I’ve heard that other faiths deny it was really Jesus who was up on the cross. How do you respond?
It’s true that many Muslims deny Jesus died on the cross. What’s their rationale? It’s based on a single passage in the Qur’an, Surah 4:156–157, which says, “They did not kill him, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them.” They typically interpret this to mean that God made someone else look like Jesus, and he let that man suffer on the cross instead of him.
There are several problems with this perspective. First, why would God deceive Jesus’ family and followers, and ultimately the entire world, by making us think Jesus was crucified if he really wasn’t—and why would he make someone else needlessly suffer?
Second, the Qur’an does not present an eyewitness account of what happened to Jesus. It was written six hundred years after the time of Christ, and some six hundred miles from where Jesus lived, died, and was raised from the dead. Further, it doesn’t even claim to be based on the accounts of anyone who saw or recorded any of those events. Rather, it claims to be based on the words of an angel who purportedly spoke to Muhammad in a cave.
Third, it contradicts the actual historical record of Jesus in the New Testament, written by his followers who walked and talked with him for three years—and who saw him die an excruciating death on the cross and then come back again three days later, fully alive.
And finally, this claim flies in the face of the actual words of Jesus—whom Muslims believe to be a prophet from God—when he predicted he was “going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” (Mark 9:31).
We can rest assured that it really was Jesus on the cross, suffering for our sins just as he predicted, paying for our salvation just as he promised.
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus, in Mark 10:45