Did Isa al-Masih Really Die Like the Holy Scriptures Say? (Part One)
Yes, Isa died. Allah often allows people the great honor of being martyred for their faith. But Isa is far greater than a typical martyr. Not only was he killed for teaching the truth, death was his mission in life. On this the Scriptures are very clear. Isa said about himself:
“Kings rule over the nations, and people with authority call themselves benefactors. But you must be different. The greatest among you should consider themselves the youngest, and the leaders, servants. Who is more important, a person at the table, or a servant? The one at the table, right? But I'm here with you as a servant.” (Luke 22:25-27)
Isa also said:
“The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give up his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
And just before his death, he also said:
“I tell you the solemn truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain. The one who loves his life destroys it, and the one who hates his life in this world guards it for eternal life. If anyone wants to serve me, he must follow me, and where I am, my servant will be too. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. Now my soul is greatly distressed. And what should I say? ‘Father, deliver me from this hour’? No, but for this very reason I have come to this hour.” (John 12:24-27, NET)
The great prophet Isaiah, inspired by Allah hundreds of years before Isa lived on earth, wrote this profound prophecy about the Messiah who would come:
See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness—so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand. Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 52:13–53:12, NIV)
As the prophet said, “After he has suffered, he will see the light of life.” The Gospels clearly tell us that three days after Isa died* he came back to life. That seems impossible, but nothing is impossible with Allah. At first even Isa's followers did not believe it had happened. But he showed himself to them alive. Then they believed, they traveled about and preached the good news of forgiveness through Isa's sacrificial death, and they were killed like their Master.
No one but Allah could imagine a person like Isa al-Masih. He is the ultimate sacrifice for all people. Animals are not good enough. Isa was sinless, and for that reason, he was the perfect sacrifice.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has entered heaven, Isa the Son of the Most High, we should firmly hold to the faith we profess. And our high priest is not one who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. In fact, he was tempted in every way like we are, yet he never sinned. (Hebrews 4:14-15)
Therefore, whoever has a relationship with the Messiah is a new creation. The former things have passed away; new things have come! And all this is from Allah, who has restored our relationship to him through the Messiah and has given to us the task of restoration. Specifically, Allah was in the Messiah restoring the world to himself, not counting people's sins immoral actions against them. And he has entrusted to us this message of restoration. So we are the Messiah's ambassadors, Allah making his appeal through us. On the Messiah's behalf, we implore you to be restored to Allah. He made the One who never sinned sinful on our behalf so that through him we might share Allah's moral purity. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
With or without faith, we will experience difficulty in life. No difficulty is so great that it should keep us from seeking and believing the truth. When you think about truth, consider Isa al-Masih.
(For more, see article 18 below about why a sacrifice was needed.)
* Isa al-Masih died on Friday, and came back to life on Sunday. By their phraseology, it was “three days later,” or “on the third day.”
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