Did Jesus Die to Bring Eternal Life to Man?

29 October, 2016
Q Hi, or Salam to you. I have a question about what you think of Jesus, who accomplished his mission by dying for the sins of the world and rising from the dead on the third day. By this he destroyed the devil’s power of sin and death and brought forth life and immortality to all who believe. Do you think that God has the power to do this if He wants? The Prophet Isaiah prophesied 700 years before the birth of Christ that the Christ would come to present himself as a sacrificial lamb who would suffer for the guilty and take the punishment due their sins in order to justify them and please God (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). The death of Christ was something that God planned from before eternity and Christ willingly submitted to. How do you respond to this? Jesus said that no man can take his life from him. Jesus said that he willingly lay down his life and then took it back up again (John 10:17-18). How do you respond?Thank you, may God give us the way, the truth and the life.


Salam Dear Jeff,

Thank you very much for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Of the Christian creed about the suffering and death of Jesus for saving “the world” (see John 3:16), we get a good idea from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.

You can have the painful experience of watching two hours of gruesome, sadistic stomach-churning torture. And if someone asks you why this is done to God, you can say this is absolutely necessary to save your skin from hellfire.

You may also risk anti-Semitism by blaming the Jews, though this would be hypocritical because without their cooperation, how could you be saved? Besides, to blame the Jews alone for the torture and crucifixion of Jesus would be unjust; the whole of humanity shares the guilt, not merely those who sadistically inflict the pain on Jesus, but also—at least—those who believe that their salvation depends on an innocent man being bound and chained, beaten, spat upon, kicked, mocked, flogged until his flesh is ripped piece by piece, and finally nailed to the cross.

One can argue that the terrible spectacle of the torture and murder of the “only begotten” Son of God sinks humanity deeper into sin rather than redeem from it!

You ask me, “By this he destroyed the devil’s power of sin and death and brought forth life and immortality to all who believe. Do you think that God has the power to do this if He wants?”

My dear brother, God is All-Powerful; He can do things we cannot imagine. But just think, why should God send an innocent man to suffer for the guilty, when God is All-Just? If man is sinful, God can command him to repent and return to God, or the All-Merciful God can simply forgive him.

Why should God undermine His own justice and mercy by saying in the first place that all the babies born are sinful because Adam committed an Original Sin and the only way out is that His innocent son must suffer and die? Just imagine, this is to save all the fornicators and robbers and murderers of the world.

Most assuredly this cannot be. Because in the first place, God is One and One Only, (as your own Bible repeatedly says; and as Jesus Christ himself has most emphatically said in Mark 12:29, for instance). And so there was no God the Son, nor was Jesus the only begotten of God.

Second, punishing a surrogate for the sinner violates the basic principles of divine justice. The church dogma that Adam and Eve disobeyed God and that all the children born generation after generation deserve eternal damnation for that reason, unless they believe that God had to sacrifice Himself (because Father and Son are not two Gods) on the cross is a grievous sin against God by itself, to say the least.

What is more, it is said that this was all planned by God in advance, “before eternity”! If so, that belief must absolve all humans from the original sin at once; but the Christians insist that only those who hold this blasphemous belief are redeemed!

You have given verses from the Bible, which you may claim to support your beliefs. But none of these verses is unambiguous: they lend themselves to other interpretations, too. And how will you reconcile your interpretation of those verses with other verses in your own Bible that clearly state that God is One and One Only?

Can you quote one verse from Jesus himself, where he clearly and categorically teaches that belief in vicarious atonement by an innocent man for the sinners is the key to the truth, the way, and the life?

The foregoing gives an idea of the stance of Islam on the above issue, which is derived from the verses of the Quran that say what means:

{The similitude of Jesus before God is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: “Be”. And he was} (Aal `Imran 3:59).

One of the “proofs” for Jesus to be considered God is that he was born miraculously without a human father. In that case, here is a better candidate for the sonship of God: Adam, who was “born” without a father or a mother!

Furthermore, it is stated that both Adam and Jesus were created from dust, and both came into existence when God said “Be.” Thus it is clear that Jesus was no more than a human; what was special about him was that God chose him to be a great prophet and a sign for the whole world, as mentioned elsewhere in the Quran.

The Quran says what means:

{Who receiveth guidance, receiveth it for his own benefit: who goeth astray doth so to his own loss: No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another: nor would We visit with Our wrath until We had sent an apostle [to give warning]} (Al-Israa’ 17:15).

In this verse, the doctrine of personal responsibility in all human actions is underscored; man is gifted with freedom of will and action. And we must not be under the delusion that an innocent Son of God has cleared us of all our iniquities by suffering our punishment. Allah is not unjust in the least; and no one will be punished without an advance warning.

The picture is clear: God has no son, nor does He punish an innocent man for the sins of others; each is responsible for his or her own actions. That is because God is All-Just, All-Wise.

And God knows best.

Thank you again for your question and please keep in touch.


About Professor Shahul Hameed
Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.