What Do You Think of Christ?
by CR Marsh
This chapter contains a nearly complete outline of an address that I first gave in a village in the mountains of Algeria . The only European in the district, I was spending a fortnight among the Muslims, sleeping in a disused coffeehouse entirely at their mercy. Each evening between twenty and thirty Kabyle men gathered to listen to my message. I had spent much time and prayer in preparing this address, and the first evening I gave it in fear and trembling. I knew the violent reactions of fanatical men to the truth of God. After the meeting the men filed out in silence, but did not disperse. Then one of them returned.
This is it, I thought, they have come to kill me. To my surprise, the man said, "Thank you so much, Sheikh, for that message. It is exactly what we want to know. We do want to know who Jesus Christ is. Tell us more tomorrow, more about Him." He left and five men came in, one after the other, to express their appreciation.
Months later I spoke to Arabs near Algiers on the same theme and the response was the same. Later still, I used it in the desert in yet another dialect. It is the only message which has been so deeply appreciated by a Muslim audience that several men have returned to say thank you. Obviously some points are lost in English, especially where Muslim terms are involved. Perhaps it will be suggestive of similar talks. It can either be used as an address, or one or two points can be discussed with an individual on successive evenings. Let us make much of Christ.
What Do You Think of Christ? (Mt. 22:42).
What do you think of Christ? Everything depends on the answer which you give to this question: your happiness in this life, and where you will spend the life to come. Soon Jesus Christ will return, and when He does so He will ask you as He asked the Pharisees of old, "What is your opinion of Me?"
I come to you today as a Christian. I want to be your friend. I really want you to know who Jesus is, and it is most important that no one should mislead you about this important matter. Please do not think that He is just a prophet, a good man, one among many. No, He is unique, He is incomparable. There is no one like Him in this world or the next.
What Do You Think of His Wonderful Birth?
No other was ever born as He was. He is Jesus the son of Mary. You call Ishmael the son of Abraham, John the son of Zacharias, Mohammed the son of Abdullah. All other men take the name of their father. Why did Jesus take His mother's name? Because He had no earthly father. He was born of the virgin Mary. He was born by the power of God (qudrat Allah) apart from the intervention of a man. Seven hundred years before He was born, the prophet Isaiah foretold how He would be born (Is 7:14 ) and it happened exactly as it was foretold, as you can read in Matthew 1: 18-25.
God created Adam our father from clay, and all of us are children of Adam and so were all the prophets. We are of the earth, earthy. The Lord Jesus came down from heaven. He is called al Manzul: He who descended. He was pure and clean like the snow and rain. All others are like the earth: dirty, impure, and tainted with sin. We read that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" ( I Ti. 1 :15 ). He came to a foreign place, just as I came to your country. You did not come to this place. You were born here. Jesus was in God's presence before He came. He chose to come to this world to save us. "In the beginning was the Word." (Read in Jn. 1:1-3, 14). He took a human body and became man. He came from above.
Two men once fell into a deep pit. One said to the other. 'Save me from this wretched place. Please get me out of the dirt and mud." The other replied: "You idiot, how can I? I am in the same plight as you." They were both in the pit, and neither one could help the other. Then they heard a voice from above calling to them to grasp a rope. The man who had not fallen into the pit was the only one who could save them. He brought help from above. The very best man among the prophets could not save us from the pit of sin, but Jesus did not inherit a sinful nature. He came from above. God sent angels to announce His birth (read Mt. 1:20 and Lk. 2:9). How wonderful all this is. Never a man was born as this man. He is unique in His birth. He is incomparable.
What Do You Think Of His Character?
He was perfect. He never once sinned. He never made a mistake. He never had to ask forgiveness (astaghafr). Every man who fears God must confess his sin and ask forgiveness. David did. Abraham did. In fact one prophet said that he asked forgiveness of God seventy times a day (This was Mohammed, but do not mention his name). You can search the Bible and the Koran in vain to find a single verse where Jesus asked forgiveness. He did not need pardon for He was sinless. His closest companions wrote about Him and said, "He knew no sin. He did no sins. There was no sin in Him." They were men who knew Him well. God forgave the prophets when they confessed their sin, but Jesus needed no forgiveness. He was without sin. He could even say to His enemies: "Which of you can silence me by pointing out one sin that I have done?" (Jn 8:46). Not one of them could point to a single sin in His life. Who of us would dare to make such a challenge to our enemies? Jesus was brought before the judge Pilate and falsely accused, but Pilate could find nothing wrong, so he washed his hands and said, "I am innocent of the blood of this just person." There was never another man who was sinless. He is the only sinless Prophet. He is unique and incomparable.
What Do You Think of His Words?
On one occasion His enemies sent the police to arrest Him. They listened to His teaching and then came back without having arrested Him, saying in amazement: "Never did a man speak the way this man speaks" (Jn. 7:46 ). Think of what He said. He said: "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life" (Jn. 8:12 ). An old man once explained to me what Jesus meant. He said: "You know, friend, the prophets are like the moon. The moon shines in the night, and the prophets brought God's light to this poor dark world. The crescent moon is just like a prophet. It shines more and more until it is full moon, and then wanes and dies. But never fear. Another moon (month) will come in its place. So the prophets came one after the other. One gave his message, died, passed on, and left his place to another. Every nation has had some light from God. Men's religions are like the light of a candle or the moon. But who uses these lesser lights when the sun has risen? Jesus said: "I am the light of the world." He is the sun of righteousness. Have you ever seen the sun wane or grow less? No, it never dies; it is for everyone in every land. Jesus Christ is like the sun. He never grows less. He is for every land, for every man. He also said: "I am the way. the truth, and the life." Now the prophets all came to point the way back to God. They said: "This is God's way. Do this. Follow this teaching. This is the way. Keep the commandments." But Jesus said: "I am the way. Follow me."
A small boy lost his way in a big city. He was from another land and was unable to express himself clearly. He asked a policeman to tell him the way home. The policeman said to him: "Go up this street. take the second turn on the left, then the third on the right, cross the bridge, go around the roundabout, and up the middle road?" The boy burst into tears. The policeman had told him the right way, but the boy was too weak and fearful to follow the instructions. Just then a man from the boy's village came along. He took him by the hand. When the boy was so tired that he could no longer walk, the man picked him up and carried him to his home. The policeman showed the way, but the second man was the way. Jesus said, "I am the way?the way to the Father's house "
What do you think of His wonderful stories? (Read Lk. 15.) What do you think of His wonderful invitations? He said "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest"(Mt. 11:28 ). How wonderful! What do you think of His words? Never a man spoke like this man. He is unique. He is incomparable. There is no other like Him in heaven or earth.
What Do You Think of His Names and Titles?
Every prophet has his own peculiar name. Abraham is called the friend of God (Khalil Allah). Moses is called the spokesman with God (Kalim Allah). Others are called Ruh Allah (Jesus) and Habib Allah (Mohammed). Now whom does a man love most, his friend (habib) or his spirit, that is, himself (Ruh)? Be quite frank now. Let your own heart reply. "Yes Jesus is called Ruh Allah. In the gospels we read that God said about Jesus: "This is my beloved Son: hear him" (Lk. 9 35) Again I would ask you, "Whom does a man love most, his friend or his son? Right. His son. To distinguish Him from all others, God called Jesus His Son. What did God mean? We say the son is the very image (mathal) of his father. When we see Jesus, we know more about God (Jn. 14:9). A son can stand in his father's place and represent him. He can speak for His father. This is what Jesus did when He was here. That is why He is called the Word of God. God spoke through Him (Heb 1:3). His titles are unique. He is incomparable.
What Do You Think of His Power?
He can do everything. All power and authority are given to Him. In fact, there is no work of God that Jesus did not do when He was here on earth. Who can raise the dead but God? Jesus raised the dead. Who can really heal the leper but God? Jesus cured and cleansed the lepers. Who can open the eyes of the blind but God? Jesus did all this. He healed every kind of illness. No man was ever sent away by Him as incurable.
He cast out evil spirits by a word. He changed men's lives and saved them from sin. (When people came to my clinic in Africa , I always asked God to heal them before giving them any treatment. I cared for them in the name of God [bi ism Allah]). All the prophets always worked miracles and healed people in the name of God, but the Lord Jesus never healed in the name of God He always healed men and women by His own power and in His own name. He said, "I say to you, 'Get up and walk ' to a man who had not walked for thirty-eight years. The man got up and walked. He never used medicines. He healed men in His own name and by His own power.
A man named Lazarus died. They buried him and called Jesus. When Jesus came, Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days. Jesus went to the grave and said: "Lazarus, come forth (Jn. 11:43 ). The dead man came out of his grave. Jesus left us in no doubt about His power to raise the dead He said "I am the resurrection, and the life" (Jn. 11:25 ). The day is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come out. You will come out of the tomb if you are dead. So will Moses and Abraham and every prophet. But even now Jesus is able to give you new life, God's life, eternal life. He is changing people's lives everywhere in the world today. He can transform your life. What do you think of His mighty power? He was unique, all-powerful, incomparable.
What Do You Think of His Sufferings?
What do you think of His death? Do you know where you will die? Here or in another land? On the sea, or on the road or in your bed? Where? Then how will you die? Will it be though illness, or by an accident, or a natural death? How will you die? Then perhaps you can tell me, when you will die? How old will you be? On what day of what month will it be. Then, just what will happen to you after your death? You and I must admit that we do not know these things. God decides.
But the Lord Jesus knew and foretold where He would die: at Jerusalem . He foretold how and gave all the details (Lk. 18:31 -33). He told His disciples when He would die; on the feast day when everyone would be killing a lamb to celebrate the Passover, He would die as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He told them that after three days He would rise again. All this happened exactly as He had said it would. He knew. He was not like other men. We do not know. The prophets did not know. You and I will die when, how, and where God decides.
But Jesus said, "No one has taken [my life] . . . away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again" (Jn. 10:18 ). He had never sinned and therefore was not compelled to die. He could have gone up to heaven without dying. But He chose to die for the sake of others. He gave His life for us. He died that we might be forgiven. He died for you. He, the Good Shepherd. gave His life for the sheep. Never did any other man die as He did. He is incomparable, unique among men.
What Do You Think of His Victory Over Death?
He died and men buried Him. His enemies did their best to keep Him in the tomb. They rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the grave. They sealed the stone and then surrounded the grave with armed guards. There was no doubt that He was dead, and men did their very best to keep Him in the grave. But He rose again from the dead and showed Himself alive to His disciples, to Peter, to Mary, and then to over 500 people. He rose again as He said He would. God raised Him from the dead because He wanted to show everyone in the world that He had accepted the work of Jesus. All those people saw Him. They touched Him, they ate and drank with Him after His resurrection. He showed them the wounds in His hands and feet and side. Death is a great enemy. You must die and so must I. The prophets died and remain dead. Praise God Jesus Christ has conquered death. He is alive today. He is able to save all those who come to God through Him because He lives to intercede for them. Is any other prophet living today after having died? Christ alone rose from the dead. He is unique and incomparable. There is no one like Him either on earth or in heaven.
What Do You Think of His Ascension?
Read Acts 1:9-11 and Philippians 2:6-11. Now if I were to ask a company of Jews whom they would like to occupy the very highest place in heaven they would all say Moses. If I were to ask Muslims, they would say Mohammed. If I were to ask Christians, they would say Jesus. However, God did not consult either Jews, Muslims. or Christians. God has highly exalted Jesus and given Him the name which is above every name. This is God's doing. Every proud knee must bow to Him.
What Do You Think Of His Return To This Earth?
He is coming back again. He said so (Jn. 14:1-3). The angels said so (Ac 1:11 ). All Christians are waiting for Him. Muslims know that He is coming back to reign. He is coming to take His own people (umma) to be with Him in heaven. He is coming to reign over the whole earth; He is earth's King. He must reign till all enemies have been put under His feet. Some people go astray here and say that He will reign for forty years. God says 1,000 years. I believe God. I think that 1,000 years of blessing and peace will be better than forty! Yes, He is coming soon. Everyone will then admit that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is coming. You will stand before Him. He will be the Judge.
When you see Him face to face, He will ask you: "What do you think of Me?" What will you say? If you say, "You are just one of the many prophets," He will ask you why you have not followed His commandments, and you will be condemned because you have believed that He is just one of many prophets when really He is incomparable. He is the only Saviour. Who is coming back to reign? Moses or Abraham or David or some other prophet? No. The Lord Jesus is coming and will be the Judge. God has given all men the assurance of this in that He raised Him from the dead. He is coming. Every eye shall see Him. He is unique.
What Do You Think of His Demands on You?
He says, "Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest" (Mt. 11:28 ). He calls you today. When He called His first disciples, they left their homes, their parents, their work, their all to follow Him. He asks you to do the same. He asks you to trust Him, to believe on Him as your Saviour, to surrender your life to Him as Lord. He asks for all. If He is who He says He is, His claims are absolutely logical. He is unique and incomparable in His birth, His spotless life and character, His unique titles, His wonderful words, His supreme power, and His suffering and death. He lives today; He is with those who trust Him. He intercedes in heaven for those who believe in Him. He is coming soon. There is no one like Him in heaven or on earth. That is why He asks to be King and Lord of your life.
Some may object that by using a sermon such as this that we have not clearly taught the deity of Christ. But actually we have moved toward communicating the wonderful truth that He is Lord and that He is supreme. This was the watchword of the early Christians: "Jesus is Lord." No one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit (l Co 12:3). Let us then count on Him to reveal this outstanding truth to our Muslim friends.