ANSWER: Jesus does appear in the Quran (Koran), but He is not especially important to Muslims compared to Muhammad. That is, Muslims look upon him (Issa) nearly the way Christians perceive the prophets Isaiah or Moses. They believe he is an important true prophet, but not the Son of God, not part of the Godhead and not the Savior of mankind.
In the New Testament, Jesus is the central Personage of the book. The four Gospels are records of His actions and teachings in detail. By contrast, in the Quran (Koran), He is mentioned in only 74 verses out of 6,236 total verses, and 42 of those are indirect references (Ron Rhodes, "Reasoning from the Scriptures with Muslims," page 132).
Let us look at a few of these verses in the Koran that mention Christ. Sura 4:169 denies that He is the Son of God and denies that He is God.
|"The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, is only an apostle of God, and His word which He conveyed into Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Himself. Believe therefore in God and his apostles, and say not, 'Three:' (there is a Trinity) - Forbear - it will be better for you. God is only one God! Far be it from His glory that He should have a son!" (Sura 4:169)|
Because Muslims believe God is only one Person, they adamantly deny the traditional Christian teaching that Christ is God. God and Christ are One, a teaching they do not understand. Sura 3:51 teaches the Lord was a man just like Adam.
|"Verily, Jesus is as Adam in the sight of God. He created him of dust: He then said to him, 'Be' - and he was" (Sura 3:51)|
By contrast, John 1:1, 14 teach that the Messiah is God and the Son of God: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us (and we ourselves beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten with the Father), full of grace and truth" (HBFV translation). These verses teach that Christ was both Man and God at the same time while He walked the earth.
Muslims also deny in the Quran that Jesus died or that He was crucified, based upon Sura 4:155 - 156.
"And for their unbelief, - and for their having spoken against Mary a grievous calumny, - And for their saying, 'Verily we have slain the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, an apostle of God.' yet they slew him not, and they crucified him not, but they had only his likeness. And they who differed about him were in doubt concerning him: No sure knowledge had they about him, but followed only an opinion, and they did not really slay him, but God took him up to Himself. And God is mighty, wise!" (Sura 4:155 - 156)
Perhaps Muhammad here was influenced by some kind of Gnostic teaching first taught centuries earlier. The four Gospels are very clear that Christ was killed by crucifixion, and that His death was not miraculously prevented. Rather, after He died, He was miraculously resurrected back to life again. Ironically, it seems that the book contradicts itself in this regard, since Sura 4:48 reads as follows.
"Remember when God said, 'O Jesus! Verily I will cause thee to die, and will take thee up to Myself and deliver thee from those who believe not" (Sura 4:48)
The Quran also teaches that He did miracles in Sura 5:110. In this regard, it agrees with the New Testament.
"Thou didst heal the blind and the leper, by My leave; and when, by My leave, thou didst bring forth the dead."
In conclusion, the Quran (Koran) definitely mentions Jesus, but its teachings about him often contradict what the Bible teaches. Since the New Testament was written by first century followers of the Messiah, it is a much more reliable witness to what he did and what His followers taught about him than someone "reciting" about him over five centuries later who never knew Him personally (as is the case with Muhammad). For further study on this fascinating topic please see books such as Robert Morey's "Islamic Invasion" or Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb's "Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross."