Who is Messiah?
Was He resurected or not?
What did prophets say before His birth?
What do historians say?
The Bible tells us about the Messiah (Issa Al Massih). His ethnic background, place of birth, time frame of His arrival and other identifying characteristics are given. These “credentials” enable us to identify the Messiah, and to recognize imposters.
What, then, are some of the credentials of the Messiah? Only a few can be listed below; there are many others. All of these passages were recognized by the early rabbis as referring to the Messiah:
- Messiah was to be born at Bethlehem:
1 Now gather yourself in troops,
O daughter of troops;
He has laid siege against us;
They will strike the judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek.
2 “ But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
3 Therefore He shall give them up,
Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth;
Then the remnant of His brethren
Shall return to the children of Israel.
4 And He shall stand and feed His flock
In the strength of the LORD,
In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God;
And they shall abide,
For now He shall be great
To the ends of the earth;
5 And this One shall be peace.
- Messiah would be from the tribe of Judah: Genesis 49:10
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs and
the obedience of the nations is his.
- Messiah would present himself by riding on an ass: Zechariah 9:9
9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt,
the foal of a donkey.
- Messiah would be tortured to death: Psalm 22
1 My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?
2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent.
3 But You are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
4 Our fathers trusted in You;
They trusted, and You delivered them.
5 They cried to You, and were delivered;
They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.
6 But I am a worm, and no man;
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
7 All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8 “He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
9 But You are He who took Me out of the womb;
You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts.
10 I was cast upon You from birth.
From My mother’s womb
You have been My God.
11 Be not far from Me,
For trouble is near;
For there is none to help.
12 Many bulls have surrounded Me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.
13 They gape at Me with their mouths,
Like a raging and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.
16 For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
17 I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
18 They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.
19 But You, O LORD, do not be far from Me;
O My Strength, hasten to help Me!
20 Deliver Me from the sword,
My precious life from the power of the dog.
21 Save Me from the lion’s mouth
And from the horns of the wild oxen!
You have answered Me.
22 I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise Him!
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from Him;
But when He cried to Him, He heard.
25 My praise shall be of You in the great assembly;
I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.
26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Him will praise the LORD.
Let your heart live forever!
27 All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the LORD,
And all the families of the nations
Shall worship before You.
28 For the kingdom is the LORD’s,
And He rules over the nations.
29 All the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive.
30 A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation,
31 They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,
That He has done this.
- Messiah would arrive before the destruction of the Second Temple: Daniel 9:24-27
“ Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.
“ Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem
Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
The street shall be built again, and the wall,
Even in troublesome times.
“ And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate.”
- Messiah’s life would match a particular description, including suffering, silence at his arrest and trial, death and burial in a rich man’s tomb, and resurrection: Isaiah 52:13-53:12
13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently;
He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.
14 Just as many were astonished at you,
So His visage was marred more than any man,
And His form more than the sons of men;
15 So shall He sprinkle many nations.
Kings shall shut their mouths at Him;
For what had not been told them they shall see,
And what they had not heard they shall consider. Isaiah 52
1 Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes
we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
9 And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make
an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul,and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities. Isaiah 53
In detail as to lineage, birthplace, time, and lifestyle, Jesus matched the Messianic expectations of the Hebrew Scriptures. The record of this fulfillment is to be found in the pages of the New Testament. But several other factors combine to further substantiate the Messiahship of Jesus.
In the first place, Jesus Christ claimed to be the Messiah! When a woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming.” He replied, “I who speak to you am he.” Jesus worked many miracles of healing, bringing wholeness into people’s lives, forgiving sin and restoring relationships.
In prophecies of prophet Isaiah (the Old Testament of Bible) we see the drama of one particular child and His birth—the prediction of a Son like no other entering the world.
In chapters 7-10, there are repeated references to the birth of a child who will make a difference in the history of Israel.
The prophet Isaiah went beyond the borders of the usual hope surrounding a birth. He challenged his readers to grapple with the concept of a child in the role of redeemer. Yet to grasp the significance of Isaiah’s prophecies it is necessary to understand the pivotal time in Israel’s history in which they were given.
Israel’s Troubled Times
During the reign of young King Ahaz of Judah in the years 735-715 B.C.E. storm clouds hung over the nation. To the north, Assyria was growing in power under Tiglath-pileser III who, after his conquests in the east, turned his forces toward Israel. Tiglath-pileser was plucking up the small nations that dotted the Mediterranean coast, which included Israel and much of Judah. The northern tribes of Israel were on the brink of being devoured by the ferocious war machine of the powerful Assyrian armies.
Tiglath-pileser was a ruthless despot who seemed unstoppable. No military might in the Middle EastIsrael’s armies seemed hopeless. had been able to withstand the Assyrian conquerors. The fate of
Meanwhile, Rezin of Damascus and Pekah of Israel waged war against Ahaz of Judah, perhaps in an effort to force him into an alliance with them against Tiglath-pileser.
As he had in times past, God raised up a person for those troubled times, the prophet Isaiah. That prophet would speak to the needs, fears and hopes of God’s people for almost 50 years.
Isaiah confronted King Ahaz in the forthright manner that characterized his ministry.
A Sign of the Times
Ahaz was confronted with a dilemma. On the one hand, Rezin and Pekah were threatening the Davidic dynasty by placing the son of Tabeel on the throne. On the other hand, Assyria was vanquishing one kingdom after another. The greatest question in the minds of the royal family must have been: “What will happen to God’s promise that David’s throne shall be for all time?” But the worried King Ahaz simply would not trust in God.
Isaiah assured him that God would give a sign to the nation of Judah that would command their trust. Since the dynasty was threatened, the people would need confidence to trust God to maintain the throne of David for “all generations”.
God offered to give Ahaz a sign, either as deep as Sheol or as high as heaven, but Ahaz refused. “I will not tempt the Lord,” he seemingly protested. The fact was, Ahaz had his own way of handling the situation, through an ungodly alliance with Tiglath-pileser.
Clearly, King Ahaz was not interested in a sign nor in a prophetic word from the Lord which might interfere with his own course of action. And so, from Isaiah came the sharp rebuke, “Is it too little that you weary men, that you also weary my God?”
The prophet continued, and addressed the entire house of David:
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the almah (young woman or virgin) shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Isaiah’s prophecy was to remind the king of Judah that the fate of the nation didn’t rest in the designs of opposing armies or in the temporary alliances of monarchs. The destiny of the Jewish people rested securely in the hands of the Lord God.
The crisis with the Jewish people and with King Ahaz was one of faith. And what exactly was this sign, as deep as Sheol or as high as heaven, that was given by God to his people?
The Meaning of Immanuel
Traditional Jewish teaching on the significance of Immanuel is seen in the following description:
“With us is God,” the name to be given to a still unborn baby boy according to Isaiah 7:14, apparently as a symbol which verse 16 is intended to explain. The name is commonly supposed to be apostrophized; but in fact the words immanu’el here are, as they are universally admitted to be in 8:10, not a proper name but a simple statement to the effect that “with us is God.”
It’s reasonable to consider that the prophecy had an application beyond the time that it was given.
The prophet told the king that the sign would be something miraculous. And if this birth was to be something unusual, it would have to be more than just a name an optimistic mother would choose for her firstborn son in order to express her hope for a more secure future. Nor was the prophecy a mere word of comfort to the king. This was God’s promise to change the course of history—a sign that would transform the way God related to humanity.
The Identity of Immanuel
If this prophecy was to have more than a local reference—if this pronouncement was to be the revelation of God to his people—the child would have to be someone outstanding.
The basis for the teaching of the virgin birth is in the birth accounts of Issa (Jesus) in the New Testament, which state that Mary had not had sexual relations Matthew 1:23 quotes the Isaiah 7:14Israel.
Immanuel, God’s Messiah
God commissioned Isaiah to bring a message of hope at a crucial time in the history of Israel. The time was coming when God would draw close and dwell amongst his people. As a nation, Israel needed the assurance that despite coming judgments, the promise of God’s presence remained. That presence was not to be apparent in some intangible or abstract manner, but in a very visible way, as Immanuel—Issa (Jesus).
In sending His son to earth, God caused eternity to invade time. This was not a temporary visit; when Jesus came, He wedded dust and deity—time and eternity into one. The eternal Word was made human flesh, and that union will last forever. As the perfect man here on earth, Jesus Christ showed us what it is like to live by the eternal.
As Immanuel, Issa, also gives us the promise of His abiding presence which means He will be with us always, “…even to the end of the age.”
The greater part of the wonder is that this promised child is not only a human, but Immanuel—God with us—as well.
If Jesus Christ is God and Redeemer then is He alive now? Was He dead?
Now look passage from book of Professor McDowell (Josh McDowell, according to a recent survey, is one of the most popular speakers among university students today. He has spoken on more than 650 university and college campuses to more than seven million people in 74 countries during the last 21 years) who is giving evidences that Jesus was resurrected:
Evidence for the Resurrection
by Josh McDowell
For centuries many of the world’s distinguished philosophers have assaulted Christianity as being irrational, superstitious and absurd. Many have chosen simply to ignore the central issue of the resurrection. Others have tried to explain it away through various theories. But the historical evidence just can’t be discounted.
A student at the University of Uruguay said to me. “Professor McDowell, why can’t you refute Christianity?”
“For a very simple reason,” I answered. “I am not able to explain away an event in history–the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
How can we explain the empty tomb? Can it possibly be accounted for by any natural cause?
After more than 700 hours of studying this subject, I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted on the minds of human beings–or it is the most remarkable fact of history.
Here are some of the facts relevant to the resurrection: Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish prophet who claimed to be the Christ prophesied in the Jewish Scriptures, was arrested, was judged a political criminal, and was crucified. Three days after His death and burial, some women who went to His tomb found the body gone. In subsequent weeks, His disciples claimed that God had raised Him from the dead and that He appeared to them various times before ascending into heaven.
From that foundation, Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and has continued to exert great influence down through the centuries.
The New Testament accounts of the resurrection were being circulated within the lifetimes of men and women alive at the time of the resurrection. Those people could certainly have confirmed or denied the accuracy of such accounts.
The writers of the four Gospels either had themselves been witnesses or else were relating the accounts of eyewitnesses of the actual events. In advocating their case for the gospel, a word that means “good news,” the apostles appealed (even when confronting their most severe opponents) to common knowledge concerning the facts of the resurrection.
F. F. Bruce, Rylands professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at the University of Manchester, says concerning the value of the New Testament records as primary sources: “Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further corrective.”
IS THE NEW TESTAMENT RELIABLE?
Because the New Testament provides the primary historical source for information on the resurrection, many critics during the 19th century attacked the reliability of these biblical documents.
By the end of the 19th century, however, archaeological discoveries had confirmed the accuracy of the New Testament manuscripts. Discoveries of early papyri bridged the gap between the time of Christ and existing manuscripts from a later date.
Those findings increased scholarly confidence in the reliability of the Bible. William F. Albright, who in his day was the world’s foremost biblical archaeologist, said: “We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today.”
Coinciding with the papyri discoveries, an abundance of other manuscripts came to light (over 24,000 copies of early New Testament manuscripts are known to be in existence today). The historian Luke wrote of “authentic evidence” concerning the resurrection. Sir William Ramsay, who spent 15 years attempting to undermine Luke credentials as a historian, and to refute the reliability of the New Testament, finally concluded: “Luke is a historian of the first rank . . . This author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians. “
I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history . . .
E. M. Blaiklock
Professor of Classics
The New Testament witnesses were fully aware of the background against which the resurrection took place. The body of Jesus, in accordance with Jewish burial custom, was wrapped in a linen cloth. About 100 pounds of aromatic spices, mixed together to form a gummy substance, were applied to the wrappings of cloth about the body. After the body was placed in a solid rock tomb, an extremely large stone was rolled against the entrance of the tomb. Large stones weighing approximately two tons were normally rolled (by means of levers) against a tomb entrance.
A Roman guard of strictly disciplined fighting men was stationed to guard the tomb. This guard affixed on the tomb the Roman seal, which was meant to “prevent any attempt at vandalizing the sepulcher. Anyone trying to move the stone from the tomb’s entrance would have broken the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman law.
But three days later the tomb was empty. The followers of Jesus said He had risen from the dead. They reported that He appeared to them during a period of 40 days, showing Himself to them by many “infallible proofs.” Paul the apostle recounted that Jesus appeared to more than 500 of His followers at one time, the majority of whom were still alive and who could confirm what Paul wrote. So many security precautions were taken with the trial, crucifixion, burial, entombment, sealing, and guarding of Christ’s tomb that it becomes very difficult for critics to defend their position that Christ did not rise from the dead. Consider these facts:
FACT #1: BROKEN ROMAN SEAL
As we have said, 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.
FACT #2: EMPTY TOMB
As we have already discussed, another obvious fact after the resurrection was the empty tomb. The disciples of Christ did not go off to Athens or RomeJerusalem, where, if what they were teaching was false, the falsity would be evident. The empty tomb was “too notorious to be denied.” Paul Althaus states that the resurrection “could have not been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned.” to preach that Christ was raised from the dead. Rather, they went right back to the city.
Both Jewish and Roman sources and traditions admit an empty tomb. Those resources range from Josephus to a compilation of fifth-century Jewish writings called the “Toledoth Jeshu.” Dr. Paul Maier calls this “positive evidence from a hostile source, which is the strongest kind of historical evidence. In essence, this means that if a source admits a fact decidedly not in its favor, then that fact is genuine.”
Gamaliel, who was a member of the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, put forth the suggestion that the rise of the Christian movement was God’s doing; he could not have done that if the tomb were still occupied, or if the Sanhedrin knew the whereabouts of Christ’s body.
Paul Maier observes that ” . . . if all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would disprove this statement.”
FACT #3: LARGE STONE MOVED
On that Sunday morning the first thing that impressed the people who approached the tomb was the unusual position of the one and a half to two ton stone that had been lodged in front of the doorway. All the Gospel writers mention it.
There exists no document from the ancient world, witnessed by so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies . . . Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based upon an irrational bias.
Those who observed the stone after the resurrection describe its position as having been rolled up a slope away not just from the entrance of the tomb, but from the entire massive sepulcher. It was in such a position that it looked as if it had been picked up and carried away. Now, I ask you, if the disciples had wanted to come in, tiptoe around the sleeping guards, and then roll the stone over and steal Jesus’ body, how could they have done that without the guards’ awareness?
FACT #4: ROMAN GUARD GOES AWOL
The Roman guards fled. They left their place of responsibility. How can their attrition he explained, when Roman military discipline was so exceptional? Justin, in Digest #49, mentions all the offenses that required the death penalty. The fear of their superiors’ wrath and the possibility of death meant that they paid close attention to the minutest details of their jobs. One way a guard was put to death was by being stripped of his clothes and then burned alive in a fire started with his garments. If it was not apparent which soldier had failed in his duty, then lots were drawn to see which one would be punished with death for the guard unit’s failure. Certainly the entire unit would not have fallen asleep with that kind of threat over their heads. Dr. George Currie, a student of Roman military discipline, wrote that fear of punishment “produced flawless attention to duty, especially in the night watches.”
FACT #5: GRAVECLOTHES TELL A TALE
In a literal sense, against all statements to the contrary, the tomb was not totally empty–because of an amazing phenomenon. John, a disciple of Jesus, looked over to the place where the body of Jesus had lain, and there were the grave clothes, in the form of the body, slightly caved in and empty–like the empty chrysalis of a caterpillar’s cocoon. That’s enough to make a believer out of anybody. John never did get over it. The first thing that stuck in the minds of the disciples was not the empty tomb, but rather the empty grave clothes–undisturbed in form and position.
FACT #6: JESUS’ APPEARANCES CONFIRMED
Christ appeared alive on several occasions after the cataclysmic events of that first Easter . When studying an event in history, it is important to know whether enough people who were participants or eyewitnesses to the event were alive when the facts about the event were published. To know this is obviously helpful in ascertaining the accuracy of the published report. If the number of eyewitnesses is substantial, the event can he regarded as fairly well established. For instance, if we all witness a murder, and a later police report turns out to he a fabrication of lies, we as eyewitnesses can refute it.
OVER 500 WITNESSES
Several very important factors arc often overlooked when considering Christ’s post-resurrection appearances to individuals. The first is the large number of witnesses of Christ after that resurrection morning. One of the earliest records of Christ’s appearing after the resurrection is by Paul. The apostle appealed to his audience’s knowledge of the fact that Christ had been seen by more than 500 people at one time. Paul reminded them that the majority of those people were still alive and could be questioned. Dr. Edwin M. Yamauchi, associate professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, emphasizes: “What gives a special authority to the list (of witnesses) as historical evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. St. Paul says in effect, ‘If you do not believe me, you can ask them.’ Such a statement in an admittedly genuine letter written within thirty years of the event is almost as strong evidence as one could hope to get for something that happened nearly two thousand years ago.” Let’s take the more than 500 witnesses who saw Jesus alive after His death and burial, and place them in a courtroom. Do you realize that if each of those 500 people were to testify for only six minutes, including cross-examination, you would have an amazing 50 hours of firsthand testimony? Add to this the testimony of many other eyewitnesses and you would well have the largest and most lopsided trial in history.
Another factor crucial to interpreting Christ’s appearances is that He also appeared to those who were hostile or unconvinced.
Over and over again, I have read or heard people comment that Jesus was seen alive after His death and burial only by His friends and followers. Using that argument, they attempt to water down the overwhelming impact of the multiple eyewitness accounts. But that line of reasoning is so pathetic it hardly deserves comment. No author or informed individual would regard Saul of Tarsus as being a follower of Christ. The facts show the exact opposite. Saul despised Christ and persecuted Christ’s followers. It was a life-shattering experience when Christ appeared to him. Although he was at the time not a disciple, he later became the apostle Paul, one of the greatest witnesses for the truth of the resurrection.
If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.
F. F. Bruce
The argument that Christ’s appearances were only to followers is an argument for the most part from silence, and arguments from silence can be dangerous. It is equally possible that all to whom Jesus appeared became followers. No one acquainted with the facts can accurately say that Jesus appeared to just “an insignificant few.”
Christians believe that Jesus was bodily resurrected in time and space by the supernatural power of God. The difficulties of belief may be great, but the problems inherent in unbelief present even greater difficulties.
The theories advanced to explain the resurrection by “natural causes” are weak; they actually help to build confidence in the truth of the resurrection.
THE WRONG TOMB?
A theory propounded by Kirsopp Lake assumes that the women who reported that the body was missing had mistakenly gone to the wrong tomb. If so, then the disciples who went to check up on the women’s statement must have also gone to the wrong tomb. We may be certain, however, that Jewish authorities, who asked for a Roman guard to be stationed at the tomb to prevent Jesus’ body from being stolen, would not have been mistaken about the location. Nor would the Roman guards, for they were there!
If the resurrection-claim was merely because of a geographical mistake, the Jewish authorities would have lost no time in producing the body from the proper tomb, thus effectively quenching for all time any rumor resurrection.
Another attempted explanation claims that the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection were either illusions or hallucinations. Unsupported by the psychological principles governing the appearances of hallucinations, this theory also does not coincide with the historical situation. Again, where was the actual body, and why wasn’t it produced?
DID JESUS SWOON?
Another theory, popularized by Venturini several centuries ago, is often quoted today. This is the swoon theory, which says that Jesus didn’t die; he merely fainted from exhaustion and loss of blood. Everyone thought Him dead, but later He resuscitated and the disciples thought it to be a resurrection. Skeptic David Friedrich Strauss–certainly no believer in the resurrection–gave the deathblow to any thought that Jesus revived from a swoon: “It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to His sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that He was a Conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life,
For the New Testament of Acts, the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Any attempt to reject its basic historicity, even in matters of detail, must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.
A. N. Sherwin-White
Classical Roman Historian
an impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry. Such a resuscitation could only have weakened the impression which He had made upon them in life and in death, at the most could only have given it an elegiac voice, but could by no possibility have changed their sorrow into enthusiasm, have elevated their reverence into worship.”
THE BODY STOLEN?
Then consider the theory that the body was stolen by the disciples while the guards slept. The depression and cowardice of the disciples provide a hard-hitting argument against their suddenly becoming so brave and daring as to face a detachment of soldiers at the tomb and steal the body. They were in no mood to attempt anything like that.
The theory that the Jewish or Roman authorities moved Christ’s body is no more reasonable an explanation for the empty tomb than theft by the disciples. If the authorities had the body in their possession or knew where it was, why, when the disciples were preaching the resurrection in Jerusalem, didn’t they explain: “Wait! We moved the body, see, He didn’t rise from the grave”?
And if such a rebuttal failed, why didn’t they explain exactly where Jesus’ body lay? If this failed, why didn’t they recover the corpse, put it on a cart, and wheel it through the center of Jerusalem? Such an action would have destroyed Christianity–not in the cradle, but in the womb!
THE RESURRECTION IS A FACT
Professor Thomas Arnold, for 14 years a headmaster of Rugby, author of the famous, History of Rome, and appointed to the chair of modern history at Oxford, was well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts. This great scholar said: “I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” Brooke Foss Westcott, an English scholar, said: “raking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it.”
REAL PROOF: THE DISCIPLES’ LIVES
But the most telling testimony of all must be the lives of those early Christians. We must ask ourselves: What caused them to go everywhere telling the message of the risen Christ?
Had there been any visible benefits accrued to them from their efforts–prestige, wealth, increased social status or material benefits–we might logically attempt to account for their actions, for their whole-hearted and total allegiance to this “risen Christ .”
As a reward for their efforts, however, those early Christians were beaten, stoned to death, thrown to the lions, tortured and crucified. Every conceivable method was used to stop them from talking.
Yet, they laid down their lives as the ultimate proof of their complete confidence in the truth of their message.
WHERE DO YOU STAND?
God is with us because He loves us. God became one of us because He wanted to show us what He was like. God wants to be with us even now.
The question is, do we
want to be with Him?
How do you evaluate this overwhelming historical evidence? What is your decision about the fact of Christ’s empty tomb? What do you think of Issa Ibn Allah?
Jesus told him: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life;
no one comes to the Father but
through Me“ (John 14:6).
On the basis of all the evidence for Christ’s resurrection, and considering the fact that Jesus offers forgiveness of sin,
eternal relationship with God and an who would be so foolhardy as to reject Him?
Christ is alive! He is living today.
You can trust God right now by faith through prayer. Prayer is talking with God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. If you have never trusted Christ, you can do so right now.
Jesus, my Lord, Issa Al Massih, I know that I am a sinner.
I know now that You are God.
Forgive me that I didn’t believe in You and sinned all my life.
And thank You for diying on the cross for my sin
and paying prize for it and risen again from the dead.
I am turning from my sin now.
And I am making choice to believe in You all my life
and follow You as my Savior and Lord.
Thank You for calling me and forgiving me, and receiving me, and loving me.
Thank you Lord that You adopted me through my Faith into YOU.
Help me to follow You from this day forward.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
If you prayed this prayer
then know that God promised if we confess our sins then He is faithful and just to forgive us through faith into Jesus Christ and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
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Christians should be together
to support each other!
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the Beginning and the End,”
says the Lord,
“who is and who was
who is to come,
And when I saw Him,
I fell at His feet as dead.
But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me,
“Do not be afraid;
I am the First and the Last.
I am He who lives,
I am alive forevermore.
And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
God has so much more for you,
walk in His plan,
and you will fulfill His great commission for your life just believe in Him.
To believe in Him means to believe in His Son God Jesus, repent and live as God says in Bible. Because God is ONE and He is worthy to be praised. Don’t forget what God said:
“ Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you.
(said God in Isaiah 49:15)