INTRODUCTION: Several groups have invented their own versions of the crucifixion of Jesus and how it “really” happened. In this post I want to explore the Muslim view that Jesus did not die on the crucifixion, but Judas was crucified in His place. Is that possible?
NOTE: My purpose in these blogs is to seriously consider alternative views. As such, I am not intentionally portraying any of these views falsely or as caricatures. I apologize in advance if what I present here is not consistent with the real alternative idea. Let me know if I have inaccurately presented a view and I will endeavor to correct it. rmb
THE MUSLIM VIEW
The Muslims do not believe that Jesus was crucified at all. Rather, they believe that the person who appeared as Jesus was actually Judas. Yes, that’s right, the Muslim account of the crucifixion says that Judas was crucified at Calvary, not Jesus. Is this possible? Could Judas have been the one crucified instead of Jesus?
THE INSURMOUNTABLE DIFFICULTY: The first and greatest difficulty with the Muslim view is that it contradicts every foundational teaching in the New Testament about Jesus. Every book of the New Testament insists on or necessarily assumes not only that Jesus was crucified, but also that He rose from the dead in glorious resurrection, ascended into heaven where He is ruling and reigning now, and is going to return at the end of the age to judge the living and the dead. The suggestion that Jesus was not crucified on the cross of Calvary renders the entire Bible as the most intricately and miraculously fabricated lie imaginable. No. The indisputable historical fact is that the Man that we know as Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem as a criminal by the Roman authorities around AD 30. Considering other problems with the Muslim view will only be done after unapologetically stating that the basic Muslim premise that Jesus was not crucified is in error.
CLAIM: “It was Judas, not Jesus, who was crucified.”
PROBLEMS WITH THIS CLAIM (not in any order):
- Judas was the person who led the soldiers into the Garden of Gethsemane when they arrested Jesus (Matthew 26:47-50). Judas specifically identifies Jesus to the soldiers by betraying Him with a kiss (26:48-50). Why would the soldiers crucify Judas instead of Jesus when they knew Judas and Jesus had been clearly identified?
- Judas was known to the chief priests in Jerusalem (see Matthew 26:14). The chief priests hired Judas to betray Jesus to them. Why would the chief priests crucify Judas instead of Jesus? Jesus was the Man they wanted dead, not Judas.
- The gospel of Matthew describes exactly how Judas died (Matthew 27:3-5), so there is no doubt that Judas was not the one who was crucified. (NOTE: Again, it is clear from this text that the chief priests and the elders knew Judas well and would never have crucified him instead of Jesus.)
- Jesus made three clear predictions of His upcoming crucifixion during His earthly ministry well before there was any possibility of crucifixion (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19), and these predictions were fulfilled by His crucifixion. Jesus declared that He would give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). He predicted that He would lay His life down for His sheep (John 10:11-18). All these predictions required His crucifixion.
- Jesus was crucified in public and in broad daylight. All the crucifixion accounts attest to this. There was no possibility of mistaken identity. It was certainly Jesus who was on the cross.
- His executioners were trained Roman soldiers whose job it was to crucify Jesus. They could not have been mistaken about whom they nailed to the cross.
- Also, His executioners had already scourged Him and mocked Him (Matthew 27:26-31), so they knew for certain that this Man was Jesus, not Judas. (Also, by this time, Judas has already hung himself (Matthew 27:3-5).)
- Jesus spoke throughout His trial and continued speaking while He was on the cross, even up to His last breath. The human voice is unique and instantly recognizable, and virtually everyone in the crowd around the cross had heard Jesus’ voice when He had been teaching in the temple in the days prior to His crucifixion. It was certainly Jesus whom they heard speaking from the cross, not Judas. The people heard Jesus’ voice when He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).
- More regarding His face and His voice: Jesus’ ministry lasted for about three years, so tens of thousands of people knew His face and His voice. Both the face of a person and the sound of their voice is unique to them. Both are instantly distinguishable and cannot be duplicated. The thousands of people who had heard Jesus and had seen Jesus knew that it was Jesus, not Judas on that cross.
- His disciples who had been with Him day and night for three years saw Him die and testified that it was Jesus whom they saw die.
- From the time that Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane until He was finally sealed into the tomb after He died, Jesus was always in the presence of other people, and usually was surrounded by people who were hostile to Him and were eager to see Him crucified. The Muslims suggest that at some point Jesus and Judas swapped places, but there was never an opportunity for that to happen. (And we must remember that Judas hung himself shortly after he betrayed Jesus (Matthew 27:3-5).)
- Why would Judas willingly switch places with a Man who was destined to be crucified, a Man whom he himself had that very night betrayed to the Roman guards? In other words, why would Judas betray Jesus to His enemies and then take Jesus’ place on the cross? I cannot conceive of any answer to those questions.
- God’s plan of salvation as revealed in the gospel requires that the Messiah offer His life as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of His people. Jesus’ death was required.
- The chief priests and the elders were with Jesus throughout His passion, and they made sure that it was Jesus who was on trial and that it was Jesus who was crucified. The chief priests did not create their plot to kill Jesus and then somehow have the wrong guy crucified. No, the chief priests were sure that Jesus was crucified.
That’s enough for starters. If there are some Muslim scholars out there who can explain or give answers to these questions and issues, I welcome your comments. More tomorrow.
SDG rmb 12/3/2021 #464