Surah Al-‘Alaq (Surah 96 – The Clot) tells us that Allah teaches us new things which we did not know before.
He Who taught (the use of) the pen – Taught man that which he knew not.(Surah al-Alaq 96:4-5)
Surah Ar-Rum (Surah 30 – The Romans) explains further that Allah does so by giving messages to Prophets so we can understand where we are in error from the true worship of God.
Or have We sent down authority to them, which points out to them the things to which they pay part-worship?(Surah Ar-Rum 30:35)
These prophets have authority from God to reveal to us where our wrong associations with God are, whether in our thoughts, speech or conduct. The prophet Isa al Masih PBUH was such a teacher and had the unique authority to expose even our inner thoughts so we would turn from any error within. We look at this here. Then we look at the sign of his authority given through miracles of healing.
After Isa al Masih (PBUH) was tempted by Shaytan (Iblis) he started to minister as a prophet by teaching. His longest teaching recorded in the Injil is called the Sermon on the Mount. You can read the complete Sermon on the Mount here. We give highlights below, and then we make a connection with the teaching of Isa al Masih to what the Prophet Musa predicted in the Taurat.
Isa al Masih (PBUH) taught the following:
The Masih and the Sermon on the Mount
You can see that Isa al Masih (PBUH) taught with the form “You have heard that it was said … But I tell you … ”. In this structure, he quotes first from the Taurat and then extends the scope of the command to motives, thoughts and words. Isa al Masih taught by taking strict commands given through the Prophet Musa (PBUH) and made them even much more difficult to do!
But what is also remarkable is the way that he extends the commands of the Taurat. He does so based on his own authority. He says simply ‘But I tell you…’ and with that, he increases the scope of the command. This is one thing that was very unique about the prophet’s teaching. As the Injil stated when he had finished this Sermon
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. (Matthew 7:28-29)
Indeed, Isa al Masih (PBUH) taught as one who had great authority. Most prophets were simply messengers that passed on a message from Allah, but here it was different. Why could Isa al Masih do this? As the ‘Masih’ which we saw here was a title in the Zabur of a coming one, he had great authority. Psalm 2 of Zabur, where the Title of ‘Masih’ was first stated described Allah speaking to the Masih:
and I (Allah) will make the nations your (Masih’s) inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.(Psalm 2:8)
The Masih was given authority over the nations, even to the end of the earth. So as the Masih, Isa had the authority to teach in the way he did.
The Prophet and the Sermon on the Mount
In fact, as we saw here, in the Taurat, the prophet Musa (PBUH) had predicted the coming of ‘the Prophet’, who would be noted in the way he taught. Musa had written
I (Allah) will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that The Prophet speaks in my name. (Deuteronomy 18: 18-19)
In teaching the way he did, Isa was exercising his authority as the Masih and fulfilling the prophecy of Musa of the coming Prophet who would teach with great authority. He was both Masih AND The Prophet.
Notice that this is a command, not a suggestion. His requirement is that we be perfect! Why? Because God is perfect and if we are to be with Him in Paradise nothing less than perfect will do. We often think that perhaps simply better than bad deeds – will be sufficient. But if that were the case, and Allah let us enter his Paradise, we would destroy the perfection of Paradise and turn it into the mess that we have in this world. It is our lust, greed, and anger that destroy our lives here today. If we go to Paradise still holding onto that lust, greed and anger then that Paradise will quickly become like this world – full of problems made by ourselves.
You & me and the Sermon on the Mount
If you study carefully this Sermon on the Mount to see how you should obey then you are probably confused. How can anyone live these kinds of commands that address our hearts and our motives? What was Isa al Masih’s intent with this Sermon? We can see the answer from his concluding sentence.
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.(Matthew 5:48)
In fact, much of Isa al Masih’s teaching focused on our inner hearts rather than outward ceremonies. Consider how, in another teaching, he focuses on our inward hearts.
He (Isa) went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”(Mark 7:20-23)
So purity inside us is very important and the required standard is perfection. Allah will only let the ‘perfect’ into his perfect paradise. But though that may sound fine in theory it raises a huge problem: How will we get into this Paradise if we are not perfect? The utter impossibility of us being perfect enough could cause us to despair.
But that is what he wants! When we despair of ever being good enough, when we stop trusting in our own merits then we become ‘poor in spirit’. And Isa al Masih, in starting this whole Sermon, said:
“Blessed are the Poor in Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven”(Matthew 5:3)
The beginning of wisdom for us is not to dismiss these teachings as not applying to us. They do! The standard is to ‘Be perfect’. As we let that standard sink into us, and realize that we are not capable of that, then we are starting down the Straight Way. We start down this Straight Way because, recognizing our inadequacy, we may be more ready to accept help than if we think we could do it on our own merits.