Having shown the reliability of Scripture, we find that we are able to include the Bible as a trustworthy source of historical record. As noted earlier, scriptures foretold Jesus' life hundreds of years before his birth, giving the who, when and where. We find that the "why?" is intimately tied to the single most amazing and controversial event in human history, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, known also as the "Passion of the Christ".
British theologian, Michael Green stated that "Christianity does not hold the resurrection to be one among many tenets of belief. Without faith in the resurrection there would be no Christianity at all. The Christian church would never have begun. The Jesus movement would have fizzled out like a damp squib with his execution. Christianity stands or falls with the truth of the resurrection. Once disprove it, and you have disposed of Christianity. Christianity is a historical religion. It claims that God has taken the risk of involving himself in human history, and the facts are there for you to examine with the utmost rigor. They will stand any amount of critical investigation."
Wilbur Smith said "If our Lord said, frequently, with great definiteness and detail, that after He went up to Jerusalem He would be put to death, but on the third day He would rise again from the grave, and this prediction came to pass, then it has always seemed to me that everything else that our Lord ever said must also be true. It is this same Jesus, the Christ, who, among many other remarkable things, said and repeated something which, proceeding from any other being would have condemned him at once as either a bloated egotist or a dangerously unbalanced person. That Jesus said He was going up to Jerusalem to die is not so remarkable, though all the details He gave about that death, weeks and months before He died, are together a prophetic phenomenon, but when He said that He himself would rise again from the dead, the third day after He was crucified, He said something that only a fool would dare say, if he expected longer the devotion of any disciples, unless... he was sure he was going to rise. No founder of any world religion known to men ever dared say a thing like that."
Sir William Ramsay, regarded as one of the greatest archaeologists ever, investigated Luke's writings in an effort to undermine the Gospel writer's credentials as a historian, along with the account of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection. Instead, after 30 years of study he concluded that, "Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy... this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians."
During his life and ministry, Jesus did make many profound statements, but one in particular that stirred the ire of the religious leaders, and still does today, was his claim to be equal with God, having existed in the beginning. We find such statements in verses like Matthew 16:13-17, 22:41-46; Mark 2:1-12; Mark 14:61-64; John 8:20-23, 10:22-39, 19:8, 8:37-58, 3:25-26, 5:17-21, 17:1-5.
Jesus backed up his words with demonstrated power and authority over nature and every sickness and disease to validate who he was, (these signs and wonders were never disputed by those of the day) but the ultimate sign of proof was manifested in his death and resurrection. Events that are based on the evidence, in history and facts. What might those things be? Let the examination begin!
The narrative and details of Jesus arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection are found in Matthew, beginning with 26:46 through Matthew 28:1-20 (see also Mark 14:43-72 to 16:14; Luke 22:47 to 24:1-53, John 18:1-40 to 20:31).
Crucifixion has been labeled as the cruelest means of execution man has ever devised. The product of Roman origins in its perfected state, it was meant to cause excruciating pain and slow death. Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion of the Christ" is the closest re-enactment of the Gospel records in depicting the severity of what Jesus endured under Roman punishment. Jesus appearance in Jerusalem for the Passover was the big news of the day as throngs of people greeted him while he entered the city (an Elvis welcome). How quickly people can change though for a myriad of reasons (have you ever experienced this?) to the point that by the end of the week there was a crowd shouting for Jesus to be crucified (how quickly things can go south). His arrest, trial, crucifixion and death were not done in secret. This leads us to the first part of our examination.. witnesses!
Witnesses play an important part in a court of law and any police officer looks for witnesses to solve a crime, understand the facts or get a description of what transpired. We are told that:
1. The crowds witnessed this event.
2. The Pharisees were present and involved.
3. The disciples saw what happened.
4. The Roman guards were there
5. The public-at-large (Jn. 19:20)
Historical records outside of scripture attest to the confidence others had in the eyewitness testimony available as fact, verifying that Jesus was indeed put to death. Some examples:
a. Historian Josephus
b. of a copy of an Arabic version of Josephus writings that reads "At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders." (Quoted in James H. Charlesworth, Jesus Within Judaism, (Garden City: Doubleday, 1988), 95, cited in Habermas, The Historical Jesus, 194).
c. of Nero himself as he looked to blame Christians for the fire that burned Rome down in 64 A.D. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote, "Nero fastened the guilt ... in a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus (Christ), from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of ... Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition (possibly alluding to the resurrection), thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome. . . ."
d. Thallus, a Samaritan-born historian (52 A.D.) quoted by Julius Africanus "Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness [at the time of the crucifixion] as an eclipse of the sun - unreasonable, of course, because a solar eclipse could not take place at the time of the full moon, and it was the time of the pascal full moon when Christ died."
e. Letter of Mara Bar-Serapion, (after AD 73 - this letter presently resides in the British Museum): "What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished....But Socrates did not die for good; he lived on in the teaching of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise King die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given."
It is important to note several things with regard to tombs of that day and specifically with the tomb Jesus was placed in.
First, would be possession. Once the Roman soldiers had determined that Jesus was dead, by thrusting a spear in his side, and it was confirmed to Pilate, the body was taken down and handed over to a man by the name of Joseph, who placed Jesus in his own tomb, in preparation for the coming Sabbath and in accord with Jewish custom. The next day, the Pharisee's were given permission by Pilate to go secure the tomb and guard the body, to be certain it would not be taken. In doing so, the stone was rolled back over the opening, once inspection was made that the body was in there, and a seal placed on the tomb with a watch (Roman or temple guards) put in place. At this juncture, those who had possession and given authority over the body were the Pharisee's who condemned him, with the assistance of the local Roman government.
Second would be "The Stone".
The typical opening of Jewish tombs had an entrance, or opening of 4 ½ to 5 ft. A stone of that size would have to have had a minimum weight of 1 ½ to 2 tons. Far more than one man could handle alone, especially in light of the fact that rolling it away from the opening would be against an incline (rolling uphill). One cannot do this quietly in the stealth of night.
The Watch - There is a question as to which type of Roman watch was granted, whether a 4-man policing unit or the elite Roman guard that was a 16 man security force divided up into 4 groups with 4 men in each group. Each man was trained to protect six feet of ground. The sixteen men in a square of four on each side were supposed to be able to protect 36 yards against an entire battalion and hold it. In either case, Roman soldiers were the Marines of their day. Some have suggested that the Pharisee's may have used their own Temple guards. In either case, they had full control and sole possession of the body of Jesus at this point.
The Seal - Traditionally, this was a seal of the official signet of the Roman government. This could only be placed on the stone in the presence of the Roman guards who were left in charge. The purpose was to verify what was being guarded and to prevent anyone from tampering with the grave's contents. The seal authenticated that Jesus body was actually there. The Roman seal was affixed to the stone that secured the tomb. Breaking the seal would have meant automatic execution. A few approach the sealing of the stone as reference to actually sealing it permanently in place with mortar.
The point that should not be lost here is that the body of Jesus was secured by those in authority and power. These were not stupid individuals. They knew who Jesus was and what he looked like, having had run-ins with him for three and a half years, including the last, intense week leading up to Jesus crucifixion, in spite of some today that would try to suggest the authorities had the wrong guy. And they were not so dumb as to confuse which tomb he was placed in for which they themselves set a watch over, despite those who put forth their "lost tomb" theories. Add to this the fact that they were adamantly opposed to Jesus, and fully wanted him dead, were not so naive as to fall for any "swooning theory" that has been suggested. They would have checked the body out to cover their backside.
And yet, in spite of all the preparation put in place, the tomb still ended up empty after three days, just as Jesus said (Matt. 12:38-40, 16:21, 17:22, 20:17-19, Mark 9:30-32, 10:32-34; Luke 9:22, 18:31-34, etc)
The accounts recorded at the end of each of the first four books of the New Testament gives us a snapshot of what transpired after the crucifixion and burial. (Matt. 28:1-15; Mark 16:1-14; Luke 24:1-43; John 20:1-31).
We find that some, not all, of the soldiers, who were responsible for watching the tomb came into the city and to the chief priests to tell them what happened. What did they tell them? They stated that they fell as dead men when the stone was rolled away and a bright figure sat upon it. Their worst fear came to pass, Jesus was not in the tomb. The guards that showed up got some payola to spread the rumor that the disciples came and stole Jesus away. The disinformation campaign went into motion as the spin doctors looked to do damage control.
How many of us remember the early stages of the Iraq war when Iraq's Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf would broadcast his spin with statements like:
"Our initial assessment is that they will all die"
"There are no American infidel's in Baghdad. Never!"
"We have them on the run. We are defeating them everywhere."
These were said while the rest of the world watched live feeds of American tanks rolling into Baghdad and Iraq falling like a deck of cards. Nobody was buying the hype, accept possibly those whose only link to news was the Iraqi channel with spinmeister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, or those who just could not handle the truth and were instead in denial. There has always been an attraction toward denial when confronted with truth that a person is not willing to accept.
It was the same here. Although there was no instant, wall to wall news coverage, embedded news agents or camera phones to capture the event live, as we have today, news of it nevertheless started to filter out to the people in spite of the chief priest's efforts. Several things fueled the fire.
First, there was no citywide search established to desperately hunt for the body (we find no historical record noting such events). One would think that with such emphasis placed on guarding the tomb, stopping any theft and most importantly eliminating any chance of resurrection claims, it was important enough of an issue to investigate. But, much like O.J. Simpson's attempts to search for the "true" killer, the chief priest's played "golf" instead... uh, went about their usual daily business. Why? There was no reason to look for they already knew the truth, so much so that we find later many coming to believe in Christ themselves (Acts 6:7). The proof that the body actually did disappear from the tomb was their inability to produce it. A glaring omission easily noted by the citizenry of the region.
Paul Maier (historian) "There are both Jewish and Roman sources that acknowledge an empty tomb. These sources range from the Jewish historian Josephus to the compilation of fifth century Jewish writings called the Toledoth Jeshu. 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."
Second, you can't fool all of the people all of the time. Those who saw the guards, witnessed Christ's death and all the hubbub that went down, also witnessed the inaction. No arrests were made with the disciples being rounded up and search parties ransacking houses. There was no inquisition. Nothing! Nada! There are no historical accounts that record such events transpiring. The silence of the day speaks rather loud. Common sense people knew it would be near impossible to roll away a 2 ton stone in the quiet of the night without waking up somebody nearby, beside the fact that the citizens of the day were all too familiar with the discipline, training and efficiency of Roman soldiers to bite on the "falling asleep on the job" excuse. And, not all of the soldiers went along with going to the priests, which means not all of them lied about what went down that night. Conflicting reports makes people question.
Third and biggest reason, Jesus showed up, being witnessed not just by his disciples but by many. That pretty much ended the kidnapping thing as having any merit. Luke historically records in Acts, Chapter Two, how after having been empowered by the Holy Spirit, Peter boldly stood up and spoke to the crowds in Jerusalem, challenging them, and in bringing understanding to the information and knowledge they already had...
"...You men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus Of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him IN THE MIDST OF YOU, AS YOU YOURSELVES ALSO KNOW; Him being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain; Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be held by it..... This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we ALL are witnesses... Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made that same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ." Now when they heard this, they...
a. Called him a liar? No.
b. They said, "We don't have a clue what you're talking about!". No.
c. Laughed at him as being some idiot? No.
d. Said "You got your facts wrong!" No.
e. Looked to correct him? No.
It says "they were pricked in their heart and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
That day 3,000 people were baptized and believed on Jesus as being the Savior scripture foretold. Why? Were they threatened by the edge of the sword to submit or die? No. Were they conned into believing some fairy tale? No. Were they weak-minded, ignorant, uneducated fools? No. It was because they knew the facts and had knowledge of what Peter was saying was true, and so came to a realization and a rational conclusion. Christianity spread like wildfire on the sole fact concerning the resurrection. Historical records are mute with regard to anyone contesting Peter's assertion, nor of the other claims of the disciples. The threat of the truth about Christ was so great as to bring persecution by the existing rulers in hopes of squashing this "uprising", as it was put, that threatened their own claims of authority or divinity. Even Paul, who initially was a fierce persecutor of the early church, put aside his religious pride once he was faced with the truth. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that many of the 500 people who saw Jesus after the resurrection were still alive and around the area. In effect saying, "Hey, if you don't believe me, then go talk to these people and hear it firsthand for yourself." In the end, all that the chief priests could do was feebly try to stop the disciples from preaching Christ and the resurrection. And because of this "close encounter of a divine kind", the fearful followers of Christ became bold expositors of the truth that continues to stand up against the attempts to prove otherwise.
Opponents of the resurrection have concocted some rather unbelievably dumb theories in their denial of the fact that "it is what it is!" Some of them are:
1. Jesus "swooned". A strange word simply meaning he passed out, or fainted, and appeared dead. Only those that have little understanding of the efficiency of crucifixion would use this. No one survived this form of execution. In order not to suffocate, you had to continually pull yourself up to breathe, passing out would automatically doom you to death, if the bleeding, body shock overload or heart failure didn't get you first. Those that were still alive after a determined length of time would have their legs broken so as not to be able to lift themselves in order to breathe, thus hastening their ultimate death. Upon inspection, if those carrying out the order were not certain an individual was dead, they would thrust a spear through the body, as they did with Jesus. Understand, this was their "death row" and crucifixion was a death sentence that was completely effective in fulfilling this role. There was only one way you were coming down.
2. Lost tomb - Somehow, those in the "know" got confused, ended up with the wrong tomb and so it seemed Jesus disappeared, all the while Jesus was actually laying in a different spot. To make this fly, one would need to believe that those who went to the tomb to seal and guard it, either didn't bother checking inside first to see if it was empty or not before closing it up, or, not checking the body that was inside to identify the person first prior to sealing up the tomb. This is predicated on the notion that the ruling religious party that wanted Jesus dead and that actively sought control of the body, either couldn't somehow recognize the body in the tomb, or, after all that trouble, didn't care enough to go to the tomb to investigate. And that the soldiers given the assignment that was issued by Pilate himself were not professional enough, not trained well enough in the protocol, guidelines and processes needed, not smart enough or responsible enough to check themselves that they had the right place and right person in order to fulfill the duty assigned to them prior to sealing the tomb shut. These are assumptions that would have to be based on somehow determining the character and ability of the people involved at the time as being incompetent, stupid, ignorant, lazy or more for this to have transpired. This is a value judgment on the part of those today who would hold to this thought, one that is subjective and not based on any facts, information, knowledge, personal or otherwise about those intimately involved in procuring the body of Jesus. Surely desperate attempts to find some way to explain this all away.
3. The person on the cross was not Jesus. There are variations of this approach by proponents. Some say it was someone made to look like Jesus. I'm afraid the "Nip/Tuck" guys weren't around at the time, neither were the "Norbit" makeup artists. Others propose that the person on the cross was made to look like Jesus in some illusionary manner, spiritually, magically or mystically. A "smoke and mirrors" kind of a thing. Maybe a "Matrix" special effects crew pulled it off, on the fly and undetected as the live action developed and moved from one spot to another. Worse yet is explaining it as mass hypnotism. Please!
These theories would have been laughable by those who actually lived out these events, and this period of history, over 2,000 years ago. The only seemingly plausible, believable excuse was given, that of the disciples coming and stealing the body from under the soldier's noses, but that didn't even stand up long under the weight of the evidence. Listen, these things did not take place on some movie back lot, in a "CSI:Miami episode", made-for-TV reality show or computer special effects control room. This was "straight up, hardcore, real world, in your face, cold, graphic reality." Those that can't live with it, dream up some means by which they can. Why? Simply because this truth is too much to accept without consequence. It is too defining, too exacting and specific on multiple levels. It removes the "gray" moral ambiguity many like to live and shatters the subjective spirituality of self-created religion. It dramatically narrows the discourse on truth concerning God, spirituality, moral laws, of our past, present and future. If true, and I challenge anyone to definitively prove otherwise, it removes excuses and doubts about God's existence. This explains why it has remained in the cross hairs of those who have constantly challenged the resurrection, and of who Christ is, yet never being able to be disproved for 2,000 years now.
The fact of the matter is God has been involved throughout man's history in various ways. Having given us His thoughts, shared His plans, expressed His feelings, demonstrated His love for man, supplied guidance and remains active in the world and in each of our lives. Jesus was in fact, God in the flesh, successfully completing the plan of redeeming man, of rising from the grave and conquering death. In offering a new life and future through redemption, forgiveness, restoration, hope and peace. The proof of Christ is found not only in an empty tomb, but in the millions of changed lives that have transpired since. Changes propelled not by fear, intimidation, threat of death or manipulation, but purely by the awakened spirit within that produced a "light bulb" moment, realized the truth and had their own encounter with God that in turn revolutionized their life. As one songwriter so accurately stated in a now, very familiar hymn:
"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see"
It is my hope that had you been uncertain at the start of our journey, you too are now able to see more clearly.
Jesus proclaimed in John 11:25,
"I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."
There are only two options, this is either true or it is not. The choice is in your hands to make. Choose wisely.
There are those who would state that Jesus was just a good man; or one of many prophets; a sage; a seer; a good teacher; a spiritual guide or some enlightened one. These are the inventions of men as to their preferred notions of Christ rather than belief in the proclamation Jesus gave of himself. He proclaimed to be the Son of God. He backed up that claim.
Just the mere mention of his name immediately produces reaction. People will freely discuss and talk all day long about "God" with calm and civility, the term "God" having become such a non-offensive, generic term for most, but mention Jesus' name and quickly the discourse changes. There is something about that name, unlike any other, that strikes at the core of a person. Those reactions range from hostility, conviction, uncomfortable to joy, peace, respect and wonder. Why such marked differences? Jesus explained the reason himself:
"And this is the condemnation (or basis for judgment), that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be revealed.." (John 3:19-20)
"The world cannot hate you; but me it hates, because I testify of it, that its works are evil." (John 7:7)
This explains the climate today of tolerance for any and all other views and beliefs except in Christ where reality, truth and theology are joined together. If you are still unconvinced then you are free to apply the same critical investigative analysis to any of the others. You will find that they are not able to survive the test, for God's hand is not in them.
What is clear then is the fact that we love darkness where things can remain hidden and where we don't have to take a really good look at ourselves, blindness being our preference to reality. We bristle at the idea that there could be things we do, the lifestyle we live or the way that we are that needs correction, even though conviction tells us differently. Our pride rejects the notion that we are not able to save ourselves by appeasing God on our terms and with our own efforts of goodness, and our rebellious nature fights against any admission of being told what to do. The power in that name strikes at the very core and fiber of an individual which challenges these very areas. What we find then is a world attempting to avoid this inner confrontation. A confrontation really with ourselves and with life's illusions. Of getting the wake-up call from our "Matrix" slumber.
Jesus is calling! PICK UP THE PHONE!
Scripture reveals Jesus as the Word that was from the beginning. A part of the Godhead and the long awaited Messiah that would become flesh and live among us.
1 Jn. 1-2 "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life. For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested unto us."
Rev. 19:13 "And He as clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and His name is called the Word of God."
Jn. 1:1-3, 10-14 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made….He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came to his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name; Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
Isa. 9:6 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
Matt. 1:23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us."
1 Tim. 3:16 "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the nations, believed on in the world, received up into glory."
Jude 25 "To the only wise God, our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen"
Eph. 3:9 "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ."
Heb. 1:1-2 "God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds."
Col. 1:16 "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers - all things were created by him, and for him. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist."
1 Jn. 5:20 "And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life."
Jn. 17:5 (Jesus speaking) "And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was."
Jn. 8:23 "And he (Jesus) said to them, "You are from beneath, I am from above; you are of this world; I am not of this world."
Jn. 20:28 "And Thomas answered, and said to him (Jesus) "My Lord and my God."
Jn. 8:56-58 (Jesus speaking) "Your father Abraham, rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Verily, verily, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am."
Exod. 3:13-14 "And Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, and shall say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you; and they shall say to me, "What is his name? What shall I say to them? And God said to Moses, "I AM, THAT I AM" and he said, "Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you."
Gen. 1:1, 26; 3:22; 11:7 "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth...And God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…And the Lord God said, "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil…Let us go down and there confound their language…."
Micah 5:2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
Isa. 43:11-13 "I, even I, am the Lord, and beside me there is no savior. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shown, when there was no strange god among you; therefore, you are my witnesses, said the Lord, that I am God. Yes, before the day was, I am he and there is none that can deliver out of my hand; I will work, and who shall hinder it?"
Psa. 110:1 "The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit you at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool."
Acts 2:32-36 "This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has shed forth this, which you now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens; but he said himself, "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit you on my right hand, until I make your foes your footstool." Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made that same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ."
Jn. 10:30-33 (Jesus speaking) "I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, "Many good works have I shown you from my Father; for which of those works do you stone me?" The Jews answered him, saying, "For a good work we stone you not, but for blasphemy; and because that you, being a man, make yourself God…Say you of him, whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, "You blaspheme," because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though you believe not me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in Him."
Mark 2:5-12 "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the sick of the palsy, "Son, your sins are forgiven you." But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why does this man speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately, when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they had reasoned within themselves, he said to them, "Why reason you these things in your heart? Which is easier to say to the sick of the palsy, "Your sins are forgiven you" or to say "Arise, and take up your bed and walk?" But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins (he said to the sick of the palsy) "I say to you, Arise, and take up your bed, and go your way to your house." And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all..."
Heb. 1:8 "But unto the Son he said, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom."
1 Cor. 1:24 "But unto them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."
1 Tim. 1:17 "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."
Phil. 2:6-11 "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore, God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name (lit. the name) which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of god, the Father."
Who is spoken of?
Rev. 1:8, Rev. 21:5-7, Rev. 22:13, Rev. 1:17…. Then read verse 18.
When did Jehovah, God Almighty die? You now know!
There is only one truth with regard to God. The problem arises with our understanding of that central truth and its application. This has led many to the belief that there is more than "one" truth. Often the thought being applied here is that all religions believe in the same God, teach the same thing, hold to the same truth and lead to the same place. Yet, even a simple cursory level, comparative study would actually reveal opposing and contradictory "truths". And as we have covered, opposing "truths" cannot both be correct.
During his trial and interrogation before Pilate, Jesus was asked if he had a kingdom and if he was a king (John 18:33-38). In that conversation Jesus said,
"You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone that is of the truth hears my voice."
Pilate then asked him "What is truth?", upon which he immediately left the room without waiting for any reply. Many today do the same, not really seeking to know a definitive answer but merely pondering a question.
Jesus not only stated that he was the "light of the world", the "door" and the "good shepherd", he also stated,
"I am the way, the truth and the life...." (John 14:6)
Jesus is "the truth"? What does that mean?
Jesus was stating the fact that he represents the expressed truth of God. The expression of God's love for mankind, concerning His plan for redemption, and in having expressed verbally God's views, expectations, desires and guidance for man. His physical presence, life, ministry, death and resurrection was confirmation of God being real. We find then that "the truth" is not some idea, philosophy or religious observance, but a person. God put His message in human form. We find in Christ then "the truth" concerning God.
The truth being that God poured out His grace toward man through forgiveness and atonement which was achieved on the cross. He forgave man's sins and then also paid the price of those sins, the means of salvation and redemption being on God's terms. And finally, Jesus being "the truth" of Old Testament scriptures revealed. Of being the Messiah foretold and of Scripture being genuinely of God. To know the truth about Christ is to know the truth about God and to know Jesus is to not just know about God, but to know God.
What man got wrong in his misunderstanding of God and who He was, God sought to remedy in person. The conclusion of this author and of this book is that Jesus is exactly that. He is God's remedy for our condition. God's expressed message of hope, love and forgiveness. He is who he said he was. He is the light that shines to reveal the truth about our condition, our sins, our shortcomings, our needs, our fears and our path. He is the door to understanding God, for wisdom in life and to eternity. He is the life of which we can find sustenance and renewed strength. The truth that is based not on conjecture but as we have covered, that is supported by history, evidence, reality and the facts.
One particular day Jesus asked his disciples "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" They responded by saying that some believed Jesus to be John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. Jesus then asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" That remains the question of our time, "Who do you say Jesus is?"
Here's the bottom line! One day, maybe not today or tomorrow, maybe not next week or this year, but one day... a day yet future, you will wake up and not know it will be your last. Every passing second of each passing month draws all of us closer to that appointed time. There is no escaping it. Are you really certain you are prepared for what waits for you after that? Are your sure what you believe to be true is true? If not, then I ask you to reconsider your thoughts with regard to Scripture and of Christ, that you may gain a factual faith and future hope based in confidence and assurance. Don't wait too long to decide, despite the Rolling Stones claim, time is not on our side.
Our journey together within these pages has now come to a close. The finish line is just within view, but It will be up to you how you proceed from here. In closing, I leave you with these final scripture passages to consider:
"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Mark 8:36
"And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life, and he that has not the Son of God has not life. These things have I written you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God." 1 John 3:11-13
"For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23
"But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
"For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." John 3:17
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but to us who are saved it is the power of God.... it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Gentiles foolishness; But to them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18,21-24
"...let us lay aside every weight and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2
"That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Romans 10:9-10
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
"And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he that comes to me shall never hunger, and he that believes on me shall never thirst.. and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out, for I came down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will who has sent me, that of all that he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day ....Verily, verily, I say to you, he that believes on me has everlasting life." John 6:35,37-40, 47
The cross on which Christ was nailed to represented a different "tree" of life. One in which the sins of mankind were nailed to, with Christ being our substitute and taking on sins penalty upon himself. Having done so, he made restitution and gained our pardon.
My hope is that you will cross the finish line that lies ahead. To walk across is by acknowledging the need of Christ's help to do so. At that moment, one journey will end and an eternal one will begin.
An Investigative Examination