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The First and the Last Sacrifice


Editor’s note: In January 2024, we published the first part of Dr. Jeferson Chagas’ post on how to engage Chinese Muslims with the gospel. Dr. Chagas built on the work of Mike Shipman, author of the book Any 3: Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime: Leading Muslims to Christ Now! What follows in this post is Shipman’s story, “The First and Last Sacrifice,” as adapted by Dr. Chagas and others in 2014. We highly recommend reading the first part of this post, “Engaging with Chinese Muslims,” to have better context for how this story can be used to share the gospel with Chinese Muslims.

Isa Was Sinless (尔撒是无罪的)

You see, Isa is the kalimatullah (真主之道, Word of God). He was with Allah from the very beginning. He came to earth, born of Maryam (麦尔彦, Virgin Mary). I believe the Quran ( 古兰经) even says this (Quran 3:47). Isa never sinned. One time, he fasted forty days and nights, and he was tempted in every way imaginable, yet he never sinned. He never killed anyone. He carried no hatred in his heart. Isa also never married. Yet he was able to control his desires. Can you imagine that? Isa was born into an ordinary family like ours. He was not rich and had many followers. He was not a religious hypocrite. Isa did well for everyone.

Isa Performed Many Miracles (尔撒行了很多奇妙的显迹)

Isa performed many miracles. He was able to drive out demons. He healed lots of people, including a man born blind. He even raised the dead!

Isa Foretold His Own Death (尔撒预言了自己归真的日子)

Although Isa was not old yet, he prophesied to his followers, “I must die and will rise again.”  If Isa were an older man, he would be preparing for death. But while still young, Isa said, “I must die!”  Do you know why Isa said, “I must die”?

Why Did Isa Have to Die? (尔撒为什么要牺牲)

The answer is in the Tawrat (讨拉特, Torah). It is here that we find the story of Nabi (乃比, prophet) Adam(阿丹) and his wife, Hawa (哈娃, Eve). You see, Allah (真主, God) created the world. He created Nabi Adam, and from his rib, he made Hawa and put them in a paradise-like place called the Garden of Eden. 

There were all kinds of fruits and vegetables imaginable. Their responsibility was to look after this garden. They could eat any of the vegetables and fruits of the garden except for one—the “forbidden fruit.” Allah told them that if they ate this fruit, they would be punished severely and die.

Sin, Shame, Sear = Leaves for Clothes (罪,羞耻,害怕=树叶做成的衣服)

One day, Iblis (易卜劣厮, Satan) came in the form of a snake, which could talk. He tempted Hawa to eat the “forbidden fruit.” Hawa ate the fruit, then she gave it to Nabi Adam, and he also ate it. Immediately, they were ashamed and realized they had no clothing. So, they took leaves to try to cover their shame. They were also afraid, and they tried to hide from Allah.

Now that’s interesting. Can anyone hide from Allah? Of course not. Nobody can hide from Allah.

Severe Punishment (严厉的惩罚)

Then Allah, who is all-knowing, came and severely punished them. To Hawa, he said, “From now on, you will always have pain in childbirth.” Even now, all women have that same problem. To Nabi Adam, he said, “You’ll always have to work hard to provide for your family.” This is true even now for all men. After this, God removed Adam and Hawa from the Garden of Eden with no chance of returning. They eventually died. You see, God had intended for them to live forever, but because they sinned, they must die.

That is interesting! Because as far as we know, Nabi Adam and Hawa were responsible and good people, maybe better than us. We are not told in the Scripture, but perhaps they had already done thousands of good works. 

However, as far as we know, how many times did Nabi Adam and Hawa sin before God judged them? Just one time, and that was a minor sin. They hadn’t killed anyone, committed adultery, or stolen anything. They merely ate a fruit that Allah told them not to eat. 

Sometimes, we think that if we do more good than bad things, our sins will be forgiven, but that is not what the Bible says. That is not the way Allah works.

New Clothes (新衣服)

Now, Allah still loved the people whom he had created. He wanted to make a way for their sins to be forgiven. Allah did it excitingly for Nabi Adam and Hawa. He changed their clothes! Remember after they ate the fruit, they tried to use leaves to cover their shame? God killed an animal, took the skin, and made it into new clothing for Nabi Adam and Hawa.

It appeared that Allah might have given the very first sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. For in the Tawrat (讨拉特, Torah), Zabur (宰逋尔, Psalms), and Injil (引支勒, Gospel), it is stated that without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sins.

All our forefathers offered blood sacrifices to have their sins forgiven:  Nabi Adam and Hawa, Nabi Abel (迦必尔), Nabi Nuh (努哈, Noah), Nabi Ibrahim (易卜拉欣, Abraham), Nabi Musa (穆萨, Moses), Nabi Dawud (迖伍德, David), and so on. Then Isa came, like I told you earlier. He was born of a virgin. That is interesting. Isa was a woman’s descendant. He lived sinlessly and performed great miracles.

The Lamb of Allah (真主的羊羔)

One day, a prophet named Nabi Yahya (叶哈雅, John the Baptist) said this about Jesus, “Look, the Lamb of Allah, which takes away the sins of the world.”  A person was called Allah’s lamb. Why? Because a lamb is a sacrificial animal. That is why Isa said, “I must die.”

Isa came to be Allah’s sacrifice to pay off our sin debt. Therefore, Isa surrendered himself to evil people. They crucified him, and his blood poured out. Before Isa died, he said, “It is finished.”  Then he bowed his head and died. Our sin debt was paid off. Then Isa came back alive on the third day after his death. He appeared to his followers for forty days and was taken up into heaven. Someday, Isa will return to the earth as judge over all humankind.

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Image credit: Moaz Tobok via UnSplash.
Jeferson Chagas

Jeferson Chagas

Dr. Jeferson Chagas has served among Muslims since 1996 and served in China from 2005 to 2015, including among the Hui. He also has over 20 years of experience working with gospel workers to equip them in the areas of intercultural communication and understanding Christianity in the majority world. Dr. …View Full Bio

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