Surah Al-Balad (Surah 90 – The City) refers to a city-wide witness and Surah An-Nasr (Surah 110 – The Divine Support) envisions crowds of people coming to a true worship of God.
I do call to witness this City;- And thou art a freeman of this City;- (Surah Al-Balad 90:1-2)
When comes the Help of God, and Victory, And thou dost see the people enter God’s Religion in crowds, Celebrate the praises of thy Lord, and pray for His Forgiveness: For He is Oft-Returning (in Grace and Mercy). (Surah An-Nasr 110: 1-3)
Exactly fifty days after the resurrection of Isa al Masih PBUH the vision captured in Surah Al-Balad and Surah An-Nast came to pass. The city was Jerusalem, and the disciples of Isa al Masih were the freemen who were the witnesses to that city, but it was the Spirit of the LORD moving amongst the crowds in that city which caused the celebration, praises and the forgiveness. That day can also be experienced by us today, which we learn as we understand the history of this unique day.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
He promised to be with them always, yet he left them shortly afterwards when he ascended to heaven. How could he still be with them (and also with us) after he ascended?
The answer comes in what happened a little later. At the supper just before his arrest he had promised the coming of the Helper. Fifty days after his resurrection (and 10 days after his ascension) this promise was fulfilled. This day is called the Day of Pentecost or Pentecost Sunday. It celebrates a remarkable day, but it is not only what happened that day but when and why it happened that reveals the sign of Allah, and a powerful gift for you.
What happened on Pentecost
The complete events are recorded in the Book of Acts chapter 2 of the Bible. On that day, the Holy Spirit of God descended on the first followers of Isa al Masih PBUH and they started speaking loudly in languages from around the world. It created such a commotion that thousands who were in Jerusalem at the time came out to see what was happening. In front of the gathered crowd, Peter spoke the first gospel message and ‘three thousand were added to their number that day’ (Acts 2:41). The number of followers of the gospel has been growing ever since that Pentecost Sunday.
This summary of Pentecost is not complete. Because, just like the other events of the Prophet, Pentecost happened on the same day as a Festival that had begun with the Taurat in the time of the Prophet Musa PBUH.
Precisely 50 days after the ‘Firstfruits’ Sunday the Taurat required the Jews to celebrate Pentecost (‘Pente’ for 50). It was first called Feast of Weeks since it was counted by seven weeks. Jews had been celebrating the Feast of Weeks for 1500 years by the time of the Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH. The reason that there were people from all over the world to hear Peter’s message that day the Holy Spirit descended in Jerusalem was precisely because they were there to celebrate the Pentecost of the Taurat. Today Jews continue to celebrate Pentecost but call it Shavuot.
We read in the Taurat how the Feast of Weeks was to be celebrated:
Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD. From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the LORD. (Leviticus 23:16-17)
Precision of Pentecost: Sign from Allah
There is a precise timing of the Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on people since it occurred on the same day as the Feast of Weeks (or Pentecost) of the Taurat. The crucifixion of Isa al Masih occurring on the Passover Festival, his resurrection occurring on the FirstFruits Festival, and this coming of the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Weeks, are clear signs to us from Allah. With so many days in a year why should the crucifixion, resurrection, and then the coming of the Holy Spirit happen precisely on each day of the three spring festivals of the Taurat, except if this was to show us His plan?
Pentecost: The Helper gives New Power
In explaining the signs of the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter pointed to a prophecy from the prophet Joel predicting that one day the Spirit of God would pour out on all peoples. The events of that Pentecost day fulfilled the prophecy.
One reason that the Gospel is ‘good news’ is that it provides power to live life better. Life is now a union between Allah and people. This union takes place through the indwelling of the Spirit of God – which began on the Pentecost Sunday of Acts 2. It is Good News that life can now be lived on a different level, in a relationship with God through His Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us a true inner guidance – guidance from God. The Bible explains it like this:
And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him. (Ephesians 1:13-14)
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. (Romans 8:11)
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)
The indwelling Spirit of God is a second firstfruits, because the Spirit is a foretaste – a guarantee – of completing our transformation into ‘children of God’.
The gospel offers a new life not by trying-but-failing to keep the Law. Nor is it an abundant life through possessions, status, wealth and all the other passing pleasures in this world, which Suleiman had found so empty. Instead, the Injil offers a new and abundant life by the indwelling of the Spirit of God in our hearts. If Allah offers to indwell, empower and guide us – that has to be Good News! The Pentecost of Taurat, with the celebration of fine bread baked with yeast pictured this coming abundant life. The precision between the Old and New Pentecosts is a clear sign that this is the plan of Allah for us to have an abundant life.
We examined the final week of the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH. The Injil records that he was crucified on Day 6 – Good Friday, and he was raised back to life the following Sunday. This was foreseen both in the Taurat and the Psalms and Prophets. But why did this happen and what does it mean for you and me today? Here we seek to understand what is offered by the Prophet Isa al Masih, and how we can receive mercy and forgiveness. This will help us even understand Ibrahim’s ransom described in Surah As-Saffat (Surah 37), Surah al Fatihah (Surah 1 – The Opener) when it asks Allah to ‘show us the Straight Way’, as well as understanding why ‘Muslim’ means ‘one who submits’, and why religious observances like wudu, zakat and eating halal are good intentions but insufficient in themselves for the Day of Judgment.
Bad News – what the Prophets say of our relationship with Allah
The Taurat teaches that when Allah created mankind He
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
“Image” is not meant in a physical sense, but rather that we were made to reflect Him in the way we functioned emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually. We were created to be in relationship with Him. We can visualize this relationship in the slide below. The Creator, as infinite ruler, is placed at the top while man and woman are placed at the bottom of the slide since we are finite creatures. The relationship is shown by the connecting arrow.
Allah is perfect in character – He is Holy. Because of this the Zabur says
For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome. 5 The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong (Psalm 5: 4-5)
Adam committed one act of disobedience – only one- and the Holiness of God required Him to judge. The Taurat and Qur’an record that Allah made him mortal and expelled him His presence. The same situation exists for us. When we sin or disobey in any way we dishonor Allah since we do not act according to the image that we were made in. Our relationship is broken. This results in a barrier as solid as a rock wall that comes between us and our Creator.
Piercing Sin’s barrier by Religious Merit
Many of us try to pierce this barrier between us and Allah by religious deeds or works that earn enough merit to break the barrier. Prayers, fasting, Hajj, going to mosque, zakat, alms to charity are the ways we seek to earn merit to pierce the barrier as illustrated next. The hope is that religious merit will cancel out some sin. If our many deeds earn enough merit we hope to cancel all our sins and receive mercy and forgiveness.
But how much merit do we need to cancel sin? What is our assurance that our meritorious deeds will be sufficient to cancel the sin and pierce the barrier that has come between us and our Creator? Do we know if our efforts for good intentions will be sufficient? We have no assurance and so we try to do as much as we can and hope it will be sufficient on Judgment Day.
Along with deeds to gain merit, efforts for good intentions, many of us work hard to stay clean. We diligently perform wudu before prayers. We work hard to stay away from people, objects and food that make us unclean. But the prophet Isaiah revealed that:
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
The prophet tells us that even if we avoid everything that make us unclean, our sins will make our ‘righteous acts’ as useless as ‘filthy rags’ in making us clean. That is bad news. But it gets worse.
The Injil summarizes this truth in the following way:
For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23)
“Death” literally means ‘separation’. When our soul separates from our body we die physically. Similarly we are even now separated from God spiritually and are dead and unclean in His sight.
This reveals the problem of our hope in earning merit to pay for sin. The problem is that our hard efforts, merits, good intentions, and deeds, though not wrong, are insufficient because the payment required (the ‘wages’) for our sins is ‘death’. Only death will pierce this wall because it satisfies God’s justice. Our efforts to gain merit are like trying to cure cancer (which results in death) by eating halal food. Eating halal is not bad, it is good – and one should eat halal – but it will not cure cancer. For cancer you need a totally different treatment that puts the cancerous cells to death.
So even in our efforts and good intentions to generate religious merit we are actually dead and unclean as a corpse in the sight of our Creator
The Quran speaks of this in Surah As-Saffat (Surah 37 – Those who set the Ranks) where it says:
And we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice. And we left (the blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times. “Peace and salutation to Ibrahim” (Surah As-Saffat 37:107-109)
Allah ‘ransomed’ (paid the price) and Ibrahim received the blessing, mercy and forgiveness, which included ‘peace’.
Good News: The work of Isa al Masih on our behalf
The example of the prophet is there to show us the Straight Path in accordance with the request of Surah Al-Fatihah (Surah 1 – The Opening):
Sovereign of the Day of Recompense.
It is You we worship and You we ask for help.
Guide us to the straight path –
The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray. (Surah al-Fatihah 1:4-7)
The Injil explains that this was an illustration to show how Allah would pay for sin and provide a cure for death and uncleanness in a simple but powerful way.
For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)
Up until now, it has all been ‘bad news’. But ‘injil’ literally means ‘good news’ and in declaring that the sacrifice of Isa’s death is sufficient to pierce this barrier between us and God we can see why it is good news as shown.
In his sacrifice and resurrection Isa al Masih became the gate through the barrier of sin that separates us from God. This is why the prophet said:
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.They will come in and go out, and find pasture.10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:9-10)
Because of this gate, we now can re-gain the relationship we had with our Creator before our sin became a barrier and we can be assured of receiving mercy and the forgiveness of our sins.
As the Injil declares:
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:5-6)
The Gift of God to you
The prophet ‘gave himself’ for ‘all people‘. So this must include you as well as me. Through his death and resurrection he has paid the price to be a ‘mediator’ and offers us life. How is this life given?
For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)
Notice how it is given to us. It is offered as a … ‘gift’. Think about gifts. No matter what the gift is, if it is really a gift it is something that you do not work for and do not earn by merit. If you earned it the gift would no longer be a gift – it would be a wage! In the same way you cannot merit or earn the sacrifice of Isa al Masih. It is given to you as a gift. It is that simple.
And what is the gift? It is ‘eternal life’. That means that the sin which brought you and me death is now paid up. God loves you and me that much. It is that powerful.
So how do you and I obtain eternal life? Again, think of gifts. If someone wants to give you a gift you must ‘receive’ it. Anytime a gift is offered there are only two alternatives. Either the gift is refused (“No thank you”) or it is received (“Thank you for your gift. I will take it”). So also this gift must be received. It cannot just be mentally believed in, studied or understood. To be of benefit, any gift offered to you must be ‘received’.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:12-13)
In fact, the Injil says of God that
God our Savior,who wants all people to be saved … (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
He is a Saviour and His desire is that ‘all people’ receive his gift and be saved from sin and death. If this is His will, then to receive his gift would simply be submitting to His will – the very meaning of the word ‘Muslim’ – one who submits.
So how do we receive this gift? The Injil says that
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:12)
Notice that this promise is for ‘everyone’. Since he rose from the dead Isa al Masih is alive even now. So if you call on him he will hear and give his gift to you. You call out to him and ask him. Perhaps you have never done this. Below is a guide that can help you. It is not a magic chant. It is not the specific words that give power. It is the trust like Ibrahim had that we place in Isa al Masih to give us this gift. As we trust him He will hear us and answer. The Injil is powerful, and yet also so simple. Feel free to follow this guide if you find it helpful.
Dear Prophet and Lord Isa al Masih. I understand that with my sins I am separated from Allah my Creator. Though I can try hard, my efforts do not pierce this barrier. But I understand that your death was a sacrifice to wash away all my sins and make me clean. I know that you rose from the dead after your sacrifice so I believe that your sacrifice was sufficient and so I submit to you. I ask you to please cleanse me from my sins and mediate with my Creator so I can have eternal life. Thank you, Isa the Masih, for doing all this for me and would you even now continue to guide me in my life so I can follow you as my Lord.
Surah Ar-Ra’d (Surah 13 – The Thunder) describes a common challenge or criticism from unbelievers
If thou dost marvel (at their want of faith), strange is their saying: “When we are (actually) dust, shall we indeed then be in a creation renewed?” They are those who deny their Lord! They are those round whose necks will be yokes (of servitude): they will be Companions of the Fire, to dwell therein (for aye)! (Surah Ar-Ra’d 13:5)
And the Unbelievers say: “Why is not a sign sent down to him from his Lord?” But thou art truly a warner, and to every people a guide. (Surah Ar-Ra’d 13:7)
It comes in two parts. The unbelievers in Surah Ar-Ra’d ayah 5 asks whether the resurrection will ever happen. From their perspective, since it has never happened before, it will not happen in the future. Then they ask why no miraculous sign is given to validate that a resurrection will occur. In a real sense they say, “Prove it!”.
Surah al-Furqan (Surah 25 – The Criterion) shows this same challenge given slightly differently.
And the (Unbelievers) must indeed have passed by the town on which was rained a shower of evil: did they not then see it (with their own eyes)? But they fear not the Resurrection.
When they see thee, they treat thee no otherwise than in mockery: “Is this the one whom God has sent as an apostle?” (Surah al-Furqan 25:40-41)
There is no fear of the coming resurrection, nor of the prophet PBUH. They demand to be shown the resurrection.
Surah al-Furqan also reveals how Allah views the unbelievers.
Yet have they taken, besides him, gods that can create nothing but are themselves created; that have no control of hurt or good to themselves; nor can they control death nor life nor resurrection. (Surah al-Furqan 25:3)
Surah al-Furqan reveals that people often take false gods. How does one know what is a false god from the True? The ayah give the answer. False gods cannot ‘control death nor life nor resurrection’. To control a resurrection – that separates the false from the true.
Whether the challenge is given from unbelievers to Allah and his apostles to prove what should be feared from what can be ignored, or whether the warning is given from Allah towards unbelievers to worship the true and not the false, the measuring stick is the same – resurrection.
Resurrection requires ultimate authority and power. The prophets Ibrahim PBUH, Musa PBUH, Dawud PBUH and Mohamed PBUH – great though they were – did not resurrect over death. The wisest of men –Socrates, Einstein, Newton, and Suleiman – have not either. No emperor who has ruled on any throne, including the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad, Abbasid, Mamluk and Ottoman Empires, has overcome death and resurrected. It is the ultimate challenge. This is the challenge that Isa al Masih PBUH chose to face.
He achieved his victory before dawn on Sunday. His victory over death at dawn was a victory for you and me too. No longer need we be held captive by the mischiefs in this world. As Surah al-Falaq (Surah 113 – The Daybreak) requests
Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Dawn
From the mischief of created things;
From the mischief of Darkness as it overspreads; (Surah al-Falaq 113:1-3)
Here we will observe how this specific dawn had been foretold hundreds of years beforehand in the Taurat’s Festival of Firstfruits, and how the Lord of the Dawn delivers us from the mischiefs of this world.
The Lord said to Moses,2 “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.
3 “‘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
4 “‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times:5 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 answer reaches out to us all, even to how we now greet one another every day.
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.2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.5 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?6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”8 Then they remembered his words.
9 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 morning23 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 together34 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 with his resurrection. 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 the ‘first fruit’ of the resurrection 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:
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 and Peace of Isa al Masih in the Qur’an
Though given in less detail, the Qur’an labels the resurrection of Isa al Masih as one of three most important days. Surah Maryam recites it in this way:
[Isal al Masih said] “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)”! (Surah Maryam 19:33)
The Injil also emphasizes the birth of Isa al Masih, his death and now his resurrection. Since his resurrection is ‘first-fruits’, the peace that was upon the prophet in his resurrection is also now available to you and me. Isa al Masih showed this when he greeted his disciples later on the day of his resurrection:
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (John20:19-22)
The customary greeting that Muslims now extend to one another (‘salam ealaykum’ – Peace be upon you) was used by the Prophet Isa al Masih long beforehand to link his resurrection with the peace that is now given to us. We should remember this promise from the prophet every time we hear or say this greeting, and think of the gift of the Holy Spirit also now available to us.
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:
This article reviews the Signs given in the Taurat (Law of Moses) pointing to Isa al Masih.
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.
This article will help us understand how to receive this gift of resurrection life from Isa al Masih.
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.
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.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.3 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.
But this was just the quiet rest before the display of power. Surah al-Fajr (Surah 89 – The Dawn) reminds us how important the Dawn after a dark night can be. The break of Day can reveal strange things for ‘those who understand’.
By the break of Day
By the Nights twice five;
By the even and odd (contrasted);
And by the Night when it passeth away;-
Is there (not) in these an adjuration (or evidence) for those who understand? (Surah al-Fajr 89:1-5)
We see what the day break of the next Day reveals.
Surah 62 (The Congregation, Friday – Surah Al-Jumu’ah) tells us that the day of prayer for Muslims is Friday. But Surah al-Jumu’ah first gives a challenge – which the prophet Isa PBUH accepted in his role as Masih. Al-Jumu’ah, just before decreeing the day of prayer to be Friday, declared:
Say: “O ye that stand on Judaism! If ye think that ye are friends to God, to the exclusion of (other) men, then express your desire for Death, if ye are truthful!”
But never will they express their desire (for Death), because of the (deeds) their hands have sent on before them! and God knows well those that do wrong! (Surah 62 al-Jumu’ah: 6-7)
These Ayat in Surah al-Jumu’ah mean that if we are true friends of Allah then we will have no fear of death, but since they (and we) have doubts about how good our deeds are we avoid death at great cost. But on this Friday, Day 6 of his final week, as a Jew, Isa al Masih faced this exact test – and he did it by starting with prayer. As the Injil explains about the prophet:
He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:37-39)
Before we continue the events of this Friday, we will review the events leading up to this Friday prayer. 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 after his Friday prayer:
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.
2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.3 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.
4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.”9 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 him13 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.2 So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.
3 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.4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”
5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
6 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.”7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners.8 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 heads40 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 split52 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)
The Injil describes the earth shaking, rocks splitting, and tombs opening at the exact moment of the prophet’s death with the same description as Surah Az-Zalzalah (Surah 99 – The Earthquake)
When the earth is shaken to her (utmost) convulsion,
And the earth throws up her burdens (from within),
And man cries (distressed): ‘What is the matter with her?’-
On that Day will she declare her tidings:
For that thy Lord will have given her inspiration.
On that Day will men proceed in companies sorted out, to be shown the deeds that they (had done). (Surah Az-Zalzalah 99:1-6)
Surah Az-Zalzalah anticipates the Day of Judgment. The details Isa al Masih’s death correspond to Az-Zalzalah as a Sign that his death was the necessary payment for that Coming Day.
‘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.
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.
But first let us return to Surah Al-Jumu’ah, continuing from the ayat we studied.
Say: “The Death from which ye flee will truly overtake you: then will ye be sent back to the Knower of things secret and open: and He will tell you (the truth of) the things that ye did!”
O ye who believe! When the call is proclaimed to prayer on Friday (the Day of Assembly), hasten earnestly to the Remembrance of God, and leave off business (and traffic): That is best for you if ye but knew! (Surah 62 al-Jumu’ah:8-9)
Isa al Masih, taking the challenge of Ayat 6 & 7 in Surah al-Jumu’ah , did not flee from death, but starting with prayer faced this great test, proving he was a ‘friend to God’. Is it not appropriate then, in memory of his courage, that Muslims were later commanded to set apart Friday as the day for prayer in the mosque? It is as if Allah does not want us to forget the service of the prophet!