I find, after some reflection, that there is now really only one point, one subject, upon which I see a need for comment. It is also the most controversial point. Please then, understand that I must now disagree with you. I do so in all honesty, and I further hope, though offense may be unavoidable, our common goals will be effective bonds between us. So, in true affection, I must dissent from the Quran’s teaching regarding the death and resurrection of Jesus (as far as you’ve outlined it for me).
There are three points supporting my belief in the resurrection of Jesus: Biblical testimony, historic claims, and personal experience. Before I go into these, I want to express the whole argument: Jesus claimed to be God; to prove His claim, He died and was resurrected. Now, as you said, we both believe that miracles have been performed by men, that is, God has chosen to do miracles through people like Moses and Jesus. So, why would Christ’s resurrection be proof of his divinity? What is the correlation?
To answer this question, let us now consider the Book of Exodus. In chapter four, Moses is concerned that the Israelites will not believe him regarding the message of God. God then gives Moses three signs, three miracles, by which he may prove to the Israelites the veracity of the message. Carrying this idea forward, we might consider what point the miracles of Jesus served.
In Mark 2, Jesus heals a paralytic man. But, before He does, Jesus forgives the paralytic’s sins. Some, overhearing Jesus forgive the man’s sins, take offense: “He’s blaspheming!” they think, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:6). To prove the veracity of His ability to forgive sins, Jesus then heals the paralytic. So, Moses’ message was one of emancipation and a hope for a Hebrew nation. What was Christ’s message? By what sign did Jesus demonstrate that His message was truly from God?
Any attempt to condense Jesus’ message—and indeed, my attempt to condense the message of Moses also fails in this regard—will unfortunately fall short, will exaggerate some part over another, will simplify the complex. I do not hope to somehow overcome this obstacle, and so stress that Jesus’ message is more complex than what may be put simply. However, I will say that a large part of His message is His claim to be God.
The Gospel According to John may be the most straightforward of the four as regards this aspect of Jesus’ message. Its opening declares the oneness between God and God’s word, establishes that God’s word became flesh, and finally claims Jesus is this incarnate word of God. Furthermore, staying within the same account, Jesus says, “I and the Father are one” (John 10). Jesus’ audience understood what this meant, and when they subsequently attempted to kill Jesus, they gave as a reason, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” For the sake of finishing this response, I will not now scour the whole of the Bible for further points; the task is too long for me.
Hopefully, what is herein written is a momentarily sufficient account for the biblical position. Now let us move onto the ultimate aspect of consideration regarding the biblical testimony, the death and resurrection of Jesus. Christians hold that what is written about Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection in the New Testament is an historical account. All four gospel accounts hold to this sign, this miracle, and it is upon this point that the apostle Paul says, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). But beyond the Bible, what reason is there for believing that Jesus died and rose again?
If we accept that by some miracle Jesus did not die, as you have put forward, we have to consider the problem that everybody believed Jesus died. The historical fact that the Bible exists bears witness that those closest to Jesus believed and claimed Jesus died. Far be it from me to question God, but this explanation, itself maintaining the appearance of Jesus’ death, should give some logic or reason for such a marvelous deceit. This explanation comes across like such: Everything looks remarkably like what the Christians teach, however this is only because God wanted the situation to look like what the Christians claimed, namely the death of Jesus. Is it not much more reasonable to say that Jesus died?
I am not an historian; I do not intend to mimic for you the arguments Christian historians make from ancient documents I’ve never read. I can, however, draw out a basic argument from what I hope to be reasonable assumptions regarding historical fact:
- All those involved believed Jesus was dead.
- Shortly after this death, the claim was made that Jesus was alive.
My conclusion is that Jesus did die, as He predicted, and that He is alive, also as He predicted. Furthermore, this death and resurrection signified a fundamental shift in mankind’s relationship with God. Here must I now myself shift into the personal account.
In the Gospel According to Matthew, at the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil in the temple is torn (Matthew 27:51). Christ’s death once and for all time opened the way for all peoples to come to God, even myself. What I have may indeed be subjective, but I know that from my first troubled and childish prayers to this very day God has been with me. I have failed; I have fallen into sin; In the end, the only hope I have is in Jesus, that He has conquered death
I know not if there is more to say. I hope this is not patronizing, but I pray that I may help convince you. In the end, Christianity is experiential; if it is true, Christianity must be experienced in one’s own life.
From Evidence for Christianity by Josh McDowell:
Jesus’ Predictions of His Resurrection:
Matthew 12:38-40; 16:21; 17:9; 17:22, 23; 20:18, 19; 26:32; 27:63
Mark 8:31-9:1; 9:10; 9:31; 10:32-34; 14:28, 58
John 2:18-22; 12:34; chapters 14-16
Note: Of special significance is Matthew 12.