aqsa (Al-Masjid al-‘Aqṣā or Bayt al-Maqdis) and Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhrah) in Jerusalem so special? Many holy events have occurred there but few know what happened to the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH at this holy location.  The Prophet had just entered Jerusalem at the exact day prophesied hundreds of years before, revealing himself as the Masih and a light to the nations.  That date, in the Jewish calendar, was Sunday, Nisan 9, the 1st day of a Holy Week.  Because of regulations in the Taurat, the next day, 10th of Nisan, was a unique day in the Jewish calendar.  Long before, the Taurat recorded the Prophet Musa (PBUH) preparing the 10th plague against Pharaoh when he was directed by Allah:

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.  Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. (Exodus 12:1-3)

In that time Nisan was the first month of the Jewish year.  So, every Nisan 10 since the prophet Musa, each Jewish family would select a lamb for the upcoming Passover festivalit could only be done that day.  In the time of the Prophet Isa al Masih  the Jews selected the Passover lambs in their Temple in Jerusalem – the same location where 2000 years before the Prophet Ibrahm (PBUH) had been tested in the sacrifice of his son.  Today, this is the location of Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock.  So at one specific location (where Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock are today and where the Jewish Temple was in the time of the prophet Isa al Masih), on one specific day of the Jewish year (Nisan 10), Jews would select the Passover lamb for each family (the poor would select doves).  As you might imagine, the vast number of people and animals, the noise of the bartering, the foreign exchange (since Jews came from many locations) would make the Temple on Nisan 10 like a frenzied market.  The Injil records what the Prophet Isa al Masih did that day.  When the passage refers to the ‘next day’ this is the day after his royal  entry into Jerusalem, the 10th of Nisan – the exact day that Passover lambs were selected in the Temple.

11Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

12The next day (i.e. Nisan 10) … they were leaving Bethany… 15On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:11-17)

At the human level the prophet Isa al Masih went into the Temple on Monday (Day 2 of the holy week), Nisan 10, and stopped the commercial activity.  The buying and selling had created a barrier for prayer to heaven, especially for the other nations.  The prophet was a Light for these nations, so he broke the barrier between earth and heaven by stopping the commercial activity.  But something unseen also happened at the same time.  We can understand this from the title that the Prophet Yahya (PBUH) had given to Isa al Masih.  In announcing him the Prophet Yahya had said:

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

The Prophet Isa al Masih was ‘the Lamb of God’.  In the sacrifice of Ibrahim, Allah was the one who had selected the lamb for Ibrahim in place of his son by catching it in a bush.  This is why Eid al-adha is celebrated today.  The Temple was at this location where that lamb had been selected – where al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock are today.  When the Prophet Isa al Masih went into the Temple on Nisan 10 he was selected by Allah as His Passover Lamb.   He had to be in the Temple on this exact day in order to be selected – and he was.

The Purpose of Isa as Passover Lamb

What was he selected for as Passover lamb?  Isa’s teaching provides the answer.  When he said, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’ he was quoting from the Prophet Isaiah (PBUH).  Here is the full passage (what the prophet spoke is in red).

And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
to minister to him,…

and who hold fast to my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain
and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;

for my house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations.”  (Isaiah 56:6-7)

Historical Timeline of Prophet Isaiah (PBUH) with some other prophets in Zabur
Historical Timeline of Prophet Isaiah (PBUH) with some other prophets in Zabur

The ‘Holy Mountain’ that Isaiah had written about was Mount Moriah, where the Prophet Ibrahim had sacrificed the lamb selected by Allah in place of his son.  The ‘house of prayer’ was the Temple which Isa al Masih entered on Nisan 10.  For Jews, the location and date of the festival combined the sacrifice of Ibrahim and the Passover of Musa.  However, only Jews could sacrifice at the Temple and celebrate Passover.  But Isaiah had written that ‘foreigners’ (non-Jews) would one day see that ‘their burnt offerings and sacrifices would be accepted’.  In quoting the prophet Isaiah, Isa announced that his work would obtain an acceptance for non-Jews .  He did not explain at this point how he would do this.   But as we continue the account we will learn even as we recognize now that Allah had a plan to bless you and me

Next days in the Holy Week

After the Jews selected their lambs on Nisan 10, the regulations in the Taurat commanded them to:

Take care of them (the selected lambs) until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. (Exodus 12:6)

After that first Passover at the time of the prophet Musa, the Jews sacrificed their Passover lambs every Nisan 14.  We add ‘taking care of the lambs’ and their sacrifice to the Taurat Regulations in the timeline for the week.  In the lower half of the timeline we add the activities of the prophet for Day 2 of the week – his cleansing of the Temple and his selection as Allah’s Passover lamb.

Activities of the Prophet Isa al Masih on Monday - Day 2 - compared to regulations in Taurat
Activities of the Prophet Isa al Masih on Monday – Day 2 – compared to regulations in Taurat

When the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH entered and cleansed the Temple, this also had an impact at the human level.  The Injil continues by stating:

The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. (Mark 11:18)

In cleansing the Temple he was targeted by the Jewish leaders to be killed.  We follow how the plots of the authorities, the actions of the prophet, and the regulations from Taurat combine together as we look at the events on Day 3&4 next.

Isa al Masih: Light to the Nations

The Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH had just entered Jerusalem mounted on a donkey as the prophet Zechariah PBUH had prophesied 500 years earlier, doing so on the exact day that the prophet Daniel PBUH had prophesied 550 years earlier.  The Jews had been arriving from many countries for the upcoming Passover festival so Jerusalem was crowded with Jewish pilgrims (like Mecca at the time of Hajj). Therefore the arrival of the prophet had caused a stir among the Jews.  But it was not only the Jews who noticed the arrival of Isa al Masih.  The Injil records what happened right after he entered Jerusalem.

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. (John 12:20-22)

 The Barrier between Greeks and Jews in the time of the Prophet

It was extremely unusual for Greeks, (that is the Gentiles or non-Jews), to be at a Jewish festival.  The Greeks and Romans of that time, since they were polytheists, were considered unclean and shunned by the Jews.  And most Greeks considered the Jewish religion with only one (unseen) God  and its festivals to be foolish.  At that time, only Jews were monotheists.  So these peoples regularly stayed apart from each other.  Since the Gentile, or non-Jewish, society was many times larger than the Jewish society, the Jews lived in a sort of isolation from much of the world.  Their different religion, their halal diet, their exclusive book of the prophets created a barrier between the Jews and the Gentiles, with each side hostile to the other side.

In our day, with polytheism and idolatry rejected by much of the world, we can easily forget how different this was in the time of this Prophet.  In fact, in the day of Ibrahim PBUH, almost everyone apart from that prophet were polytheists.  In the time of the Prophet Musa PBUH, all the other nations worshiped idols, with the Pharaoh himself claiming to be one of the gods.  The Israelites were a little island of monotheism in the ocean of idol worship of all the surrounding nations.  But the prophet Isaiah PBUH (750 BCE) had been permitted to see into the future and he foresaw a change for all these nations.  He had written:

Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the Lord called me;
from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name….
And now the Lord says—
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant
to bring Jacob back to him
and gather Israel to himself,
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord
and my God has been my strength—
he says:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:1, 5-6)

“Listen to me, my people;
hear me, my nation:
Instruction will go out from me;
my justice will become a light to the nations. (Isaiah 51: 4)

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60:1-3)

So the prophet Isaiah had foretold that the coming ‘servant’ of the Lord, though Jewish (‘the tribes of Jacob’) would be a ‘light for the Gentiles’ (all the non-Jews) and this light would reach to the ends of the earth.  But how could this happen with this barrier between the Jews and the Gentiles lasting hundreds of years?

That day when the prophet Isa entered Jerusalem the light began to draw the first Gentiles as we see some approaching the prophet.  Here at this Jewish festival were Greeks who had journeyed to Jerusalem to learn about the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH.  But would they, considered haram by the Jews, be able to see the prophet?  They asked Isa’s companions, who brought the request to the prophet.  What would he say?  Would he permit these Greeks, who knew so little about proper religion, to meet him?  The Injil continues

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”

35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

Belief and Unbelief Among the Jews

37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:

“Lord, who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them.”

41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

In this dramatic exchange, including even a voice from heaven, the Prophet said that he would be ‘lifted up’ and this would draw ‘all people’ – not just the Jews – to himself.  Many Jews, even though they worshiped only one God, did not understand what the prophet was saying.  The prophet Isaiah had said it was due to their hard hearts – their unwillingness to submit to Allah – that was at the root, even as others believed silently because of fear.

The prophet Isa al Masih boldly claimed  that he had ‘come into the world as a light’ (v.46) which the previous prophets had written would shine on all nations.  On the day when he entered Jerusalem, the light first began to shine on the Gentiles.  Would this light spread to all nations?  What did the prophet mean by being ‘lifted up’?  We continue through this last week to understand these questions.

The following chart goes through each day of this week.  On Sunday, the first day of the week he fulfilled three different prophecies given by three previous prophets. First he entered Jerusalem mounted on a donkey as prophesied by Zechariah.  Second, he did so in the time prophesied by Daniel.  Third, his message and miracles started to light an interest among the Gentiles – which the prophet Isaiah had foretold would shine as a light to the nations and grow brighter to peoples around the world.

Events of Passion Week - Day 1 - Sunday
Events of Passion Week – Day 1 – Sunday

Isa al Masih declares Jihad – in a startling way, to a different enemy, at the exact time

The prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH) had revealed his mission by raising Lazarus to life  and now he was going to Jerusalem (Al Quds). The way he would arrive had been prophesied hundreds of years before.  The Injil explains:

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,


“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:

“Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt.”

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”  (John 12:12-19)

The entry of Isa al Masih – according to Dawud

Starting with Dawud (PBUH), ancient Jewish Kings would annually mount their royal horse and lead a procession of people into Jerusalem.  Isa al Masih re-enacted this tradition when he entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey on the day we know as Palm Sunday.  The people sang the same song from the Zabur for Isa al Masih as they did for Dawud:

Lord, save us!
Lord, grant us success!

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
From the house of the Lord we bless you.
The Lord is God,
and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up to the horns of the altar.  (Psalm 118:25-27)

The people sang this ancient song written for the Kings because they knew Isa had raised Lazarus, and so they were excited at his arrival into Jerusalem.  The word they shouted, ‘Hosanna’ meant ‘save’ – exactly as Psalm 118:25 had written long before.  What was he going to ‘save’ them from?  We turn to the prophet Zechariah.

The Entry Prophesied by Zechariah

Though Isa al Masih re-enacted what the former kings had done hundreds of years earlier, he did so differently.  The prophet Zechariah PBUH, the one who had prophesied the coming Masih’s name, had also prophesied that the Masih would enter Jerusalem mounted on a donkey.  The timeline shows the Prophet Zechariah in history, along with other prophets who predicted the events of Palm Sunday.

The Prophets who foresaw Isa’s entry to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday

Part of that prophesy was quoted in the Gospel of John above (in blue text).  Zechariah’s complete prophecy is here:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.  (Zechariah 9:9-11)

This King prophesied by Zechariah would be different from other kings.  He would not become King by using ‘chariots’, ‘warhorses’ and ‘battle bow’.  In fact this King would remove these weapons and would instead ‘proclaim peace to the nations’.  However, this King would still have to struggle to defeat an enemy.  He would have to struggle as in the very greatest jihad.

This is clear when we recognize the enemy the prophecy said this king had to face.  Normally, a king’s enemy is another king from an opposing nation, or another army, or rebellion from his people, or people who are against him.  But the prophet Zechariah wrote that the King revealed on a ‘donkey’ and ‘proclaiming peace’ was going to ‘free the prisoners from the waterless pit’ (v11).  The ‘pit’ was the Hebrew way of referring to the grave, or death.  This King was going to free those who were prisoners, not of dictators, corrupt politicians or trapped in man-made jails, but those who were ‘prisoners’ of death.[1]

When we speak of saving people from death we mean saving someone so that death is put off.  We may, for example, rescue someone who is drowning, or provide some medicine that saves someone’s life.  This ‘saving’ only postpones death because the person who is saved will die later.  But Zechariah was not prophesying about saving people ‘from death’ but about a king who would rescue those imprisoned by death – those already dead.  The King coming on a donkey prophesied by Zechariah was to face and defeat death itself – freeing its prisoners. This would require an enormous struggle – a jihad that had never been seen before. Scholars sometimes refer to the ‘greater jihad’ of our internal struggles and the ‘lesser jihad’ of our external struggles.  In confronting the ‘pit’ this King would go through both of these struggles or jihads.

What weapons was the King going to use in this jihad or struggle with death?  The prophet Zechariah wrote that this King would only take “the blood of my covenant with you” to his battle in the pit.  His own blood would be the weapon with which He would face death.

By entering Jerusalem on the donkey Isa declared himself to be this King – the Masih.

Why Isa al Masih PBUH weeps with sorrow

On Palm Sunday when Isa al Masih entered Jerusalem (also known as the Triumphant Entry) the religious leaders opposed him.  The Gospel of Luke describes Isa al Masih’s response to their opposition.

As he (Isa al Masih) approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”  (Luke 19:41–44)

Isa al Masih said specifically that the leaders should have ‘recognized the time of God’s coming’ on ‘this day’.  What did he mean?  What had they  missed?

The Prophets had Prophesied ‘the Day’

Centuries before the prophet Daniel (PBUH) had prophesied that the Masih would come 483 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem.  We had calculated Daniel’s expected year to be 33 AD – the year that Isa al Masih entered Jerusalem on a donkey.  Predicting the year of the entry, hundreds of years before it happened, is astonishing.  But the time can be calculated to the day. (Please review here first as we build on it).

The prophet Daniel had predicted 483 years using a 360-day year before the revealing of the Masih.  Accordingly, the number of days is:

483 years * 360 days/year = 173880 days

In terms of the modern international calendar with 365.2422 days/year this is 476 years with 25 extra days. (173 880/365.24219879 = 476 remainder 25)

When was the decree to restore Jerusalem which started this countdown?  It was given:

In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes … (Nehemiah 2:1)

Which day in Nisan (a month in the Jewish calendar) is not given, but Nisan 1 is likely since it started the New Year, giving reason for the King to talk to Nehemiah in the celebration.  Nisan 1 would also mark a new moon since months were lunar (like the Islamic calendar).  New moons were determined in the traditional Muslim way – with recognized men observing the new crescent (hilal) of the moon.  With modern astronomy we know when that new moon marking Nisan 1, 444 BC was first visible.  The difficulty is to know if the first crescent was actually seen by the observers that day or if it was missed and the start of Nisan was delayed by one day.  Astronomical calculations place the crescent moon of Nisan 1 of the 20th year of Persian Emperor Artaxerxes at 10 PM on March 4, 444 BC in the modern calendar[2].  If the crescent appearance was missed, Nisan 1 would have been the next day March 5, 444 BC.  Either way, the Persian decree to restore Jerusalem would have been issued March 4 or March 5, 444 BC.

Adding the 476 years of Daniel’s prophesied time to this date brings us to March 4 or 5, 33 AD. (There is no year 0, the modern calendar going from 1BC to 1 AD in one year so the arithmetic is -444 + 476 +1= 33).  Adding the 25 remaining days of Daniel’s prophesied time to March 4 or 5, 33 AD gives us March 29 or 30, 33 AD, illustrated in the timeline below.  March 29, 33 AD, was SundayPalm Sunday – the very day that Isa PBUH entered Jerusalem on the donkey, claiming to be the Masih.  We know this because the coming Friday was Passover – and Passover was always on Nisan 14.  Nisan 14 in 33 AD was April 3.  Being 5 days before Friday April 3, Palm Sunday was March 29.

By entering Jerusalem on March 29 33AD, seated on a donkey, the prophet Isa PBUH fulfilled both the prophecy of Zechariah and the prophecy of Daniel – to the day.  This is illustrated in the timeline below.

Daniel had predicted 173 880 days before revealing of Masih; Nehemiah had started the time. It concluded on March 29, 33AD when Isa entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday

These many prophecies fulfilled on one day shows the clear signs that Allah used to reveal His plan about the Masih.  But the next day, on Monday March 30, 33 AD, Isa al Masih fulfilled yet another prophecy from the Prophet Musa PBUH.  In doing so he set in motion the events that would lead to his jihad with the ‘pit’ – his enemy death.  We look at this next.

[1] Some examples on how ‘pit’ meant death for the prophets:

“But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:15)

For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness. (Isaiah 38:18)

They draw near to the pit, and their life to the messengers of death. (Job 33:22)

They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die a violent death in the heart of the seas. (Ezekiel 28:8)

Their graves are in the depths of the pit and her army lies around her grave. (Ezekiel 32 : 23)

You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. (Psalm 30: 3)

[2] For conversions between ancient and modern calendars (e.g. Nisan 1  = March 4, 444BC) and calculations of ancient new moons I use the work of Dr. Harold W. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ.  1977. 176pp.

The Prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH) saves a ‘lost’ traitor

The Prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH) had brought Lazarus back to life from death – revealing the purpose of his mission – to destroy death itself.  Now he was on his way to Jerusalem to complete his mission.  On the way he passed through Jericho (which still exists today in Palestinian West Bank).  Because of his many miracles and teachings a large crowd came out to see him.  In that crowd was a rich but despised man – Zacchaeus.  He was rich because he was a tax collector for the Romans who occupied Judea with military force.  He would collect more taxes from the people than Rome required – and keep the extra for himself.  He was despised by the Jews because, though a Jew himself, he was working for the Roman occupiers in this way and cheating his own people.  He was viewed as a traitor to his people.

So Zacchaeus, being short, could not see the Prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH) in the crowd, and no one there was willing to help him.  The Injil records how he met the Prophet and what was said:

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  (Luke 19: 1-10)

The people did not like what the prophet had done – inviting himself to Zacchaeus’s home.  Zacchaeus was bad and everyone knew it.  But Zacchaeus recognized that he was a sinner.  Most of us hide our sins, cover them up or pretend that that we have no sins.  But not Zacchaeus.  He knew that was doing wrong – a traitor even.  Yet when he took the first step to meet the Prophet, Isa al Masih’s response was so warm that it surprised everyone.

Isa al Masih (PBUH) wanted Zaccheus to repent, turn away from sin, and to turn to him as ‘Masih’.  When Zaccheus did this he found that the Prophet (PBUH) pardoned him – declaring that he was ‘saved’ from being ‘lost’.

How about you and me?  We probably have not done such shameful things as Zacchaeus.  But because we are not so bad, we think that, like Adam, we can hide, cover up or pretend away the ‘little’ sins and ‘mistakes’ that we do.  We hope we can do enough good things to pay for our bad deeds.  That was what the crowd who came to see the prophet thought.  Therefore, Isa did not invite himself to any of their homes, nor declare that any of them were ‘saved’ – only Zacchaeus.  It is far better for us to admit our sins before Allah and not try hiding them.  Then as we ourselves reach out for the mercy of Isa al Masih we will find that forgiveness and pardon will be given to us beyond what we can imagine.

But how could Zacchaeus’s bad actions be erased so that he could have assurance of forgiveness from that moment – without waiting for Judgment Day?  We follow Isa al Masih (PBUH) as he continues to Jerusalem to complete his mission.

Isa al Masih’s Mission in the Raising of Lazarus

Isa al Masih (PBUH) taught, healed, and performed many miracles.  But the question still remained in the minds of his disciples, his followers and even his enemies: why had he come?  Many of the previous prophets, including the Prophet Musa (PBUH), also performed powerful miracles.  Since Musa had already given the law, and Isa himself said he “had not come to abolish the law”, why was it then that he was sent by Allah?

The Prophet’s (PBUH) friend became very sick.  His disciples expected that the Prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH) would heal his friend, as he healed many others.  But Isa al Masih (PBUH) purposely did not heal his friend and in so doing revealed his mission.  The Injil records it in this way:

Isa al Masih confronts Death

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light.10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem,19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11: 1-44)

The sisters hoped that Isa al Masih would come quickly to heal their brother.  Isa al Masih delayed his trip on purpose allowing Lazarus to die, and no one could understood why he did this.  But in this instance we can see into his heart and we read that he was angry.  But who was he angry at?  The sisters?  The crowd?  The disciples?  Lazarus?  No, he was angry at death itself.  Also, this is one of only two times where it is recorded that Isa al Masih wept.  Why did he weep?  It is because he saw his friend held by death.  Death stirred anger as well as weeping in the prophet.

Healing people of sicknesses, good as that is, only postpones their death.  Healed or not, death eventually holds all people, whether good or bad, man or woman, old or young, religious or not.  This has been true since Adam, who, according to both Taurat and Quran, had become mortal because of his disobedience.  All his descendants, you and me included, are held by hostage by an enemy – death.  Against death we feel that there is no answer, no hope.  When there is only sickness hope remains, which is why the sisters of Lazarus had hope in healing.  But with death they felt no hope.  This is true for us also.  In the hospital there is some hope but at the funeral there is none.  Death is our final enemy.  This is the enemy Isa al Masih came to defeat for us and this is why he declared to the sisters that:

“I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25)

Isa al Masih (PBUH) had come to destroy death and give life to all who wanted it.  He showed his authority for this mission by publicly raising Lazarus from death.  It would be an offer to do the same for all others who would want life instead of death.

Responses to the Prophet

Though death is the final enemy of all people, many of us are caught up with smaller ‘enemies’, resulting from conflicts (political, religious, ethnic etc.) that go on with others around us all the time.  This was true in Isa al Masih’s time also.   From the responses of the witnesses to this miracle we can see what the main concerns of the different people living in that time were.  Here are the different reactions recorded.

45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

54 Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.

55 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?” 57 But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.

So the tension rose.  The Prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH) had declared that he was ‘life’ and ‘resurrection’ and would defeat death itself.  The leaders responded by plotting to put him to death.  Many of the people believed him, but many others did not know what to believe.  At this point it might be worthwhile to ask ourselves if we were witnesses to the raising of Lazarus what we would choose to do.  Would we be like the Pharisees, focused on some conflict that will soon be forgotten in history, and lose the offer of life from death?  Or would we ‘believe’ in him and put our hope in his offer of resurrection, even if we did not understand it all?  The different responses that the Injil records back then are the same responses to his offer that different people make today.

These controversies were growing as the Passover festival was approaching – the very same festival that the Prophet Musa (PBUH) had begun 1500 years earlier as a Sign of death passing over.  The Injil continues by showing how the prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH) decided to accomplish his mission of defeating death.