Steven Walter Thomas
Who is Jesus?
Updated: Aug 27, 2022
Muslims believe that Jesus (called “Isa” in Arabic) was a prophet of God and was born to the virgin Mary. The birth of Jesus Christ is described twice in the Qurán - Chapter 3 and Chapter 19. Jesus is referred to 9 times in the Qurán as “Isa” and 16 times as “Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary). Muslims also believe he will return to Earth before the Day of Judgment to restore justice and defeat al-Masih ad-Dajjal, or “the false messiah” — also known as the Antichrist. To most Christians this will sound familiar. Muslims see Jesus as a holy man, prophet, healer, and excellent example. Muslims do not see Jesus as God or as the Son of God.
What do you believe?
Perhaps in order to avoid having to make a final decision about who Jesus was, many people say something like, “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” This is a foolish thing to say for anyone who has given any time to studying what Jesus actually is recorded to have said while He walked the Earth.
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. . . . Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a liar.
In Jesus’ lifetime, He was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met him. He produced mainly three effects — Hatred — Terror — Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval. Those who met Him were inspired towards one extreme or the other.
The doctrine of Jesus’ divinity is not and was not easy to accept. Some say that, over time, the stories of Jesus were exaggerated by His followers and that He never claimed to be God. This is very unlikely, because His followers were all Jews. They belonged to that Nation which of all others was most convinced that there was only one God—that there could not possibly be another. It is very odd that this horrible invention about a religious leader should grow up among the one people in the whole earth least likely to make such a mistake. On the contrary we get the impression that none of His immediate followers or even of the New Testament writers embraced the doctrine at all easily.
Another option is that the stories about Jesus not only grew over time but were written as legends in the first place, not as historical fact. To this, C.S. Lewis writes the following:
“Now, as a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing. They are not artistic enough to be legends. From an imaginative point of view they are clumsy, they don’t work up to things properly. Most of the life of Jesus is totally unknown to us, as is the life of anyone else who lived at that time, and no people building up a legend would allow that to be so. Apart from bits of the Platonic dialogues, there is no conversation that I know of in ancient literature like the Fourth Gospel. There is nothing, even in modern literature, until about a hundred years ago when the realistic novel came into existence.”
It’s very highly unlikely the monotheistic Jews would invent a Messiah or legends about Him. Therefore, the Jesus of the Bible is in fact the Jesus of history. And if this Man were not Lord and God, He would be a liar or a lunatic. But He is truthful (not a liar) and sane (not a lunatic). Therefore, He is Lord.
Special thanks to C.S. Lewis and The Gospel Coalition for the inspiration behind this little article.