Friday, July 23, 2010

Jesus: Fact or Fiction, Part 3

Passion, originally uploaded by gilderic.

The question of Jesus' divinity comes down to this: if the resurrection is false, then he was nothing more than a mortal like you and me. So do the facts back this miracle up?

First of all, Jesus predicted the manner of his death (Mark 10:32-34, Mark 8:31, Matthew 26:1-2). How was he to know that the Jews would go to the Romans and request that he be crucified? Why not stoned? Why not accidentally killed in a donkey accident? He pinpointed the exact manner of his death. Not only that, but David described his death in detail hundreds of years before Jesus was born (Psalm 22)! 

Plus, only a lunatic would make the claim that he would rise from the grave three days after his death. Perhaps 100 years or so after his death, but in three days everyone would know for sure that he was a liar and his legacy would immediately crumble. However, three days later he disappears just as predicted. 

Did Jesus really die on the cross? Absolutely. The blood and water that flowed from his side, minutely described in John 19:34, was likely due to cardiac rupture (info here). Besides, after going through the gruesome, terrible, physically destroying process of crucifixion, even if everyone had been fooled and Jesus was still alive (maybe he swooned?), could any human being survive three days in a tomb without any medical assistance or sustenance? 

Was Jesus' body stolen away by his followers? The Bible speaks of a Roman (or temple) guard being posted at the Jews' request, to prevent just such an eventuality, and the tomb was sealed. After the stone was rolled away and Jesus was missing, the Jews and soldiers began spreading the story that the guards had fallen asleep and then Jesus' disciples had stolen his body away. Here's a quote from Josh McDowell:

...the first obvious fact was the breaking of the seal that stood for the power and authority of the Roman Empire. The consequences of breaking the seal were extremely severe. The FBI and CIA of the Roman Empire were called into action to find the man or men who were responsible. If they were apprehended, it meant automatic execution by crucifixion upside down. People feared the breaking of the seal. Jesus' disciples displayed signs of cowardice when they hid themselves. Peter, one of these disciples, went out and denied Christ three times.
This alone is great evidence for the truth of Jesus' resurrection. That and the little matter of more than five hundred people seeing Jesus before his ascension into Heaven. All of these people could confirm exactly what the apostles said, and if the apostles were lying, there were that many people who could prove them wrong. They didn't.  

But what if it was the disciples who had stolen their teacher from his tomb? What then? We might expect the disciples to begin spreading stories, saying "I told you so", maybe even going out to spread the teachings of their dead master, who they knew very well had not risen from the dead.

But would they die for a dead man?

The death of the Messiah was a theological impossibility for the Jews. If Jesus truly died, he truly was not the Messiah. What disciple, no matter how devoted, would die for something he knew was a lie? Why would he deliberately walk into persecution, become an outcast, face danger every day and go like a sheep to be slaughtered into the enemy's jaws for something he didn't believe? If Jesus died that day in Palestine, once and for all, never to rise, then the disciples' hopes of forgiveness and eternal life were completely in vain. Yet they lived their entire lives as if they had indeed seen their Lord, risen, living, and powerful even after death. They were shocked, awed, amazed, and compelled to spend the rest of their lives telling that story.

I believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ not only because the facts point that way, but because I know of lives that have been changed, even revolutionized, by the power of this God/Man. All of this together, I am convinced, is evidence enough for the existence of the Christian God. 


  1. Very well written, you would convince me if I weren't already. Thanks for the blog

  2. Very well written, you would convince me if I weren't already. Thanks for the blog


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