Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jesus: Is he died on the Cross?

All the Christians believe that Jesus after his arrest through the betrayal by Judas Iscariot, Crucified -then Resurrected and -went to heaven, yet, from the Bible, it appears that this belief  is altogether wrong. Matthew (12:40) says that just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, so the Son of Man shall be three days and three nights in the bowels of the earth.

Jesus On Cross?
Now it is clear that Jonah did not die in the belly of the fish; the utmost that happened was that he was in a swoon or a fit of fainting. Bible bear witness that Jonah, by the grace of God, remained alive in the belly of the whale, and came out alive; and his people ultimately accepted him. If then Jesus had died in the belly of the 'fish', what resemblance could there be between a dead man and the one who was alive, and how could a living one be compared with one dead?

The truth is, that as Jesus was a true prophet and as he knew that God, whose beloved he was, would save him from an accursed death, he made a prophecy in the form of a parable, revealed to him by God, in which he hinted that he would not die on the Cross, nor would he give up the ghost on the accursed Cross; on the contrary, like the prophet Jonah, he would only pass through a state of swoon. In the parable he had also hinted that he would come out of the bowels of the earth and would then join the people and, like Jonah, would be honored by them. So this prophecy too was fulfilled.

Apart from this, it was necessary that he should escape death on the cross, for it was stated in the Holy Book that whoever was hanged on the Cross was accursed. It is a cruel and an unjust blasphemy to attribute a curse to an eminent person like Jesus, the Messiah, for, according to the agreed view of all who know the language, la'nat, or curse, has reference to the state of one's heart. 

A man would be said to be accursed when his heart, having been estranged from God, becomes really dark; when, deprived of divine mercy and of divine love, devoid absolutely of His Knowledge, blinded like the devil, he becomes filled with the poison of unbelief; when there remains not a ray of divine love and knowledge in him; when the bond of loyalty is broken, and between him and God there arises hatred and contempt and spite and hostility, so much so that God and he become mutual enemies; and when God becomes weary of him and he becomes weary of God; in short, when he becomes an heir to all the attributes of the Devil -and that is why the Devil himself is called accursed. 

It is clear that the significance of the word accursed, is so foul that it can never apply to any righteous person who entertains love of God in his heart. Alas! Christians did not ponder over the significance of a curse when they invented this belief; else, it was impossible for them to have used such a bad word for a righteous man like Jesus. Can we say that Jesus' heart was ever really estranged from God; that he had denied God that he hated Him and had become His enemy? Can we ever think that Jesus had ever felt in his heart that he was estranged from God, that he was an enemy of God, and that he was immersed in the darkness of unbelief and denial?

If, then, Jesus had never been in such a state of mind, that his heart was always full of love and the light of Divine Knowledge, is it for you, wise people, to ponder whether we can ever say that, not one, but thousands of curses from God had descended upon the heart of Jesus with all their evil significance? Never. Then, how can we say that he was, God forbid, accursed?

Let it also be noticed that this not only detracts from the prophethood and apostleship of Jesus but it is also derogatory to his claim to spiritual eminence, holiness, love, and knowledge of God, to which he has repeatedly given expression in the gospels. Just look through the Bible; therein Jesus clearly claims that he is the Light of the world, that he is the Guide, and that he stands in a relation of great love towards God; that he has been honoured by a clean birth, and that he is the loved Son of God. How then, in spite of these pure and holy relations, can a curse, with all its significance, be attributed to Jesus? No, never.

Therefore, there is no doubt that Jesus was not crucified, i.e., he did not die on the Cross, for his personality did not deserve the underlying consequence of death on the Cross. Not having been crucified, he was spared the impure implications of a curse, and no doubt it also proves that he did not go to heaven, for going to heaven formed part of this whole scheme and was a consequence of the idea of his having been crucified. Therefore, when it is proved that he was neither accursed, nor did he go to hell for three days, nor did he suffer death the other part of the scheme, namely, that he went to heaven, is proved to be wrong. On this point the Bible has more evidence which stated below.

There is the statement of Jesus: 'But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee' -(Matthew 26:32). This verse clearly shows that Jesus, after he had come out of the tomb, went to Galilee and not to heaven. Jesus' words 'After I am risen' do not mean his rising up alive after he was dead; rather, as in the eyes of the Jews and the common people he had died on the Cross, he used words beforehand consistent with what they were to think of him in the future, and indeed, the man who was placed on the Cross, in whose hands and feet nails had been driven till he had fainted from pain, had become as good as dead; if such a man was saved from such a calamity and if he recovered his senses it would not be an exaggeration on his part to say that he had come to life again.

There is no doubt that after so much suffering, Jesus' escape from death was a miracle; it was no ordinary event. But to think that he had died is wrong. It is true that in the books of the New Testament words of this kind occur, but this is a mistake of the writers of those books, just as they had committed mistakes in recording several other historical events. Commentators who have made researches into these books admit that the books of the New Testament have two parts:

  1. The spiritual instruction received by the disciples from Jesus which is the essence of the teachings of the Gospel;
  2. Historical events -like the genealogy of Jesus; his arrest and his being beaten; the existence in his time of a miraculous pond, etc. These, the writers recorded by themselves; they were not revealed; rather, they were set down in accordance with the writer's own ideas. In some places there are undue exaggerations, as where it is stated that if all the miracles and works of Jesus were recorded in books, the earth would not be able to accommodate these books. How exaggerated is this statement! 
Apart from this, it is not against usages of speech to describe the great calamity which had befallen Jesus as death. When a man, having passed through a life and death experience, is ultimately saved from it, the common speech of all peoples expresses the idea by the idiomatic expression -'he was given a new life', and no people to whatever country they may belong would demur at expressing that idea in this way.

After all that has been stated, it should be kept in mind that in the gospel of Barnabas, it is stated that Jesus was not crucified, not did he die on the Cross. Now we can very well say that though this book is not included in the gospels and has been rejected summarily, yet there is no doubt that it is an ancient book, and it belongs to the period in which the other gospels were written. Is it not open to us to regard this ancient book as a book of history of ancient times and to make use of it as a book of history? Does it not follow from this book that at least at the time when the event of the Cross took place, people were not unanimous as to Jesus' dying on the Cross?

Again, apart from this, when in the four gospels themselves there are such metaphors as the one about a dead person, that he is not dead but asleep, it is not beyond reason to suppose that a state of swoon might be described as a state of death. It should be noted that a prophet cannot lie. Jesus compared his three days' stay in the tomb to the three days of Jonah in the belly of the whale. This only shows that just as Jonah remained alive for three days in the belly of the whale, so did Jesus remain alive for three days in the tomb. The Jewish tombs of those days were not like the tombs of to-day; they were roomy and had an opening on one side, which was covered with a big stone. And, Jesus was placed there in a state of swoon.

In short, the verse quoted above shows that Jesus after coming out of the tomb went to Galilee. The gospel of Mark says that after coming out of the tomb he was seen going on the road to Galilee, and ultimately he met the eleven disciples when they were at their meal; he showed them his hands and feet which were wounded and they thought that he was perhaps a spirit. Then he said to them:

Behold my hands and my feet, that it is myself; handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have–(Luke 24:39) He took from them boiled fish and a piece of honeycomb and ate them in their presence.-(Luke 24:42-43)

These verses show that coming out of the tomb, he went to Galilee; -like an ordinary man, in normal clothes, with a human body. If he had been resurrected after death, how was it that this body of spirit could still have borne the wounds inflicted upon him on the Cross? What need had he to eat? And if he required food then, he must be in need of food even now.

Readers should not be under any misconception of the crucifixion. The Cross of those days had no rope to be put round the neck of the victim, nor was he subjected to a fall from a wooden plank and allowed to keep hanging; rather, he was just put on the Cross, and his hands and feet were nailed to it; and it was quite possible that if, after crucifying a person and driving nails into him, it was decided -in a day or two -to forgive him and spare his life, he was taken down alive before his bones had been broken, the punishment already undergone being deemed sufficient for him.

If it was decided to kill him, he was kept on the Cross at least for three days; water or bread was not allowed to come near him, and he was left in this condition in the sun for three or more days, when his bones were broken and ultimately as a result of this torture he died. But the grace of Almighty God rescued Jesus from this torture which would have ended his life.

Gospel informs that Jesus did not remain on the Cross for three days; he did not have to suffer hunger or thirst for three days; nor were his bones broken. On the other hand, he remained on the Cross only for two hours, and the grace and mercy of God managed to bring about the crucifixion in the latter part of the day, which was a Friday, only a little time before sunset, the next day being the Sabbath, the feast Fasah of the Jews.

According to Jewish custom it was unlawful and a punishable crime to let anyone remain on the Cross on the Sabbath day, or during the night previous to it; Jews, like Muslims, observed the lunar calendar, sunset being regarded as beginning the day. So, on the one hand, there was this circumstance which arose out of earthly causes, and, on the other, Almighty God brought into existence heavenly circumstances, namely, that when it was the sixth hour, there was a severe dust-storm which darkened the earth for three hours. -(Mark 15:33)

This sixth hour was after twelve o'clock. Now, the Jews were afraid in this utter darkness, lest the night of the Sabbath should overtake them, and lest, having violated the sanctity of the Sabbath, they should deserve to be punished. Therefore, in all haste they took Jesus and the two thieves off their Crosses.

In addition to all this, there was another heavenly cause, namely, that when Pilate presided at his court, his wife sent word to him not to have anything to do with that righteous person (i.e., not to attempt to punish him with death), for, she said, she had had a dream that night, which had troubled her very much.-(Matthew 27:19)

So, this angel, whom the wife of Pilate saw in her dream, would assure us and all fair-minded people, with certainty, that God had never intended that Jesus should die on the Cross. From the day of the creation of this world, never has it occurred that God should suggest to a person in a dream that a particular thing would happen in a certain way, and still that thing should fail to happen. For example, the gospel of Matthew says that an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Arise and take the young child and the mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him'. -(Matthew 2:13) Now, can anyone say that Jesus could be killed in Egypt? 

Similarly the dream which the wife of Pilate dreamt was a part of God's design, and it could never be that this design should fail in its object; and just as the possibility of Jesus being put to death during the Egyptian journey was against a specific promise of God, so here it is unthinkable that the angel of Almighty God should appear to the wife of Pilate and should direct her to say that if Jesus died on the Cross it would not be a happy thing for her, and yet the angel's appearance should go in vain, and Jesus should be allowed to suffer death on the Cross. Is there any example of this in the world? None.

The pure conscience of all good men, when informed of the dream of Pilate's wife, will no doubt testify that it was a fact that the purpose of that dream was to lay the foundation for the rescue of Jesus. It is of course open to everybody to deny an out-and-out truth; out of prejudice born of his creed, he may refuse to accept it, but fairness would oblige us to believe that the dream of Pilate's wife is a piece of weighty evidence in support of Jesus' escape from the Cross. The first in rank among the gospels, i.e., Matthew, has recorded this evidence.

Although, therefore, the powerful evidence which shall set out in this article invalidates the divinity of Jesus and the doctrine of Atonement, yet honesty and love of fairness require us not to be partial to a communal or customary creed on a question of fact. From the day of the creation of man up till to-day the limited intellect of man has invested a thousand things with Divinity and Godhead, so much so that even cats and snakes have been worshipped; nevertheless wise people, through heaven's help, have continued to be saved from the evil of such polytheistic beliefs.

Among the testimonies of the Bible in support of Jesus' escape from death on the Cross is his journey to a far-off place, on which he started after coming out of the tomb. On the morning of Sunday he first met Mary Magdalene, who at once informed the disciples that Jesus was alive, but they did not believe it. Then he was seen by two of the disciples when they were going out to the countryside; and last of all he appeared to the eleven when they were at their meal and censured them for their callousness and lack of faith.-(Mark 16:9-14)

When two disciples of Jesus were going towards the hamlet called Emmaus which was at a distance of 3.75 miles from Jerusalem, Jesus met them; and when they were near that hamlet, Jesus went forward to part company with them, but they did not allow him to go, saying that that night they would be together. He then dined with them, and all of them, along with Jesus, spent the night at the village named Emmaus. -(Luke 24:13-31)

Now, to say that Jesus did all this with a spiritual body (which is supposed to be the nature of the body after death), which only the physical body was capable of doing, as, for example, eating and drinking, and sleeping, and making a long journey to Galilee which was at a distance of seventy miles from Jerusalem, is saying something impossible and quite against reason. In spite of the fact that on account of individual bias the accounts of the gospels have differed, the texts as they are, nevertheless, clearly show that Jesus met his disciples in the ordinary mortal human body, and made a long journey on foot to Galilee; showed his wounds to the disciples, dined with them at night, and slept in their company.

Now, here one has to consider whether, after acquiring an eternal spiritual body, i.e., after gaining that immortal body which entitled him, having been freed from the necessity of eating and drinking, to sit on the right hand of God and to be free of all wounds, and pain, and infirmities, it still suffered from one defect, although it had the glory of the Eternal and Ever-Existing God -the defect, namely, that his body had on it fresh wounds of the Cross and the nails, which were bleeding and were very painful and for which an ointment had been prepared, and even after acquiring a glorious and an immortal body, eternally sound, faultless, perfect, and unchangeable, that same body continued to suffer from defects of many kinds: Jesus himself showed to his disciples the flesh and bones of his body, and again, not only this, but there were also the pangs of hunger and thirst -necessities of the mortal body; otherwise, where was the need for him during the journey to Galilee to do such useless things as eating and drinking water, resting, and sleeping? Undoubtedly, hunger and thirst, in this world, are painful for the mortal body, which may even prove fatal if they become extreme. So there is no doubt that Jesus did not die on the Cross, nor did he acquire a new spiritual body: rather, he was in a state of death-like swoon when he was taken from the Cross.

Through the grace of God, it so happened that the tomb in which he was placed was an airy apartment. In those days the custom of the Jews was to make the tomb airy like a commodious chamber, leaving an opening in it. Such tombs were kept ready; and as the occasion required, dead bodies were interred in them. The gospels bear clear testimony to this: Luke says, 'Now upon the first day of the week very early in the morning [i.e., when it was still dark] they [i.e., the women] came unto the sepulchre bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre [just consider this!] and they entered in and found not the body of the Lord Jesus'.-(Luke 24:1-3)

Now consider for a moment the words, 'They entered in.' It is evident that a man can only enter a tomb which is like a room and has an opening. This is a fine point which when pondered over will lead investigators in this field to a great and important conclusion.

Among the testimonies of the gospels are the words of Pilate, recorded by Mark: 'And now when the evening was come, because it was the preparation, that is the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, an honourable counsellor, who also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead.' –(Mark 15:42-44).

This would show that at the time of the crucifixion itself a doubt had been raised whether Jesus had in fact died and the doubt emanated from no less a person than one who knew from experience how long it took a person to die on the Cross.

Among the testimonies of the gospels is the verse, 'The Jews, therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the Cross on the Sabbath day, besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers and broke the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was dead already they broke not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water'. –(John 19:31-34).

These verses clearly show that in order to put an end to the life of a crucified person it was the practice in those days to keep him on the Cross for several days, and then to break his legs, but the legs of Jesus were purposely not broken, and he was taken down alive from the Cross, like the two thieves. That was the reason why there came out blood when his side was pierced. The blood however, conceals after death. And, here, it appears also that all this was the result of a conspiracy. Pilate was a God-fearing and a good-hearted man; he could not openly show favour to Jesus for fear of the Caesar; for the Jews had declared Jesus a rebel.

All the same, Pilate did not desire that Jesus should suffer crucifixion. The gospels point out clearly that Pilate had several times resolved to let Jesus go, but the Jews said that if he would let him go he would be disloyal to Caesar; they also said that Jesus was a rebel who wished to be king. –(John 19:12).

And the dream which Pilate's wife had, further prompted the freeing of Jesus; otherwise, Pilate and his wife themselves would have been exposed to disaster. But, as the Jews were a mischievous people, ready even secretly to inform the Caesar of Pilate's action, Pilate made use of a device to rescue Jesus: first, he fixed Friday for the crucifixion, only a few hours before sunset, and the night of the Great Sabbath was about to fall. Pilate knew very well that the Jews, in accordance with the commandments of their law, could keep Jesus on the Cross only till the evening, and after that it was unlawful to keep anybody on the Cross.

Accordingly, it all happened in this very manner; and Jesus was taken down from the Cross before it was evening. It is improbable that the thieves who were crucified at the same time as Jesus should have remained alive, but that Jesus should have died within two hours. It was an excuse made up to save Jesus from the process of leg breaking. The fact that both the thieves were taken down alive from the Cross is sufficient evidence for an intelligent person: and taking down the victims alive from the Cross was the usual custom; they died only when their bones were broken, or when they were allowed to remain on the Cross without food or drink for some days.

But Jesus had none of these experiences -he neither remained for any number of days on the Cross, nor were his bones broken; and by making it appear that Jesus had died the Jews were made to forget the whole matter. The thieves, however, were killed immediately -their bones were broken. It would have been different if it had been said in regard to one of the thieves also that he was dead and that there was no need to break his bones. And a man named Joseph -an honoured friend of Pilate and a notable person in the locality and a secret disciple of Jesus -presented himself at the right time. May be he too was called at Pilate's suggestion. And Jesus having been taken for dead, his body was made over to him, for he was a big man with whom the Jews could have no quarrel.

Arriving at the scene he carried away Jesus as if he were a corpse. Actually he was in a state of swoon. There was a spacious house near by, built according to the custom of the time like a tomb, with an opening in it, and situated at a place with which the Jews had nothing to do. Jesus was placed in this house at the suggestion of Pilate. These events happened in the fourteenth century after the death of Moses; and, Jesus was the Restorer of the Israelite law in the fourteenth century. Though the Jews were looking out in this fourteenth century for the Promised Messiah, and the prophecies of the previous prophets also pointed to this very time for his appearance, yet, alas! the unworthy priests of the Jews did not recognize the time and the season, and rejected the Promised Messiah as an impostor.

Not only this; they declared him an unbeliever, pronounced the decree of death against him, and dragged him into court. This showed that God had assembled in the fourteenth century the influences which made the people's hearts callous, the priests worldly, blind, and enemies of truth.

Among the testimonies which show that Jesus was saved from the Cross is the one narrated in Matthew (26:36-46), which relate that after getting information, through revelation, of his impending arrest, Jesus prayed to God all night, on his face, and in tears, and such prayer offered with such humility, and for which Jesus had ample time, could not go unaccepted; for the cry of an elect of God, addressed at a time of distress, is never turned down. How was it then, that the prayer of Jesus which he had addressed all night with a painful heart and in a state of distress was rejected?

Jesus had said: The Father who is in heaven listens to me. Therefore, when his prayer addressed in such a state of distress was not heard, how can it be said that God heard his prayers? The gospels also show that Jesus was certain at heart that his prayer had been accepted; he had great confidence in that prayer. That is why when he was arrested and put on the Cross, and when he found the circumstances not according to his expectations, he involuntarily cried 'Eli, Eli lama sabachthani', meaning, 'My God, my God why hast Thou forsaken me.', i.e., he did not expect that it would come to this -that he would die on the Cross. He believed that his prayer would be heard.

So, both these references to the gospel show that Jesus firmly believed that his prayer would be heard and accepted, that his tearful supplications addressed throughout the night would not be wasted, whereas he had himself taught his disciples, on divine authority: When you pray, the prayer will be accepted. Further, he had also narrated the parable of the judge who feared neither man nor God. The purpose of this parable was that the disciples should realize that God undoubtedly answered prayers.

Although Jesus knew from God that there was a great affliction in store for him, yet, like all righteous persons, he prayed to God, believing that there was nothing impossible for God and that God determined whether any events would happen or not. Therefore, the rejection of Jesus' own prayer would have shaken the faith of the disciples. Was it possible to place before the disciples an example destructive of their faith? If they had seen with their own eyes that the prayer of a great prophet like Jesus, addressed all night with burning passion, was not accepted, the unfortunate example would have been very trying for their faith. Therefore, the Merciful God could not but have accepted this prayer. It is certain the prayer offered at Gethsemane was accepted.

There is another point in this connection. Just as there was a conspiracy to kill Jesus, and for this propose the chief priests and the scribes assembled together at the palace of the high priest called Caiaphas to devise a plan to kill Jesus, so there was a conspiracy to murder Moses. But the powerful God saved both great prophets from evil designs.

The point in this is that God Almighty undoubtedly accepts prayers especially when His trustful servants, go to His door oppressed; He attends to their plaints, and helps them in strange ways. Why is it then that the prayer of Jesus uttered in such agony was not accepted? No, it was accepted. God saved him. God created circumstances on earth and in heaven to rescue him. John, the prophet Yahya, had had no time to pray, for his end had arrived, but Jesus had the whole night to pray, and he spent the whole night in prayer, standing and in prostration before God, for God had willed that he should give expression to his distress and should ask for his release from Him to Whom nothing was impossible. 

So the Lord, in accordance with His eternal practice, heard his prayer. The Jews uttered a falsehood when, crucifying Jesus, they made the taunt that he relied upon God: why did not God save him? For God nullified all the designs of the Jews and saved His beloved Messiah from the Cross and the curse involved in it. The Jews had failed.

Among the testimonies of the gospel which have reached us is the verse from Matthew: 'That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation'-(Matthew 23:35-36)

Now, if you think over these verses you will find that Jesus clearly states that the killing of prophets by the Jews ceased with the prophet Zacharias, and that after that, the Jews would have no power to kill any prophet. This is a great prophecy which clearly points out that Jesus was not killed as the result of crucifixion; he was rather saved from the Cross. For if Jesus was also to suffer death by murder like Zacharias, at the hands of the Jews, he would have hinted in these verses at his own murder. If it is urged that Jesus also was killed by the Jews but his being killed was not a sin on the Jews' part, for Jesus' death was of the nature of an atonement, the contention is hardly tenable, for in John (19:11), Jesus clearly says that the Jews have been guilty of a great sin for having resolved to kill Jesus; and likewise, in many other places there is the clear hint that as a penalty for the crime of which they had been guilty against Jesus, they had deserved punishment in the sight of God. -(Matthew 26:24)

And among the testimonies of the gospel which have reached us namely: 'Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.'-(Matthew 16:28) Likewise, 'Jesus saith unto him, if I will that he (John) tarry ( in Jerusalem) till I come.'-(John 21:22)

This means: 'If I will, John will not die till I come again'. These verses show with great clarity that Jesus had made a promise that some people would continue to live till his return; among these he had named John. So the fulfilment of this promise was inevitable. Accordingly, even Christians have admitted that in order that the prophecy may be taken to have been fulfilled, Jesus' coming at a time when some of the people of that age were still alive was inevitable, so that the prophecy should have been fulfilled according to its promise. This is the basis of the clergyman's declaration that Jesus, in accordance with his promise, had come to Jerusalem at the time of its destruction and that John had seen him, as he was alive at that time.

But let it be noted that Christians do not say that Jesus really came down from heaven accompanied by appointed signs; they rather say that he appeared to John as in a vision, that he might fulfil his prophecy contained in Matthew (16:28). But its true that coming of this kind does not fulfil the prophecy. That is a very weak interpretation which only avoids with difficulty the criticism levelled against this position. This interpretation is patently untenable and wrong, so much so, that there is no need to refute it, for if Jesus had to appear to anyone in a dream or a vision, a prophecy of this kind would be ridiculous.

In such manner Jesus had also appeared to Paul long before this. It appears that the prophecy contained in Matthew (16:28) has caused a panic among the padres and they have not been able to give it a rational meaning in accordance with their own beliefs, for it was difficult for them to say that Jesus at the time of the sacking of Jerusalem had descended from heaven in glory, and that like the lightning that lights up all heaven and is seen by everybody, all had seen him; and also it was not easy for them to ignore the statement, namely: Some of those who were standing here will not taste death till they have seen the Son of man coming in his Kingdom. Therefore, as a result of a laboured interpretation they believed in the fulfilment of the prophecy in the shape of a vision. But this is not true; righteous servants of God always appear in visions to the elect and for a vision it is not even necessary that they should appear only in a dream; nay, they can be seen even in the waking state; many have experienced of such phenomena & that does not fulfil the prophecy of Matthew (16:28).

So, what actually happened was that Jesus knew that he would be saved from the Cross and would migrate to another land, that God would neither let him die nor would take him away from this world, so long as he had not seen the destruction of the Jews with his own eyes, and that he would not die so long as the fruits of the Kingdom, which the spiritually eminent are given by heaven, were not realized. Jesus made this prophecy so that he might give an assurance to the disciples that, presently they would see the signs that those who had raised the sword against him would be killed with the sword during his own life-time and in his very presence. If, therefore, evidence is of any value there is for Christians no evidence greater than this: that Jesus with his own tongue makes the prophecy that some of them would still be alive when he would come again.

It should be noticed that the gospels contain two kinds of prophecies about the coming of Jesus:

1.  The promise of his coming in the latter days; his coming is of a spiritual character, and resembles the second coming of the prophet Elijah, in the time of Jesus. So, like Elijah, he has already appeared in this age; and it is I, the writer; a servant of humanity, who has come as the Promised Messiah, in the name of Jesus. Jesus has given the news of my coming in the gospels. Blessed is he who, out of respect for Jesus, ponders with honesty and truth over my coming, and thus saves himself from stumbling.

2.  The other kind of prophecies regarding the second coming of Jesus mentioned in the gospels have, in reality, been mentioned as evidence of the life which, by the grace of God, remained intact during the experience of the Cross; God saved His eminent servant from death on the Cross, as the prophecy just now mentioned implies-Christians are in error in mixing up these two contexts: because of this, they are confused and have to face many difficulties. In short, the verse in chapter 16 of Matthew is a very important piece of evidence in support of Jesus' escape from the Cross.

Among the testimonies of the gospels that reached us, is- 'And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.' (Matthew 24:30).

That is, Jesus says that a time will come when, from heaven, viz. as a result of the power of divine intervention, there would come into being knowledge, arguments and evidence which will invalidate the beliefs of Jesus' divinity, his death on the Cross and his going up into heaven and coming again; and that heaven will bear witness against the lies of those who denied his being a true prophet, for example, the Jews; and who, on the other hand, regarded him, because of his crucifixion, as a man accursed, for the fact of his not having suffered death on the Cross and therefore of his not being accursed would be clearly established; that then all the nations of the earth, who had exaggerated or detracted from his true status would become greatly ashamed of their error; that, in the same age, when this fact would be established, people would see Jesus' metaphorical descent to the earth, i.e., in those very days the Promised Messiah, who would come in the power and spirit of Jesus, would appear with all the lustrous signs, and heavenly support and with the power and glory which would be recognised.

The verse -further explained -means that God's destiny has made the personality of Jesus and fashioned the events of his life so as to cause some people to exaggerate, and others to minimize his status, i.e., there are people who have taken him out of the category of human beings, so much so that they say that he has not yet died and is sitting alive in heaven. The people who have outrun these are those who say that, having died on the Cross and come to life again, he has gone up to heaven and become invested with all the powers of divinity; nay, he is God Himself.

The other people are the Jews, who say that he was killed on the Cross and therefore he is accursed for all time; he is doomed to be the object of perpetual wrath; God is displeased with him, and looks upon him as a hated enemy; that he is a liar and an impostor and a rank unbeliever; that he is not from God. This exaggeration and detraction were so unjust that it could not but be that God should clear His true prophet of these charges.

The verse of the gospel mentioned before points to this fact. The statement that all the tribes of the earth would mourn, suggests that all those tribes to whom the description underlying the word 'nation' applies would mourn on that day; they would beat their breasts and cry, and great would be their mourning. Here Christians should follow the verse in question with some attention; they should consider that when the verse contains the prophecy that all the nations would beat their breasts, how is it that they should have nothing to do with this mourning? Are they not a nation? When, in accordance with this verse, they are included among those who are the beaters of breasts, why do they not attend to their salvation?

The verse clearly says that when the sign of Jesus would appear in heaven all the nations inhabiting the earth would mourn. So the man who says that his tribe would not mourn denies Jesus. The people, however, who are yet small in number cannot have been the people hinted at in the prophecy; they are not fit to be described as a 'nation'; and that, people or tribe are we; nay, ours is the only community which is outside the meaning and scope of this prophecy, for this community has yet only a few adherents to whom the word 'nation' or 'tribe' cannot be applied.

Jesus, on the authority of divine inspiration, says that when a sign appears in the heavens all the people of the world who, on account of their numbers, would deserve to be described as a 'tribe' or 'nation' would beat their breasts; there would be no exception but a people small in number to whom the word 'nation' would not apply. Neither Christians, nor Muslims, nor Jews, not yet any other denier, can keep out of this prophecy.

The word of a prophet can never fail. When the words contain the clear hint that every nation inhabiting the world would mourn, which of these people can claim to be outside their scope? Jesus admits of no exception in this verse. The group, however, which has not yet attained the size of a 'tribe' or a 'nation' is in any case an exception'. This prophecy has been clearly fulfilled in this age, for the truth which has now been discovered regarding Jesus is undoubtedly the cause of the mourning of all these tribes, for it has exposed the errors of all. The hue and cry of Christians over the divinity of Jesus changes into sighs of grief; the insistence of Muslims- day and night -that Jesus has gone up to the skies alive, changes into weeping and wailing; and as for the Jews, they lose everything.

Here it is necessary to mention that in the statement contained in the said verse, namely, that at that time all the nations of the earth would beat their breasts, 'earth' means the Balad-i-Sham [Palestine and Syria] with which these three peoples are connected -Jews, because that is their place of origin and their place of worship; Christians, because Jesus appeared in that place, and the first community of the Christian religion rose from that country; Muslims, because they are to be heirs to this land to the Last Day. If the word 'earth' is taken to embrace all countries, even then there is no difficulty, for when the truth is laid bare, all deniers would be ashamed.

Among the testimonies which have reached us through the gospels, is the statement set out below from the gospel of Matthew: 'And the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his (viz. Jesus') resurrection and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.’-( Matthew 27:52)

There is not the slightest doubt that the story mentioned in the gospel, namely, that after the resurrection of Jesus the saints came out of the graves and appeared alive to many, is not based on historical fact; for, if it had been so, the Judgment Day would have been enacted in this very world, and that which had been kept secret as a test of faith and sincerity would have been made manifest to all; faith would not have been faith, and, in the sight of every believer and denier, the nature of the next world would have become an evident and a patent fact, just as the existence of the moon, the sun, and the alternation of day and night is an evident fact. In that case, faith would not have been a valued and a valuable thing such as could have merited any kind of reward.

If the people and past prophets of Israel whose number is millions, had really been brought to life at the time of the Crucifixion and had come to the city alive, and if this miracle -that hundreds of prophets, and many hundred thousand of saints, were all brought to life at the same time -was really shown in proof of the truth and divinity of Jesus, the Jews had an excellent opportunity to inquire of the prophets brought back to life, and of the other saints, as well as their own deceased ancestors, whether Jesus who claimed to be God was really God or whether he had only lied.

They probably did not lose this opportunity. They must have inquired about Jesus, for they were very keen to inquire from the dead if they could be restored to life. When, therefore, hundreds of thousands of the dead were restored to life, and came to the city, and thousands of them repaired to each quarter thereof, how could the Jews let go an opportunity like this? They must have inquired, not from one or two, but from thousands; and when the dead entered their respective houses there must have been great excitement in every house, for many hundred thousand of them had been restored to the world. In every house there must have been great talk, and everybody must have been questioning the dead as to whether they knew that the man who called himself Jesus, the Messiah, was really God. But, because the Jews did not believe in Jesus, as could be expected, nor did their hearts soften, rather did they become confirmed in their hard-heartedness, it appears probably that the dead did not speak a favourable word for him. They must have given without hesitation the reply that this man was making a false claim to Godhood, and was uttering a lie against God.

That was why the Jews did not desist from mischief, in spite of hundreds of thousands of prophets and apostles being restored to life. Having 'killed' Jesus, they attempted to kill others. How can one believe that hundreds of thousands of saints who, from the time of Adam up to the time of John the Baptist, had been lying in their graves in that blessed earth, should all be brought back to life? -that they should all come to the city to preach, and everyone of them should stand up and bear witness before thousands of people that Jesus, the Messiah, was really the Son of God -no, God Himself; that only he should be worshipped; that the people should renounce their former beliefs; otherwise, they would go to hell, which these saints had themselves witnessed! and yet notwithstanding such excellent evidence and such eye-witness accounts which proceeded from the mouths of hundreds of thousands of dead saints the Jews should not desist from their denial!

No one not prepared to believe this. Therefore, if hundreds of thousands of saints and prophets and apostles, etc., who were dead, had really come to life and had come to the city to give evidence, they must undoubtedly have given unfavourable evidence; they could never have borne witness to the divinity of Jesus. This seems to be the reason why the Jews, having listened to the evidence of the dead, became confirmed in their unbelief. Jesus wanted to get them to believe in his divinity, but they, as a result of this evidence, denied that he was even a prophet.

In short, such beliefs have a highly injurious and evil effect -the beliefs, namely, that one should say that these hundreds of thousands of dead persons, or any dead person before that time, had been brought back to life by Jesus; for the restoration to life of those dead did not serve any useful purpose. A person who has visited a far-off country and who comes to his home-town after several years or absence, is naturally keen to tell the people of his strange experiences, and to relate to them the wonderful stories of the land he has visited; he will not keep mum or be tongue-tied when he meets his people after a long period of separation.

No, at such a time, others also are keen to hasten to him and to question him about that land; and if, perchance, there comes to these people some poor and lowly person, humble in appearance, and who yet claims to be the king of the country, of which the principal town had been seen by these people and who says that he is superior in his kingly rank even to such and such other king, the people always question such itinerants as to whether such and such a man, going about at that time in their country, is really the king of that land; and then, those travellers, according as they may have observed, make replies to such questions. This being so, the bringing of the dead to life by Jesus was, as stated before, worthy of being believed in, in case the evidence on which the dead must have been questioned -which questioning was natural -had led to some useful result. But here it is not so.

Therefore, along with the supposition that the dead were brought back to life, one is compelled also to suppose that the dead did not give evidence favourable to Jesus, such as could lead one to believe in his truth; they rather gave evidence which added to the confusion. Would that instead of truly human beings brought to life, some animal had been declared to have been restored to life! It would then have solved many difficulties. For example, if it had been said that Jesus had brought back to life several thousand bullocks, it would have been 'reasonable' enough, and, if in this case there had been raised the objection as to what the evidence of these dead animals had led to, one could have immediately answered that they were bullocks -they had no tongue to give favourable or unfavourable evidence!

The dead, however, which Jesus brought back to life were human beings. Suppose some of the Hindus were asked to-day whether, if ten or twenty of their dead ancestors were restored to life and brought back to this world, and if they were to state that such and such a religion was the true religion, they would still have any doubt regarding the truth of that religion. They would never say so.

Therefore, take it for certain that there is no man in the whole world who would persist in his unbelief and denial after a disclosure of this kind. For the case in framing such stories the Indian Sikhs have fared better than Christians. The Sikhs have given proof of their astuteness in the art of inventing stories; for they state that their Guru, Bawa Nanak, once restored a dead elephant to life. Now this is a 'miracle' which is not open to the above objection. For the Sikhs can say: the elephant had no tongue to speak with that he should have borne witness in favour of or against Bawa Nanak.

In short, ordinary people, endowed with little intellect, are pleased with such 'miracles' but the wise become the target of other people's criticism and are thus worried over it. They are put to shame before those to whom such silly stories are being related.

Therefore, let it be clearly understood that accounts like these are of the nature of a vision seen after the Crucifixion by some holy persons -that the dead saints had been brought back to life and had come to the city where they paid visits to the people. Just as dreams have their interpretation mentioned even in the Holy Book of God -for example, Joseph's dream had had an interpretation -this vision also had to have an interpretation of its own; and this interpretation was that Jesus had not died on the Cross; that God had rescued him from death on the Cross.-(See Kitab T'atirul-Anam fi T'abirul-Manam by Qutbuz-Zaman Shaikh Abdul Ghani Al-Nablisi, page 289) ie if anyone sees a dream or a vision, that the dead have come out of the graves and have made for their homes, the interpretation is that a prisoner would be released from his bondage, and that he would be rescued from the hands of his persecutors. The context shows that this prisoner would be a great and a high personage. Now, it would be noticed how this interpretation applies with reason to Jesus. One can readily understand that the dead saints having been brought to life appeared to be making for the city to point out this fact, so that the wise might know that Jesus had been saved from death on the Cross. Likewise, many more references in the gospels clearly point out that Jesus did not die on the Cross; he was saved from it.

It is possible some may be entertaining in their hearts the objection that the gospels repeatedly say that Jesus died on the Cross, and then having been brought back to life, went up to heaven. This kind of objection already briefly answered, but it may say again that Jesus' meeting the disciples after his Crucifixion; his travelling up to Galilee; eating bread and meat; his display of wounds on his body: staying a night with the disciples at Emmaus; fleeing secretly from Pilate's jurisdiction; emigrating from that place, as was the practice of prophets; and travelling under the shadow of fear -all these events are conclusive that he did not die on the Cross; that his body retained its mortal character; and that it had undergone no change.

There is no evidence in the gospels that anyone saw Jesus ascend to heaven; and even if there had been such evidence, it would have been unworthy of credence, for making mountains out of mole-hills and magnifying small things into big seems to be a habit with the gospel writers. For example, if one happens to say that Jesus is the Son of God, another sets about making him into a full-fledged God, the third invests him with power over the whole universe, and the fourth bluntly says that he is everything, and that there is no other God besides him. In short, exaggerations carry them very far away.

If one considers the vision in which the dead were seen to come out of their graves and to make for the city, one would notice that this vision had been given its outer and apparent interpretation, so far as to say, that the dead had literally risen out of their graves and come to the city of Jerusalem, where they had paid visits to their people. Now, just see, how a 'feather' has been made into a 'crow'; and, then it is no longer one crow, but many million. When things are so exaggerated, we have no means of finding out the truth.

It is further worth considering that these gospels, called the Books of God, contain preposterous claims, such as that, if all the works of Jesus had been reduced to writing, these could not have been accommodated in the whole world! Is such exaggeration the way of honesty and truth? If the works of Jesus were so unlimited, and if they could not be circumscribed, how is it that they were confined to a period of three years?

Another difficulty about these gospels is that they give wrong references to some of the earlier books; they do not state accurately even the genealogy of Jesus. From the gospels it appears that these persons were dull of understanding, so much that some of them took Jesus for a ghost. These gospels from the earliest times have been open to the charge that they have not preserved the purity of their texts, and there being many other books called gospels, there is no sound reason why all the statements of these other books should be rejected, and why all that is contained in the gospels generally so called should be admitted as true.

No one can say that the other gospels contain such unfounded exaggerations as are to be found in these four gospels. It is surprising that while on the one hand they say that Jesus was a righteous person and that his character was without blemish, on the other hand there are brought against him charges unworthy of any righteous person. For example, the Israelite prophets, in accordance with the teaching of the Torah, undoubtedly had hundreds of wives at one time in order that they might thereby multiply a generation of righteous persons, but you will never have heard that any prophet had ever set such an example of freedom that he should allow an impure and an adulterous woman, a noted sinner of the city, to touch his body with her hands, to let her rub oil into his head -art of her immoral gains -and to rub her hair on his feet; that he should allow all this to be done by an unchaste young woman, and should not say to her 'Don't'.

One is saved from giving way to suspicion which naturally arises on seeing such a thing -only by trusting the goodness of Jesus. Nevertheless, the example is not good for others. In short, these gospels contain many things which show that they have not preserved their original form, or that their writers were some other persons- not the disciples. For example, can the statement of the gospel according to Matthew: 'And this is well known among the Jews till to-day', be properly ascribed to Matthew? Does it not show that the writer of the gospel of Matthew was some other person who lived at a time when Matthew had already died? Then, the same gospel of Matthew (28:12-13) says: And they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, his disciples came by night and stole him away while we slept'.

It would be noticed how unconvincing and irrational such statements are. If the meaning of this statement is that the Jews wanted to conceal the rising of Jesus from the dead, and that they had bribed the soldiers in order that this great miracle should not become generally known, why was it that Jesus, whose duty it was to proclaim this miracle among the Jews, kept it a secret; nay, he forbade even others to disclose it? If it is urged that he was afraid of being caught, I would say, that when the decree of God had descended upon him, and he had, after suffering death, come to life again, assuming a spiritual and a glorious body, what fear did he now have of the Jews -surely the Jews now had no power over him; he was now beyond and above mortal existence? One observes with regret that while, on the one hand, it is said that he was made to live again and assume a spiritual body, that he met the disciples and went to Galilee and thence went to heaven, he is nevertheless afraid of the Jews for quite trivial things and, in spite of his glorious body, he fled secretly from the country, lest the Jews discover him; he made a journey of seventy miles to Galilee in order to save his life and time and again asked the people not to mention this to others. Are these the signs and ways of a glorious body?

No, the truth is that it was not a new and a glorious body -it was the same body, with wounds on it, which had been saved from death; and, as there was still the fear of the Jews, Jesus, making use of all precautions, left the land. All talk of anything contrary to this is absurd -as the one about the Jews having bribed the soldiers in order to make them say that the disciples had stolen the corpse while they (the soldiers) were asleep. If the soldiers were asleep they could be very well asked how they came to know in their sleep that the corpse of Jesus had been stolen away.

From the mere fact of Jesus not being in the tomb, can anybody in reason believe that he had gone up to heaven? May there not be other causes as a result of which tombs might remain empty. At the time of going up to heaven, it was up to Jesus to meet a few hundred Jews, and also Pilate. Whom was he afraid of in his glorious body. He did not care to furnish his opponents with the slightest proof.

On the contrary, he took fright and fled to Galilee. That is why we positively believe that though it is true that he left the tomb, a chamber with an opening, and though it is true that he secretly met the disciples, yet it is not true that he was given any new and glorious body; it was the same body, and the same wounds, and there was the same fear in his heart lest the accursed Jews arrest him again. Just read attentively Matthew (28:7-10). These verses clearly say that the women who were told by someone that Jesus was alive and was going to Galilee, and who were also told quietly that they should inform the disciples, were no doubt pleased to hear this, but they went with a terrified heart, -they were still afraid lest Jesus might still be caught by some wicked Jew.

The ninth verse says, that while these women were on their way to inform the disciples, Jesus met and saluted them. The tenth verse says that Jesus asked them not to be afraid, i.e. of his being caught; he asked them to inform his brethren that they should all go to Galilee; that they would see him there, i.e., he could not stay there for fear of the enemy.

In short, if Jesus had really come to life after his death and had assumed a glorious body, it was up to him to furnish proof of such life to the Jews. But we know that he did not do this. It is absurd, therefore, to accuse the Jews of trying to render negatory the proof of Jesus' coming to life again. No, Jesus himself has not given the slightest proof of his restoration to life; rather, by his secret flight, by the fact of his taking food, and sleep, and exhibiting his wounds, he himself proved that he did not die on the Cross.

 The End.
Not Yet Verified

Jesus in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmed

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