How is Jesus different from Muhammad or Buddha?
The idea that Jesus, Muhammad and Buddha are the same come from the thought that each were, at their heart, good moral teachers — or men who wanted to make this world a better place. This is not true. If you look at the claims each one made you will see what I mean. But before I go further, I want to make it clear that the validity of what Jesus, Muhammad, and Buddha said is not what is in contention here.
Jesus claimed to be God, (John 10:25-30). He stated that He was the fulfillment of historical Jewish prophecy (Matthew 16:14-18). He claimed not only to be perfect, but also to be the only way of salvation for mankind (John 14:6). Scripture states it is by His grace we are saved, not by observance of the law or by doing good works (Ephesians 2:8-10). His outlook on man is, first, that we need salvation because we are all fallen; second, that we can not achieve it by our own means; and third, that because of His love for us God, in the person of Christ, came down and suffered so as to take upon Himself the penalty of His own judgment for all mankind (2 Corinthians 5:21). His goal is the He would be glorified, and we would be saved in the only way acceptable to a perfect and holy God. The God Christ claimed to be is one of pure righteousness, holiness, and goodness. When He created the world everything He made was good. He did not create evil, because evil was not created in the same sense good was created. Evil is the perversion of the good things God has made. Christ’s followers believed Jesus told the truth when He claimed that He would die and be raised again in three days — that Christ is alive today in heaven having conquered death. There is much evidence for the bodily resurrection of Christ, and there is no grave to visit.
Muhammad claimed to be a prophet of Allah. He was converted when an angel of Allah threatened to take his life unless he proclaimed the name of Allah. Muhammad did not see man as fallen, but simply misguided or forgetful. He claimed that the way of salvation rested in the observance of the five pillars of Islam. In essence, he preached that man could be good enough to get into heaven. Muhammad claims Allah is the source of good and evil as evil and suffering are a used to punish those who fall from Islamic law. This is a striking difference between the God Christ claimed to be and the god Muhammad claimed to follow. It is interesting to note that Muhammad believed that Jesus was a former prophet of Allah, whose words had been corrupted over the centuries. According to Islam, Muhammad was the last prophet of Allah who was sent to clear up the confusion that the centuries has brought; and that this last message is the true and incorruptible word of Allah and cannot be questioned. His followers have no question with regard to whether or not Muhammad is dead — in fact his grave is a revered site in Medina.
Buddha did not claim to show or have a way of salvation, but simply a way to be free from suffering. There are many variants of Buddha’s teaching, so I will keep to the original ideas Buddha preached. The basics of his ideas were this: All life is suffering, suffering is caused by desires, so the goal in life is to remove desires so as to remove suffering. The reason that Buddhism began was to address problem of suffering in the Hindu culture. The Hindus believed in the idea of reincarnation based on karma — how good you were. If you were good in your last life, then you would advance in the order of life from a poor man to a rich man. But Buddha saw that both the poor and the rich suffer and he thought of a way to free himself and others from suffering. That was his only goal.
There are striking differences between these men and religions. This brings me to the idea that people have today which says that each religion or idea is equally valid because they were all aiming for basically the same thing. Yet they they are not all aiming for the same thing: Jesus claims He is God, Muhammad claimed Allah was god and that Jesus was a prophet, and Buddha claimed nothing about God. Jesus offered grace and mercy, Muhammad preached law, Buddha proclaimed a life without suffering. This is not just multiple ways to come to the same conclusion — they can’t all be true! Now as I said at the beginning I am not here to demonstrate the validity or falsehood of any of these religions (although I can) — I simply wanted to show you that Muhammad, Jesus, and Buddha are vastly different.
There is nothing out there like Christianity — its view of the human problem, its answer to our need, its God who suffers with us because He loves us. Both justice and mercy can be seen in the cross. Both might and tenderness found in God. Both wisdom and humility found in Christ. Christ answers all life’s most demanding and most heartfelt questions. How will you respond?