Did Jesus die on cross?
As comes to the death of
Jesus on the cross, it is often a stumbling block or foolishness to people -
also to Muslims. For example, during the time of Apostle Paul there was also this
kind of a negative attitude, and that is why he wrote this:
- (1 Cor 1:18) For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish
foolishness; but to us which are
saved it is the power of God.
- (1 Cor 1:23-24) But we preach
Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness;
24 †But to them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the
power of God, and the wisdom of God.
Many Muslims nowadays think
like this. They may think that the death of Jesus on the cross was foolish, and
it is simply impossible for them to believe that the faithful servant of Allah
would have been killed in this way. According to them, it would not have been
suitable for a prophet and that is why it has been suggested that someone else
who looked like Jesus died on the cross and that Jesus Himself was taken
directly to Heaven before this. Jesus not being nailed on the cross has been
justified only by one passage in the Koran, which is in Sura 4:
They denied the truth and
uttered a monstrous falsehood against Mary. They declared: 'We have put to
death the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, the apostle of God.' They did not
kill him, nor did they crucify him, but they thought they did. Those that
disagreed about him were in doupt concerning him; they knew nothing about him
that was not sheer conjecture; they did not slay him for-certain. (4:156,157)
However, as far as this view
is concerned, we can find several points that go against this claim. Let's
study this issue through the next points:
Other passages in the Koran. Even though we
can have the understanding that Jesus did not die on the cross from one place
in the Koran (4:157), other passages also speak on behalf of the death of
Jesus. They indicate that he really died just like, for example, John the
I was blessed on the day I
was born, and blessed I shall be on the day of my death; and may peace
be upon me on the day when I shall be raised to life.' Such was Jesus,
the son of Mary. That is the whole truth, which they still doubt. (19:33,34)
(also in the same Sura verse 15 is said about John the Baptist as next: Blessed
was he on the day he was born and the day of his death; and may peace be on him
when he is raised to life.)
He said: 'Jesus, I am
about to cause you to die and lift you up to Me. I shall take you away from
the unbelievers and exalt your followers above them till the Day of
Then God will say: 'Jesus,
son of Mary, did you ever say to mankind: "Worship me and my mother as gods
besides God?"'... I told them only what You bade me. I said: "Serve God, my Lord and your
Lord." I watched over them while living in their midst, and ever since You took
me to Yourself. You have been watching them. You are the witness of all things.
In addition, we can
understand from the Koran that the violent death of prophets is also possible;
the usual understanding that it would be unusual or shameful goes against what
has been written:
To those that declare: 'God has
commanded us to believe in no apostle unless he brings down fire to consume an
offering,' say: 'Other apostles before me have come to you with
veritable signs and worked the miracle you asked for. Why did you slay them,
if what you say be true?' (3:183)
But they broke their
covenant, denied the revelations of God, and killed the prophets unjustly.
They said: 'Our hearts are sealed... (4:155)
Books of history. One good indication of the crucifixion of Jesus
are historical books. In some of them, there are clear notes about how Jesus
was crucified by the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of Emperor
Tiberius. If this did really not take place, they would not have mentioned it:
Historian Josephus: "Jesus lived in
those times. (...) Many Jews and Greeks followed him. He was Christ. Provoked by
our influential men Pilate, however, condemned him to death on the cross.
However, those who had loved him before continued to be faithful to him."
Cornelius Tacitus: "The name had
been given them according to a certain Christ, whom procurator Pontius Pilate
condemned and nailed onto the cross in the reign of Tiberius."
Thallus, a Samaritan by
birth, also referred to Jesus in his book as early as in 52 A.D. He thought
that the darkness at the time of Jesus' crucifixion was the result of a solar
The Talmud (Sanhedrin 43, a) mentions that
Jesus was crucified on Easter.
The eye-witnesses. Even though many
Muslims think that Jesus was not crucified, the Bible tells another story. The
crucifixion is mentioned in many Bible verses, people could also appeal to
other or themselves having been eye-witnesses.
†† A good question is whether it is sensible for us to trust in
witnesses who lived 600-2,000 years after the crucifixion and did not have any
personal information about it, or would it be wiser to trust in the witnesses
and eye-witnesses who actually saw it happen? If we now think, that we know
more than these original witnesses, wouldn't that be the same as if a person,
who has been a 1000 kilometres from the place of a traffic accident, came to be
the witness of this accident "with his precise information"? We can therefore
ask how anyone could take us seriously if we were these kinds of witnesses?
- (John 19:30-35) When Jesus
therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his
head, and gave up the ghost.
31 †The Jews
therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain
on the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,)
sought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken
32 †Then came the
soldiers, and broke the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified
33 †But when
they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they broke not his
34 †But one of the
soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and immediately came there out blood
35 †And he that saw it bore record, and his record is true: and
he knows that he said true, that you might believe.
- (Luke 23:32-33) And there were
also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.
33 †And when they
were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him,
and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
- (Acts 2:22-25) You men of Israel, hear
these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and
wonders and signs, which God did by him in the middle of you, as you
yourselves also know:
23 †Him, being
delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken,
and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
24 †Whom God
has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not
possible that he should be held of it.
25 †For David speaks concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before
my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:"
Substitute theory. As comes to the
crucifixion of Jesus, a theory has been presented claiming that someone else,
such as Judas Iscariot or Simon Cyrene was on the cross instead of Jesus. It
has been claimed that Jesus Himself was taken directly to Heaven, while God
threw his appearance either on Judas or on Simon Cyrene, and that is why one of
them was executed instead of Jesus.
†† However, as far as this theory is concerned, there are a few apparent
problems with it making it clear that it cannot be true:
The destiny of Judas. First of all, as
comes to the idea of Judas Iscariot being on the cross instead of Jesus, we
cannot find any evidence to support this from the Bible. The Bible clearly says
that Judas died by his own hand: he hanged himself. It took place soon after he
repented betraying Jesus:
- (Matt 27:3-5) Then Judas, which
had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the
chief priests and elders,
4 †Saying, I have
sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that
to us? see you to that.
5 †And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed,
and went and hanged himself.
The honesty of God. If we think about
the alternative that Simon was on the cross instead of Jesus, the Bible does
not refer to that either. Certainly Simon himself would have been strongly
against that and reacted if this really took place.
†† We can also ask would God have played a dirty trick like this on
people, as He does not allow lying to others? Would He not be deceitful if He
†† What about Jesus, the prophet of God? How could He have allowed
this kind of a deception to take place? It seems impossible.
Jesus' own words. One good proof of
the crucifixion of Jesus are His own words that He said already long before His
crucifixion. He said that He Himself would give His life on the cross for the
sake of our sins:
- (Matt 16:21) From that time forth began Jesus to show to his
disciples, how that he must go to
Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and
scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
- (Matt 20:28) Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but
to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
- (John 10:9-11,17-19) I am the door: by
me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find
10 †The thief
comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they
might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
11 †I am the good
shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.
17 †Therefore does
my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 †No man
takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down,
and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my
19 †There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these
The fulfillment of
prophecies. One issue that is connected to the crucifixion of Jesus, the Messiah,
are several prophesies which have been prophesied about Him and His death. These prophesies
refer to His death and its hour (Dan 9:24-26), saying that it should happen
before the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple (70 A.D.). Let's look at
some of these prophesies:
Daniel's year-week prophecy. First of all,
Daniel 9:24-26 says that the Messiah will experience a violent death. Daniel
clearly says that He will be destroyed. Daniel also says that this should
happen before the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple.
†† We now know from history that Roman Titus destroyed Jerusalem
and the temple with his army exactly in 70 A.D. (which is still one of the
largest mass destructions in history). This would mean that the Messiah
must have come and also died before that - "shall Messiah be cut off".
Certainly, Jesus as a person and His death on the cross best fit this prophecy.
- (Dan 9:24-26) Seventy weeks are
determined on your people and on your holy
city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make
reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to
seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
25 †Know therefore
and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to
build Jerusalem to the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks,
and three score and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall,
even in troublous times.
26 †And after three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off,
but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall
destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a
flood, and to the end of the war desolations are determined.
Zechariah 12:10 and Isaiah
53. The prophecy above refers to the violent death of the Messiah -
""shall Messiah be cut off" - and we can also find a few other
prophecies referring to the same and to how He, the Messiah, was wounded for
the sake of our sins - this is the basic teaching of the New Testament. These
prophesies can be found in the Books of Zechariah and Isaiah and can be read
below. There is also the fulfillment of these prophesies and how they were
fulfilled in the life of Jesus and in His death:
- (Isa 53:4-12); Surely he has borne our
griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten
of God, and afflicted.
5 †But he
was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our
iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was on him; and with his
stripes we are healed.
6 †All we like
sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the
LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 †He was
oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought
as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he
opens not his mouth.
8 †He was
taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his
generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for
the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 †And he made
his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death;
because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 †Yet it pleased
the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when you shall make his soul
an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the
pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11 †He shall see
of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my
righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 †Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall
divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul to
death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin
of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
- (Matt 27:31) And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own
raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
- (John 19:18) Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the middle.
- (Zec 12:10) And I will pour on the house of David, and on the
inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and
they shall look on me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for
him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one
that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
- (John 19:34-37) But one of the
soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and immediately came there out blood
35 †And he that
saw it bore record, and his record is true: and he knows that he said true,
that you might believe.
36 †For these
things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall
not be broken.
37 †And again another scripture said, They shall look on him
whom they pierced.