Fundamentals of the Christian Faith in the Light of the Gospels
by Maulana Sadr-ud-Din
The Effect which Jesus Produced on his Kith and Kin and Disciples: Effect on Other Relatives
They looked upon and regarded him as mad:
“And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself” (Mark, 3:21).
“For neither did his brethren believe in him” (John, 7:5).
These facts prove that Jesus failed to produce any good impression on the minds of his parents, brothers and sisters, and it was on this account that they refused to believe in him, and stood against him. If Jesus were God, his kith and kin, by their close contact, should have beheld in him signs of Divinity, but it is most surprising to find instead that they were not only not favourably impressed by him, but remained opposed to him to the end of life.
All great men produce deep impression upon the minds of their companions and comrades, and those who come within the sphere of their influence, cannot be deeply impressed. On the other hand, a man who cannot produce any good effect upon his companions cannot be said to be a man of great personality. It is recorded in the Gospel that Judas Iscariot, a disciple of Jesus, betrayed him into the hands of the enemy only for a paltry sum of thirty pieces of lucre; and Peter swore at and cursed Jesus, saying,
I know not this man.
We read in the Gospel according to John (13:26–27):
“When he [Jesus] had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Satan or greed, then, persuaded Judas to betray his Master into the hands of his enemies. In the same way, Jesus said unto Peter: Get thee behind me, Satan. This Satan, too, played false with his Master, and swore at and cursed him, saying, I know not this man: He [Peter] began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak” (Mark, 14:71).
This faithlessness and infidelity of the meanest kind was not limited to Judas Iscariot and Peter only, but other disciples, one and all, were birds of the same feather. When Jesus was struck down with calamity and affliction, and was extremely downhearted, his disciples, seeing his helplessness and despair, forsook him and fled, fearing that they, too, might be apprehended. Both Matthew (26:56), and Mark (14:50) have recorded:
Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
By their shameful and faithless conduct, the disciples proved unquestionably that Jesus’ company could not illuminate their hearts with the light of knowledge and faith. Their faith was, as a matter of fact, so feeble and weak that even after crucifixion, when Jesus regained consciousness, he upbraided them for their littleness of faith and stone-heartedness. Turn to Mark (16:14), and read:
“Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart.”
Of this disgraceful and disappointing treatment which he had received at the hands of his disciples, Jesus had made mention on many a previous occasion also:
“And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew, 8:26).
“O thou [i.e. Peter] of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew, 14:31).
“[Jesus] said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?” (Matthew, 16:8).
“And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?” (Mark, 4:13).
“And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark, 4:40).
“And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you?” (Luke, 9:41).
“And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not” (Luke, 24:11).
And this sad state of affairs was witnessed when Jesus, having regained his consciousness after crucifixion, perceived and felt that even up to the last day of his life, his disciples had suffered from faithlessness and unbelief. Such were the disconcerting conditions which Jesus had to face and experience. It is not known whether it was due to the low mental level of the disciples that they could not assimilate and absorb Jesus’ teaching, or whether Jesus himself was incapable of influencing them. One thing, however, is evident that there was not even an atom of Divinity in Jesus; otherwise such disconcerting conditions could never have arisen.