CHRIST THE ONLY INTERCESSOR
Crucifixion of Jesus
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
We have seen that the testimony borne to Christ by Islam is very striking, and can only be understood by a reference to the fuller teaching of the Injil, where He stands revealed in His full majesty as the eternal Son of God. Another high title given to Jesus in the Qur’an is that of one 'Honourable in this world and in the world to come.’Thus in Sura Ali 'Imran (3), verse 45, it is written:
يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللّهَ يُبَشِّرُكِ بِكَلِمَةٍ مِّنْهُ اسْمُهُ الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ وَجِيهاً فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ
"O Mary, verily God sendeth thee good tidings of the Word (proceeding) from Himself: His name the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, honourable in this world and in the world to come.” Such high terms have been applied in the Qur’an to no other prophet, and they evidently point to some distinction which God shares with no other. That this is so, is clear from the comments of the leading Muhammadan commentators of the Qur’an, who see in this verse proof that Jesus Christ will intercede for sinners. Thus the famous commentator Baizawi, in his comments on this verse, says,
الوجاهة في الدنيا النبوة وفي الآخرة الشفاعة
“The illustriousness in this world is the office of a prophet, and that in the next world the office of intercessor.” Another commentator, Zamakshari, in his Al Kashshaf, says the same: “The office of prophet and supremacy over men (التقدم) in this world; and in the next world, the office of intercessor and loftiness of rank in paradise.” The supremacy of Christ over other prophets is also taught in the Holy Bible, thus in Hebrews 3:3,5-6, we read, “For he (Jesus) hath been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by so much as he that built the house hath more honour than the house . . . . and Moses indeed was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were afterward to be spoken; but Christ as a son, over his house.” Baizawi and Zamakshari tell us that the Qur’an teaches that in the world to come Christ will be the intercessor for sinners. Can the reader point to one verse of the Qur’an where it is clearly stated that, at the judgment day, Muhammad or any other prophet will be able to exercise that high office? In Sura Bani Israel (17), verse 79, it is true some Muslims profess to see a promise that Muhammad will intercede. It is there written, “Peradventure thy Lord will raise thee to an honourable station.” The language of this verse is very vague, however, and we do not wonder that many candid Muslims admit that it has no reference to intercession. Thus we learn that the Hanbalites contended that all that is here meant is that Muhammad was promised a place near the throne in heaven. All doubts, however, are set at rest by the Qur’an itself, which distinctly says that Muhammad cannot intercede for sinners. Thus in Sura At-Taubah (9), verse 80, we read:—
اسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ أَوْ لاَ تَسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ إِن تَسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ سَبْعِينَ مَرَّةً فَلَن يَغْفِرَ اللّهُ لَهُمْ
“Ask forgiveness for them, or do not ask forgiveness for them (it will be equal). If thou (O Muhammad) ask forgiveness for them seventy times, God will by no means forgive them.” And again, when some of the Arabs refused to go forth to war with Muhammad, it is recorded in the Qur’an that they afterwards came to him saying, “Ask pardon for us.” But Muhammad, according to the Qur’an, was told to answer,
فَمَن يَمْلِكُ لَكُم مِّنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئاً إِنْ أَرَادَ بِكُمْ ضَرّاً أَوْ أَرَادَ بِكُمْ نَفْعاً
“Who shall be able to obtain for you anything from God, if He he pleased to afflict you, or be pleased to be gracious unto you?” (Sura Al-Fath (48), verse 11). In the first of the verses quoted above the hypocrites are referred to, and in the second Muslims are addressed; thus it is clear that Muhammad disclaimed the power to intercede for any class of people whether believers or not. Many Muslims admit this. For example, the Muhammadan sect known as Kharijiyah deny all intercession on the part of Muhammad; whilst the Mutazilahs admitted that Muhammad would not be able to intercede for mortal sins. (See ‘Hidayat al Muslimin,’ page 209, etc). Thus it is clear that Muslims can hope for no intercession from Muhammad. The teaching of the Qur’an, on the other hand, that Jesus will intercede, is fully borne out by the Injil, which distinctly states that Jesus is the great Intercessor for sinners.
Further, from the Qur’an it is clear that intercession is needed now: that at the Judgment day it will be too late. Thus, in Sura Maryam (19), verse 87, we read:—
لاَ يَمْلِكُونَ الشَّفَاعَةَ إِلاَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ عِندَ الرَّحْمَنِ عَهْداً
“None shall obtain (in the day of Judgment) intercession, save he who hath entered into covenant with the God of Mercy.”
Again, in Sura An-Nisa', (4), verse 18, it is further written, “No repentance shall be accepted from those who do evil until (the time) when death presenteth itself unto one of them, (and he) saith, Verily I repent now; nor unto those who die unbelievers; for them have we prepared a grievous punishment.”
And again, in Sura Az-Zumar (39:19) we read, “Him, therefore, on whom the sentence of punishment shall be justly pronounced, canst thou, (O Muhammad), deliver him who (is destined to dwell) in the fire (of hell) ?"
This teaching of the Qur’an will commend itself to every thinking man; because it is clear to any man who thinks at all that, if a man remains in sin until the day of his death—in other words, refuses to enter into covenant with his Lord—then at the Judgment day no intercession will avail to save him from the righteous punishment of his sins. Consequently, we see that what man needs is a living Intercessor now, one through whose help and intercession he may obtain grace and strength to walk in the paths of virtue now. Who, then, we ask, is that present, living Intercessor, through whose help we may be kept from sin and enabled to live a life pleasing to God? Muhammad still lies in his grave, and will remain there till the last great day, when the trumpet shall sound and the dead be raised; consequently, even granting that he would have the power to intercede then, it will be too late. How different is the testimony of the Injil and the Qur’an to Jesus the one ‘honourable in the world to come.’ Of Him the Qur’an in An-Nisa' 4:158 says,
بَل رَّفَعَهُ اللّهُ إِلَيْهِ
“God took Him up unto Himself,” so that it is the belief of all Muslims that Christ is now alive in heaven. Thus, in this particular also, we see that the Qur’an exalts Christ high above Muhammad, in that it declares He is now alive in heaven.
The great commentators of the Qur’an have also borne testimony to the fact that Christ is now in heaven making intercession for His people. Thus with regard to Habib the carpenter, 6 whose story is found in Sura Ya-Sin (36), Baizawi tells us that Peter raised a boy to life who had been dead for seven days. Upon being questioned as to what he saw in heaven, the boy replied that he had seen Jesus Christ in heaven, and that He had interceded for the three disciples, Peter and his companions, who were in prison.
The teaching of the Injil on this important subject is very clear, and leaves no room for doubt that Jesus is now in heaven making intercession for all who will put their trust in Him. Thus in Romans 8:34, we read, “Jesus . . . . who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Again, in Hebrews 7:25, we read, “He (Jesus) ever liveth to make intercession for them,” whilst in chapter 9 verse 24, of the same book, it is written, “Christ entered . . . . into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us.” Thus we see that Jesus is the one hope for sinners now: that He is the present, living Intercessor, who is able to help us now in our time of need. O, why, my Muslim brother, will you continue to rest your hopes upon a dead man, and upon intercession which you hope will take effect in the day of Judgment? Your destiny will have been fixed then, and no amount of intercession will avail. We need intercession now; and when both Bible and Qur’an point to Jesus as the one able to help us now, wisdom bids us to put our trust in Him.
One more thing remains to be said with regard to intercession; it is this, an intercessor must be sinless; for no sinner can intercede for another sinner. Now we shall prove in our next Chapter that, according to both Bible and Qur’an, Jesus Christ was perfectly sinless, and is thus further qualified for the great office of Intercessor. Thus in the Injil we read, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). In this verse the two great facts upon which all true and efficacious intercession must depend are clearly brought out, viz., that in Christ we have a present living advocate to plead for us, and He is perfectly righteous. On the other hand, according to the authorities of Islam itself—the Qur’an and the Traditions—Muhammad again and again asked pardon for his sins. Thus we see how worthy Jesus is to be addressed as, ‘Honourable in this world, and in the world to come.’ Is it not abundantly clear that, in this respect also, Jesus stands far above all other prophets: that He is the living, sinless Intercessor, now in heaven to make intercession for all who will put their trust in Him !