…. the most important bridge Jesus offers between Christianity and Islam is his wisdom. The nature of Christ will continue to be a gap between the two faiths, but the teachings of Christ on faith, law and morals are binding. Muslims, in fact, desperately need that wisdom today, … for they suffer from the exact same problem that Jesus saw at the Pharisees of his time: Obsessing about the minute details of religious law, while forgetting its moral purposes. (Mustafa Akyol)
This comment by Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish Islamic writer, confirmed something that I have been thinking about for quite a while. The Pharisees were an influential group of religious people, who sought to live according to the law of God and keep themselves pure from things that do not belong to the holiness of God. These are some of the similarities we can see between the Pharisees of Jesus’ time and the religious Muslims of our day. More of these similarities are pointed out in this book.
Many Christians often assume that the Pharisees that Jesus had so many discussions and clashes with, were nothing more than religious hypocrites that constantly and consistently interfered with Jesus’ ministry and who eventually were instrumental for His death. Also, many Christians have the impression that Jesus only condemned them and had nothing good to say about them. While it is true that when we read through the Gospels we often read of Jesus condemning the Pharisees, this is not the whole picture that the Bible gives of them. We read about Pharisees who invited Jesus for a meal, and who warned Him about evil plans against Him. We also hear of Nicodemus, who came to Jesus with genuine questions. So, not everything that the Bible tell us about the Pharisees is bad. Jesus loved them and invited them to the eternal banquet in God’s presence. He shared stories with them in which the truth of God was communicated to them.
Not only the Pharisees are looked upon negatively by many Christians, the same can be said about how, generally speaking, Evangelical Christians look upon Muslims. Their religion is seen as legalistic, their culture as backward, their religious commitments as evil and they themselves as unwanted. As a result many Christians do not associate with Muslims and are reluctant to share their lives with them. But is this what Jesus wants? Jesus did spend time with the Pharisees, He did invite them to communion with God. As we will see Jesus socialized with them. He loved them and died for them. God, in His grace, compassion and love, reached out to the Pharisees and brought several of them to become followers of Jesus Christ.
In this book, I explore the similarities between the Pharisees of Jesus’ day and the religious Muslims of our day. It is my desire that this book will encourage you to compassionately share your live with your Muslim friends and to provide you with some tools to do so. Tools that are taken from the way Jesus related to the Pharisees. As the conversion of Paul made clear, a conversion of a Pharisee is a conversion from the Law to Christ, because Christ is the culmination of the law.
This article is an excerpt from the new book “Christ, the Culmination of the La” by Bert De Ruiter. For more information and to purchase the book, please visit the dedicated Amazon page.