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Bible Correspondence Course

8. Isa bin Maryam the Messiah

Sayyidna Isa al-Masih (his peace be upon us) is unique. We have found that He is the golden thread running throughout the entire Bible. From the promise of His first coming in Genesis, to the promise of His coming again in Revelation[1], Sayyidna Isa Kalimatu'llah is indeed the Word of God in that He is central to God’s revelation. Muslims already know about Isa bin Maryam’s birth and His preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God from reading the Qur’an.[2] More detail is readily available in the Injil.

1) His Arrival on This Earth

Sayyidna Isa bin Maryam’s birth took place at a time when many were waiting for the promised Al-Masih, or Messiah, to arrive. King Herod was ruling in Jerusalem when he heard about the birth of the “King of the Jews”, and so he tried to kill him by killing every male child in Bethlehem. Guided by God, Isa bin Maryam and His family fled to Egypt. After Herod’s death they returned to Nazareth where Sayyidna Isa lived for most of His life.

The next mention of Sayyidna in the Injil is when He was twelve years old. We read that He went to the temple in Jerusalem and sat with the learned rabbis, talking to them about the things of God.[3]

2) His Mission

Sayyidna Isa bin Maryam started His public ministry by receiving baptism by Hazrat Yahya (John the Baptist). When Hazrat Yahya saw Sayyidna Isa, he pointed to Him and said to those around him, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”[4] He was referring to the fact that Sayyidna Isa Kaffara'tu'llah was to be the sacrifice that God would provide, like the ram in the case of Hazrat Ibrahim and his son, or the lambs sacrificed as sin offerings.[5]

3) Sayyidna Isa Al-Masih - Jesus the Christ

The name “Jesus” or “Isa” is itself important because of its meaning: “The Lord saves”.[6] This name was given to Him not by His family but by God Himself, as is written in Sura 3:45. God was showing us that He planned to save us through the person of Isa al-Masih.

Sayyidna Isa was also known as “The Christ”. This word is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew ‘Messiah’, and means ‘anointed’, like the Arabic “Al-Masih”. In Hebrew culture, a person was anointed with oil as a sign that he was being called to some special task. This is why the Hebrews anointed their kings and priests.

4) His Ministry as Teacher

In Sayyidna Isa bin Maryam’s day the Jewish teachers had made their religion an outward routine, but Isa Kalimatu'llah taught that God was interested in people’s hearts and inward motives.[7] All people were important to Sayyidna Isa, whether they were part of a crowd or met Him individually. Because of this people felt that He was different from other rabbis. His followers soon learned that He was not just a teacher, but He was also “Lord”. Sayyidna Isa accepted both titles, saying, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’, and rightly so, for that is what I am.”[8]

The title Sayyidna Isa Kaffara'tu'llah most often designated Himself with was “Son of Man”. This is a very significant title. In the Old Testament it was used in two different ways. Hazrat Ezekiel, an Old Testament Prophet, is described as a Son of man.[9] The context here makes it clear that Hazrat Ezekiel’s humanity is being emphasised. However, in the book of Daniel, the same phrase takes on another meaning.[10] In this context someone of great spiritual power and divine nature is being referred to. Sayyidna Isa Shafi'u'llah used this title for Himself to show people the two aspects of His nature (we will consider this title in more detail in Lessons 12 and 14).

Many people recognised something else that was unique about Sayyidna Isa. They realised that most teachers used to quote others as their authority for any ruling they made, but Sayyidna Isa bin Maryam was different. They regarded Him as “one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law”.[11] Other prophets used to say, “The Lord your God says…” But Isa bin Maryam said, “I tell you…” or “Truly, I tell you…”

Important to Sayyidna Isa’s main teachings was God’s Kingdom. “The time has come,” He proclaimed, “The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”[12] By this He wanted to teach us that God is in control and wants all men and women to come back to Him. Sayyidna Isa Kalimatu'llah’s teaching was that whoever believes in Him will not die but have eternal life.

5) His Miracles

Sayyidna Isa al-Masih performed miracles in response to particular needs; curing people who were ill[13] and feeding thousands.[14] He even calmed the waves.[15] No wonder then, that when Sayyidna cured a paralysed man, just be saying, “take up your mat and go home”, the response of the crowd was: “We have seen remarkable things today.”[16] Those who followed Him marvelled, “what kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”[17] Gradually His followers came to understand that Sayyidna Isa bin Maryam was no ordinary man.

6) His Influence

Sayyidna Isa al-Masih was very much welcomed by ordinary people. The majority of the religious leaders, however, did not like Him because He was a friend of tax collectors, sinners and religious outcasts.[18] Yet many of these outcasts recognised their need to repent and follow Him.[19] He invited everyone to see their need for God and come to know Him personally. The purity of Sayyidna Isa’s life is an example for us all to follow. He could challenge His enemies by saying, “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?”[20] No one could or did. It was because of Sayyidna Isa Kaffara'tu'llah’s sinlessness that He was able to accomplish the great purpose for which He came (further study on this subject is found in Lesson 18).

References:

  1. [1] Genesis 3:15, Revelation 22:20
  2. [2] Matthew 1:18, Qur’an 19:16-35
  3. [3] Luke 2:41-52
  4. [4] John 1:29
  5. [5] Genesis 22:13, Leviticus 6:24-30
  6. [6] Matthew 1:21
  7. [7] Matthew 5:21-30
  8. [8] John 13:13
  9. [9] Ezekiel 3:3
  10. [10] Daniel 7:13-14
  11. [11] Matthew 7:28-29
  12. [12] Mark 1:14-15
  13. [13] Mark 5:35-42, Luke 17:11-19
  14. [14] Mark 6:30-46, Luke 8:1-10
  15. [15] Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41
  16. [16] Luke 5:26
  17. [17] Matthew 8:27
  18. [18] Matthew 9:9-13
  19. [19] Luke 19:1-10
  20. [20] John 8:46

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