Jesus/´Isa: His Life and Teachings

Jesus is the major figure in the New Testament, where he appears as the savior of humankind. He is also a major prophet in the Qur’an.

Just as in its reference to the birth of Jesus, the Qur’an is very positive about His life and work. Jesus is viewed as one of the greatest prophets, named together with Abraham, David, Isaac, Ismail and Jacob and placed on equal footing with Moses and Muhammad. In both books, Jesus continues building on the Law of Moses, the Torah, introducing a number of important innovations. Jesus cures the blind and lepers and raises the dead. The Qur’an and the Bible both portray Jesus surrounded by his disciples. Special meals play a role in both books. The teachings of Jesus are not fully expounded in the Qur’an, but there are many phrases in other contexts that are similar in content.

It is the respect and admiration expressed in the Qur’an for the Law of Moses and for the message of Jesus that explains the name given to Jews and Christians: they are the People of the Book, the people who received the book of teachings from God long before Muhammad did.

There are also important differences. The Gospels call Jesus the Son of God. The Qur’an says that God has no sons. He creates without the need to procreate. God has no one beside him. According to the Qur’an, Jesus was not divine and could perform miracles only with the help of God. Jesus was one of God’s Messengers. Although the Qur’an does not discriminate among prophets, a certain hierarchy becomes apparent.
Moses, David and Jesus, who directly receive a message from God, are Messengers; status higher than that of mere prophets who only convey revelations given to others and/or put such revelations into practice. In the Qur´an Jesus is not divine; he is a mortal just like Muhammad, but he is a Messenger, a particularly eminent prophet, because he received the Gospel as Muhammad did the Qur’an.

In the Bible, Jesus himself sometimes refers to the Gospel, referring to His teaching. However, in general, the gospels are not understood by Christians as direct messages from God, but as reports written by (more or less divinely inspired) humans – the evangelists. As such, these can contain passages linked to a specific historic context, as indeed can, in the view of many Christians, all Biblical books. Such historically determined passages are sometimes seen to contain statements not relevant today.

Muslims do not see the existing Bible as the direct word of God, but as rewrites of the original documents, which have been lost. That is why in the eyes of Muslims, the Bible contains many mistakes. However, in both religions, the Bible -that is, the Law of Moses, the Psalms of David, and the Gospels-are perceived as containing many relevant and inspiring passages and images. This is particularly the case with the story of Jesus. Jesus figures not only in the four gospels, but also in the letters from various apostles. The handful of verses in the Qur’an that tell of the life, work and message of Jesus are dispersed over a number of surahs.

Comments by Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp

Jesus, my great Jewish  brother

I was surprised to be invited to Moscow in 1989, because I had made no  secret of my negative views on the Soviet attitude towards Jews. The second time I was even invited to give a lecture at the Moscow public library. The subject was: Jesus. I was able to convince my audience that Jesus was a Jew, but Mary as well? No way. That this lady, greatly loved and venerated in Russia, was in actual fact Jewish, was hard to accept. For me of course Jesus is not my savior and I do not believe that he was himself divine. However I greatly admire him for who he was. He is, as Martin Buber wrote, my great Jewish brother. His greatness lay in his humility and his courage. I remember the story about the leper, the untouchable living in social isolation because of this very contagious illness. Jesus did what others shrank from doing. He looked at this man, he touched him.  It is good to read about Jesus healing lepers in the Qur’an as well.


The genealogy of Jesus Christ

…the genealogy of Jesus Christ, The Son of David, the Son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob…and…David the king begot Solomon…and …begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ. Matthew 1: 1-2,6,16

Moses’ Law and the Gospel
Do not think that I (Jesus ed.) came to destroy the Law or (the preaching of ed.) the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. Matthew 5:17

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

For whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. Mark 8:35

The sermon on the mount

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain…and…His disciples came to Him… and He… taught them, saying:

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5: 1-2, 6-7, 9

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also.” Luke 6: 27-29

“In this manner, therefore, pray:

‘Our Father in heaven…forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors…’” Matthew 6: 9, 12

Jesus heals and raises the dead
Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.

And He said to him, “Go, wash… So he went and washed, and came back seeing. John 9: 1, 6-7
…there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. Luke 17:12-14
…when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”

And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. John 11: 17, 43-44

The disciples

…He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles. Luke 6: 13

Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons. Mark 3: 14-15

Bread and wine and fish
“Give us day by day our daily bread.” Luke 11:3
(Jesus ed.) took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled… Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:19-21
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26: 26-28

Jesus Christ the Son of God

The…gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mark 1:1

…and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. Matthew 3: 16

Then a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Mark 1: 11

… Peter (disciple of Jesus ed.)…said: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Matthew 16: 16

Grace, mercy and peace will be with you from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the son of the Father, in truth and love. 2nd Epistle of John 1: 3


Jesus Christ in the line of Abraham

You (Muhammad ed.) say: “We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob…and that given to Moses and Jesus…we make no difference between one and another of them: and we bow to Allah (in Islam; obedience ed.).” 2 The Heifer, 136

The Law of Musa and the Gospel
Then will Allah say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Behold! I taught you the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel.” 5 The Table Spread, 110
He (Jesus) said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me Revelation and made me a Prophet;

19 Maryam, 30

And Allah will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel. 3 Al- ‘Imran: 48

Charity and forgiveness

And He has made me blessed wheresoever I be, and has enjoined on me Prayer (Salat ed.) and Charity (Zapata ed.) as long as I live. 19 Maryam, 31

Nor can Goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better; then will he between whom and you was hatred, become as it were your friend and intimate! 41 Fussilat, 34

…We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him (Jesus ed.) compassion and mercy. 57 The Iron, 27

…(Allah) will bestow on you a double portion of His Mercy: He will provide for you a Light by which you shall walk… and He will forgive you:.. for Allah is oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. 57 The Iron, 28

Jesus’ miracles by Allah’s leave
“And (appoint him) (Jesus ed.) a Messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message):

‘I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave:

And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and

I quicken the dead, by Allah’s leave;.. Surely therein is a Sign for you if you did believe. It is Allah Who is my Lord and your Lord; then worship Him. This is a Way that is straight.’”

3 Al-‘Imran 49, 51

The helpers

…Jesus…said: “Who will be my helpers to (the work of) Allah?”

Said the Disciples: “We are Allah’s helpers: We believe in Allah, and you bear witness that we are Muslims. (obedient to Allah ed.)Our Lord! We believe in what You have revealed…3 Al-‘Imran: 52-53

The table from Heaven
Behold! The Disciples, said: “O Jesus the son of Mary! can your Lord send down to us a Table set (with viands) from heaven? We only wish to eat thereof and satisfy our hearts, and to know that you have indeed told us the truth; and that we ourselves may be witnesses to the miracle.”

Jesus the son of Mary said: “O Allah our Lord! Send us from heaven a Table set (with viands), that there may be for us – for the first and the last of us – a solemn festival and a Sign from You; and provide for our sustenance, for You are the best Sustainer (of our needs).”

Allah said: “I will send it down unto you…” 5 The Table Spread, : 112-115

Jesus Christ son of Mary

Those Messengers We endowed with gifts, some above others: To one of them Allah spoke; others He raised to degrees (of honor); to Jesus the son of Mary We gave Clear (Signs), and strengthened him with the holy Spirit. 2 The Heifer, 253

O People of the Book! Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah, and His Word

…and a Spirit proceeding from Him:.. Do not say ‘Trinity’:.. for Allah is one God. glory be to Him: (far Exalted is He) above having a son. Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; He begets not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him. For it is not consonant with the majesty of (Allah) Most Gracious that He should beget a son. Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to (God) Most Gracious as a servant. 4 The Women,171;112, Purity of Faith, 1, 3, 419; Maryam, 92-93

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