What the Bible Says About Al Masih 

4.3 What The Bible Says About Jesus

4.3.1 Al-Masih The Birth Of Jesus

God's purpose of salvation for men was centred around Jesus Christ/ Al-Masih. The promises which He made to Eve, Abraham and David all spoke of Jesus as their literal descendant. Indeed, the whole of the Old Testament points forward to, and prophesies about, Christ. The Law of Moses, which Israel had to obey before the time of Christ, constantly pointed forward to Jesus: " The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ" (Gal. 3:24). Thus at the feast of Passover, a lamb in perfect condition had to be killed (Ex. 12:3-6); this represented the sacrifice of Jesus, " the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (Jn. 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7). The spotless condition which was required for all the animal sacrifices pointed forward to the perfect character of Jesus (Ex. 12:5 cp. 1 Peter 1:19).

Throughout the Psalms and prophets of the Old Testament there are countless prophecies about what Messiah would be like. Note that the Psalms are recognized by the Qur’an to have been inspired by God (4.163). They particularly focus on describing how the Messiah would die. And the Qur’an recognizes that Jesus was Al-Masih the Jewish Messiah. Islam's refusal to accept the idea of a Messiah who dies can only be due to their inattention to these prophecies, a few of which are now presented:-

Old Testament prophecy

Fulfilment in Christ

" My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Ps. 22:1).

These were the very words of Jesus on the cross (Mt. 27:46).

" I am despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him" (Ps. 22:6-8).

Israel despised Jesus and mocked him (Lk. 23:35; 8:53); they shook their heads (Mt. 27:39), and said this as He hung on the cross (Mt. 27:43).

" My tongue cleaveth to my jaws...they pierced my hands and my feet" (Ps. 22:15,16).

This was fulfilled in Christ's thirst on the cross (Jn. 19:28). The piercing of hands and feet refers to the physical method of crucifixion used.

" They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture" (Ps. 22:18).

The precise fulfilment of this is found in Matthew 27:35.

" I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and am an alien unto my mother's children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up" (Ps. 69:8,9).

This well describes Christ's feeling of estrangement from his Jewish brethren and his own family (Jn. 7:3-5,Mt.12:47-49). This is quoted in John 2:17.

" They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink" (Ps. 69:21).

This happened while Christ was on the cross (Mt. 27:34).

Note that Psalm 22:22 is specifically quoted as applying to Jesus in Hebrews 2:12.

The whole of Isaiah 53 is a remarkable prophecy of Christ's death and resurrection, every verse of which had an unmistakable fulfilment. Just two examples will be given:-

" As a sheep before her shearers is dumb so he openeth not his mouth" (Is. 53:7)

Christ the Lamb of God remained silent during his trial (Mt. 27:12,14).

" He made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death" (Is. 53:9).

Jesus was crucified along with wicked criminals (Mt. 27:38), but was buried in the tomb of a rich man (Mt. 27:57-60).

Note particularly the prophecy of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53. This prophecy has several descriptions of a man who has to suffer greatly in order for salvation to be attained. The following points about Al-Masih / Messiah emerge from Isaiah 52:13-53:12:- He was to suffer physically more than any other human being will ever do (52:14).

- His suffering would result in 'sprinkling' " many nations" (52:15). The idea of sprinkling recalls the sprinkling of the blood in order to atone for sins under the Law, perhaps specifically referring to the sprinkling of the water of separation for cleansing (Num.19). The blood of his sufferings would therefore enable people from many nations to have forgiveness of sins.

- The news about him would be widespread, but be disbelieved by the Jews (52:15; 53:1-3).

- Messiah's own people would deliberately stop themselves perceiving his Messiah-ship: " We hid as it were our faces from him...we esteemed him not" (53:3). This recalls the language of Leviticus 13: 44,45, suggesting that Israel would perceive Messiah as smitten with the leprosy of sin. The record of the New Testament, along with the commentaries of the Talmud, show that many Jews have branded Jesus as a sinner unfit for their association.

This Messiah figure, who would die and thereby enable forgiveness of sins, is clearly Jesus of Nazareth. Notice that all these prophecies were given before the time of Jesus, and the manuscripts exist in the Dead Sea scrolls- which were copied before Jesus was born.

It is little wonder that the New Testament reminds us that the " law and prophets" of the Old Testament is the basis of our understanding of Christ (Acts 26:22; 28:23; Rom. 1:2,3; 16:25,26). Jesus himself warned that if we do not properly understand " Moses and the prophets" , we cannot understand him (Lk. 16:31; Jn. 5:46,47).

That the Law of Moses pointed forward to Christ, and the prophets prophesied of him, should be proof enough that Jesus did not exist physically before his birth. The false doctrine of the physical 'pre-existence' of Christ before birth makes a nonsense of the repeated promises that he would be the seed (descendant) of Eve, Abraham and David. If he were already existing up in heaven at the time of these promises, God would have been incorrect in promising these people a descendant who would be Messiah. The genealogies of Jesus, recorded in Matthew 1 and Luke 3, show how Jesus had a pedigree which stretched back to those people to whom God had made the promises.

The promise to David concerning Christ disallows his physical existence at the time the promise was made: " I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels...I will be his father, and he shall be my son" (2 Sam. 7:12,14). Notice the future tense used here. Seeing that God would be Christ's Father, it is impossible that the Son of God could have already existed at that point in time when the promise was made. That this seed “shall proceed out of thy bowels” shows that he was to be a literal, physical descendant of David. " The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David...Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne" (Ps. 132:11).

Solomon was the primary fulfilment of the promise, but as he was already physically in existence at the time of this promise (2 Sam. 5:14), the main fulfilment of this promise about David having a physical descendant who would be God's son, must refer to Christ (Lk. 1:31-33). " I will raise unto David a righteous Branch" (Jer. 23:5) - i.e. Messiah.

Similar future tenses are used in other prophecies concerning Christ. " I will raise (Israel) up a Prophet like unto (Moses)" (Dt. 18:18) is quoted in Acts 3:22,23, which defines the " Prophet" as Jesus. " A virgin (Mary) shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Is. 7:14). This was clearly fulfilled in Christ's birth (Mt. 1:23).

The Virgin Birth

The record of Christ's conception and birth does not allow for the idea that he physically existed beforehand. Those who hold the false doctrine of the 'Trinity' are driven to the conclusion that at one moment there were three persons in heaven, and then one of them disappeared and somehow turned into a foetus in Mary's womb, leaving just two in heaven. We have seen in Scripture that all existence - including that of God - is existence in a physical, bodily form. We are therefore left to conclude from the 'pre-existence' belief that Christ somehow physically came down from heaven and entered into Mary's womb. All this complex theology is quite outside the teaching of Scripture. The record of Christ's beginning gives no reason whatsoever to think that he physically left heaven and entered into Mary. The lack of evidence for this is a big 'missing link' in Trinitarian teaching.

The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with the message that " thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest...Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? (i.e. she was a virgin). And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Lk. 1:31-35).

Twice it is emphasized that Jesus would be the Son of God on his birth: evidently the Son of God did not exist before his birth. Again, the many future tenses need to be noted - e.g. " he shall be great" . If Jesus were already physically in existence as the angel spoke those words to Mary, he would already have been great. Jesus was the " offspring" of David (Rev. 22:16); the Greek 'genos' implying Jesus was 'generated from' David.

Hints at a virgin birth are to be found in the description of David's Messiah-seed as the begotten son of God (Ps. 2:6,7; 89:26,27). For God to beget a son involves His action upon a woman to make her conceive His son, without the intervention of a man. This is exactly how millions of people believe and have believed since the first century that Jesus of Nazareth came into existence.

It is a consistent Divine principle that sin must result in death. In order for Messiah to resurrect from death to eternal life and ascension to Heaven (" pleasures for evermore" , Ps.16:11), he must therefore have been sinless. This is confirmed by a number of other scriptures. Thus Messiah is called by God " the man that is my fellow" (Zech. 13:7) - a man can only be called God's " fellow" due to his supreme righteousness. Messiah " is just (righteous), and (therefore) having salvation" (Zech. 9:9). Thus he was to bring salvation to others through his own righteousness. He wasn’t just another prophet, as Islam claims.

For this reason Jeremiah 23:5,6 calls Messiah " The Lord our righteousness" , showing that through that one man's perfect character, God's righteousness would be imputed to His people. He was to be the promised seed of David: " I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper...he shall be called, the Lord our righteousness" .

- One of the reasons for this would be because of his sufferings. “There is no beauty that we should desire him...we did esteem him smitten of God” (53:2,4).

The Conception Of Jesus

Through the Holy Spirit (God's breath/power) acting upon her, Mary was able to conceive Jesus without having had intercourse with a man. Thus Joseph was not the true father of Jesus. It must be understood that the Holy Spirit is not a person; Jesus was the Son of God, not the Holy Spirit. Through God's use of His Spirit upon Mary, " therefore also that holy thing" which was born of her was " called the Son of God" (Lk. 1:35). The use of the word " therefore" implies that without the Holy Spirit acting upon the womb of Mary, Jesus, the Son of God, could not have come into existence.

That Jesus was 'conceived' in Mary's womb (Lk. 1:31) is also proof that he could not have physically existed before this time. If we 'conceive' an idea, it begins within us. Likewise Jesus was conceived inside Mary's womb - he began there as a foetus, just like any other human being. John 3:16, the Bible's most famous verse, records that Jesus was the " only begotten Son" of God. Millions of people who recite this verse fail to meditate upon what it implies. If Jesus was " begotten" , he 'began' (a related word to " begotten" ) when he was conceived in Mary's womb. If Jesus was begotten by God as his Father, this is clear evidence that his Father is older than he - God has no beginning (Ps. 90:2) and therefore Jesus cannot be God Himself. Mt. 1:18 speaks of “the birth of Jesus Christ” using the word ‘genesis’- the absolute beginning.

It is significant that Jesus was " begotten" by God rather than being created, as Adam was originally. This explains the closeness of God's association with Jesus - " God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself" (2 Cor. 5:19). Christ being begotten by God, rather than just created from dust, also helps explain his natural aptitude for the ways of God his Father.

Isaiah 49:5,6 contains a prophecy concerning Christ as the light of the world, which he fulfilled (Jn. 8:12). He is described as meditating on " the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant" . Christ was therefore " formed" by God in Mary's womb, through the power of His Holy Spirit. Mary's womb was evidently the place of Christ's physical origin.

We have seen that Psalm 22 prophesies Christ's thoughts on the cross. He reflected that God " took me out of the womb...I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly" (Ps. 22:9,10). In his time of dying, Christ looked back to his origins - in the womb of his mother Mary, formed by the power of God. The very description of Mary in the Gospels as Christ's " mother" in itself destroys the idea that he existed before his birth of Mary.

Mary was an ordinary human being, with normal human parents. This is proved by the fact that she had a cousin, who gave birth to John the Baptist, an ordinary man (Lk. 1:36). The Roman Catholic idea that Mary was not of ordinary human nature means that Christ could not have been both " son of man" and " son of God" . These are his frequent titles throughout the New Testament. He was " son of man" by reason of having a totally human mother, and " son of God" because of God's action on Mary through the Holy Spirit (Lk. 1:35), meaning that God was his Father. This beautiful arrangement is nullified if Mary was not an ordinary woman.

" Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one...What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?...how can he be clean that is born of a woman?" (Job 14:4; 15:14; 25:4). This puts paid to any idea of an immaculate conception being possible, either of Mary or Jesus.

Mary being " born of a woman" , with ordinary human parents, must have had our unclean, human nature, which she passed on to Jesus, who was " made of a woman" (Gal. 4:4). The language of his being " made" through Mary's agency is further evidence that he could not have physically existed without his birth by her. The Diaglott renders Galatians 4:4: " Having been produced from a woman" .

The Gospel records frequently indicate Mary's humanity. Christ had to rebuke her at least thrice for a lack of spiritual perception (Lk. 2:49; Jn. 2:4); she failed to understand all his sayings (Lk. 2:50). This is exactly what we would expect of a woman who was of human nature, whose son was the son of God, and therefore more spiritually perceptive than herself, although he, too, shared human nature. Joseph had intercourse with Mary after Christ's birth (Mt. 1:25), and there is no reason to think that they did not have a normal marital relationship from then on.

The mention of Christ's " mother and his brethren" in Matthew 12:46,47 would therefore imply that Mary had other children after Jesus. Jesus was only " her first born" (Mt. 1:25; Lk. 2:7). The Catholic teachings that Mary remained a virgin and then ascended to heaven therefore have absolutely no Biblical support. As a human being of mortal nature, Mary would have grown old and died: apart from this we read in John 3:13, " no man hath ascended up to heaven" . The fact that Christ had human nature (see Heb. 2:14-18; Rom. 8:3) means that his mother must have had it too, seeing his Father did not have it.

And yet in contrast to these glorious truths, the Qur’an categorically denies that Jesus is the Son of God:

“The Christians call Christ the Son of God…in this they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. God’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!” ( 9.30)

“They say “God hath begotten a son!”…no warrant have ye for this!” (10.68).

The objection that God would require a consort of wife to produce a son flatly contradicts the great Islamic tenet that God can do all things. If Muslims can believe that Mary became pregnant without a man’s involvement, why can they not believe that God had a son without having a woman? To say that God had no son because He has no wife is as absurd as saying that God is not alive because He doesn’t draw breath.

In passing, the claim made by some Muslims that Jesus never called Himself the Son of God is simply not so (Jn. 3:16; 5:22,23,30; 10:36; 19:7; Mk. 14:61,62; Mt. 11:27; 17:5). His own parable of the husbandmen showed that He saw Himself as the Son, the heir, rather than just another servant / prophet, as Islam claims He is (Mt. 21:33-43; Mk. 12:1-12; Lk. 20:9-18 cp. Acts 7:52). Jesus asked His followers who people thought He was. They replied that many considered Him to be one of the prophets. “But who do you say that I am?”, He asked them (Mt. 16:15). And He was clearly thrilled when Peter replied that Jesus was far more than a prophet; He was “the Christ, the Son of the living God”. We consider Islam’s claim that the New Testament is corrupted in an Appendix.

And yet the Qur’an clearly states that Jesus was the son of Mary, without the intervention of a man. She was a virgin into whom God breathed His Spirit (3.47; 19.20; 21.91). There is a basic contradiction within the Qur’an: Jesus was the son of a virgin through the power of the Spirit, but not the Son of God. The question: So whose son was he? Begs itself to be asked. It cannot also be true that “the similitude of Jesus before God is as that of Adam; He created him from dust” (3.59). There is surely a difference: Adam was created, whereas Jesus was the begotten Son of God. The Qur’an fails to explain why Jesus was born in this way. The Christian understanding makes so much more sense of this wondrous miracle: that truly in Jesus we behold “God with us”. Not that He was God Himself, but as the Son of God and yet also Son of man, we see the manifestation of God in flesh: His coming down to us. Islam frequently stresses that all God does is for a purpose: if so, then what was the purpose of the virgin birth, according to Islam? Likewise why is Mary the only woman mentioned by name in the whole Qur’an, and why such honour given to her, if there is no particular significance in the virgin birth: “O Mary! God hath chosen thee…above the women of all nations” (3.42). Luke 1:42 says that Mary was “blessed among women” because her son would be the greatest amongst men: not just one in a line of prophets. The virgin birth and the Divine Son ship of Jesus go together.

The Old Testament prophets make it clear that Messiah was to be the descendant of David (Jer. 23:5; Ez. 34:24; Is. 11:1-5,10; Mic. 5:2 cp. Jn. 7:42; Mt. 22:42; Rev. 22:16). This is exactly what was demanded by the promises to David: “He shall build me an house, and I will establish his throne for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee: But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore” (1 Chron. 17:12-14). An inspired commentary upon these promises is to be found in Psalm 89:26-29,35,36: “He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven…Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me”. The promised Son was to cry to God as His Father. He would be made the firstborn (He didn’t, therefore, exist beforehand).

And so the question must be answered by Muslims: Whose son is Al-Masih, the Messiah? Martha and Peter both answered this question by saying that Messiah is the Son of God (Mt. 16:16; Jn. 11:27 cp. Mt. 26:63). Mark’s Gospel is a record of “Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God” (Mk. 1:1); and it is a feature of the Christian faith that we accept “that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God” (Jn. 20:31 cp. Lk. 4:41).