I’m serious about the “connect” part of Muslim Connect. It’s easier to knowabout Muslims than it is to actually befriend and engage with them. Safer, too but, Gospel love has risky feet and hands. Because of my bias toward action over knowledge (and perhaps due to my sophomoric knowledge!), I prefer talking about what Muslims and Christians have in common that can lead to connection, rather than our differences.
Can’t always do that, though. And with Easter looming gorgeous and sunny on the horizon, I’d like to consider how Muslims deal with a Jesus whom the Gospels say died all the way and 100% rose from that death.
Islam has chosen to see Jesus as one of the best prophets, but giving him anything like co-equality, or same substance, with God is anathema. Having established that, dealing with the Gospel accounts of the resurrection is tricky.
For starters, since Jesus was a beloved prophet of God, surely he would not be allowed to suffer the shame of a forsaken death on a cross. For many Muslims, it’s unthinkable. Something else must have happened.
One possible solution is a switch. God sent someone else to the cross, an imposter made to look like Jesus.
Some Muslims will say Jesus died like any other person, others that God raised him to Heaven. These assume the crucifixion did not happen at all! That makes things tidier, but is a tough sell, given the Gospel accounts.
Ahmadiyya Muslims, who are considered unorthodox by many others, contend that Jesus didn’t die, maybe fainted or something, then went to India to preach there and later died in Kashmir!
These ideas sound crazy to our Easter-loving ears, but our Muslim friends believe them sincerely. The first step to sharing a bigger, better story is understanding current convictions.
Ask your friends what they believe happened to Jesus.
Dig into Gregory Lanier’s article for a thorough, slightly more academic, but accessible and well documented look
I’d encourage listening to Matt Maher’s song, Christ is Risen on 11 while you read!