Having examined intercession in the Qur'an, we must now do the same for the Torah-Old Testament and the Gospel-New Testament. We have already seen that a "righteous servant" who can intercede is foretold by the prophet Isaiah. But of course to say that Jesus came as a servant is only to say what Muslims always claim.
Whenever a Christian mentions the miracles which Jesus performed and points out that they are a proof--a second witness that his teachings were from God, Muslims quickly respond that they were done only "with the permission of God". Then they add that Jesus was just a servant or slave (`abd) of God like every other man. And finally they sometimes finish by quoting the middle Meccan Sura of Mary (Maryam) 19:30, in which Jesus says as a baby in the cradle,
"I am indeed a servant of God (`Abd Allah). He gave me the Book and made me a prophet."
The first thing I would like to say in response to these statements is that just because his miracles were done "by the permission of God", does not subtract from their value as a second witness. They still serve as one of the proofs that Jesus' words and actions came from God.
Secondly, it may be a surprise to the reader to know that, although Christians believe that Jesus was and is more than a servant, they agree completely with the statement that during his time here in the world, he lived as an `abd--as a servant or slave of God.
In his prophecy that a "righteous servant" would come, the Hebrew word used by Isaiah for "servant" is "`ebed". This is written with the Hebrew letters `ayin, beth, and daleth which correspond exactly to the Arabic letters `ain, ba', and dal. It means "slave" or "servant", and when one looks at the root verb, one finds that it means "to work, to serve, and to worship" just like the root verb "`abada" in Arabic.
"`Ebed" can be compounded with the names of God just as one does in Arabic to form `Abdallah. With "El" it makes `Abdiyel or "slave of God", and from "Yah" (a shortened form of YaHWeH) comes `Obadyahweh for "Serving Yahweh". This name `Obadyahweh, written in English as "Obadiah" is even the name of one of the prophets in the Torah-Old Testament.
Therefore, we may understand from Isaiah's Old Testament prophecy that a special "righteous `abd" is going to come to do the will of God.
The equivalent Greek word in the Gospel-New Testament is "doulos". In Philippians 2:7-8, God guides Paul to say of Jesus that in,
"taking the very nature of a servant (doulos)... he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross".
In his Gospel Jesus claimed that he was obedient in repeating the words which God had given him. He said,
"For I did not speak on my own authority, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to speak. I know that His command leads to eternal life. So what the Father has said to me, that is what I speak." John 12:49-50.
He also claimed to have fulfilled the idea of servanthood in all his actions, saying,
"My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." John 4:34.
"By myself I can do nothing. I judge as I hear, and my judgement is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." John 5:30.
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." John 6:38.
These verses show that Jesus came down from heaven at the command of God. All that he said and did here was in obedience to the Father. In everything he was a "righteous servant"--a "righteous `abd".
In addition he came to be a servant, an `abd, to us. Paul writes by revelation in Romans 15:8,
"Jesus became a servant [doulos] of the Jews...to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs [Abraham and Isaac], so that the gentiles [non-Jews] might glorify God for His mercy."
In other words, Jesus showed himself a servant, or `abd of God, by being a servant to us, whether we are Jews or non-Jews. In his Gospel he said about himself,
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45.
None of these verses have said explicitly that Jesus was perfect or sinless. As we continue our study, however, we find other verses which do confirm that Jesus was without sin.
In John 8:28-29 Jesus says,
"...I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me...He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him".
Further on, in John 8:46, after making his listeners unhappy with him by calling them sons of the Devil, Jesus says,
"Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?"
When Peter preached after Jesus' resurrection, he said to his listeners,
"You disowned the Holy and Righteous one..." Acts 3:14.
Luke tells us in Chapter 1:35 that Gabriel used this word "holy" when he spoke to Mary about the birth of Jesus,
"The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of God shall overshadow you; so the child born to you will be called holy..."
Although it uses a different word, the Qur'an agrees to this when it says in the middle Meccan Sura of Mary (Maryam) 19:19 that the angel came and said to Mary,
"Indeed, I am a messenger of your Lord to give to you a [Ghulaman zakiyan]
holy son." Yusuf Ali
faultless son." Pickthall
pure son." Hamidullah
As one of my friends says, "Jesus is the only prophet who never had to ask forgiveness."
The author of Hebrews describes Jesus as a great high priest,
"...one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin." Hebrews 4:15.
Further on the same author, writing always by revelation, says,
"But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood...Such a high priest meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens." Hebrews 7:25-26.
and again in Hebrews 9:14,
"How much more then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death."
Finally Peter, an eye-witness who lived with Christ several years writes,
"...you were redeemed...with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." I Peter 1:18b-19.
We conclude, therefore, that Jesus was without sin, and this now brings a whole new dimension to the equation. The Qur'an says that "no burdened one can bear the burden of another". But what about a prophet without sin? An apostle without a burden? An intercessor who is perfect? The Quranic verses which we saw in Chapters I of Section One and V of the present Section say nothing about this situation. The Bible, however, does speak about it, so now we shall look at all the Biblical verses which speak of intercession.
In a previous chapter we saw that there were prophecies of a suffering servant. We must now look again at one of those prophecies which, along with a sister verse, speaks of intercession by an "arm of the LORD"--a "righteous servant".
The first passage tells us that since the Eternal One found no one to intercede He will do it with "his own arm". Prophesying about 750 BC Isaiah wrote,
"He [the Lord] saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was NO ONE TO INTERCEDE; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him." Isaiah 59:16.
On page 272 of this Section we quoted the following passage from Isaiah in reference to a messiah who would suffer. Now we must look at it again in reference to intercession by the "arm of the LORD". It reads,
"To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?...
(He was) a man of sorrows,
and familiar with suffering...
but he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him
and by his wounds we are healed...
By his knowledge, my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their sins...
he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and MADE INTERCESSION for the transgressors."
These verses say that a man called "the arm of the LORD" is going to come. He will suffer and be "pierced" for our transgressions. He will receive a punishment which will bring us peace. He will have "poured out his life unto death". And he will "make intercession for the transgressors."
This clear prophecy, that an intercessor will come, was given some 750 years before Christ came, and Photograph 8 on page 273 shows a copy of this very passage--a copy which was itself made 100 years before Jesus lived--a copy just like that which the Qur'an testifies was in Jesus' presence and "between his hands".
Has anyone fulfilled the prophecy?
We saw above that Jesus was sinless. Since he was sinless, his death on the cross could not have been a punishment for his own sin. The Injil says that he died to bear the punishment for our sins, and the proof is that God raised him from the dead. Men who die for their own sins stay dead until the day of judgement.
In the words of the Gospel-New Testament it says,
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us." II Corinthians 5:21.
In Quranic terms it could be stated,
Jesus, who had no burden, bore our burden.
He then ascended into heaven and as the following verses show, he is alive in the presence of God to intercede for us.
"...He [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to INTERCEDE for them. Such a high priest meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens."
"Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life-- is at the right hand of God and IS also INTERCEDING for us."
I John 2:1,2.
"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an INTERCESSOR with the Father--Jesus Christ, the righteous one. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world."
Finally there is another one who intercedes. God says in the Gospel-New Testament that when we don't know what to pray or how to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groans, that is prayers, which words cannot express.
"In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself INTERCEDES for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit INTERCEDES for the saints in accordance with God's will."
From these verses we understand and believe that Jesus the Messiah, the Eternal Word of God (kalimat Allah), and the Eternal Holy Spirit stand with us and intercede for us with the Father today and every today while we live.
Then tomorrow, on that great and terrible day of judgement, no Christian will have to stand alone without any friend or intercessor in the awesome presence of Yahweh Elohim, the Eternal One. Because Jesus, the Righteous `Abd, the friend of sinners, will be there on that day of resurrection to speak and intercede for every person who has accepted him as Saviour.
It is so written in the Injil, the Gospel-New Testament, in which there is no doubt and no change.
Now, with all that we have studied from the beginning of this book until the present as a background to our thoughts, let us return for one more visit with Elias, our friend from Nain.
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