The Old Testament teems with prophecies of the Messiah, but nowhere is
it intimated that that Messiah is to stand as a God to be worshipped. He is
to bring peace on earth, to build up the waste places, to comfort the
brokenhearted, but nowhere is he spoken of as a deity. —Olympia Brown, first woman minister ordained
in the U.S., Sermon of 13 January, 1895.
The concept of Jesus being the predicted messiah is so well known to the world of
Christianity as to obviate need for discussion. But Jesus a messiah, in Islam? The fact that
Muslims recognize Jesus as a messiah has prompted Christian evangelists to try to sway
Muslims to Trinitarian beliefs.
“Was Jesus the Messiah?” questions the evangelist, to which Muslims answer,
“Yes.” The evangelist asks, “Was Muhammad the messiah?” Muslims answer, “No.”
The evangelist then seeks to lead the Muslim to conclude that Muhammad was not a messiah, and therefore not a prophet, and that Jesus was the predicted messiah, and therefore is partner in divinity.
It’s a tortured argument, to which Muslims respond with some questions of their own:
1. Other than Jesus, are there other biblical messiahs? Answer: Yes, lots of them—no less than thirtyeight.
2. Were all biblical messiahs, such as the Davidic kings and high priests of
ancient Palestine (now called Israel), prophets? Answer: no.
3. Conversely, were all biblical prophets, such as Abraham, Noah, Moses, etc., messiahs? Answer: no.
4. Therefore, if not all biblical prophets were messiahs, how can we disqualify any man’s claim to prophethood on the basis of not being a messiah?
For in that
case, Abraham, Noah, Moses, and other biblical prophets would also be
disqualified by the same standard.
5. Lastly, if there were biblical messiahs who were not even prophets, how can
being a messiah equate to divinity when the label doesn’t even equate to piety?
The fact is that the word messiah simply means “anointed one,” and bears no connotation of divinity. So the Muslim has no difficulty recognizing Jesus as Messiah, or
in the language of the English translations, Jesus as Christ, but without transgressing into the error of apotheosis (equating with divinity, i.e., deification). Where, then, do “messiah” and “Christ” come from in the first place?