Can we reconcile the Christian and Muslim differences over the Crucifixion? Probably not, but we can still explore and look closely at them. We might learn something useful.
The Gospels confirm that Jesus was crucified and died on the cross. Muslims insist that he was not crucified, but saved by God, so obviously, our views on the historical event can not be reconciled, however, unlike other differences between the two faiths, I believe our difference on the crucifixion can be ‘explained’.
The source of the Muslim view on the crucifixion is the Quran. Allah says in the Quran, Chapter 4:
[Quran 4:154] And We caused the Mount to tower above them at (the taking of) their covenant: and We bade them: Enter the gate, prostrate! and We bode them: Transgress not the Sabbath! and We took from them a firm covenant.
[4:155] Then because of their breaking of their covenant, and their disbelieving in the revelations of Allah, and their slaying of the prophets wrongfully, and their saying: Our hearts are hardened – Nay, but Allah set a seal upon them for their disbelief, so that they believe not save a few –
[4:156] That they rejected Faith; that they uttered against Mary a grave false charge;
[4:157] That they said, “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:
[4:158] Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Mighty in Power, Wise;
[4:159] And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgement he will be a witness against them;-
Based on the verses above, God made it appear to those present at the scene, that Jesus was being crucified. It is no wonder then, everyone thought what they were witnessing was the crucifixion of Jesus.
But the Quran also confirms that God saved Jesus. This is one further reason for Muslims to revere Jesus. He had a high standing before God, that Almighty did NOT allow his enemies to kill him.
On the other hand, there are varying accounts of the date of the resurrection of Jesus in the Gospels. Similarly, much of the story of the empty tomb in the Bible and the subsequent appearance of Jesus to the disciples described in the Gospel of Mark, turned out to be an unreliable later addition. There are several conflicting accounts of what happened after the crucifixion.
All this leads me to think that, people believed the Messiah was crucified, but they were unable to find his blessed body.
This secret was only revealed in the Quran centuries later: God has saved his prophet Jesus from his enemies. He did not allow the plotters to prevail against Jesus, who is one of five “Willful” major prophet.
This is consistent with what happened with All the major messengers of God. Each one of them was saved from his enemies:
- Noah was saved from the flood.
- Abraham was saved when he was thrown into a raging fire.
- Moses was saved from the army of the Pharaoh of Egypt.
- Jesus was saved from those who plotted to kill him.
- Muhammad was saved from the Meccans who plotted to murder him. God’s peace and blessing be upon all of them
In other areas where Islam and Christianity differ, I believe that the true teachings of Jesus were altered, and I have explained this position in other posts on this blog.
The crucifixion is different. There was simply no way for Christians and Jews to know that their Messiah was saved, not until God sent his last prophet, Muhammad (pbuh) with the Quran, to tell the true story of what really happened on that day, and how God saved his prophet Jesus, in what was the last miracle bestowed on Jesus before his second coming.