Perhaps no other name is so well known in the world as the name of Jesus the Messiah. Everywhere there are people who acknowledge the Messiah as God's great gift through whom He has blessed all mankind.
Who, then is this Jesus the Messiah, that He is God's great gift for mankind? Here we wish to consider briefly only Christian and Muslim responses to this question. Through this consideration we hope to clear some misunderstandings which may exist between these two communities in regard to Jesus the Messiah.
Christians say that Jesus is the Son of God. Muslims say that Jesus is a great prophet like all other great prophets. They ask: "How can God have a son? Who, then, is God's wife through whom God has a son? God has no wife, nor does He have a son. To say that God has a son is to be guilty of sin of shirk, the sin of associating a partner with Allah. God is one. He alone rules. He has no son as an associate."
While discussing who Jesus is, how often helpful conversation between Muslim and Christian ceases at the point of Jesus' Sonship. Too often the Christian fails to explain why he calls Jesus the Son of God. Too often the Muslim fails to investigate for himself what the Holy Injil (the New Testament) means when Jesus is called Son of God. Regarding this matter, may we present only briefly the following points:
1. The Injil clearly states that Jesus is the Son of God. He is called Son of God by his disciples: "You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God" (Injil, Matthew 16:16). He is called Son of God by the Heavenly Father: "This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). He calls Himself the Son of God: "Again the High Priest asked him, 'Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?' and Jesus said, 'I am..." (Mark 14:61,62). Many other passages in the Injil also refer to Jesus as the Son of God.
Yet the Muslim may ask: "Are these passages really in the Injil? Have they not been inserted in later times so that the Injil has become corrupted?" To such questions we may only reply: "The Injil is God's Holy Book. He has preserved it and He will preserve it." It is wrong to conclude that since Jesus is called the Son of God, therefore the Injil has been corrupted.
2. Let us now consider what the Injil does not mean when Jesus is called the Son of God. The Injil agrees with the Muslim that God has no wife, nor through a wife a son. Jesus is not called the Son of God because He is born of Mary. (Before Mary was born, the Son of God is, as we shall see.) Nor does the Injil attempt to make a man God or a god besides God. God alone is God!
In all these ways Jesus is not the Son of God according to the Injil. To think that Jesus is called the Son of God in any or all these ways is to misunderstand the Injil. Again let each one examine the matter for himself with the intelligence that God has given him.
3. What, then, does the Injil mean when Jesus is called the Son of God? Let us state it thus: If God can see and hear without having created eyes and ears as we have; if God can have a face and hands different from our created faces and hands; if God can sit upon a throne different from thrones men occupy; if all this be possible with God -- and most Muslims would agree that it is -- is, then, is it not possible that God can have a Son different from the sons we know? If God so will, cannot God have a son without a wife and sex?
The Injil states that God has such a Son. The Injil states that this Son is also called God's Word. As God's Word is eternal, so also His Son is eternal. The eternal Son of God is thus the eternal Word of God, God's expression of Himself.
On the first Christmas Day, almost two thousand years ago, this eternal Son came from heaven into our world. Through the power of God's Holy Spirit, God's eternal Son became man and prophet. He became man by being born of the Virgin Mary.
The Angel Jibra'il told Mary that He should be called Jesus. But the angel Jibra'il also told her: "He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest" (Luke 1:32). This is why Jesus, though a prophet, is more than a prophet. This is why Jesus is called Jesus, which means "Saviour from sin". He is the Son of God. He is also the Son of Man.
If God's eternal Word can become a book, why cannot His eternal Word become a man?
4. But why did God will that His eternal Son and Word come down from Heaven to earth? Simply because God willed to show mankind who He is and what He wants to do for mankind. As the Son of God, who has become man, Jesus can fulfill this purpose of God. That is why He alone can say: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).
Jesus alone is God's revelation of Himself to mankind for mankind's salvation. He, the Son of God, is God showing us Himself and His love for us in terms we finite creatures can understand. This, then, is the meaning of the Injil when Jesus is called the Son of God. Thus the Injil states: "In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son..." (Hebrews 1:1,2).
Centuries before the birth of Jesus a great prophet, despairing over the sin of mankind, cried out to God: "O that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down" (Bible, Isaiah 64:1). In Jesus, the eternal Son of God, God has fulfilled the prayer of this prophet. Behold Jesus, and you will behold God's greatness and glory. Behold Jesus, and you will behold God, most merciful and compassionate, present with men. Learn from Jesus God's love and concern to save you and all mankind.
Many of you already possess the Bible or Injil or a part of it. Read it once more with care and with prayer. Open your heart and mind to its message. It will prove a great blessing to you. Such is our prayer for you.