JESUS THE PROMISED MESSIAH
In the third place we notice that Jesus, Son of Mary, is further called in the Qur’an ‘The Messiah’ Thus in Sura Ali 'Imran (3), verse 45, it is written:
اسْمُهُ الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ
“His name, the Messiah, Jesus, Son of Mary.” Again we would ask the Muhammadan reader, who so often repeats this sentence, What does it mean? How is it that of Jesus alone these weighty words arc used in the Qur’an; that He alone is called ‘The Messiah’? ‘Messiah’ means ‘anointed,’ and we have aheady shown that ‘Jesus’ means, ‘Saviour;’ thus the title ‘Jesus Christ’ means ‘Anointed Saviour.’Not even of Muhammad himself are such high terms used in the Qur’an; on the contrary, he says of himself, “I am no more than a preacher” (Sura Al-Ankabut 29:50). If the reader of this little book will take the trouble to study carefully the Tourat and the Zabur, he will find that in these books there are many prophecies referring to the Messiah—the Saviour of the world. Many of these prophecies indicate that the Messiah would he far exalted above all other prophets: in other words that He would be divine. Thus, for example, in the Zabur (Psalms 110:1), the prophet David in prophesying of the Messiah says, “The Lord saith unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” Here we find the prophet David in the Zabur calling the Messiah his Lord, thus clearly indicating that the Messiah was super-human and divine. It is worthy of notice here that Jesus Himself applied this passage to the Messiah, and used it in order to prove His own divinity. Thus in Matthew 22: 41-45, we read, “Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question saying, What think ye of the Messiah? Whose son is he? They say unto Him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in the spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord saith unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand, till I put thine enemies underneath thy feet? If David then calleth him Lord, how is he his son?" Again, in the book of the prophet Isaiah (7:14) it is written concerning the Messiah, “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign, Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” i.e., ‘God with us.’Many passages in the Zahur and the books of the prophets clearly indicate that the Messiah would be Prophet, Priest and King, and that he would, in some mysterious way, die for the sins of the people. Thus, for example, in Isaiah 53:5-6 it is written, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Now, these prophecies relating to the Messiah are found in the Jewish scriptures, in spite of the fact that the Jews did not acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah who was promised. Thus we have strong proof that these passages which prove his divinity could not have been inserted by Christians, whilst they would certainly not be inserted by Jews. They must, therefore, be accepted, as indeed they are, as the words of God, which He revealed to His servants the prophets. As a matter of fact, the Jews themselves, from a perusal of these and similar passages in their scriptures, formed very high conceptions of the supreme dignity and superiority of the Messiah over all other prophets. Thus in the Talmud and other Jewish traditional works, the Messiah is spoken of as the “King sent from heaven,” “Superior to Moses and higher than the angels.” Whilst in the Book of Enoch the Messiah is even described as the “Son of God.” The Psalms of Solomon describe Him as “Free from sin,” and give Him such high titles as “Lord,” “Righteous King,” etc.3 These apocryphal works of the Jews spoke further of the pre-mundane existence of the Messiah, and looked forward to His final advent as the Judge of mankind. Thus we see that the Jews themselves rightly understood their scriptures to point to the supreme greatness of Him who was to come as the Messiah. The Qur’an again and again speaks of Jesus as the ‘Messiah,’ and thus tacitly admits his superiority over all other prophets. It gives Him the title, but fails to give any reason for the honour thus put upon Jesus; but in the Bible we learn more fully who this great one was who was thus honoured by God.
Even Muhammadan commentators of the Qur’an have to admit that this high title has been given to none other, and they try in various ways to escape from the natural inference which the words suggest. Thus one, quoted by Razi, says Jesus was given the title ‘Messiah,’ because “He was kept clear from the taint of sin.” (As none others have been given the title, does it not follow that they are sinners?) Another, Abu Amr ihn Al Ala, says that the word ‘Messiah’ means ‘King,’ whilst Baizawi says he was called the Messiah as “possessed of a spirit proceeding from the Almighty not mediately, but direct, both as to origin and essence.” Thus we see that candid Muhammadan expositors admit the great excellence of Jesus and point to Him as the one prophet to be given the high title ‘Messiah.’The high place which the Qur’an thus gives to Jesus, is fully borne testimony to by the Gospel, for there it is written, “Wherefore also God highly exalted Him (Messiah), and gave Him the name which is above every name.”