إِنَّ اللّهَ رَبِّي وَرَبُّكُمْ فَاعْبُدُوهُ هَـذَا صِرَاطٌ مُّسْتَقِيمٌ
(3:51) Surely, Allah is my Lord and your Lord; so serve Him alone. This is the straight way.'
As with other Prophets, the fundamental points of Jesus' mission were the following:
(1) Man should acknowledge- the exclusive sovereignty of God which demands absolute service and obedience to Him, and Him alone. This principle serves as the basis for the entire structure of human morality and social behaviour.
(2) Man should obey the Prophets since they are the representatives of the true Sovereign.
(3) The Law which should regulate man's conduct by elaborating what is right and what is wrong should be none other than the Law of God. The laws devised by others should be abrogated. There is, thus, no difference between the missions of Jesus, Moses and Muhammad (peace be on them all). Those who think that the missions of the Prophets differ from one another and who believe that their objectives vary have fallen into serious error. Whoever is sent by the Lord of the Universe to His creatures can have no other purpose than to dissuade God's subjects from disobeying Him and assuming an attitude of vanity and disregard towards Him, and to admonish them against associating anyone with God in His divinity (that is, either holding anyone to be a partner with the Lord of the Universe in His Sovereignty or recognizing others beside God as having a rightful claim on part of man's loyalty, devotion and worship), and to invite them all to be loyal to, and to serve, obey and worship God alone.
It is unfortunate that the Gospels in their present form do not offer as clear a picture of the mission of Jesus as that presented by the Qur'an. Nevertheless, we find scattered throughout the Gospels all the three fundamentals mentioned above. The notion that man ought to submit himself totally to God is embodied in the following statement:
'You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve' (Matthew 4: 10).
In addition, Jesus believed that the object of his efforts was that God's commands relating to the moral realm should be obeyed in this world in the sphere of human conduct just as His commands about the operation of the physical universe are obeyed in the heavens:
'Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven' (ibid., 6: 10).
The fact that Jesus presented himself as a Prophet and a representative of the Kingdom of Heaven, and that in this capacity he asked people to follow him is borne out by several statements. When, for instance, he began his mission in Nazareth and when his own kith, kin and compatriots turned against him, he remarked: 'A prophet is not without honour except in his own country . . .' (Matthew 13: 57; see also Luke 4: 24 and Mark 6: 4). And when conspiracies were hatched in Jerusalem to put an end to his life, and people counselled him to go away, he replied: 'Nevertheless I must go on my way . . . for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem' (Luke 13: 33). When Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time the disciples cried with a loud voice: 'Blessed be the King who comes in the name of the Lord' (Luke 19: 38). This angered the Pharisees, who asked Jesus to rebuke his disciples. But he replied: 'I tell you, if these were silent the very stones would cry out' (ibid., 19: 40). On another occasion he said: 'Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light' (Matthew 11: 28-30).
The fact that he invited people to obey the Laws of God rather than the laws made by man is evident from his response (found in both Matthew and Mark) to the objection raised by the Pharisees to the conduct of their disciples who ate with defiled hands, that is, without washing.
'Well did Isiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honours me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'
And he said to them: 'You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, "Honour your father and your mother", and "He who speaks evil of his father or mother, let him surely die", but you say, "If a man tells his father or mother what you would have gained from me is Corban (that is, given to God), and then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition which you hand on"' (Mark 7: 6-13; see also Matthew 15: 2-9).