Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Message for Muslims: Peace: Salam in Jesus

A new baby in a home is a wonderful thing. Friends and relatives will typically ask at some point if it is a boy or a girl. Women and girls will usually remark on how cute the baby is. The proud parents will happily show off their baby to others, and the mother’s conversation will typically be focused on talking about their new baby.

Babies are new lives brought into the world, and they give us hope of renewal, youth, better times and a new future. Probably no baby has inspired more hope and wonder than Jesus, the son of Mary.

According to the Qur’an, the presence of the baby amazed and shocked the people when Mary brought the infant Jesus back to her home village. All her neighbors could think of was that, since Mary was unmarried, she must have done evil and had sexual relations with some man. They felt disgusted and condemned her. “What is this amazing thing you bring to us?" they asked. “Your father wasn’t an evil man. Your mother wasn’t an unchaste woman.” (Sura 19:27-33)

The Qur’an says that Mary patiently listened to their accusations, but instead of explaining or defending herself, she pointed to the baby. “How can we talk to a baby?” they asked. Then, according to Sura 19:27-33 in the Qur’an, a response came to them from the unexpected source---the lips of the infant. The baby declared that he was a prophet who received revelation from God. God had commanded him to observe prayers and charity. God made him kind to his mother. He was neither rebellious nor overbearing. The baby continued talking, announcing that his total life---from his birth, to his death, and on to his resurrection from the dead---would be lived in the framework of God’s peace. God would bless him wherever he would go.

In this way (according to the Qur’an), Jesus defended his mother, while he announced his purpose in life and God’s plan for him. He would live within the framework of God’s peace.

The Bible also announces Jesus’ purpose and his peace. One such announcement is given by angels. A great group of heavenly angels appeared to some shepherds while they watched their flocks at night near the place where Jesus was born. The angel spokesman told the shepherds:

"Do not be afraid…Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)

Then the angels sang:

"Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:14)

Another announcement was made when Jesus was eight days old. Mary and her husband Joseph took the baby Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord and to offer a sacrifice, as required by Jewish law. An old man named Simeon was led by God’s Spirit to meet them in the temple. He held the baby in his arms and praised God, saying:

"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)

Therefore, in both the Qur’an and the Bible, Jesus’ life purpose was announced while he was still an infant. His life, death and resurrection are specifically mentioned in the Qur’an. His coming influence in both the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds are declared in the Bible. Above all, there is the blessing of peace. According to the Qur’an, Jesus would live in a framework of peace during his life, death and resurrection. In the Bible, that peace extends to all people who find God’s favor. The announcement is joyous, causing angels to sing and people to praise God.

Was there ever such a baby whose influence over all mankind was understood and proclaimed before he could crawl or eat solid food, while he was still an infant cradled in his mothers’ arms?

Would you like to experience the peace promised by angels that Jesus brought?

(Most of the above information is from "Jesus Gives Peace: Jesus In The Qur'an and the Bible," written by Yusuf Abdallah)

Also see:

Who is Isa al Masih? - the man in white

A Message for Muslims: A Woman’s Place

A Message for Muslims: Mary is Not Divine

SIGNS: A message for Muslims

Comparing Islam to Christianity, Part 1

Comparing Islam to Christianity, Part 2

Comparing Islam to Christianity, Part 3

Comparing Islam to Christianity, Part 4

Comparing Islam to Christianity, Part 5

Comparing Islam to Christianity, Part 6

Comparing Islam to Christianity, Part 7

Comparing Islam to Christianity, Part 8

Monday, April 5, 2010

SIGNS: A message for Muslims

Have you ever been lost? What is one of the first things you do? Look for signs. Signs can give us directions, instructions, and help.

Although, sometimes, signs can be confusing...

Signs made by people help and guide us every day. God Himself has placed signs in nature to help us. God warns us that a storm is coming by sending wind and dark clouds. A meteorologist can help us interpret such signs. God warns us that something is wrong with our health when we get a fever, fell dizzy or get nauseous. Sometimes we need a physician to interpret the signs for us.

The Qur’an teaches that God has also placed signs in this life to teach us about Him and His will for us. The created things teach us about God’s character, power and wisdom. Consider the stars, the flowers or the thousands of varieties of insects, animals and birds.

Sometimes God chooses people to be signs. According to the Qur’an, Jesus and his mother, Mary, are a sign from God.

“We made the son of Mary and his mother a sign, and we gave them refuge on a mesa with food and drink.” (Sura 23:50)

How can both Mary and Jesus be one sign? We would expect both of them to be signs. Since the Qur’an only mentions one sign, what is the message of that sign?

Perhaps Mary and Jesus are one sign because they shared one very intimate experience totally unique in history. Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born.

Some people may say the sign is used to prove Jesus’ teachings are from God. But I believe this isn’t the meaning of the sign. A person’s method of birth does not prove that he will speak the truth.

Others may say the sign is proof that Jesus’ miracles are truly from God. But in the Qur’an, Jesus’ miracles are also called signs. God would not use such a tremendous sign as the virgin birth merely to point to other signs.

Probably the virgin birth points to Jesus Himself rather than his teachings or his miracles. The virgin birth is unique. That means Jesus is unique.

What is unique about Jesus? The Qur’an proclaims the sign but does not interpret it. My authority, the Bible, also calls Mary and Jesus a sign.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; the virgin shall conceive and give birth to a son…” (Isaiah 7:14)

Do you have questions about the sign of Mary and Jesus? That’s good! Perhaps God has given you the questions. As you try to answer the questions, you may discover new truth.

In the New Testament, we read in the Gospel of Luke the words of Simeon, a righteous and devout old man. Simeon came into the temple at the time when the infant Jesus was being consecrated to the Lord. He spoke to Mary and Joseph, claiming Jesus was to be a light to all people and then remarked,

“This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” (Luke 2:34b-35a)

If the sign of Jesus and Mary is pointing toward the identity of Jesus Christ, Simeon is saying that many people will speak against the identity of Jesus and in that way their heart reactions against God will be revealed. Ponder this. Ask God to give you insight.

(Most of the above information is from "Jesus Gives Peace: Jesus In The Qur'an and the Bible," written by Yusuf Abdallah)