The tea had been served, and the typical conversational exchanges had taken place. With her head beautifully covered by bright colors, my dear friend sat across from me, her dark almond-shaped eyes suspiciously curious. I looked up from behind my tea cup, my blatant brunette hair hanging out, and attempted to convey why the resurrection is everything to Christians.
And, did I explain it as eloquently as I’m painstakingly about to try and express to impress fellow Christians? Of course not. I stammered out the story of His resurrection quickly because I was thrown off by her belief that every prophet has been given a kind of magic by God.
No, this wordy explanation isn’t at all like that messy conversation I had; it’s simply a product of weeks of thought. But, I hope that this thought will give other women a starting point to talk about the resurrection with their Muslim neighbors and friends. It might be scary, but there’s no reason to worry — we have the truth. It might be an awful disaster — like my attempt in which you need to go back and try to explain things better a second time, but it is an act of obedience in the hands of the One Who can raise the dead. And, I hope that after pecking this all out in blog form, God will give me another opportunity to share Christ with my dear friend despite the previous failure.
Islam has taught my friend the lie that Jesus didn’t die on the cross because Allah would never let that happen to such an important prophet. Instead, the imams teach from the Quran that Judas took Jesus’ place on the cross, and Jesus escaped His suffering by ascending to heaven from the Temple Mount. Consequently, with that lie, Jesus is robbed of His praise for obeying the Father unto death for the salvation of His enemies. Jesus’ validation as the Son of God — proven through the resurrection — has alluded entire tribes and nations across the world since the sixth century.
The Truth, Twisted
I know that my Muslim friend believes in Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. But I have to very careful how I word the Gospel to her because the stories she knows about these men are slightly different from the truth in important ways.
She knows about Abraham, and we know from Romans he was considered righteous because of his faith that allowed him to be willing to sacrifice his son (although which son is a debate between our faiths).
The Bible tells us Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son because he believed God could even raise him from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19). Before the knife flayed the fatal cut, God interceded and provided a ram as the sacrifice instead. Abraham called the place “The Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:14) and Abraham was blessed by God for his faithful yielding of his one heir.
The Bridge to the Truth
Since my friend has been taught that this story is true and that Abraham was a prophet, I suppose I might as well start where there’s a bridge. She has also been taught that once a year a sacrifice is required at Eid. Eid, her biggest holiday, celebrates the obedience of Abraham by sacrificing a sheep or a goat.
Abraham believed God would give him a son despite what his body and logic told him. Abraham offered that son back to God in an act of sacrificial obedience, believing God could raise his son from the dead. This was credited to Abraham as righteousness (Romans 4:1-25) because of his faith in God — not because of his good works (as Islam teaches) — but because of the belief Abraham held in God’s promises.
With this bridge in mind, I hope to say to my veiled friend, “We both celebrate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice to God. But that day God provided the sacrifice so Abraham’s son could be spared. Abraham said,’The Lord will provide in this place.’ God did provide a sacrifice in that place thousands of years later. But this time the hand didn’t stop, and the Son Jesus was killed on the cross. And, like Abraham believed his son could be raised from the dead by God’s power, Jesus was, in fact, raised from the dead three days later. He lives now as more than a prophet. He was the final sacrifice. And. like Abraham, if we believe in Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection, God will credit Jesus’ righteousness to us.
God was foreshadowing what He planned to accomplish through Jesus in the story of Abraham. So, this Eid is a reminder to look ahead to the final sacrifice, to a sacrifice much better than any sheep or goat because it never has to be offered again. Each sacrifice you partake in now, know that Jesus’ sacrifice is so much better.
Like Abraham, we do need a sacrifice. But if we trust in Jesus’ sacrifice, we can have nothing better to offer God — not even our good works. We never have another offering to bring. For the One who paid it all lives. And, like Abraham, God calls us righteous when we are willing to bank all we have on God’s ability to raise the dead. Especially the One God provided “in that place” — in our place.”