Understanding & Receiving the Gift of Life from Isa al Masih

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 it.  This will help us even understand 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.

Created in His image, people were made to be in relationship with the Creator
Created in His image, people were made to be in relationship with the Creator

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.
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.

Our sins create a barrier between us and Holy God
Our sins create a solid barrier between us and Holy God

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.

We try to pierce this barrier by doing good deeds to earn merit before Allah
We try to pierce this barrier by doing good deeds to earn merit before Allah

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.

Worse News: the power of Sin and Death

The Prophet Musa PBUH clearly set the standard in the Law that total obedience was required.  The law never said something like “attempt to follow most of the commands”.  In fact the Law stated time and again that the only work that assured payment for sin was death.   We saw in the time of Nouh PBUH and even with the wife of Lut PBUH that death resulted from sin.

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

Our sin results in death - We are like unclean dead bodies before Allah
Our sin results in death – We are like unclean dead bodies before Allah

Ibrahim – showing the Straight Path

It was different with the Prophet Ibrahim PBUH.  He was ‘credited righteousness’, not because of his merit but because he believed and trusted the promise to him.  He trusted Allah to meet the payment required, rather than earning it himself.  We saw in his great sacrifice that death (the payment for sin) was paid, but not by his son but instead by a lamb provided by God.

Ibrahim was revealed the Way - He simply trusted God's Promise and God Provided the payment
Ibrahim was shown the Straight Path- He simply trusted God’s Promise and God Provided the payment of death for sin

The Quran speaks of this in Surah As-Saffat 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, 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

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.

The sacrifice of Isa al Masih - the lamb of God - makes the payment for sin on our behalf
The sacrifice of Isa al Masih – the lamb of God – makes the payment by death for sin on our behalf just like Ibrahim’s lamb had done.

The prophet Isa al Masih was sacrificed and then rose from the dead as firstfruits so he now offers us his new life.  We need no longer remain prisoners of sin’s death.

The resurrection of Isa al Masih was 'firstfruits'. We are freed from death and receive the same resurrection life.
The resurrection of Isa al Masih was ‘firstfruits’. We can be freed from death and receive the same resurrection life.

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)

Isa al Masih is thus a Gate that breaks through the barrier of sin and death
Isa al Masih is thus the Gate that breaks through the barrier of sin and death

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 the forgiveness of our sins.

With an open Gate we now are restored in Relationship with our Creator
With an open Gate we now are restored in Relationship with our Creator

As the Injil declares:

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 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.

In the name of Allah, Most Merciful

The Prophet Isa (PBUH) heals: by Word of Authority

Surah Al-Maida, describes the miracles of Isa al Masih in the following way:

when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, remember My favor upon you and upon your mother when I supported you with the Holy Spirit and you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and [remember] when I taught you writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and when you designed from clay [what was] like the form of a bird with My permission, then you breathed into it, and it became a bird with My permission; and you healed the blind and the leper with My permission; and when you brought forth the dead with My permission; and when I restrained the Children of Israel from [killing] you when you came to them with clear proofs and those who disbelieved among them said, “This is not but obvious magic.” (al-Maida, Surah 5:110)

We will see how the Injil describes these miracles of the Prophet in greater detail and why the Holy Books call him ‘Word of God’.

Previously we saw that the Prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH) taught with great authority, using authority that only the Masih could have.  Right after finishing teaching this Sermon on the Mount the Injil records that:

When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”  (Matthew 8:1-4)

The Prophet Isa (PBUH) now shows his authority by healing a man with leprosy.  He simply said ‘Be clean’ and he was both cleansed and healed.  His words had authority to heal as well as teach.

Then Isa (PBUH) had an encounter with an ‘enemy’.  Romans were the hated occupiers of Jewish land at that time.  Jews viewed the Romans at that time like how some Palestinians feel towards the Israelis today.  The most hated (by the Jews) were the Roman soldiers who often abused their power.  Worse still were the Roman officers – the ‘centurions’ who commanded these soldiers.  Isa (PBUH) now encounters such a hated ‘enemy’.  Here is how they met:

Isa al Masih (PBUH) and a Centurion

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.  (Matthew 8:5-13)

The words of the Masih had such authority that he simply said the command and it happened from a distance!  But what amazed Isa (PBUH) was that only this pagan ‘enemy’ had the faith to recognize the power of his Word – that the Masih had authority to Say and it would Be.  The man we expect to have no faith (because he was from the ‘wrong’ people and the ‘wrong’ religion), from the words of Isa (PBUH), would one day join in the feast of paradise with Ibrahim and the other righteous, while those from the ‘correct’ religion and the ‘correct’ people would not.  Isa (PBUH) warns us that it is not religion nor heritage that guarantees paradise.

Jesus raises the dead daughter of a synagogue leader

This does not mean that Isa al Masih (PBUH) did not heal Jewish leaders.  In fact, one of his most powerful miracles was his raising of the dead daughter of a synagogue leader.  The Injil records it like this:

40 Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

As Jesus was on his way … someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”

50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”

51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52 Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”

53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.  (Luke 8:40-56)

Once again, simply by a Word of Command, Jesus raised a young girl from death.  It is not religion or lack of religion, being Jewish or not, that kept Isa al Masih (PBUH) from doing miracles to heal people.  Wherever he found faith, regardless of their sex, race or religion he would exercise authority to heal.

Isa al Masih (PBUH) heals many, including friends

The Injil also records that Isa (PBUH) went to the house of Peter, who would later become the chief speaker among his 12 disciples (companions).  When he got there he saw a need and served.  As it is written:

14 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”  (Matthew 8:14-17)

He had authority over evil spirits which he cast out from people simply ‘with a word’.  The Injil then reminds us that the Zabur had predicted that the miraculous healings would be a sign of the Masih’s arrival.  In fact the prophet Isaiah (PBUH) had also prophesied in another passage by speaking on behalf of the coming Masih that:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me (‘anointed’ = ‘Masih’) to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  (Isaiah 61: 1-3)

The Prophet Isaiah had predicted (750 B.C.) that the Masih would bring ‘good news’ (= ‘gospel’ = ‘injil’) to the poor and comfort, free and release people.  Teaching, healing the sick, and raising the dead were the ways that the prophet Isa (PBUH) fulfilled this prophecy.  And he did all these things simply by speaking a Word of authority to people, to disease, to evil spirits and even to death itself.  This is why the Qur’an calls him:

Behold the angels said: “Oh Mary! Allah gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of those nearest to Allah”   Surat 3:45 (Al-Imran)

And the Injil, likewise says of Isa (PBUH) that

… and his name is the Word of God. (Revelation 19: 13)

The prophet Isa (PBUH), as the Masih, had such authority of speech that he was also called ‘Word from God’ and ‘Word of God’.  Since this is what he is called in the Holy Books, we are wise to respect and obey his teachings.  Next we see how Nature obeys his Word.