The Resurrection of Christ from the dead – the greatest truth in history?

The death of Christ was not the end, because he rose from the dead, and his resurrection is the foundation upon which the Christian faith is built. He is the only one who through his resurrection conquered death and defeated Satan. So there is no fear for the believer in Christ of death or Satan, because Jesus is alive.

The New Testament records that when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb in which Jesus was put, the angel of the Lord appear to them and said,

… “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  6 He is not here, for he has been raised, just as he said. Come and see the place where he was lying.  7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead. He is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there.’ Listen, I have told you!” (Matthew 28:5-7)

From the beginning of the Christian church, the resurrection was the primary testimony and the essence and depth of the preaching of the gospel. In the first sermon recorded in the book of Acts (the book that speaks about the origin of Christianity and its quick spreading), Peter addresses his words to the Jews and residents of Jerusalem, confirming that Christ was resurrected from the dead, (Acts 2:23, 24) and he finishes his sermon affirming that

This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it.”

(Acts 2:32) 

Did Jesus rise from the dead? Is there a prominent and convincing reason that would make us believe in the resurrection of Christ? Yes, there are many pieces of evidence and proofs that confirm the resurrection of Christ from the dead. The physician and historian Luke, who followed the truth of what he recorded carefully, says:

“To the same apostles also, after his suffering, he presented himself alive with many convincing proofs. He was seen by them over a forty-day period…” (Acts 1:3)

What are these proofs that confirmed to the apostles and disciples and proved to them that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead?

I will present to you, my dear reader, the evidence under five headings to simplify understanding them:

  1. The death of Christ on the cross
  2. The belief of the disciples of Jesus that he had risen from the dead because he appeared to them many times: a) The appearance of Jesus to many individuals and groups b) The bold preaching of the apostles and followers of Jesus of his resurrection c) The sudden, radical changed life of the apostles and disciples after Jesus appeared to them
  3. The complete, sudden change that happened to Paul, the former persecutor of the church and Christians, after Jesus appeared to him
  4. The complete, sudden change that happened to James, the doubter, after Jesus appeared to him.
  5. The historical fact of the empty tomb.

The only way all these facts can be explained is with the fact of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This is the evidence that Jesus Christ rose from the dead as he promised, and as the prophets of the Old Testament prophesied hundreds of years before.

First, the death of Jesus on the cross

I have discussed this evidence in the first part of this article and have shown that the death of Christ on the cross is a historical event that had to happen according to the will and promise of God. I showed the evidence that prove that it happened. This event is evidence for the resurrection of Christ, because if the crucifixion of Christ did not happen, followed by his death, this means that there is no historical resurrection. But Jesus (and not another person who resembled him) was crucified and buried in a tomb that is known under strict Roman guard.

Second, the disciples of Jesus believed that Jesus rose from the dead, because he appeared to them many times

a) The appearance of Jesus to many individuals and groups

This truth appeared at a very early point in the history of the early church. The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 

For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received– that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures,  and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  Then he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as though to one born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also.

These verses are clear and strong evidence for the resurrection of Christ from the dead. He appeared to individuals and groups at various times and various places: he appeared to Mary and Peter and the eleven apostles, to one hundred twenty people, to James, and then to five hundred people as we have read above. The testimony of these people was independent of each other, and they were eyewitnesses. In other words, they saw him personally and did not hear about his resurrection from other people. For this reason they would say, “We are witnesses of that.”

Then notice, dear reader, the expression, “Most of whom are still alive”. In other words, the apostle Paul who wrote these verses says, “You can go and ask those people to whom Jesus appeared.” That was because they were still alive and could confirm what Paul said.

Is it reasonable that all those people were hallucinating, as some have claimed? It is impossible that this is what happened, because some of them ate and drank with him. When Jesus appeared to the eleven apostles, he told them,

“Look at my hands and my feet; it’s me! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones like you see I have.” (Luke 24:39)

Then he showed them his hands and feet and took grilled fish and honey with them and ate in front of them. (Verses 40-43)

b) The bold preaching of the apostles and followers of Jesus that he had been resurrected

After Jesus appeared to the apostles and disciples, they began to preach his resurrection with boldness. They had not done so previously. Their preaching began in the city of Jerusalem where Jesus had been crucified. If Jesus had not been raised, the chief priests would have told his disciples, “He has not risen. Here is his body.” They were preaching the resurrection of Jesus in the face of threats of the chief priests and the head of the temple guards, to the extent that they were amazed at the boldness of Peter and John, when they told the chief priest and the elders that God had raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 4:10,13). Thus the followers of Jesus to whom he appeared after his resurrection preached about it without any personal benefit or gain. On the contrary, they received persecution and death as a result of their faith in the resurrection of Christ.

For example, Peter announced:

“but God raised him up on the third day and caused him to be seen,  41 not by all the people, but by us, the witnesses God had already chosen, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” (Acts 10:40-41)

Thus Peter and the other apostles spoke publicly, “Because we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

The apostle Paul spoke boldly about the resurrection of Christ in front of the chiefs of the Jewish synagogue and the Israelite men, and he described to them what had happened to Jesus, saying,

“When they had accomplished everything that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and placed him in a tomb.  But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had accompanied him from Galilee to Jerusalem. These are now his witnesses to the people.” (Acts 13:29-31)

 Notice, dear reader, that what happened to Jesus had been written about and the prophecy of the Old Testament was fulfilled, and that Jesus appeared to groups of his disciples for many days and not just once.

Thus, every time the chief priests threatened the apostles not to preach the resurrection of Christ, the apostles gave testimony to the Lord Jesus by his great power, and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts 4:23)

c) The radical change in the lives of the apostles and disciples after Jesus appeared to them

The apostles and disciples of Jesus, when Jesus was arrested, died, and buried, were fearful, confused, and looking only inward, because they had seen the one on whom they had put their hopes buried. Mark 14:50 in the New Testament says, “They all left him and fled.” Even Peter denied that he knew Christ three times. Fear was controlling them to the extent that

“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders.” (John 20:19) 

But after Jesus appeared to them after his resurrection, their lives were totally changed, and they became bold and initiators, filled with joy and hope as we read in the continuation of the verse above.

“Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” (John 20:19-20)

 They had become ready to die to affirm the accuracy of the resurrection of Jesus. They accepted being subjected to persecution, suffering, and death because of their faith and their preaching of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Peter who denied Christ stood in front of the leading Jews and preached the resurrection of Christ. He explained to his hearers how Jesus had appeared to him and to others. Paul, who had been one of the fiercest enemies and persecutors of Christians, preached boldly of the resurrection of Christ and entered the synagogue of the Jews, “explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, saying,

“This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” (Acts 17:3) 

What was it that changed all these people’s lives? Was it a lie? Was it deception? Was it a fabricated story? Have you heard, dear reader, of any person who would be ready to die for a lie? No! Their lives had been changed because they had seen Christ alive, resurrected from the dead.

Third, the total and sudden change that happened to Paul, the former persecutor of the Christians, after Jesus appeared to him

Paul was Jew, a Pharisee, and very religious. He believed that the will of God was for him to persecute the Christians as he said in the New Testament:

“For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I was savagely persecuting the church of God and trying to destroy it.” (Galatians 1:13)

 Paul continues telling what he did to the followers of Jesus:

“And that is what I did in Jerusalem: Not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons by the authority I received from the chief priests, but I also cast my vote against them when they were sentenced to death.  11 I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to force them to blaspheme. Because I was so furiously enraged at them, I went to persecute them even in foreign cities.” (Acts 26:10-11)  

But Paul changed radically because Jesus appeared to him, as he affirmed. After Jesus’ appearance to him, Paul became the greatest preacher of the resurrection of Christ, and the rapid spread of Christianity in the first century owes a lot to him. We read in the New Testament:

“But I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.  23 They were only hearing, “The one who once persecuted us is now proclaiming the good news of the faith he once tried to destroy.” (Galatians 1:22-23)

What happened to cause this change? How did one who opposed Christ and persecuted Christians become one of them who preached the faith that he had tried to destroy? There is no other explanation for the change in the life of this person besides that he had seen Christ after his resurrection, when he appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Every gain he had had, as he said, became a loss: “I consider everything loss because of the grace of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

The faith of Paul was so strong and true that, like the apostles and first disciples, he was ready to face death in order to spread the gospel of Christ and preach his resurrection. He was beaten, whipped and stoned because of his faith in the resurrection, yet he continued preaching the resurrection of Christ.

Fourth: The total and complete change that happened to James the doubter after Jesus appeared to him

James was a godly, religious Jew, but he did not believe that Jesus was the expected Messiah (Christ). The New Testament says:

“For even his brothers did not believe in him.” (John 7:5)

But a few weeks after the crucifixion of Christ, the brothers of Jesus all became believers in him. They were with the disciples when they were in the upper room, continuing to pray after Jesus had ascended to heaven. (Acts 1:14) After that we find James has become one of the leaders of the church.

What caused this change in the life of James? The only explanation is that Jesus appeared to him on the road after his resurrection from the dead and James believed in Jesus so firmly that he was ready to die for his faith in the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

Fifth, the fifth piece of evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is the historical fact of the empty tomb

The empty tomb is a verified, certain fact for several reasons that I will give in brief. But I must affirm first that after Jesus was confirmed to be dead, a man called Joseph came to the governor Pontius Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Joseph took the body and wrapped it in grave clothes and put it in his own new tomb. Then he rolled a heavy stone over the door of the tomb.

To confirm that the tomb not be disturbed, the chief priests and the Pharisees went and set a guard in front of the door of the tomb and sealed the stone. (The penalty for breaking the seal was execution.) This confirmed the impossibility of stealing the body of Jesus, as some claim.

But at dawn on the first day of the week, the angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled the stone from the door (Matthew 28:2). Thus some women who were carrying spices to embalm the body were able to enter the tomb. But they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. After that, Peter entered

“Then Simon Peter, who had been following him, arrived and went right into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen cloth lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been around Jesus’ head, not lying with the strips of linen cloth but rolled up in a place by itself.” (John 20:6-7)  

How can we be sure that the tomb was empty three days after Jesus’ crucifixion? There are at least three reasons:

  • The apostles and disciples of Christ proclaimed his resurrection in Jerusalem. This was a big city. If the body of Jesus was still in the tomb, the Jewish authorities could have shown his body to the people and in that way, dealt a death-blow to Christianity in its infancy. But they were not able to do that because the tomb was empty.
  • When the guards told the chief priests everything that had happened, the New Testament says, “After they had assembled with the elders and formed a plan, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,  13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came at night and stole his body while we were asleep.’ (Matthew 28:12-13) This is an indirect confession that the tomb was empty.
  • The testimony of the women: If a writer from the first century wanted to invent a story to deceive people, he would not have written something that would diminish its credibility. Thus when we read the story of the empty tomb in the New Testament, we find that the women were the first and primary witnesses of his resurrection. This seems strange and noteworthy, because in the Jewish and Roman culture, women were considered to be lower and their testimony was doubted. For this reason, we read in the New Testament that when the women informed the apostles about the empty tomb, “But these words seemed like pure nonsense to them, and they did not believe them.” (Luke 24:11) If the story of the empty tomb was fabricated, it would not have mentioned women, but the names of the women to whom Jesus appeared are mentioned specifically, and they were well-known in Jerusalem.

Nothing explains the fact of the empty tomb except the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Thus, this historical fact is very strong evidence for his resurrection, as he said many times to his disciples.

These pieces of evidence, the five facts, show strongly the resurrection of Christ from the dead. These facts and events of can only be explained by the fact of the resurrection of Jesus.

Finally, to conclude this article, we have seen that the fact of the death of Christ on the cross and his resurrection from the dead are the greatest fact in history and the most important message in all the world It confirms to us the sacrificial, unconditional love of God that Jesus Christ showed when he paid the penalty of our sins, which was death, and that by death on the cross instead of us, and by his resurrection from the dead to give us a guarantee that he is alive. This calls us to faith in him to receive all the blessings that he promised to give to those who believe in him.

What is the importance and necessity of the resurrection according to the New Testament? It proves and affirms to us:

  1. That what Christ said about himself is correct. He said that he was the way, the truth and the life, and that no one comes to God except through him. (John 14:6) He also said about himself that he is God incarnate and his resurrection from the dead proved that what he said was true., because we read in the New Testament: “who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:4) 
  2. Jesus Christ conquered death and defeated Satan, as we read in the resurrection chapter: “”Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)  The believer in Christ has assurance of eternal life and of victory over the temptations of Satan.
  3. Believers in Jesus will be resurrected just like Christ was resurrected as we read in the New Testament: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20) and “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14)
  4. Jesus Christ is alive, and because he is alive, the New Testament says: “Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

If you believe, dear reader, in Jesus Christ, as he said about himself, that he was resurrected from the dead, in other words, that you put your trust in him, you will receive eternal life and forgiveness of your sins, since God accepts everyone who comes to him through Christ, whatever their religious or denominational or ethnic background is.

Death of Christ on the Cross and his Resurrection: Are they facts or inventions?

Christians at Easter every year celebrate Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. Dear reader, have you wondered about the meaning and importance of this holiday, which talks about what Christ did to redeem mankind, and which is celebrated by millions of Christians every year?

You may have a wrong idea about the meaning of Easter. Or you many have been taught that Christ did not die and did not rise from the dead. You may not know what the death of Christ means, or understand the importance and results of his resurrection from the dead. I urge you to read these papers with an open mind and a sincere heart, free from any prejudices, with a will that seeks to know the truth, because you really want to please God in your life.

The death and resurrection of Christ are the cornerstone of Christianity. The Christian faith is based completely on the death and resurrection of Christ. The death of Christ is mentioned over 150 times in the New Testament. If we deny the resurrection of Christ, the whole Christian faith falls apart, as 1 Corinthians 15:17 says,

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins.”

But there cannot be a resurrection unless there has been a death. How can we make sure, then, that Christ died on the cross?

In this article, I will quote from the New Testament of the Bible, first because it is inspired by God. Second, because Jesus promised his disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit to remind them of everything he had said to them. Third, the disciples of Jesus who recorded what is in the New Testament confirmed that they were eye witnesses who recorded what they saw and heard.

There are three truths that we must understand in the beginning of our presentation of the fact of the death of Christ on the cross:

First, the death of Christ was not a random occurrence or a failure, a defeat, or a sign of weakness. It happened by the plan and purpose of God to redeem mankind. This is what the apostle Peter affirmed when he was standing in front of a crowd of Jews, who knew the Old Testament well. He told them in Acts 2:23

“This man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles.”

Peter added in Acts 3:18

“But the things God foretold long ago through all the prophets– that his Christ would suffer– he has fulfilled in this way.”

If Peter’s words were wrong or his quotations of the Old Testament were incorrect, the Jews would have objected, because he was speaking to people who were present when Christ died on the cross. But the opposite happened: more than 3000 people believed after hearing Peter’s words.

Even clearer are the words of Christ himself, when he rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples. He told them,

“Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. … and said to them, “Thus it stands written that the Christ would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day,”

Luke 24:44-46

Christ was speaking to people who knew the law of Moses, the books of the prophets, and the Psalms. It is as if he was telling them, since God promised this thing, it must happen. So the death of Christ is not a mistake or coincidence. It is the fulfillment of what God promised, and in accordance with God’s will.

Second, during Jesus Christ’s life and ministry with his disciples, he continually repeated in their hearing that he came to give himself as a ransom for mankind, and that he would suffer and be killed, and after three days rise from the dead. Because Jesus was honest in his words, and clear, with no doubt or deception, everything that he said was certain to happen. Let us listen to some of what Jesus said was going to happen to him:

From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. (Matthew 16:21)

Then Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and after three days rise again. (Mark 8:31)

  Jesus repeated these truths several times to his disciples. Then he explained to them that he would give himself voluntarily in fulfillment of everything that was written about him, as John 10:18 says:

No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down of my own free will. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back again.”

This is another piece of evidence that the death of Christ on the cross is a historical fact, because it is impossible that Christ would have confirmed these things to his disciples if he knew that they would not happen. It is also impossible that Christ was lying about his death and resurrection, since he is the only person who never sinned. That is the reason for his coming into our world, and he knew what was going to happen to him. If we deny the death of Christ on the cross, we are accusing him either of ignorance, or of lying or of being crazy.

In fact, the disciples of Christ did not accept his words about his death on the cross. When Jesus was telling them that he would be killed and rise on the third day, Peter rebuked him and told him, “God forbid, Lord.”

But Jesus rebuked him and said, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (Matthew 16:22-23)

Nor did the disciples understand Jesus’ words when he spoke to them about the necessity of his death (Luke 9:44).

Third, Jesus Christ was the one who was crucified, and not another person who was made to look like him.

When the Roman soldier came from the chief priests and Pharisees to arrest Jesus, Jesus went out to them, knowing all that would happen to him, and he asked them, “Whom do you seek?” They replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He told them, “I am he.” Then Jesus asked them again, “Who are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.”  Jesus replied, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, let these men go.”

John 18:4-8 

He affirmed to them that he was Jesus Christ and not someone who looked like him. He did not deny, nor was he afraid to identify himself. Nor did he ask one of his disciples to take his place on the cross, because he came for that purpose.

When Jesus was on the cross, his mother stood at the cross, along with the disciple he loved, and Mary Magdalene and some other friends. When Jesus saw his mother and the beloved disciple, standing there, he told his mother, Woman, this is your son. Then he told the disciple, This is your mother. From that hour, the disciple took her to his home.

(John 19:25-27)

If we were to say that another person was on the cross, we would be saying that his mother did not know him, nor did the disciple who accompanied Jesus for three years. As well, we would imply that his friends were deceived as well as his enemies, both the Romans and the Jewish Pharisees, some of whom had argued with him and knew him personally.

The saying that God made another person look like Jesus be crucified leads us to many other problems:

First, this claim, which has no evidence to support it, opens up the door to utter chaos and sophistries. Far be it from God to deceive all those people who knew Jesus well. This is not fitting for the stature and wisdom of God.

Second, God was able to save him by raising him to heaven, so what use was it to cast his likeness on someone else except for killing an innocent person?

Third, would not the substitute have been able to defend himself and say that he was not the Jesus, because if that had happened, it would have become known and spread abroad. But we have not heard of this person at all.

Fourth, since Jesus came to the world for this purpose and to fulfill what was written about him in the Old Testament according to the will of God, why would God deceive those people and go against what he had promised?

What other evidence do we have, which convinced even critics of Christianity and doubters and Jewish and Roman non-Christians of the truth that Jesus died on the cross?

  1. Unanimity among the historians and Biblical scholars that Jesus died on the cross.
  2. For example, Jarod Ludman, an anti-Christian German scholar. He said regarding the death of Christ, “The death of Christ as a result of the crucifixion does not need to be discussed, because it is a certainty.”
  3. John Crousan, a major critic of Christianity, said, “There is not the slightest doubt about the crucifixion of Christ by Pontius Pilate.”

These two scholars and other historians have spoken these words because they have studied the historical evidence, and it led them to this conclusion.

  • There are indications of the death of Christ on the cross in the writings of Jewish and Roman historians from the first century, from the year 40 – 90 A.D.
  • The Jewish historian Josephus referred to Jesus in his book Antiquities of the Jews XVIII and said, “There was a wise man at that time named Jesus who did wonderful deeds, but Pilate condemned him to death on the cross. But his disciples did not desert him, because he appeared to them on the third day.”
  • The Roman historian Tacitus referred in 115 A.D. to the founder of the Christian movement having been executed in the time of Pontius Pilate.
  • There are numerous prophecies in the Old Testament that prophesied of the death of Christ:
  • Isaiah 53:9 mentions specific details of the death of Christ hundreds of years before it happened. “They intended to bury him with criminals, but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, because he had committed no violent deeds, nor had he spoken deceitfully.” This prophecy was fulfilled in detail as we read what happened to Jesus in Matthew 27:57-60.
  • Psalm 22:18 says, “They are dividing up my clothes among themselves; they are rolling dice for my garments.” This prophecy about Christ was fulfilled exactly in all its details as is mentioned in John 19:23-24.

It is worth mentioning in this regard that the Jews in the first century A.D., who rejected Christ, did not delete or substitute any of these prophecies. So how could they have substituted them or played around with them 600 years after they had been fulfilled?

There are at least twenty prophecies that talk about the reality of the crucifixion of Christ. These prophecies were not made by the prophets themselves, because the New Testament confirms in 2 Peter 1:21

“for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men (Old Testament prophets) carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 

All these prophecies that were fulfilled remove any doubt about the crucifixion of Christ. Can we be so bold as to deny these prophecies that were from God?

In this regard, Jesus rebuked two of his disciples with harsh words because they did not understand what the prophets have written about him.

“So he said to them, “You foolish people– how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things written about himself in all the scriptures.” (Luke 24:25-27)

In addition, Paul argued with the Jews from the books of the Old Testament

“Paul went to the Jews in the synagogue, as he customarily did, and on three Sabbath days he addressed them from the scriptures,  explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, ” (Acts 17:2-3)

 He was referring to the prophecies that his Jewish listeners knew.

  • There are strict Roman procedures that were implemented for the death of a crucified person. So there is no place for saying that Christ was crucified but remained alive after his crucifixion. It was impossible for Christ to remain alive after being crucified, because the Romans were very careful to ensure that the crucified person was dead.

Death on a cross in the time of the Romans and previously was one of the ugliest and worst ways of execution, and the most painful. The brutality and harshness of it was such that there was no way for the victim to remain alive. Christ was beaten and whipped almost to death even before he was crucified. To the Jews, God had cursed the person who was crucified. Therefore, the apostle Paul described the reason Christ had to die on the cross.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”) – Galatians 3:13  

To further confirm that Christ died on the cross, I want to mention two other incidents from the New Testament:

  1. When the soldier came to break the legs of the two men who had been crucified with Jesus to ensure that they would not be able to breathe and thus would die quickly. John 19:33 says, “But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.”
  2. When a man called Joseph came to ask for the body of Jesus after his crucifixion, “Pilate was surprised that he was already dead. He called the centurion and asked him if he had been dead for some time.  When Pilate was informed by the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.” (Mark 15:44-45). In other words, when he knew that Jesus had died, since the centurion had gone and confirmed that Christ had died.
  • There are thousands of Christians who had spread abroad in various groups and who had gone around giving the good news in every place about the historical truth of the death of Christ on the cross. Shall we then reject their testimony and that of those who saw him and heard him? If we deny these testimonies we discredit the unbroken succession of witnesses, and discredit the prophecies of other prophets. How can we deny whole peoples who all agree, despite their differences in other matters, that these testimonies to an important event that was tangible and visible and passed on continually? In addition, not one voice was raised among Christians, Jews, or pagans that would contradict or discredit the testimony of the Christians to the crucifixion of Christ, as we have seen.

In addition, thousands of Christians have been killed as martyrs in the days of the early church because they would not turn back on their testimony about the death of Christ. Can you imagine that these people, especially the disciples of Jesus who during his life resisted the idea of the crucifixion, were ready to die for a falsified or fictional issue? If they were deceived, did God allow them to be deceived? God forbid it!

In addition to this, if we were to say that Christ did not die on the cross, we would be contradicting and denying:

  • History in general, which is supported by the testimony of Christians, Jews, and Romans
  • The New Testament, the word of God, which is completely founded on the redemptive event of the crucifixion.
  • All the prophesies of the Old Testament, which predicted the death and resurrection of Christ, and which were all fulfilled in Christ
  • Christ in everything he said about the reason and purpose for his coming to the earth

Is it reasonable and logical to ignore and deny all this evidence to say that Christ did not die on the cross? Should we not believe eyewitnesses who saw the crucifixion of Christ, and who were present when it happened and then faithfully recorded what happened?

After presenting the evidence  that confirms the crucifixion of Christ and his death, we must know what the meaning of his death was, and understand it to appreciate this sacrificial love that Christ showed by his death on the cross.

The goal and meaning of the death of Christ according to God’s will was the redemption of mankind through offering himself as a sacrifice to pay for our sins.

  • When Jesus Christ was born, the angel of the Lord told Joseph, “She will give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) 
  • And when John, one of the disciples of Christ, saw Jesus coming to him, he said, said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)  This is the lamb acceptable to God because it was sinless, with no fault.
  • And the apostle Peter clarified the meaning of the death of Christ when he said in 1 Peter 2:24 “He (Jesus Christ) himself bore our sins in his body on the tree (the cross), that we may cease from sinning and live for righteousness. By his wounds you were healed

In this manner, Jesus fulfilled the justice of God and his mercy. He showed the justice of God by paying the penalty for our sin, which is death, and he showed the mercy of God which saved everyone who believes in Christ.

If we deny the death of Christ, it is as if we are saying that the plan of God failed, his will was not accomplished, and there is no salvation for mankind from the penalty of sin, but the truth is that he did die, as we have seen above.

To close this section, I want to tell you that Christians look at the cross with boasting. The apostle Paul summarized the view of Christians toward the cross in 1 Corinthians 1:18

“For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Yes, Christ was crucified, “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Greeks.” But in fact, it was the power of God, since it happened according to the wonderful, glorious plan of God to redeem mankind from sin. The apostle Paul, who had persecuted the Christians before he came to faith, wrote to the church in Galatia:

“But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)  

We also look to the cross with gratefulness and deep thanks to God for his love and his grace which he showed in the death of Christ, as the apostle Paul said in Romans 5:8

“But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The final word, dear reader, is the wonderful, unimaginable result of the voluntary death of Christ on the cross. Please read and think deeply about these verses that the apostle Paul wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament: Philippians 2:7-11

He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross!  As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,   so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow– in heaven and on earth and under the earth–   and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”

After the death of Christ on the cross and his resurrection from the dead, God gave him a unique, glorious position so that every person would bow down before him. The cross led to being glorified, but it was not the end, because Christ rose from the dead as we will read in the second part of this article.

Who was Yusuf? What was his Sign?

Surah Yusuf (Surah 12 – Joseph) tells the story of Hazrat Yusuf/Joseph.  Yusuf was the son of Hazrat Yaqub (Jacob), the son of Hazrat Ishaq (Isaac), the son of Hazrat Ibrahim (Abraham). Yaqub had twelve sons, one of whom was Yusuf.  Yusuf’s eleven brothers plotted against him, and their plans against him form the account of Yusuf.  This story was first recorded in the Taurat of Musa over 3500 years ago.  The full account from the Taurat is here.  Surah Yusuf (Surah 12 – Joseph) account is here.  Surah Yusuf tells us that this was not simply a story but

Verily in Joseph and his brethren are signs (or symbols) for seekers (after Truth).

Surah Yusuf 12:7

What is in the story Yusuf and his brothers that are ‘signs’ for seekers?  We review the story from both Taurat and Surah Yusuf to understand these ‘signs’. 

Prostrate before…?

One clear sign is the dream that Yusuf told to his father Yaqub where

Behold! Joseph said to his father: “O my father! I did see eleven stars and the sun and the moon: I saw them prostrate themselves to me!”

Surah Yusuf 12:4

At the end of the story, indeed we see that

And he raised his parents high on the throne (of dignity), and they fell down in prostration, (all) before him. He said: “O my father! this is the fulfilment of my vision of old! God hath made it come true! He was indeed good to me when He took me out of prison and brought you (all here) out of the desert, (even) after Satan had sown enmity between me and my brothers. Verily my Lord understandeth best the mysteries of all that He planneth to do, for verily He is full of knowledge and wisdom.

Surah Yusuf 12:100

Through the entire Qur’an, ‘prostration’ is mentioned many times.  But they all refer to prostration before Almighty God, in prayer, in the Kaaba, or before miracles of Allah (like the sorcerers of Egypt with Musa).  Here is an exception in that there is ‘prostrating’ before a man (Yusuf).  The only other similar incident is when angels are commanded to ‘prostrate’ before Hazrat Adam (Ta-Ha 116 and Al-Araf 11).  But the angels were not humans, the general rule is humans prostrate only to the Lord.

O ye who believe! bow down, prostrate yourselves, and adore your Lord; and do good; that ye may prosper.

Al-Haj 22:77

What was it about Yusuf that made the exemption so his father Yaqub and his brothers prostrated before him?

The Son of Man

Historical Timeline showing Prophet Daniel and other prophets of Zabur
Historical Timeline showing Prophet Daniel and other prophets of Zabur

Likewise in the Bible we are commanded to only prostrate before, or worship, the LORD, but there is also an exemption.  The prophet Daniel received a vision which looked far forward in time to when the Kingdom of God would be established and in his vision he saw a ‘Son of Man’.

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Daniel 7:13-14

In the vision peoples prostrate before the ‘son of man’, as Yusuf’s family prostrated before Yusuf. 

‘Son of Man’ is the title that the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH most often used for himself.  He did display great authority in teaching, healing and over nature while he walked the earth. But he did not come ‘with the clouds of heaven’ as Daniel’s vision foretold.  This is because that vision was looking further into the future, past his first coming to his second coming – his return to earth again to destroy the Dajjal (as foretold to Hazrat Adam) and establish the Kingdom of God. 

His first coming, born through the Virgin Mary, was to redeem people for citizenship in the Kingdom of God.  But even then, he spoke of how he, the Son of Man, would separate people upon his return on the clouds.  He foresaw all nations coming before him in prostration just as Yusuf’s brothers prostrated themselves before Yusuf.  Here is what the Masih taught

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Matthew 25: 31-46

Hazrat Yusuf and Isa al Masih

Along with the exemption that other humans would prostrate themselves before them, Hazrat Yusuf and Isa al Masih underwent a similar pattern of events.  Notice in how many ways their lives were similar.

Events in Hazrat Yusuf’s life Events in Isa al Masih’s life
His brothers, who become the 12 tribes of Israel, hate Yusuf and reject himThe Jews as a nation of tribes hate Isa al Masih and reject him as Masih
Yusuf declares the future prostration of his brothers to Israel (Yaqub’s name
given by God)
Isa al Masih foretells the future prostration of his brothers (fellow Jews) to Israel (Mark 14:62)
Yusuf is sent by Yaqub his father to his brothers but they reject him and plotted against him to take his life Isa al Masih is sent by His Father to his brethren the Jews, but “but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:11) and they “plotted to take his life” (John 11:53)
They throw him into a pit in the earth Isa al Masih descends into the pit of the earth
Yusuf is sold and handed over to foreigners to be disposed of Isa al Masih is sold and handed over to foreigners to be disposed of
He is taken far away so his brothers and father think he is deadIsrael and his brother Jews think that Isa al Masih remains dead still
Yusuf is humbled as a servant Isa al Masih took “the very nature of a servant” and ‘humbled himself’ to death (Philippians 2:7)
Yusuf is falsely accused of sinThe Jews falsely “accused him of many things” (Mark 15:3)
Yusuf is sent as a slave to prison, where he foresaw the freeing of some of the captives from the darkness of the dungeon (the baker) Isa al Masih was sent “… to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…” (Isaiah 61:1)
Yusuf ascends to the throne of Egypt, above all other powers, under only Pharaoh himself.  Peoples who come to him prostrate before him “God exalted him (al Masih) to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth…” (Philippians 2:10-11)
While still rejected and believed dead by his brothers,the nations come to
Yusuf for the bread he could provide them
While still rejected and believed dead by his fellow Jewish brothers, the nations come to Isa al Masih for the bread of life that only he can provide them
Yusuf says of his betrayal from his brothers “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20) Isa al Masih says the betrayal by his fellow Jews was intended by God and will save many lives “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)
His brothers and the nations prostrate before Yusuf Daniel prophesies of the Son of Man that “all nations and peoples of every language
worshiped him”

Many Patterns – Many Signs

Almost all the ancient prophets from Taurat had their lives patterned to Isa al Masih –patterns laid out hundreds of years before His coming.  This was done to show us that the coming of the Masih was indeed God’s plan, not a human idea, since humans do not know the future so far in advance.  

Starting with Hazrat Adam, there was a foretelling of the Masih.  The Bible says that Hazrat Adam

… is a pattern of the one to come (ie Isa al Masih).

(Romans 5:14)

Though Yusuf ends up receiving prostration from his brothers, it is the rejection, sacrifice and alienation from his brothers that is emphasized in his life.  This emphasis on the sacrifice of the Masih is also seen with the pattern of the sacrifice of the Prophet Ibrahim.  After Yusuf, the twelve sons of Yaqub became the twelve tribes of Israel that the Prophet Musa PBUH led out of Egypt.  The way he did so was a pattern foretelling details of the sacrifice of the Masih.  In fact the Taurat had many detailed signs written down thousands of years before the coming of the Masih. The Zabur and other prophets had further details written down hundreds of years before the Masih, with rejection emphasized in the prophecy of the Suffering Servant.  Since no human knows the future hundreds of years ahead, how could these prophets have known these details unless they were inspired by God?  If they were inspired by God then the rejection and sacrifice of Isa al Masih must have been His plan.

Most of these patterns or prophecies dealt with the first coming of the Masih where he offered himself so we could be redeemed and be able to enter the Kingdom of God.   

But Yusuf’s pattern also looks further forward to when the Kingdom will be initiated and all nations will prostrate themselves upon the return of Isa al Masih to the earth.  Since we now live in the time when we are being invited into the Kingdom of God, let us not be like the foolish man in Al-Ma’arij who delayed until The Day to find a Redeemer – and it was too late.  Learn more now of the Masih’s offer of life for you. 

The Masih taught that his return would be like this

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Matthew 25:1-30

Who was the Prophet Job? Why is he important today?

Surah Al-Bayyinah (Surah 98 – The Clear Proof) describes the requirements to be a good man.  It says

And they have been commanded no more than this: To worship God, offering Him sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular prayer; and to practise regular charity; and that is the Religion Right and Straight.

Surah Al-Bayyinah 98: 5

Similarly, Surah Al-Asr’ (Surah 103 – The Declining Day) describes what qualities we need to avoid loss before Allah.

Verily Man is in loss,

Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.

Surah Al-Asr 103:2-3

The Prophet Job PBUH was such a man as described in Surah Al-Bayyinah and Surah Al-Asr.  The Prophet Job is not very well known but is mentioned in the Qur’an four times.

We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms.

An-Nisa 4:163

We gave him Isaac and Jacob: all (three) guided: and before him, We guided Noah, and among his progeny, David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron: thus do We reward those who do good:

Al-Anam 6:84

And (remember) Job, when He cried to his Lord, “Truly distress has seized me, but Thou art the Most Merciful of those that are merciful.”

Al-Anbya 21:83

Commemorate Our Servant Job. Behold he cried to his Lord: “The Evil One has afflicted me with distress and suffering!”

Sad 38:41

Job appears in the list of prophets including Ibrahim, Isa al Masih, Dawud because he wrote a book in the Bible – al-Kitab.  His book describes his life.  He lived in the time between the Prophet Noah (Nouh) and Ibrahim PBUT.  The Bible describes him like this:

In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.

His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.

Job 1:1-5

Job had all the good qualities that Surah Al-Bayyinah and Surah Al-Asr declare is needed.  But then Shaytan came before the LORD.  The book of Job records their conversation

One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Job 1: 6-12

So Shaytan then brought disaster upon Job in this manner

13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.[c]
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”

22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Job 1:13-22

Shaytan still sought to provoke Job to curse The LORD.  So there was a second test.

On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish[e] woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.

Job 2:1-10

This is why Surah Al-Anbya describes Job crying in distress and Surah Sad explains that the Evil one (Shaytan) had afflicted him.

In his misery, Job had 3 friends that visited him to bring comfort. 

11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

Job 2:11-13

The Book of Job records their discussions on why such misfortune happened to Job.  Their conversation spans many chapters.  In summary, his friends tell Job that such great misfortune only comes on evil people, so Job must have secretly sinned.  If he would confess these sins then perhaps he would be granted forgiveness.  But Job continually replies that he is blameless of wrong-doing.  He cannot understand why misfortunes have come upon him. 

We cannot follow every part of their long conversation, but in the midst of his questions Job states what he does know for sure:

I know that my redeemer lives,
    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him
    with my own eyes—I, and not another.
    How my heart yearns within me!

Job 19:25-27

Though he did not understand why his tragedies had come upon him, he knew that there was a ‘Redeemer’ coming to the earth.  The redeemer is someone who can make a sufficient payment for his sins. Job calls the Redeemer ‘my Redeemer’ so he knew the redeemer was coming for him.  After Job’s ‘skin has been destroyed’ (he has died) he would see God in his flesh. 

Job is looking forward to the Resurrection Day.  But he will face God in the resurrection with confidence because his redeemer lives and has redeemed him. 

Surah Al-Ma’arij (Surah 70 – The Ascending Stairways) also speaks of a redeemer on Resurrection Day.  But Surah Al-Ma’arij describes a foolish man, who is looking frantically on that Day for any redeemer. 

Though they will be put in sight of each other,- the sinner’s desire will be:

Would that he could redeem himself from the Penalty of that Day by (sacrificing) his children,

His wife and his brother,

His kindred who sheltered him,

And all, all that is on earth,- so it could deliver him:

Surah Al-Ma’arij 70:11-14

The foolish man in Surah Al-Ma’arij looks without success for anyone to redeem him.  He is looking for a redeemer who can redeem him from the ‘Penalty of that Day’ – Judgment Day.  His children, wife, brother and all on the earth cannot redeem him.  They cannot redeem him because they have their own Penalty to pay.

Job was an upright man, yet he still knew he needed a redeemer for that Day.  He was confident, in spite of all his troubles, that he had this redeemer.  Since the Taurat had declared that the payment for any sin is death, the redeemer would have to pay with his life.  Job knew that his redeemer ‘in the end he will stand upon the earth’.  Who was Job’s ‘redeemer’?  The only person who has ever died, but then resurrected to stand on the earth again is the Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH.  He is the only one who could possibly meet the payment of the Penalty (Death) but ‘in the end stand upon the earth’. 

If a righteous man like Job needed a redeemer for himself, how much more do you and I need a redeemer to pay our penalty?  If a man of the good qualities listed in Al-Bayyinah and Al-Asr’ needed a redeemer what about us?  Let us not be like the foolish man of Surah Al-Ma’arij, who waits until the Last Day to try to find anyone to redeem his penalty.  Understand now how the Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH can redeem you, as the Prophet Job foresaw.

At the end of the book, Job has an encounter with the LORD (here) and his good fortune is restored (here). 

Quran & History: Did Isa al Masih die on the cross?

We examine this question in detail, using the Black Stone’s disappearance from the Kaaba (in 318 AH) to illustrate this issue. 

Those who deny that Isa al Masih PBUH died on the cross usually reference Ayah An-Nisa 157.

That they (Jews) said in boast, “We killed Christ Isa al Masih the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah” – but they did not kill him, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no certain knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they did not kill him

Surah An-Nisa 4:157

Was Isa al Masih killed?

Notice this does not say that Isa al Masih did not die.  It says the Jews ‘did not kill him…’ which is different.  The Injil records the Jews arresting the Prophet, and Caiaphas the High Priest interrogating him but

Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.

John 18:28

Pilate was the Roman governor.  Being under Roman occupation, the Jews did not have authority to execute.  Pilate then gave the prophet to his Roman soldiers.

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.

John 19:16

So the Roman government and the Roman soldiers were the ones who crucified him – not the Jews.  The accusation of the prophet’s disciples to the Jewish leaders was that

You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go.

Acts 3:13

The Jews handed him over to the Romans and they crucified him.  After he died on the cross, his body was placed in a tomb

At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

John 19:41-42

An-Nisa 157 states that the Jews did not crucify Isa al Masih.  That is correct.  The Romans did. 

Surah Maryam and the death of the prophet

Surah Maryam clarifies whether Isa al Masih died or not.

“So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)”!

Such (was) Isa al Masih the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute.

Surah Maryam 19:33-34

This clearly states that Isa al Masih foresaw and spoke of his coming death, as the Injil records.

The ‘Judas killed instead’ Theory

But there is a widespread theory that Judas was transformed to look like Isa al Masih. Then the Jews arrested Judas (who now looked like Isa), the Romans crucified Judas (still resembling Isa), and finally Judas was buried (still looking like Isa).  In this theory Isa al Masih went directly to heaven without dieing.  Though neither the Quran nor the Injil anywhere describes such an elaborate scheme, it is widely promoted.  So let’s examine this theory.

Isa al Masih in historical records

Secular history records several references to Isa al Masih and his death. Let’s look at two. The Roman historian Tacitus referenced Isa al Masih when recording how the Roman Emperor Nero persecuted the first followers of the prophet in AD 65. Tacitus wrote:

‘Nero.. punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius; but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also’

Tacitus. Annals XV. 44

Tacitus confirms that Isa al Masih was:

  • 1) a historical person;
  • 2) executed by Pontius Pilate;
  • 3) his followers began their movement in Judea (Jerusalem) after the death of the prophet Isa al Masih,
  • 4) by 65 AD (the time of Nero) they had spread from Judea to Rome so that the Roman Emperor felt he had to stop it.

Josephus was a Jewish military leader/historian writing about Jewish history in the first century.  In so doing he covered the life of Isa al Masih with these words:

‘At this time there was a wise man … Jesus. … good, and … virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned Him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that He had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that He was alive’

Josephus. 90 AD. Antiquities xviii. 33

Josephus confirms that:

  • 1) Isa al Masih existed,
  • 2) He was a religious teacher,
  • 3) Pilate the Roman governor executed him,
  • 4) His disciples publicly proclaimed the resurrection of Isa al Masih right afterwards. 

It seems from these historical records that the death of the prophet was a well-known, undisputed event, with his resurrection proclaimed to the Roman world by his disciples.

Historical Background – from the Bible

Here is how the book of Acts in the Bible records what happened when the disciples proclaimed the resurrection of Isa al Masih in Jerusalem, at the Temple, a few weeks after his crucifixion

The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.

The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,
    which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

Acts 4:1-17 

17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”

21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.

When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.

25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.

27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

Acts 5:17-41

Notice how the Jewish leaders took great effort to stop their message.  Like governments today who are afraid of new movements they arrested, threatened, beat and then finally killed (some) disciples to try to stop them.  These disciples proclaimed their message in Jerusalem – the same city where only a few weeks earlier someone with the appearance of Isa al Masih had been publicly executed and buried.  But who was executed? The prophet? Or Judas made to look like him?

Let us look at the alternatives and see what makes sense.

The body of Isa al Masih and the tomb

There are only two options regarding the tomb. Either the tomb was empty or it still contained a body that looked like the prophet.  There are no other options.

Let’s assume the theory that Judas was made to look like the prophet, had been crucified instead of him, and then his body (resembling the prophet) was placed in the tomb.  Now think about the next events that we know happened from history.  Josephus, Tacitus and Acts all tell us that the disciples began their messages in Jerusalem and the governing authorities there took strong action to oppose the disciples’ message shortly after the crucifixion (of Judas who looked like the prophet – since we are assuming this theory).  But this theory accepts that Judas stayed dead.  In this theory, the body remained in the tomb (but still transformed to look like the prophet).  The disciples, the government, Tacitus, Josephus – everyone – would mistakenly think the body was that of the prophet but it really was the dead body of Judas (looking like the prophet). 

This raises a question.  Why would the Roman and Jewish leaders in Jerusalem have to take such strong measures to stop stories of a resurrection if this body was still in the tomb, right beside the disciples’ public messages of the prophet’s rising from the dead?  If the body of Judas (looking like Isa al Masih) was still in the tomb it would have been a simple matter for the authorities to show this body to everyone and thus refute the disciples (who said he had risen) without having to imprison, torture and finally martyr them.  The reason they did not do so was because there was no body to show – the tomb was empty.

The Black Stone, Kaaba and the Mosques of Mecca and Medina as illustrations

In 930 CE (318 AH) the Black Stone (al-Ḥajaru al-Aswad) was stolen and removed from the Kaaba in Mecca by a Shiite group opposed to the Abbasid rulers of that time.  It was held for 23 years before returned to the Kaaba.  The Black Stone can go missing. 

Imagine a situation like that where a group publicly proclaims to the crowds at the Great Mosque of Mecca (al-Masjid al-Ḥarām) that the Black Stone is no longer in the Eastern corner of the Kaaba.  Their message is so convincing that the pilgrims at the Mosque start to believe that the Black Stone is gone.  How could the Custodians of the Two Holy Mosques (Khādim al-Ḥaramayn aš-Šarīfayn) combat such a message?  If the message was false and the Black Stone was still in the Kaaba the best way for the Custodians to stop this message would be to show publicly that the Black Stone was still at the Kaaba as it has been for centuries.  Then this idea would be discredited instantly.  The nearness of the Black Stone to the Mosque in Mecca makes this possible.  Conversely, if the Custodians cannot show the Black Stone to refute this idea, then this show it really has gone missing as in 318 AH.

However, if this group is at the Prophetic Mosque in Medina (Al-Masjid an-Nabawī) announcing that the Black Stone has been removed from the Kaaba in Mecca (450 km away) then it is more difficult for the Custodians of the Two Holy Mosques to disprove their story since it is harder to show people in Medina the Black Stone that is so far away.

The closeness of a sacred object to the dispute about it makes it easy to refute or verify claims about it since it is nearby to examine. 

Jewish Leaders opposed to the resurrection message did not refute it with a body

This principle applies to the body of Judas/Isa in Jerusalem.  The tomb where the apparent body of Judas (looking like Jesus) lay was only some meters from the Temple where the disciples of Isa al Masih were shouting to the crowds that the prophet had risen from the dead.  It should have been easy for the Jewish leaders to discredit their resurrection message simply by showing the body (looking like Jesus) in the tomb.  It is a fact that the message of the resurrection (which is disproven with a body still in the tomb) began near the tomb itself, where the evidence could be seen by everyone.  Since the Jewish leaders did not refute their message by showing a body there was no body to show.

Thousands believed the resurrection message in Jerusalem

Thousands were converted to believe in the physical resurrection of Isa al Masih in Jerusalem at this time. If you had been one of those in the crowds listening to Peter, wondering if his message was true,  would you not have at least taken a lunch break to go to the tomb and take a look for yourself to see if there was still a body there?  If the body of Judas (looking like the prophet Isa al Masih) was still in the tomb no one would have believed the message of the apostles.  But history records that they gained thousands of followers starting in Jerusalem.  That would have been impossible with a body that looked like that of the prophet still around in Jerusalem.  Judas’ body remaining in the tomb leads to absurdities. It does not make sense.

Judas body theory cannot explain the empty tomb.  

The problem with this theory of Judas being transformed to look like Isa al Masih and then being crucified and buried in his place, is that it ends with an occupied tomb.  But the empty tomb is the only explanation for the disciples being able to start, just weeks later on Pentecost, a movement based on the resurrection of the prophet in the same city as the execution. 

There were only two options, one with Judas’ body looking like the prophet remaining in the tomb, and the resurrection of Isa al Masih with an empty tomb.  Since the body remaining in the tomb leads to absurdities, then Isa al Masih must have died at the hands of the Romans and risen from the tomb as clearly stated, offering us his gift of life.

Further exploring this question, researcher Cumming reviews Sunni literature interpretations by clerics and scholars.