Have you ever met someone who never heard of the resurrection? Yes, I’m talking about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I’m talking about someone who has never even heard that Christians believe such a thing! I met one. I met him about 3 weeks ago. He’s a young Muslim man from Turkmenistan. Jack and I met him near the bus stops. What follows is a very abbreviated summary of our discussion, for we talked for quite some time. P stands for Paul and Y for the other man.
(At first we introduced ourselves, the church we go to and what we were doing).
P: So, what religious background do you have?
P: What kind? Are you Shiite or Sunni?
P: We’ll I’ve talked to many Muslims and I’ve read most of the Koran so I know that you guys believe that Jesus was a prophet (he nodded), and that he performed miracles (he nodded again), and that he was born of the virgin, Mary (he nodded again).
Y: You read the Koran?
P: I read 81 out of 114 Surahs. I took a class on Islam in school and learned quite a bit about it. But I’m a Christian. How about you? Have you ever read parts of the Bible?
P: Do you know what the Bible teaches about Jesus?
Y: Yes, you guys believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
P: Yes, Jesus himself taught that He was the Son of God. Now, that doesn’t mean that he is any less than God. In fact, he is fully God and equal with God.
Y: Well, how can Jesus be God if God sent him?
P: That’s a good question. But let me be clear, the Bible teaches that God is One. But what that means is that He is one in essence. But the Bible also teaches that God is three persons. Jesus is the radiance of God, that is, he is the exact representation of what God is like and the reason He came to the world was to save sinners.
Y: You guys make a big deal about Jesus. Why? He was just a prophet like the rest of the prophets.
P: Well, Jesus was a prophet, but let me read to you what Jesus said (I opened my Bible) in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Jesus is saying that the whole Old Testament, that is the first 39 books of the Bible, were primarily foreshadowing his coming. You know what foreshadowing is? (He nodded). So, all the prophets who came before Jesus actually wrote about him and anticipated his coming.
P: For example, in Isaiah 53, (I turned to Isaiah 53 and began to read selected verses) the prophet Isaiah says, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows … as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not … we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our [sins]; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the [punishment] that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed … and the LORD has laid on him the [sin] of us all.” You see he’s talking about a man who would come and suffer for the sins of God’s people. He’s pointing to Jesus.
Y: Okay, but every prophet died.
P: Yes, but Jesus never sinned. He came to suffer of behalf of sinners. What the Bible teaches about Jesus is very different from Islam. Islam teaches that your works get weighed in the balance, and hopefully your good works outweigh the bad. But the Bible teaches that we are all sinners and therefore guilty before God with no way of removing our guilt. But God, because he is loving, sent Jesus to save us from our sins. It was through his death that God punished the sin that we deserve. But it’s only those who follow Jesus that benefit from his death. And furthermore, Jesus rose from the dead.
Y: You believe that he rose from the dead?
P: Yes, the Bible clearly teaches that. You never heard that?
Y: No, you believe he rose from the dead?
P: Yes, that is what I believe. It’s what the Bible clearly teaches. In Isaiah 53, Isaiah goes on (reading from the Bible), “they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, it was the will of the LORD to crush him … the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied.” Did you hear that? He will overcome death.
Y: Well, maybe it’s just a spiritual resurrection?
P: Look, even if you think it’s a spiritual resurrection, who is this passage talking about? It’s hard to deny that this is a passage about someone who God will send to suffer for the sins of his people.
Y: Look, I need to get back into religion and brush up on the Koran.
P: Well, here (handing him a Two Ways to Live booklet), please read this too.
That was it. Off we went. May the risen Lord save him. And may our risen Saviour send us out into the harvest fields of our city! We now have neighbours who have never heard of the resurrection of Jesus.