Speaking to Muslims About the Crucified Christ

John Piper writes,

Jesus said, “I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him” (John 5:42–43).

When Jesus says, “receive him,” he means receive him for who he really is: the divine, eternal Son of God who lays down his life for the sheep and takes it up again in three days. If a person does not receive him in this way, that person, Jesus says, does not love God.

Jesus said, “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (John 5:22–23).

When Jesus says, “Honor the Son who sent him, he means honor the Son for who he really is as the divine, eternal Son of God who laid down his life for the sheep and took it up again in three days. The person who does not honor him in this way, Jesus says, does not honor God.

Jesus said, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also” (John 8:18–19).

This means “know” Jesus for who he really is. So the person who does not know Jesus as the divine, eternal, crucified, risen, Son of God does not know God.

Historically Muslims do not know Jesus, honor Jesus, or receive Jesus for who he really is — the divine, eternal, Son of God, who laid down his life on the cross for sinners and rose again the third day. Therefore, Jesus says, such Muslims do not know God and do not honor God and do not love God. As offensive as this is, Jesus said it to the most Bible-saturated, ritually disciplined, God-aware, religious people of his day. . . .

I believe with all my heart that, as forgiven sinners, who owe our lives to blood-bought grace alone, we Christians can look with love and good will, and even tender-hearted compassion, into the eyes of a Muslim and say: I do not believe you know God or honor God or love God. I hope through our conversation that you will see the truth and beauty of Christ-crucified and risen for the sins of everyone who trusts him. And if we were threatened right now, I hope that I would lay down my life for you.

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You can also stream or download the full discussion on A Common Word from the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Other resources on the biblical perspective of Islam: