For the QuranicChrist’s Facebook Series on Survival from the Cross, some excerpts corresponding to the discussion of each post are posted here. The references within each excerpt are included (or bracketed) within the text. Others have been assimilated to form a single list at the end. Lastly, a note from the QuranicChrist team:
“To all our Christian brothers and sisters, we would like to emphasize that Muslims revere Jesus (peace be upon him) to the highest degree as a noble Prophet of God. Nothing we say is meant to injure your feelings. However, we firmly believe that our understanding of his life is the truth, and that grasping this truth can make one a true follower of his.”
Part 1: An Accursed Death?
Otherwise too, he must needs to have escaped death on the cross, for it was stated in the Holy Book [Deuteronomy 21:23] that whoever was hanged on the cross was accursed. The term ‘accursed’ has a connotation, which would be cruel and unfair to apply to a chosen one of God like Jesus. According to the agreed view of all whose mother tongue is Arabic, la’nat, or curse, has reference to the state of one’s heart. A man is said to be accursed when his heart, having been estranged from God, becomes dark; when, deprived of divine mercy and of divine love, devoid absolutely of His knowledge, blind and deaf like Satan, he is saturated with the poison of unbelief; when there remains not a ray of divine love and knowledge in him; when the bonds of love and loyalty are broken, and, between him and God, mutual hatred and disdain and spite and hostility take root, so much so that they become enemies; and God becomes weary of him and he becomes weary of God; in short, he becomes an heir to all the attributes of the Devil. That is why the Devil himself is called the accursed.
The connotation of the word ‘accursed’ is so foul and unclean that it can never apply to a righteous person who entertains the love of God in his heart. It is a pity that Christians did not consider the significance of curse when they invented this belief; otherwise, they could never have used such a degrading word for a righteous man like Jesus.
(Jesus in India, p. 19)
Part 2: The Sign of Jonah
Jesus when called upon by the Jews to show them a sign said:
An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.1
This saying of Jesus settles the question once and for all. The Jews sought to kill him, but he escaped death. They did all that lay in their power to put him to death but God delivered him from their hands. Thus, his escape was a sign for the Jews. The words of Jesus indicated the way in which the sign was to be shown and the manner in which he was to be delivered from the hands of his murderous foes. He was to be placed in the belly of the earth like one dead, but his case was to be like that of Jonah in the belly of the whale. The latter, while in the belly of the whale, was not dead but alive. Similarly, Jesus was to be alive, not dead in the bosom of the earth. Jesus, by comparing his case to that of Jonah, clearly indicated the way in which he was to escape. He was to enter the sepulchre alive and come out of it alive, just as Jonah had entered his living sepulchre alive and had come out of it alive.”
(Where did Jesus Die, p. 13)
Part 3: Jesus’ Prayers
We believe the aforementioned prayer of Jesus was heard by God and accepted. Our belief is based on the following grounds:
1. Jesus himself claims that God heard his prayers:
Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always.2
He also enjoins others to pray and says that God will answer their prayers.3 He says also:
What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?4
Now, if even Jesus’ own prayer, uttered in agony with such earnestness and sincerity, and concerning so important a matter as his threatened death by crucifixion was disregarded, his injunctions to his disciples that they should pray for what they required and his statement that their prayers will be answered would seem to have little meaning. We have no option, therefore, but to believe that God did hears prayer and thus saved him from the ‘accursed’ death.
2. Concerning the acceptance of his prayer, the following texts from the Psalms may be quoted:
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet…But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me…For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.5
Also in Psalm 34 we read:
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.6
In John 19:23 to 36, both the Psalms have been applied to Jesus Christ.In regard to the second it will be remembered that whilst the limbs of the two thieves put on the cross with Christ were broken, Jesus was left untouched. Thus, God, hearing his prayer, saved him from the ‘accursed’ death.
3. Jesus himself believed that God had accepted his prayer and that he would not die on the cross, wherefore when he realised his terrible condition, nailed on to the cross without seemingly the slightest chance of escape, for the rest time a doubt assailed him which found expression in the despairing cry, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’7 God did not forsake him. He had prepared his deliverance. If, however, we assume that he died on the cross, then we must think that God did, indeed, forsake him, a consequence totally at variance with his words: ‘Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.’8
(Where did Jesus Die?, p. 5-8)
Part 4: Pilate and His Wife’s Dream
This warning, given to Pilate by God through his wife, at the very commencement of the trial, was a clear revelation of the will of God to Pilate who himself believed in Jesus’ innocence, and knew that for envy the Jews had delivered him up.2 What was then the purpose of this dream which God showed to the Governor’s wife, if he did not intend to save Jesus from death? When Herod sought to kill Jesus in his childhood, Joseph also was warned against Herod’s evil intention, by way of a dream in order to save Jesus’ life and, accordingly, Joseph took him and his mother to Egypt.3 Likewise, God revealed His will to Pilate through his wife.
(Where did Jesus Die?, p.14)
Perhaps it was this urgent protestation by his wife that led Pilate to make a show of absolving himself of the responsibility of his condemnation of Jesus:
So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” (Matt 27:24)
This amounted to a confession on his part that Jesus was indeed innocent and that the harsh judgement passed by him was under duress. It is quite clear from the New Testament that the powerful Jewish community had colluded against Jesus and was determined to have him punished. So any decision by Pilate contrary to Jewish wishes could have resulted in a grave law and order situation. This was Pilate’s compulsion which rendered him helpless and was displayed in the act of washing his hands.
Pilate had also made another attempt to save Jesus. He gave the enraged crowds an option either to save Jesus’ life or that of a notorious criminal called Barabbas (Matt 27:16–17). This provides us with a significant clue to the state of Pilate’s mind at that time. He was quite obviously against the idea of sentencing Jesus. It was in this psychological state that he fixed Friday afternoon to be the day and time of the execution. What actually happened was a clear indication that he did it on purpose because the Sabbath was not very far from Friday afternoon and he, as the custodian of law, knew better than anyone else that before the Sabbath began by sunset, Jesus’ body would have to be taken down; and that is exactly what happened…
…The surprise which we notice in the last words of Jesus Christas was also shared by Pilate himself: ‘Already dead’, is what he exclaimed when the incident of death was reported to him (Mark 15:44). He must have had a long experience with crucifixion during his tenure as Governor of Judea and could not have expressed his surprise unless he was convinced that it is unusual for death to overtake crucified person within the short period of only a few hours. Yet he had to accept the plea to release the body under mysterious circumstances…he conceded to the request to release the body despite doubtful reports of Jesus’ death.
Part 5: Medical Testimony
In this closing scene, the plan of God: “The enemies of Jesus devised their plans and God devised His plan; God is the Best of Planners” [Qur’an 3:55]; can be clearly discerned. Jesus perceived that his end was approaching and cried out: ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ Immediately thereupon a sponge filled with vinegar was put to him to drink. This, instead of affording him any relief, caused him to be suffocated and he cried out: It is finished. By that time it was dark and the order was given to break the legs of those who were hung upon the cross, but when the soldiers came to Jesus, it seemed to them that he was dead already and they did not break his legs, but one of them pierced his side with a spear and forthwith came there out blood and water, which was an indication that blood had not stopped circulating. The spear had not touched the heart but had injured the lung. The strain under which Jesus had laboured during the day, his agony upon the cross, his drinking of the vinegar and the thrust of the spear in his side which injured the lung, all combined to bring about a condition in which his breathing stopped but the circulation of the blood continued. to all appearance, he had died, but in truth, despite the semblance of death, he was alive.
(Deliverance from the Cross, p. 32-33)
But when they came to Jesus and found him already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear bringing a sudden flow of blood and water (John 19:33–34).
If he was dead and his heart had stopped beating, such active bleeding as would cause the blood to rush out or gush out would be impossible. At most, coagulated blood and plasma could have passively seeped out. But that is not the picture which the New Testament presents, it says that blood and water rushed out. As far as the mention of water is concerned it should not be surprising for Jesus to have developed pleurisy during the extremely exacting and punishing hours of trial that he spent upon the cross. Also, the stress of the Crucifixion could have resulted in exudates from the pleura to collect likes bags of water, which is medically termed as wet pleurisy. This condition, which is otherwise dangerous and painful, seems to have turned into an advantage for Jesus because when his side was pierced the swollen pleura could easily have played the role of a cushion protecting the chest organs from being directly penetrated by the spear. Water mixed with blood rushed out because of an active heart.
Christianity: A Journey From Facts to Fiction, p. 77-78
“Crucifixion was a very lingering punishment, and proved fatal not so much by loss of blood, since the wounds in the hands and feet did not lacerate any large vessel, and were nearly closed by the nails which produced them, as by the slow process of nervous irritation and exhaustion (p. 55).”
“But the sudden death of a young and robust man, after the crucifixion of only six hours, was extraordinary, and to them unaccountable” (p. 133).
“In their laborious attempts to prove that for some time before his death Christ was reduced to a state of extreme debility, the Gruners strongly insist on the accessory or subordinate sufferings of the crucifixion, as materially occurring with the principal ones in producing this effect; but on an impartial examination of the matter, their insufficiency is obvious. The scourging, mockery, and labour of carrying the cross were not in themselves more distressing to Jesus than to the malefactors who accompanied him…his removal from place to place was not likely to be attended with much fatigue, since all the places lay within a narrow compass; and the heat of climate could not have very oppressive in Jerusalem at the vernal equinox to a native of the country.”
(On the Physical Death of Christ by William Stroud)
Part 6: Post-Crucifixion Jesus
According to the Biblical account, after the body was handed over to Joseph of Arimathea, it was immediately removed to a secret place of burial, a sepulchre with enough room not only for Jesus but also for two of his attendants to sit and take care of him…
That is not all, we are informed in the New Testament that an ointment, which had been prepared in advance, was applied to Jesus’ wounds (John 19:39–40). This ointment, prepared by the disciples of Jesus, contained ingredients which have properties of healing wounds and subduing pain etc. Why was there all this fuss about going through the laborious exercise of collecting twelve rare ingredients to prepare an ointment at all? The prescription used is recorded in many classical books such as the famous medical textbook Al-Qanun by Bu ‘Ali Sina (see Appendix I for a list of such books). So what was the need of applying ointment to a dead body? This could only make sense if the disciples had strong reasons to believe that Jesus would be delivered alive from the cross and not dead.
St John is the only apostle who has ventured to offer an explanation justifying the act of preparing and applying an ointment to Jesus’ body. This further supports the fact that the act of applying ointment to a dead body was considered extremely odd behaviour… It is for this reason that St John had to offer an explanation. He suggests that it was done merely because it was a Jewish practice to apply some sort of balm or ointment to the bodies of their dead. Now it is a very important fact to note that all modern scholars who have researched into this are in agreement that St John was not of Jewish origin, and he proved it by this statement of his. It is known for certain that Jews or the Children of Israel have never applied any ointments whatsoever to the bodies of their dead.
It is written in the Gospel of Mark that after coming out of the sepulchre, Jesus was seen on the road to Galilee, and in due course, he met the eleven disciples who were at their meal; he showed them his hands and feet which bore wounds; they thought that he was perhaps a spirit. Then he said to them: ‘It is I myself; touch me and see for a spirit has no flesh and bones as I have.’ Then he took a piece of broiled fish, and of a honeycomb and ate it before them. See Mark 16:14 and Luke 24:39-42…
…Then he was seen by two of the disciples who were walking in the countryside; and finally, he appeared to all the eleven while they were at their meal and remonstrated with them for their callousness and lack of faith. See Mark 16:9-14. Again, when the disciples were going towards the hamlet called Emmaus, 3.75 kose from Jerusalem, Jesus joined them; and when they reached the hamlet, Jesus wanted to part company with them, but they insisted on his staying. He then dined with them, and they all spent the night with Jesus in Emmaus. See Luke 24:13-31. Now, it is absolutely impossible and irrational to say that Jesus ate and drank and slept and made a journey of about 70 kose to Galilee and performed all the functions of the physical body with a disembodied spirit—the spiritual form the human body assumes after death.
(Jesus in India, p. 23-24, 27-28)
Part 7: Jesus Continuing His Mission
The second important piece of evidence is that Jesus told his people that the sheep of the House of Israel who dwelt in and around Judea were not the only sheep, and that he was sent by God not only to them but also to the other sheep of the same flock. Just as he had come to retrieve them he would also go and retrieve the others as well.
And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:16)
Now according to common knowledge, between the time of his promise and Crucifixion, he never left the land of Judea for anywhere else.
What he meant by the lost sheep was the ten tribes of Israel, who had earlier migrated from Judea and had gone to remote eastern lands. His promise, therefore, was that he would not be killed on the cross but would be given a long life to pursue his mission and that he was a Prophet not just for the two Israeli tribes living around him, but for all the Israelites.
(Christianity: A Journey From Facts to Fiction, p. 72-73)
This prophecy was also fulfilled; for Jesus came out of the bowels of the earth and went to his tribes who lived in the eastern countries like Kashmir and Tibet. These were the ten tribes of the Israelites who 721 years before Jesus, had been taken captive and forced to leave Samaria by Shalmaneser, King of Assur. They eventually came to India and settled in various parts of the country. Jesus had to make this journey, for the divine object underlying his mission was to meet the lost tribes of Israel who had settled in different parts of India. This was because these were the lost sheep of Israel who had renounced their ancestral faith after settling in these parts, and most of them had become Buddhists, and gradually started worshipping idols. Dr. Bernier, on the authority of a number of eminent scholars, states in his travels that the Kashmiris in reality are the Jews who had migrated to this country during the political turmoil in the days of the king of Assur.
(Jesus in India, p. 18)
Note: The above subject will be discussed in much greater depth in the next series QuranicChrist series on Jesus in India.
2. John 11:41–42