Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Thoughts on the Gospels

I recently finished reading the Gospels in the Revised Standard Version Bible we have (thank you, thrift store for always having Bibles on sale!). I had read parts of the Bible and many parts in order as I had intentions on reading it cover to cover a number of times, but that was over 10 years ago now so I felt I needed to renew my knowledge of what Christians believe Jesus said. Now, I'm no expert and I still haven't gone back through my notes, highlighted passages and everything to bring it all together... so let's call this my rough draft of thoughts.

First, for those who aren't Muslim, I will explain the Muslim's belief in Jesus and the Bible. We believe that Jesus was a mighty messenger of God, one of the best sent to mankind. The books sent down from God, including the Gospel and the Torah, in its original form was the pure Word of God. We know that the original text does not exist today in its pure form and we know this from Bible scholars themselves. We believe that today's Bible that we have available has pieces of truth and wisdom, but since it has been changed by man throughout time, we do not accept the whole of it without question. With that said, we see passages that remain the same throughout time from the books of the Torah (from Moses), the Psalms (from David), and the Gospel (from Jesus, peace be upon them all) and we believe that these all point to the universal message God has sent since the beginning of time, so we point to these to illustrate what we know to be true.

Okay.... now to the meat of this!

Jesus is clear in his directive. He came to guide the lost sheep of Israel back to the worship of the One True God. He commonly shows his slavehood to God, the Father and refers to the fact that he was sent for God's purpose, not of his own. Yes, he does say that "I and the Father are one" [John 10:30], but he also refers to his disciples as one with him [John 17:22] and in fact, gives them the same power that God gave to Jesus. They are able to heal others and preach; not on their own, but through the power that Jesus gave to them through God, the Father. My question is, how come Jesus is considered divine, but the disciples are not? Especially if Jesus is considered God Himself, why would the relationship be different when the words he is using are the same?

Second, Jesus prayed to God. It doesn't make sense that Jesus would pray to himself nor that he would say "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" [Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34] He forsook himself?? Jesus continually preaches that with correct faith, his followers can do anything, including move mountains [Matthew 17:20]. Yet, when he prayed to God (himself?) to "take this cup from me" [Mark 14:36 and Luke 22:42] regarding the Jews trying to persecute him, his prayer was not answered?

As a Muslim, we believe that Jesus was saved from the torture on the cross (his prayer was answered). How? We don't know, and that's okay. In my reading of the gospels, I feel this matches closer with the Gospel account than the crucifixion story we know today.

Jesus also instructed all of his followers to keep the commandments [John 14:15 and Matthew 19:17-21] and there is no record to show that he strayed from following the commandments himself. There are points where the Jews accused him of not keeping the Sabbath, but in each instance, Jesus uses this as a time to teach what the Sabbath is really about, and to correct their actions.

Some singular points to mention:
  • In John 3:16, the word "begotten" is not accurately translated. The original meaning of the Greek word "monogenes" is "unique" and is translated as such in different areas of the Bible.
  • This could be my own misunderstanding, but I didn't believe that high priests existed at the time of Jesus (priest is a very Christian terms, and they were Jews at the time), but the high priest prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation [John 11:51-52] and it sounds as if this is a new prophesy, especially considering that previous prophecies were stated specifically throughout the Gospels. However, a Christian once pointed out to me that Isaiah 53:5 points to the atonement of sins by Jesus as a prophecy. It just doesn't make sense that someone new would be making this claim of prophecy if it was known for quite some time.
  • A common response to those who say that Jesus never said to worship him is that people did worship him, and he did not stop them. Again, when we look at the meaning of the Greek word "prosekunesan" that is translated to "worship", it literally means "to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand" and has the general meaning of "bow, crouch, crawl, kneel or prostrate." This type of reverence was common in that time, especially to a leader in the land or community.
  • Lastly, the stark contrasts in varying events in the Gospel are concerning, but this is a large topic on its own.
Overall, the Gospels are overwhelmingly the same message that Islam teaches and solidifies my faith in knowing I am following the path that God has laid down for us since the beginning of time. It is through the works of Paul that the message gets distorted to something that Jesus would say "I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.' [Matthew 7:21-23]

Peace and blessings to all. This is not to throw stones at anyone personally.... it is only to share my findings when searching on my journey of faith.

1 comment:

  1. I read this when I was on FB. Masha'a'Allah! very well said. masha'a'Allah. I will be following you. I can't wait to read all the entries in your beautiful blog. Masha'a'Allah

    Um Abdul Aziz