In New Testament times, we find that the Jews were still expecting the fulfilment of the prophecy of ‘ONE LIKE MOSES’, refer John 1:19-25. When Jesus claimed to be the Messiah of the Jews, the Jews began to enquire as to where was Elias? The Jews had a parallel prophecy that before the coming of the Messiah, Elias must come first in his second coming. Jesus confirms this Jewish belief:
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist” (Matthew 17:11-13).
According to the New Testament the Jews were not the ones to swallow the words of any would-be Messiah. In their investigations they underwent intense difficulties in order to find their true Messiah. And this the Gospel of John confirms: “and this is the record of John, when the jews sent priests and levites from Jerusalem to ask him, who art thou ? Amd he confessed and denied not, but confessed, I’m not the christ.” (This was only natural because there can’t be two Messiahs at the same time. If Jesus was the Christ then John couldn’t be the Christ!) “and they asked him, what then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I’m not.” (Here John the Baptist contradicts Jesus! Jesus says that John is “Elias” and John denies that he is what Jesus ascribes him to be. One of the TWO (Jesus or John), God forbid!, is definitely not speaking the TRUTH! On the testimony of Jesus himself, John the Baptist was the greatest of the Israelite prophets: ” Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. “(Matthew 11:11).
We Muslims know John the Baptist as Yahya. We revere him as a true prophet of God. The Prophet Jesus is also esteemed as one of the mightiest messenger of the Almighty. How can we Muslims impute lies to either of them? We leave this problem between Jesus and John for the Christians to solve, for their “sacred scriptures” abound in discrepancies which they have been glossing over as the “dark sayings of Jesus”. We Muslims are really interested in the last questions posed to John the Baptist by the Jewish elite- “ART THOU THAT PROPHET? And he answered, NO.” (John 1:21)