Up to now I have somehow expected you to stand on your objective ‘leg’. Can you still hold on a little? I would like you to consider with me the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Apart from the controversial concept of the divinity of Jesus, which we looked at in the last letter, the cross is likely to be the most emotionally loaded topic in conversations between Christians and Muslims. As I stated before, I like you to remember that everything I say is not done to hurt you or to win an argument. The importance of this happening and the possibility that you might misunderstand it, weighs heavily on me. Even so I suggest that we do not avoid ‘hot’ subjects, but that we tackle them in love.
We are both aware of the contradicting statements in our respective ‘Books’. The Qur’an clearly states:
“ . . . they (i.e. the Jews) killed him (i.e. Jesus) not, nor crucified him . . . for a surety they killed him not” (Surah 4:157).
The context explains that this event only appeared to the contemporaries to have happened, but God took Jesus to Himself. In contrast to that the crucifixion and death of Jesus takes by far the most prominent place in the Gospels. It can hardly be overlooked, even in the Old Testament teaching, where it appears in the form of prophecies, which were fulfilled in the life and death of Jesus.
It is obvious that both views cannot be true. Instead of entrenching ourselves and arguing against each other to defend our conviction, as it is often done, let us rather use our objective ‘leg’ again. So let us consider the supporting evidence to secure the right answer.
In an earlier letter I have already mentioned the evidences of fulfilled prophecy, acknowledged eyewitness reports, contemporary historical reports and the archaeological evidence. All speak so convincingly in support of Jesus’ crucifixion and death. So how can all this evidence be contradicted or invalidated by just one allegation, stated 600 years after the recorded event, and which supplies no evidence for this claim at all.
I am tempted to repeat our supporting evidence (as presented in my third letter), but will rely on your good memory. I am equally tempted to share with you the biblical teaching on the need for a sacrifice for the remission of sin, an essential part of and basis for obtaining forgiveness and with that reconciliation with God as ordained during the Old Testament era. Every sacrifice pointed to the future when Jesus would come to replace the symbols by sacrificing Himself. The former offerings were just shadows of things to come, to use a biblical term.