The Bible states, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission” (Hebrews 5:7).
This passage references Jesus’ experience in Gethsemane (John 12:27; Matthew 26:39-44). Some Muslims suggest that because of Jesus’ supplications “to be delivered from death upon the cross,” he was assured that “God would deliver him from such a death.” 1 Orthodox Muslims say that God heard his prayer, Jesus was taken up bodily into heaven, and someone else was crucified. However, the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam says his prayers were heard; he suffered on the cross but did not die.
An escape after such pain and suffering was unnecessary if God would deliver him anyway. It could have been no comfort to Jesus to be delivered after facing the horrors of the crucifixion. In the light of the Bible, it is evident that it was God’s will that Jesus was crucified in fulfillment of prophecies. Let’s be reminded that in Gethsemane, Jesus ended his prayer with the words: “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). This shows that he did not oppose his Father’s will, but he did shrink from the agony of taking the world’s sin on his shoulders and being separated from God. His cry from the cross, using words of the prophecy in Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” confirms this. All that happened to Jesus was prophesied in the Psalms and the books of the prophets (Psalms 22:1,7,8,16,17,18; 41:9; Zechariah 11:12-13; 12:10; Isaiah 50:6; 53:2-11).
When the Bible says Jesus was heard, it does not mean that God would prevent his death on the cross. God answered Jesus’ prayer by giving him the strength to go through an agonizing death, to fulfill the promise of atonement - Kaffâra for the whole of the world. To endure separation from his Father and then being raised from death to life was God’s will for Jesus, thereby making salvation and forgiveness available to all believers, with assurance and sure hope. All Muslims would agree, regarding prayer, that God sometimes accepts supplication, and at other times, he wants to fulfill his will through the supplicant by providing strength.
In the same letter to the Hebrews, Jesus’ crucifixion, sacrificial death, and resurrection are confirmed (Hebrews 9:11-28; 10:8-18; 13:9-12,20). It becomes pretty clear that the writer of Hebrews never intended to imply that Jesus escaped death, as some Muslims have inferred from Hebrews 5:7 quoted above. On the same topic, we are told: “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Some Muslims, borrowing Western atheistic sarcasm, claim that when Jesus realized that there was no other way of escaping the cross, he turned to God to save him. This idea is entirely wrong. Jesus never tried to run away from death on the cross. Instead, we see him deliberately going to Jerusalem to face death (Luke 9:51; Matthew 16:21; Mark 10:33).
Jesus’ death and resurrection are the zeniths of his mission on earth. At the start of his ministry, Jesus said: “My time has not yet come” (John 2:4). Later he repeated this saying: “My time is not yet at hand” (John 7:6). Before his crucifixion, he prayed: “Father! The hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you ... I have revealed you to those you gave me out of the world” (John 17:1,6). Finally, on the cross, Jesus’ words were: “It is finished” (John 19:30). His mission of redemption on earth had been accomplished. The promise God had made to Abraham centuries before was fulfilled in the work of Jesus on the cross.
The above is a page from Steven's new book ‘One God, One Mediator, One people’ (254 pages).
Muslims believe in all the messengers of God born among the Israelites. However, in their messages, is the addition that after there was Jesus, God raised another prophet, Muhammad, and finalized his message for the world through him. Let's share with Muslims that it is Jesus through whom God has completed His message and work of restoration.
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. Zafarullah, Deliverance from the Cross, pp. 27-28.
. Even the head of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam agrees with this. See: Ghulam Ahmad, Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, p.19.