Do Christians and Muslims have a similar or different view of Jesus? In the New Testament, Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” But would Muslims agree with this statement about Jesus? Is Jesus God in the flesh or was he just a prophet?
First, who was Jesus? Was He a normal man, God, or an angel? Islam seems to teach that Jesus was just a messenger and nothing more. Quran 5:75 states, “The Messiah [‘Iesa (Jesus)], son of Maryam (Mary), was no more than a Messenger.” Muslims believe there is no distinction between Jesus and the other prophets of the Torah like Abraham and Moses (Quran 2:136). In fact, Quran 21:26 states that Jesus is nothing but an honored slave to Allah and him alone. Christians would disagree and say that the New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus is God (Phil. 2:6, 11; John 1:1).
The next major difference between Christianity and Islam is the view of Jesus’ origin. Was Jesus created or did he always exist? What about the virgin birth? Surprisingly, Muslims and Christians both believe in the virgin birth (Quran 3:47; 19:16-21; Matthew 1:23). Muslims even believe that Jesus talked while in the cradle, stating that He was a slave to Allah (Quran 19:30). Islam teaches that like Adam, Allah created Jesus out of the dust (Quran 3:59). On these last few points, Christians disagree because the New Testament teaches that Jesus has always existed (John 1:1; 8:58). Since Islam teaches that Jesus was created, he obviously could not create the universe. In contrast, Paul says this about Jesus in Colossians 1:15-17: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Not only has Jesus always existed according to Christianity, but he created the universe for himself, and through him the universe is sustained. Hebrews 1:3 also says that Jesus is “upholding all things by the word of His power.”
Islam also teaches that Jesus didn’t die on the cross, but rather Allah raised Jesus up to himself: “We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger – they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! Those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise.” (Quran 4: 157-158). Christians, along with most biblical scholars, believe that Jesus’s death on the cross is a historical fact. If Muslims believe that Jesus didn’t die, then they also deny his resurrection.
The Quran portrays Jesus as one of the most unique men who ever lived. As mentioned before, the Quran affirms the Virgin Birth (Quran 3:47; 19:16-21). No other person in Islam was born in this way. Although Muslims don’t believe Jesus died on the cross, they do believe in Jesus’ ascension in some sense (Quran 4:158). In the Quran, Jesus is also called the Messiah eleven times (ex. Quran 3:45). No other man or prophet in the Quran receives this title other than Jesus. The Quran states that Jesus is Allah’s Word (4:171, 3:45). Again, no other prophet is given this title in the Quran.
In the New Testament, “Messiah” and “Son of God” are used interchangeably to mean the same thing by Peter (Matt. 16:16), Nathaniel (John 1:49), Mark (Mark 1:1), Martha (John 11:27) and Caiaphas (Matt. 26:63). The New Testament also calls Jesus the Word in John 1 (cf. Revelation 19:13) but this phrase has an entirely different import, particularly as we see in vv. 1-3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
In conclusion, the Quran portrays Jesus as the unique Messiah and Word from God, who was born from a virgin and ascended into heaven to be with God. Christians agree that Jesus was unique, but believe Him to be much more than that. For Christians, Jesus isn’t just the Word from God, but he is the Word of God. Thus, Jesus is not only the greatest man who ever lived, he is also God in the flesh.