A Series of Answers to Common Questions
According to the Holy Bible John the Baptist announced the coming of One greater than he (cf. Mark 1:7-8; Matthew 3:7-12; Luke 3:15-17), whom Christians believe was Jesus Christ. Yet some of the Gospels show that John wasnt certain whether Jesus was the One he spoke of or whether this was someone else to come (cf. Matthew 11:2-3; Luke 7:18-20). On top of that John didnt follow Jesus, which we would expect him to do if Jesus really was the One to come. Moreover, Jesus didnt come after John but was his contemporary. Doesnt this evidence prove that the One whom John spoke of was another prophet who was to come after Jesus, namely Muhammad?
Here is what John said according to Matthew:
"I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." Matthew 3:11-12
In light of the foregoing we would like to address the specific objections raised against this being a prophecy of Jesus.
In the first place, even though John and Jesus were contemporaries Christ did not begin proclaiming the Gospel until after John the Baptists public ministry had already started:
"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight," John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opening and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased. " Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." Mark 1:14-15, Mark 1:1-11, 14-15
John himself said that the One to come was already standing among the people, i.e. he was already present, even though he was to come after the Baptist!
"John answered them, I baptize with water, BUT AMONG YOU STANDS one you do not know, EVEN HE WHO COMES AFTER ME, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie. These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing." John 1:26-28
"Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness--look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him. John answered, A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, "I am not the Christ, BUT I HAVE BEEN SENT BEFORE HIM." The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegrooms voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:25-30
Notice that John expressly says that he was sent ahead of the Christ, not Muhammad! More on this later.
Thus, Christ did indeed come "after" John.
Secondly, John not becoming Jesus disciple somehow proves that Christ wasnt the One to come is simply non sequitur and really proves nothing. John himself stated that he had come to prepare the way for Jesus and that he would decrease, i.e. fade in the background, once he arrived on the scene:
"So they said to him, Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself? He said, I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, "Make straight the way of the Lord," as the prophet Isaiah said." John 1:22-23
This shows that the Baptists function wasnt to become a disciple of Christ but to prepare his way. Besides, as we saw above from the Markan text, John was arrested shortly before Jesus began his Galilean ministry, a fact repeated in Matthew:
"Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles-- the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned. From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 4:12-17
This would make it rather difficult for John to follow Jesus around as his disciple!
We now turn our attention to John doubting Jesus. The Muslims typically argue that John, being an inspired prophet who heard Gods voice and was filled with the Holy Spirit, should not have doubted Jesus if he was actually the One that the Baptist came to prepare the way. This logic is fallacious since the Holy Bible does not make the assertion that an inspired prophet will not make mistakes or commit sins. God doesnt cause a prophet or apostle to become impeccable or absolutely perfect in order to be able to communicate his divine truths. Inspiration means (at least according to the Holy Bible) that God prevents a prophet or an apostle from introducing errors and mistakes into the proclamation of his inspired Truth.
Nor does hearing Gods voice or being filled with the Spirit mean that individuals would not have doubts or experience a lapse in faith. After all, how do we explain the unbelief of the Israelites during the time of Moses who heard Gods voice and saw firsthand all the miracles he performed for them? How do we explain Pharaoh hardening his heart when he too was privy to Gods signs and wonders which he did through Moses?
What will we say of Jeremiahs backslidden state where God had to command him to repent?
"O LORD, you know; remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In your forbearance take me not away; know that for your sake I bear reproach. Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. I did not sit in the company of revelers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone, because your hand was upon me, for you had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will you be to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail? Therefore thus says the LORD: If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the LORD. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless." Jeremiah 15:15-21
How would we account for the disciples abandoning and even denying their Lord,
"And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, You will all fall away, for it is written, "I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered." But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee. Peter said to him, "Even though they all fall away, I will not. And Jesus said to him, Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times. But he said emphatically, If I must die with you, I will not deny you. And they all said the same And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard. And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, Rabbi! And he kissed him. And they laid hands on him and seized him. But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. And Jesus said to them, Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled. And they all left him and fled And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus. But he denied it, saying, I neither know nor understand what you mean. And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, This man is one of them. But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean. But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, I do not know this man of whom you speak. And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times. And he broke down and wept." Mark 14:26-31, 43-50, 66-72
When they both heard Gods testimony about Christ and saw Jesus power through the miracles which both he and they performed in Christs name?
"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah. He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him. When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, Rise, and have no fear. And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead." Matthew 17:1-9
"After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name! And he said to them, I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:1, 17-20
"For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain." 2 Peter 1:16-18
Peter himself professed by a revelation from God that Jesus is the Christ, Gods Son:
"But what about you? he asked. "Who do you say I am? Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus replied, Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but by my Father in heaven." Matthew 16:15-17
How then do we answer all of this?
The answer is rather simple, at least for those who believe in Gods Word, the Holy Bible: Even the best of saints can be the worst of sinners and have doubts at times.(1)
With the foregoing in mind, it is evident that Johns circumstances, i.e. being imprisoned, caused him to entertain specific doubts about Christ, doubts which Jesus sought to quench through the answers he gave to the Baptists disciples:
"The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another? And when the men had come to him, they said, John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another? In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me." Luke 7:18-23
Jesus answers Johns question by appealing to the supernatural miracles he performed as confirmation that he indeed is the One to come and that John shouldnt lose heart and entertain doubts about this. Thus, Jesus himself testifies that he is that One who was to come!
Furthermore, the very same New Testament books quoted by Muslims plainly state that John, before his momentary lapse of faith, had expressly testified that Jesus is the One that God sent him to prepare for:
"As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
Notice that the subject has to do with the Christ, whether John was the Messiah, to which he responds by basically saying that he (the Christ) will come after him:
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, THIS WAS HE OF WHOM I SAID, "He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.")" John 1:14-15
"The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! THIS IS HE OF WHOM I SAID, "After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me." I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John bore witness: I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit." And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." John 1:29-34
What makes this rather amusing, in fact intriguing, is that the Quran also claims that John was sent as a forerunner to Christ!
And the angels called to him, standing in the Sanctuary at worship, 'Lo, God gives thee good tidings of John, who shall confirm a Word of God, a chief, and chaste, a Prophet, righteous.' When the angels said, 'Mary, God gives thee good tidings of a Word from Him whose name is Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary; high honoured shall he be in this world and the next, near stationed to God. S. 3:39
John was sent to confirm a Word from God, which the context identifies as Jesus Christ. In other words, the foregoing Quranic passage is agreeing with both the Old and New Testaments that John was sent to prepare the people for the appearance of the Christ, an interpretation affirmed by Muslim exegetes:
And the angels, namely, Gabriel, called to him, standing in the sanctuary, in the temple, at worship that (anna, means bi-anna; a variant reading has inna, implying a direct speech statement) 'God gives you good tidings (read yubashshiruka, or yubshiruka) of John, who shall confirm a Word, being, from God, namely, Jesus, that he is God's Spirit; he is referred to as [God's] 'Word', because he was created through the word kun, 'Be'; a lord, with a following, and one chaste, forbidden from women, and a prophet of the righteous': it is said that he never sinned and never so intended. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold emphasis ours)
(And the angels) i.e. the Angel Gabriel (called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary) in the mosque: (Allah giveth thee glad tidings of John) a son whose name is John, ((who cometh) to confirm a Word from Allah) Jesus son of Mary that he will be a word from Allah, created without a father, (lordly) who is clement when wronged, (chaste) has no desire for women, (a Prophet of the righteous) among the messengers. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn Abbâs; source; bold and italic emphasis ours)
<believing in the Word from Allah> Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas said, and also Al-Hasan, Qatadah, `Ikrimah, Mujahid, Abu Ash-Sha`tha, As-Suddi, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas, Ad-Dahhak, and several others said that the Ayah
<believing in the Word from Allah> means, "Believing in `Isa, son of Maryam." (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Moreover, the Holy Bible records how Jesus poured forth the Spirit in fulfillment of Johns statements about him:
"Then he said to them, These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." Luke 24:44-49
"In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. So when they had come together, they asked him, Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? He said to them, It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:1-8
"When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing." Acts 2:1-4, 29-33
This outpouring of the Spirit led Jesus Apostles to recall the words of the Baptist regarding Jesus ministry:
"But Peter began and explained it to them in order: I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." But I said, "By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth." But the voice answered a second time from heaven, "What God has made clean, do not call common." This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, "Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household." As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, "John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us WHEN WE BELIEVED IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, who was I that I could stand in Gods way?" Acts 11:4-17
"And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? And they said, No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. And he said, Into what then were you baptized? They said, Into John's baptism. And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe IN THE ONE WHO WAS TO COME AFTER HIM, THAT IS, JESUS. On hearing this, they were baptized IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all." Acts 19:1-7
Here, also, is what the Apostle John wrote in relation to Christ and the Baptists ministry:
"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 him was life [The Word who becomes the man Jesus], and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light [Jesus], that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light [Jesus]. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:1-13
Finally, Christ will judge the nations and destroy the wicked, in fulfillment of the Baptists statements regarding the One who comes with a winnowing fork in his hand to gather his wheat into the barn and destroy the chaff with unquenchable fire:
"Jesus told them another parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?" "An enemy did this," he replied. The servants asked him, "Do you want us to go and pull them up?" "No," he answered, "because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn."" Matthew 13:24-30
Jesus went on to explain this parable:
"When he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field. He answered, The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out HIS angels, and they will weed out of HIS kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear." Matthew 13:36-43
"For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done." Matthew 16:27
"Jesus said to them, I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Matthew 19:28
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46
"Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man." John 5:22-23, 27
"You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preachedhow God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosenby us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." Acts 10:36-43
"In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." Acts 17:30-31
"I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe. So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested." Revelation 14:14-16
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End He who testifies to these things says, Yes, I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." Revelation 22:12-13, 20
Muhammad himself taught and believed that Jesus would return to judge and rule:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, son of Mary (Jesus) will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) as a just ruler and will break the Cross and kill the pig and abolish the Jizya (a tax taken from the non-Muslims, who are in the protection, of the Muslim government). Then there will be abundance of money and no-body will accept charitable gifts. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 34, Number 425)
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, surely (Jesus,) the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind justly (as a Just Ruler); he will break the Cross and kill the pigs and there will be no Jizya (i.e. taxation taken from non Muslims). Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it, and a single prostration to Allah (in prayer) will be better than the whole world and whatever is in it." Abu Huraira added, "If you wish, you can recite (this verse of the Holy Book): -- And there is none Of the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) but must believe in him (i.e. Jesus as an Apostle of Allah and a human being) before his death. And on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness Against them." (4.159) (See Fateh Al Bari, Page 302 Vol 7) (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 657)
Obviously from a Christian perspective Muhammads views prove absolutely nothing, and only carry weight for the Muslims who believe in him.
In light of the preceding can there be any doubt that John was speaking of the exalted and risen Lord Jesus?
To summarize the biblical data that shows that John was speaking of Jesus, not Muhammad:
The foregoing conclusively shows that Muhammad was not the One spoken of by the Baptist. Rather, the Baptizer was sent to proclaim the coming of Gods beloved Son, the sovereign Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, mankinds only Hope and Savior.
John the Baptist was a Prophet of Whom Exactly?
According to the testimony of the Evangelists John was sent as the prophet of the Lord to prepare his way:
"Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteousto make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:11-17
"His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." Luke 1:67-79
At first glance this seems to suggest that by Lord the inspired author meant God the Father, that John was the prophet of the Father of Jesus which he certainly was. However, upon closer analysis the term Lord here refers to the Lord Christ since John came to prepare his way:
"You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him." John 3:28
Furthermore, Jesus is identified as Lord in Lukes Gospel:
"At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of MY LORD should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" Luke 1:39-45
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Luke 2:8-12
Moreover, Jesus himself testified that John was the messenger spoken of in Malachi 3:1:
"After John's messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you." Luke 7:24-27
Here is the text from Malachi which Jesus quoted:
"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly THE LORD (Ha Adon) you are seeking will come to HIS TEMPLE; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,' says Yahweh of Hosts." Malachi 3:1
In the Old Testament the word Ha Adon is only and always used for Yahweh, which basically means that the messenger (whom Jesus identifies as John) was sent to prepare for the coming of Yahweh God to his temple. And as we have already seen from the foregoing data, Jesus is the Lord whom John came to prepare the way, and therefore shows that Jesus is Yahweh God!
Putting it another way, by identifying John as the messenger of Malachi 3:1 Jesus was essentially claiming to be the very Lord that was coming to his very own temple. And since the temple belongs to Yahweh Jesus was indirectly identifying himself as Yahweh God!
To help the reader follow with our logic note that:
Thus, not only is Jesus the One that John spoke of, he is also the very Lord God of the OT Scriptures who was foretold to come!
For more on Johns relationship to the Lord Jesus we recommend this article.
(1) The Quran testifies that certain prophets entertained doubts even after experiencing the power of God:
And when Abraham said, 'My Lord, show me how Thou wilt give life to the dead,' He said, 'Why, dost thou not believe?' 'Yes,' he said, 'but that my heart may be at rest.' Said He, 'Take four birds, and twist them to thee, then set a part of them on every hill, then summon them, and they will come to thee running. And do thou know that God is All-mighty, All-wise.' S. 2:260 Pickthall
They said, 'Moses, either thou wilt cast, or we shall be the first to cast.' 'No,' said Moses. 'Do you cast!' And lo, it seemed to him, by their sorcery, their ropes and their staffs were sliding; and Moses conceived a fear within him. We said unto him, 'Fear not; surely thou art the uppermost. S. 20:65-68 Arberry
Moreover, in many passages Muhammad is portrayed as having doubts and fears:
And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee. Verily the Truth from thy Lord hath come unto thee. So be not thou of the waverers. And be not thou of those who deny the revelations of Allah, for then wert thou of the losers. S. 10:94-95 Pickthall
Then, it may be that you will give up part of what is revealed TO YOU and your breast will become straightened by it because they say: Why has not a treasure been sent down upon him or an angel come with him? You are only a warner; and Allah is custodian over all things. S. 11:12 Shakir
And surely they had purposed to turn you away from that which We have revealed to you, that you should forge against Us other than that, and then they would certainly have taken you for a friend. And had it not been that We had already established you, you would certainly have been near to incline to them a little; In that case We would certainly have made you to taste a double (punishment) in this life and a double (punishment) after death, then you would not have found any helper against Us. S. 17:73-75 Shakir
We obviously do not believe that Muhammad was a true prophet so it matters not whether he had a lapse in faith. But this fact is relevant to those Muslims who do accept him as a messenger since it confirms the point that even Gods spokespersons can experience fears and doubts.
For more on Muhammads fears, doubts and sins we recommend the following material:
A Series of Answers to Common Questions
Answering Islam Home Page