In his Gospel, Luke tells this story about an amazing event in Jesus’ life, and the response of those who saw it.
Jesus went to the town of Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out – the only son of his mother and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country. (Luke 7:11-17.)
Jesus’ authority as a prophet, or Messenger from God, was validated by the power of his teaching, the moral stature of his life, and the miraculous signs that he performed. Jesus’ words continue to impact the lives of many millions around the world today.
Jesus is recognised and honoured as a prophet by Muslims. (To honour a prophet means to pay attention to his words, and put them into practice. Since a prophet is a Messenger from God, we are under obligation to submit to his authority.) Jesus’ words are recorded in the Qur’an, referring to the miraculous signs which vindicated his prophethood.
“I have come to you with a sign from your Lord….
And I heal the blind and the leprous, and I revive the dead, by Allah’s leave. ( Qur’an 3:49.)
In the Gospels, Jesus taught that his miracles confirmed his authority. (See, for example, Matt 9: 1-8.) John the Baptist was the prophet who announced Jesus’ coming as the promised One, the Messiah. But when John was imprisoned, he began to question whether he had proclaimed the wrong person. Jesus pointed him to the miracles that he, Jesus, was performing; “Tell John what you have seen and heard; – the blind see, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Luke 7: 18-23)
This list includes the same three signs that Jesus refers to in the Qur’an! These three signs are described in detail in the Gospel records. (The Gospels were recorded in written form by eye-witnesses and reporters within the first generation after the events.)
A – Jesus healed the blind; John records the healing of a man who was born blind. (John 9: 1-41) The religious leaders tried to deny or discredit the miracle, as Jesus had healed the man on the Sabbath. The man gave his testimony; “One thing I do know. I was blind, and now I can see!”
Luke and the other Gospels record the healing of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar who called out to Jesus as he walked past on the road at Jericho. (Lk 18:35-43.)
Mark tells the story of another blind man at Bethsaida, healed by Jesus in a two-stage miracle. (Mark 8:22-26)
B – Jesus healed the lepers. Lepers were regarded as untouchable. But when a man with leprosy begged Jesus to heal him, Jesus acted out of compassion. He reached out and touched the man, and he was healed (Mk 1:40-45).
Another time, ten lepers called out to Jesus from a distance asking him to heal them. Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priest to confirm that they were healed. The ten men left to do as Jesus had commanded. Only one man, a Samaritan, returned to thank Jesus when he saw that he was healed. (Lk 17:11-19)
C – Jesus raised the dead. In addition to the raising of the widow’s son at Nain, two other miracles of raising the dead are recorded in the Gospels. In Galilee, one of the synagogue rulers, Jairus, had a 12-year-old daughter who was dying. Jairus pleaded with Jesus to come and heal her, but the girl died before Jesus reached the house. Jesus went into the house, took her by the hand and told her to get up. And she was raised to life. (Luke 8:40-56.)
The third and most famous case is the raising of Jesus’ friend, Lazarus, who had been dead four days. Jesus stood at the entrance to the tomb, and commanded him to come out. Lazarus walked out, still bound in the grave clothes. This healing created much publicity, causing the religious leaders to harden their resolve to get rid of Jesus. (John 11:1-44.)
In the Quran, Jesus speaks with authority of the signs, and concludes with a clear two-part command!
I have come to you with a sign from your Lord; so fear Allah, and obey me.” (Qur’an 3:50) (Surah 3 is from the later (Medinan) period of the Qur’an. It confirms the same word from an earlier (Meccan) Surah, Surah 43.)
When Jesus came with clear proofs, he declared, “I have come to you with wisdom, and to clarify to you some of what you differ about. So fear Allah, and obey me. (Qur’an 43:63) (Quotations are from the Clear Qur’an translation.)
Can we not conclude that anyone who hears the words of the Prophet, Jesus, has both freedom, and obligation to diligently study and obey his teaching?
Jesus finished his teaching known as “the Sermon on the Mount” with the call to take his words seriously. He said that everyone who heard his words, and put them into practice was like a wise man who built his house on a foundation of rock. When a fierce storm and flood came, the house was secure, for it was founded on the rock! (Matt 7: 24-29)
FURTHER READING; Understanding Jesus and Muhammad: What the ancient texts say about them. By Dr Bernie Power, Acorn Press, Melbourne 2016. (Highly recommended!)