Do You Know the Story of Ibrahim and the Test of Sacrificing His Son – from the Tawrat (the Bible)?

Dear Muslim friends, Eid Mubarak!

As you celebrate this Eid Al Adha, I am curious: do you know the story of Ibrahim (Abraham) and the test of God about sacrificing his son from the Tawrat (the Bible)?

Obviously there is a difference in that the Bible says the son was Isaac while you as Muslims believe it was Ishmael (even though the Qur’an does not give the specific name of the son). Otherwise, we have similarities.

Here is the Biblical account for you to read and celebrate the amazing faith of Ibrahim (Abraham) from the Tawrat (Genesis 22:1-14):

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Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

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Dear Muslim friends, what does this story from the Bible teach you about God?

What does this story teach you about Ibrahim (Abraham)?

Is there an example to follow for us in this story?

Who will you share this story with?

As always, I love you, my Muslim friends!

Eid al Adha – As A Follower Of Jesus, It Makes Me Wonder!

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Dear Muslim friends,

I am always intrigued by your “Feast of the Sacrifice” – Eid al-Adha. Like you, my Muslim friends, I am in awe of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son out of unlimited obedience to God. That is clearly worth remembering and having a celebration. . .every year!

As a follower of Jesus, Eid al Adha makes me wonder. . .to be curious or to marvel. . .how many people. . .like these Pakistanis on their way to Lahore, Pakistan. . .traveled long, hard distances to celebrate Eid with their loved ones?

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Eid al-Adha makes me wonder. . .how many lambs, goats, cows, and camels. . .will be sacrificed across the Muslim world in these days?

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Eid al-Adha makes me wonder. . .how many Muslim men like these at the Vasi Ullah mosque in Allahabad, India want to obey God as fully as Ibrahim did?

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How many Muslim women like these in Ahmadabad, India. . .want to obey God as fully as Ibrahim did?

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I wonder. . .how fully do I want to obey God?

Eid al-Adha makes me wonder. . .how many Muslims teach their children how to pray? Like this girl in Bali, Indonesia or this boy in Pristina, Kosovo?

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I wonder. . .how well did I teach my sons to pray?

Eid al-Adha makes me wonder. . .how many Muslims around the world prayed with the intensity of this Kashmiri Muslim man in Srinagar, India?

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I wonder. . .how much intensity did I pray with today?

Eid al-Adha makes me wonder about these words from the Qur’an about God rescuing Ibrahim’s son by providing a lamb in substitute for him: “And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice” (Qur’an, sura 37, ayah 107).

Similarly, as a follower of Jesus, Eid al-Adha always makes me wonder about these special words spoken about Isa al Masih – Jesus – in the Injeel:

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It makes me wonder. . .to be curious, to marvel. . .how could this one man. . .from an obscure village in Palestine. . .be “the lamb of God”. . .that takes away the sin of the world? Amazing! It was through his sacrifice, for “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (the Book of Hebrews, chapter 9, verse 22).

What love! What a “momentous sacrifice” – for the nations – for each of us!

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This I try to remember and celebrate. . .today. . .and every day.

Eid al Adha – as a follower of Jesus, it makes me wonder!

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Postscript:

Dear Muslim Friends,

I fully understand that Eid al-Adha is not about a substitutionary sacrifice for sins. Yes, I am fully aware that this concept is not in Islam. Nevertheless, I am filled with wonder and awe at how the Qur’an speaks of the ransom of a lamb to rescue Ibrahim’s son from certain death and how the Bible speaks of the ransom of Jesus as a lamb to rescue/redeem each of us from certain death – the punishment for our sins.

Ransom: What an incredible word.

Ransom: “The price paid to free/rescue/deliver/release a helpless person from captivity or punishment.”

Ransom: It speaks of great, great love.

God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began.” (from the first letter of Peter, chapter 1, verses 18-20, NLT. Peter was an original follower of Jesus and a crucified martyr for him).

I pray with all my heart that you would think and pray about the ransom of Jesus to completely wash away your sin and shame – and then to receive it as the free gift of love, grace, and mercy that it is.

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What If Jesus Really DID Die On The Cross?

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(this is a repost of a previous blog post I did – my heart and message remain the same)

Dear Muslim friends,

Today my heart is heavy.
I’ve had tears in my eyes.

What has caused this? Why am I so emotional and feeling this pain today?

It is because of you, my dear Muslim friends, whom I love.

It is because I long with all of my heart for you to see Jesus – to see him for all that he really is.

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I know you love him. All of my Muslim friends through the years have told me that. . .and I believe it. But I want to ask you with all respect, “How can you love Jesus fully if you don’t know fully all the truth about who he is and why he came?” The Qur’an has many excellent things to say about him. That is good, but there is more to learn. So much more. And it is such good news!

Yes, my Muslim friends, I know you love Jesus. Thank God! Wonderful! But I want to tell you again how much Jesus loves you – because, in reality, that is far more important than how much you love him.

I beg you with all my heart to please listen.

Jesus loves you so much that he was willing to give up everything – even his own life – to see you become right with God.

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He gave up all his glory in paradise to come to earth to make sure that your every sin could be forgiven – to wipe away all your shame. He came to take away your fear of the Day of Judgment and hellfire and rescue you from the power of Satan. He came to take away the gnawing, painful doubt of wondering if you have done enough – if you are good enough – to make it to Paradise.

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I remember saying to a Muslim friend one time, “How would you like to know that every sin you have ever done could be forgiven? How would you like to know that you could go to bed tonight and know that if you did not wake up tomorrow, you would be in Paradise? Would you like to pray with me to ask Jesus into your heart, to truly repent of your sins, and to give your life to Jesus and follow him?” I will never forget his answer. He said, “Who could pass up an offer like that?”

I will end with this.

Two weeks ago I went to see a dear Muslim friend. He is one of the kindest, gentlest, most humble people I have ever met. The problem is, I know that as good as he is, his own goodness cannot get him to Paradise. God says it’s not enough. Sin is so terrible that it must be punished. And God is so holy that He cannot allow sin into Paradise without the appropriate sacrifice to remove the stain and shame of that sin. Like so many of you, my Muslim friend is truly a good person (by human standards). But like all of you – and like me – he still sins and for that reason, he needs a Savior. He needs true forgiveness based on the sacrifice of Jesus.

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So before we parted ways, I asked him this question:

“What if Jesus really DID die on the cross?”

And that, my friends, is the question I want to ask you as well.

What if God loves you that much?

Please think about it carefully because your eternal destiny depends upon your answer.

Did Isa – Jesus – Die On The Cross. . .Or Was It Someone Else?

Dear Muslim friends: as you read the title of this movie clip below, I am very aware that you don’t believe that Jesus was/is the Son of God. I want to assure you that the Bible teaches that this is a spiritual relationship between God and Jesus, NOT a physical one)

DID ISA – JESUS – DIE ON THE CROSS. . .OR WAS IT SOMEONE ELSE?

Very recently followers of Jesus all around the world remembered an essential historical event.  The holiday is called, “Good Friday.” It is our remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.

I know that you – as Muslims – believe that Jesus did not die on the cross but that God took him up to Paradise and put his facial image on someone else – maybe Pilate, maybe Judas, maybe someone else.

But I wonder, would Pilate or Judas or anyone else say these words with nails in their hands and feet as they were being crucified:

“Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”

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Would Pilate or Judas or anyone else say these words as their bones were being put out of joint (part of the effects of crucifixion)?

Would Pilate or Judas or anyone else say these words as they were being mocked and ridiculed by Roman soldiers and Jewish leaders and people who were watching (yes, this happened to Jesus)?

Would Pilate or Judas or anyone else say these words as they were suffocating (the ultimate way a victim dies in crucifixion)?

My Muslim friends, I believe with all my heart that Jesus died that first Good Friday on the cross.

Not Pilate.

Not Judas.

Not anyone else.

Because no one else can love like that.

No else can love like Jesus.

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Why Would God Allow His Prophet To Die On A Cross? It Doesn’t Make Sense!

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(this is a repost of a previous blog post)

Dear Muslim friends,

A friend and I had another excellent conversation about the Qur’an and the Bible last week with one of our wonderful Muslim friends. The great thing about our conversations is that we can be honest with each other about what we believe but also remain good friends. When we part ways, we shake hands, hug each other, and still really care about each other. This two hour conversation was no different.

Last week during our conversation, our Muslim friend said something that he says often, “God would never send one of his prophets and allow them to be killed!” He added with great emotion in his voice, “It doesn’t make sense!” He said that if he – as a man – sent someone to another country as his representative, he would always protect them and not let anything happen to them. How much more, by this reasoning, would God protect Jesus as His messenger.

“It doesn’t make sense!”

Those words keep ringing in my ears.

And you know what? He is right. It doesn’t make sense. . .at all.

– How could God love us so much that He would send Jesus – His one and only – to die for our sins?
– How could Jesus love us so much that He would give himself up for us in such a terrible, shameful, painful death?

It doesn’t make sense.

Or maybe. . .it doesn’t make human sense. Common sense.

Maybe it makes sense in a different way. Maybe it makes sense. . .to God.

Listen to what God says through his prophet, Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

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I think we need to careful when we talk about God and His actions that don’t seem to make sense to our finite minds.

God is King. Malek. He cannot be limited.

God can do anything. . .anything He wants.

And if He wants to do something so wonderful, so amazing, so loving, and yes, something that doesn’t makes sense to us – like sending His prophet Jesus to die for us – who are we to say, “It doesn’t make sense!”

It makes sense. . .it makes a lot of sense. . .to God.

The Terrible Sufferings Of Jesus – For You, For Me, For All Of Us

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Dear Muslim and Christian friends,

Recently – around the world – countless millions of Christians remembered something called “Good Friday.” Good Friday is the day that Christians believe Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world. It was, the Bible teaches, a day of terrible suffering and tremendous love by Jesus the Messiah – for you, for me, for all of us.

The day was so bad for Jesus because of what He suffered, but so “good” for us – precisely because of what He suffered…

To my Muslim readers, I know full well that Islam teaches that Isa al Masih did not die – that another (possibly Judas or Pilate or someone else) – took his place; that God took Jesus up to heaven and put his facial image on someone who actually did die on a cross. But for now, can we agree to disagree about that?

In this blog post, as I do every year at this time, I just have to say something. Many things. To Jesus.


I have to thank him. Publicly. Effusively (expressing feelings of gratitude, pleasure, or approval in an unrestrained or heartfelt manner).

So my Muslim friends, even if you don’t agree with my position about the death of Isa – Jesus – on that day 2,000 years ago, would you bear with me? Would you allow me to express my love for him here?

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A PUBLIC THANK YOU TO MY SAVIOR – JESUS: YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO. . .BUT YOU DID

* You didn’t have to leave your place with God in heaven and all the glory you had there. . .but you did. (John 1:1-4; John 1:14)

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* You didn’t have to come to planet earth – a place filled with sin and shame and hatred and foul darkness. . .but you did. (John 1:9-10)

* You didn’t have to choose to be born in a place for animals – a dirty, smelly stable instead of the king’s palace you deserved. . .but you did. (Luke 2:1-7)

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* You didn’t have to take the body of a human with all the weaknesses that we experience. . .but you did. (Philippians 2:5-7)

* You didn’t have to be born in little Bethlehem and live in obscurity in Nazareth instead of the fame you could have enjoyed living in Jerusalem. . .but you did. (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-6; John 1:46)

* You didn’t have to refuse to be king. . .but you did. (John 6:15)

* You didn’t have to serve people instead of being served. . .but you did. (Mark 10:45; Philippians 2:5-7)

* You didn’t have to spend time with people everyone else shunned and hated (tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers) – eating with them, loving them, teaching them, healing them. . .but you did. (Mark 2:13-17)

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* You didn’t have to ride into Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday on a humble donkey instead of a white horse. . .but you did. (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-11)

* You didn’t have to let your friends betray you (Judas for 30 pieces of silver) and deny you (Peter three times). . .but you did. (Psalm 41:9; Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:14-16; Matthew 27:3-10; Luke 22:54-62)

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* You didn’t have to sweat blood (a rare medical condition during extreme stress known as hematidrosis) as you faced carrying our sins. . .but you did. (Luke 22:44).

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* You didn’t have to let them tie your hands and arrest you (since you were only bound by your love for God and for us). . .but you did. (Matthew 27:2; Mark 15:1)

* You didn’t have to go through a night of cruel, illegal, and unjust trials (3 Jewish trials, 3 Roman trials) on that Good Friday morning. . .but you did. (Matthew 26:57-27:26; Mark 14:53-15:20; Luke 22:54-23:25: John 18:12-19:13)

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* You didn’t have to let them blindfold you and spit on you and strike you and mock you and pull out part of your beard. . .but you did. (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67-68; Mark 14:65 and 15:19; Luke 22:63-65)

* You didn’t have to answer the high priest’s question – “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” but you did. (Mark 14:55-64).

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* You didn’t have to announce to the world on that night exactly who you were (you were not lying, you were not confused, and you were not blaspheming). . .but you did. (Matthew 26:62-66)

* You did not have to remain silent before false accusations of the Jewish leaders in the presence of the Roman governor Pilate. . .but you did. (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12-14; Mark 15:3-4)

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* You didn’t have to let the Roman soldiers scourge you (with a whip of leather straps with bits of bone and iron and glass designed to rip the flesh open, exposing muscles and bone from the shoulders down to the thighs). . .but you did. (Isaiah 53:5; John 19:1-2; 1 Peter 2:24)

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* You didn’t have to let the soldiers mock you by placing a crown of thorns on your head and a purple robe on your torn back. . .but you did. (Matthew 27:27-29; Mark 15:16-20)

* You didn’t have to let the soldiers beat your face so much that it was severely disfigured. . .but you did. (Isaiah 52:13-14)

* You didn’t have to carry the heavy crossbar of your cross (that we deserved to carry) on your shredded, bloody back. . .but you did. (John 19:17)

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* You didn’t have to allow Roman soldiers to pound iron nails into your wrists and feet. . .but you did. (Psalm 22:16; Isaiah 53:5; Zechariah 12:10; John 20:25)

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* You didn’t have to refuse the sedative/anesthetic on the cross because you wanted to face death fully aware. . .but you did. (Matthew 27:34; Mark 15:23)

* You didn’t have to suffer the other horrible pains of crucifixion for 6 hours (dislocated shoulders, elbows, and wrists; exhaustion; infection; fever; severe dehydration; blood loss; hyperventilation; collapsing lungs; cardiorespiratory failure; and finally slow suffocation and cardiac rupture – a “broken heart”). . .but you did. (Psalm 22:14, 15, 17; John 19:34)

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* You didn’t have to pray for forgiveness for those who did all these cruel, horrible things to you. . .but you did. (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34)

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* You didn’t have to endure the vicious verbal attacks – mocking, insults, sarcasm – from people and religious leaders who watched you die. . .but you did. (Psalm 22:7-8; Matthew 27:39-43; Mark 15:29-31; Luke 23:35, 37; John 19:24)

* You didn’t have to endure the worst pain of all – abandonment, desertion by God – while you carried our sins. . .but you did. (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)

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* You didn’t have to go through so many terrible sufferings and finally die in my place, for my sins and shame – for the unspeakable sins and shame of all of humanity. . .but you did. (Isaiah 53:5-6, 8, 10-11)

* You didn’t have to love me – love all of us – with this kind of tremendous love. . .but you did.

Jesus. Thank you. For all eternity, thank you.

Good Friday.


You didn’t have to. . .but you did.

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Dear Muslim Friends Around The World: Ramadan Mubarak! Ramadan Kareem!

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Dear Muslim friends around the world, Ramadan Mubarak! Ramadan Kareem!

I pray that you will be truly blessed by God during this Ramadan. I pray that you will enjoy wonderful times with your family. I pray that you will have good health. But most of all, I pray that you will see Jesus in a dream or a vision in such a way that you will never be the same again.

God bless you.

I love you.

John 3:16

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Dear Muslim Friends: Why Did Jesus Weep On This Day?

Dear Muslim friends, all over the globe today, Christian people are celebrating “Palm Sunday” – the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem (Al Quds) as a king.

Luke’s Gospel in the Injeel (Luke 19:41) says that Jesus was terribly grieved that day:

“And when he drew near and saw the city (Jerusalem), he wept over it.”

What a contrast on that first Palm Sunday: the people cheered and shouted Hosanna. People who shouted it were saying in effect, “Glory to God! At last, salvation from our enemies has come to us. After a long wait, it’s finally here.” 

But as the people cheered and shouted about the Messiah that they thought was coming to free them from their Roman oppressors, Jesus wept.

Why?

First of all, it is important to see a little of the depth of Jesus’ sadness. The word Luke used for “weep” (klaio in Greek) in Luke 19:41 means:

to sob, weep aloud, express uncontainable, audible grief; not merely that tears flow down the face, but suggestive rather of a heaving of the chest—the sob and the cry of a soul in agony.

As many commentators rightly observe, Jesus saw what others could not see: the tragic siege and destruction of Jerusalem forty years in the future by the Roman armies under Titus. But we think there is so much more here! We believe that Jesus was not just seeing the temporary (though horrible) suffering that would happen in 70 AD. We believe He was seeing eternal suffering.

My dear Muslim readers, sometimes I am so sad – even weeping with Jesus—who has the perfect heart of God—for you.

Why?

Because so many of you have not yet believed in the unbelievable love that Jesus has for you. So much love that He would allow Himself to be sacrificed.

For you.

For your sin and shame.

Oh how I pray that you will pick up an Injil and read of the actions and words of Jesus so that you will repent, believe, and follow Jesus as your Savior.

Maybe then you too will weep.

With the pure joy of one so completely loved. . .and so completely forgiven.

Dear Muslim Friends: What Did Jesus Say About Being Happy?

In His great teaching called, “The Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus told us a lot about what He thinks “happiness” is.

Jesus said people are blessed when they think and act in certain ways – ways not commonly associated with happiness!

But first, what word is used in the original language (Greek) of this text for “blessed”? And what does it mean?

The New Testament was written in the language of the Roman world at that time – Greek. The Greek word used in these sayings of Jesus is makarios.

In Greek usage, makarios came to refer to the elite. . .the wealthy people. It referred to people whose riches and power put them above the normal cares and problems and worries of the lesser folk — the peons, who constantly struggle and worry and labor in life. To be blessed, you had to be very rich and powerful.” (Brian P. Stoffregen, http://www.crossmarks.com/brian/allsaintb.htm)

Matthew (reflecting Jesus’ thoughts) uses this word in a totally different way. It is not the elite who are blessed. It is not the rich and powerful who are blessed. It is not the high and mighty who are blessed. It is not the people living in huge mansions or expensive penthouses who are blessed. Rather, Jesus pronounces God’s blessings on the lowly: the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the meek, the mourning. Throughout the history of this word, it had always been the other people who were considered blessed: the rich, the filled up, the powerful. Jesus turns it all upside-down. The elite in God’s kingdom, the blessed ones in God’s kingdom, are those who are at the bottom of the heap of humanity.” (Brian P. Stoffregen, http://www.crossmarks.com/brian/allsaintb.htm)

Blessed” in Jesus’ definition means “how happy are the. . .”

These pronouncements of happiness from Jesus are called the “Beatitudes.” Some refer to them as the “Be Happy Attitudes!”

True Happiness in the Words of Jesus

Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor;
    the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!
Happy are those who mourn;
    God will comfort them!
Happy are those who are humble;
    they will receive what God has promised!
Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires;
    God will satisfy them fully!
Happy are those who are merciful to others;
    God will be merciful to them!
Happy are the pure in heart;
    they will see God!
Happy are those who work for peace;
    God will call them his children!
10 Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!11 Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. This is how the prophets who lived before you were persecuted.”

Dear Muslim friends, are you happy?

Jesus shows you what true happiness looks like. . .

Dear Muslim Friends: Have You Read the Beautiful Words of Jesus in the Bible? Does the Qur’an Say You Should?

Please watch for more of our blog posts where you can read some of the beautiful words of Jesus.

The Qur’an says to read the books that came before. This would include the words of Jesus in the Injil.

The Qur’an does not reject reading the Bible. Instead, it gives many positive references concerning the Bible and the importance for Muslims to read it:

“Lo! We did reveal the Torah, wherein is guidance and a light” (Sura 5:44).

“And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, confirming that which was (revealed) before him in the Torah, and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that which was (revealed) before it in the Torah – a guidance and an admonition unto those who ward off (evil)” (Sura 5:46).

“It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong)” (Sura 3:3).

“And be not thou of those who deny the revelations of Allah, for then wert thou of the losers” (Sura 10:95).

(Our next blog post will be about what Jesus said in the Holy Bible – especially the Injil – about true happiness!)