In fact, whether Christianity is worth believing or not ultimately depends on whether Jesus really did resurrected from His death....
|1Co 15:14 --- And if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is worthless, and your faith is also worthless.|
|Matthew 12:38-40: Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we want to see a sign from you. But He answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. And there shall be NO SIGN given to it EXCEPT the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the huge fish, so the Son of Man shall be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.|
On another occasion:
|Matthew 16:1-4 --- The Pharisees and the Sadducees came to Him, tempting Him. And they asked Him that He would show them a sign from Heaven. He answered and said to them, When it is evening, you say, Fair weather; for the sky is red. And in the morning, Foul weather today; for the sky is red and gloomy. Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky, but you cannot see the signs of the times! A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. And there shall no sign be given to it, except the sign of the prophet Jonah. And He left them and went away.|
Basically Jesus is saying that by His resurrection is the ONLY WAY that we will REALLY KNOW that He is indeed the Son of God
The prophet Elijah did it:
|1 King 17:17-22 --- And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son? And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he (Elijah) cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? And he (Elijah) stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again. And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.|
The prophet Elisha did it:
|2Ki 4:32-35 ---- And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD. And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.|
we will examine the evidence that Jesus DID die first....
According to the Gospels, the Talmud (Rabbinic commentary on the scripture), Josephus and other non-biblical sources, Jesus was executed by the Roman authorities as a criminal through a cruel process known as crucifixion.
Crucifixion was a terribly painful form of executing a criminal that the Romans would NOT perform on their own citizens, but only on people in countries that have been conquered by the Romans (it's THAT cruel....)
Romans use this form of execution to discourage the people in the conquered territories to rebel. The crucified victims often hang on the cross for DAYS before they die....
(BTW, if you have seen Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ", you will get an idea of what it is like)
In today's term, Jesus' would be executed in an Electric Chair - but in a special chair that takes hours and often days to kill a person.... (lethal injection is way too humane in comparison to the crucifixion)
They found an ossuary (box containing the bones of the deceased) the inscription "Yehohanan ben Hagakol"
They found his heel like this:
|The foot at the left is a reconstruction||Most likely position of his crucifixion|
The nail is stuck and cannot be removed from the wooden cross. The problem was "resolved" by removing some part of the wooded cross along with the nail with the body.
The nail was found with the bones in the ossuary.
Well, yes of course:
(There is a well-known movie about Spartacus: click here )
To discourage further revolts, thousands of the slaves where crucified along the "Appian Way" in 71 BC
(BTW, the "Via Appia" is quite famous, Paul has traveled down this road - see Acts 28: 11-15)
We can establish the fact that:
|Romans used crucifixion to punish criminals (those that oppose their rule) 70 years before Jesus' birth|
But Varus sent a part of his army into the country,
against those that had been the authors of this commotion, and as they
caught great numbers of them, those that appeared to have been the least
concerned in these tumults he put into custody, but such as were the most
crucified; these were in number about two thousand
--- War - Book 2 ( click here )
But Quadratus put both parties off for that time, and told them,
that when he should come to those places, he would make a diligent inquiry
after every circumstance. After which he went to Cesarea, and
all those whom Cumanus had taken alive;
--- War - Book 2 ( click here )
We can also establish the following fact:
|Romans used crucifixion to punish criminals (those that oppose their rule) 35 years after Jesus' death|
The use of crucifixion was only ended by emperor Constantine after 300 AD. (Constantine was also the first Roman emperor who converted to Christianity after he had a dream that the symbol of the cross would lead him to victory over his other (3) rival emperors - click here )
|each criminal condemned to death bears his cross on his back|
Personally I could care less about who bared the cross or what was bared. This does not change the fact that it was Jesus that got nailed on the cross and that's what matters
|1Corinthian 15:1-8 --- And, brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and in which you stand; by which you also are being kept safe, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures; and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the Twelve. Afterward He was seen by over five hundred brothers at once, of whom the greater part remain until this present day, but also some fell asleep. Afterward He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. And last of all He was seen by me also, as one born out of time.|
Paul said that he received this teaching - the only time that this could have happened is when he visited the disciples in Jerusalem after his conversion on his way to Damascus. Paul visited Jerusalem around 35 A.D. - so only a FEW YEARS after Jesus' death, the disciples were already preaching about Jesus' resurrection.
Legendary tales NEVER develop in a short few years - it takes HUNDRED of years for true history to become fantastic legends....
In those days, "hanged" means to be crucified, see Luke 23:39
It is therefore UNDENIABLY TRUE that Jesus was crucified.
This is the infamous "swoon theory" - click here
|Act 16:25-28 --- (Paul and Silas were in a Roman prison) And toward midnight Paul and Silas prayed and praised God in a hymn. And the prisoners listened to them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened and all the bonds were loosened. And being awakened, and seeing the doors of the prison being open, drawing a sword, the jailer was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul called out with a loud voice, saying, Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.|
The Jailer would rather KILL himself than face the punishment for letting his prisoner escape - so the Roman Soldiers that are responsible for crucifying Jesus WILL NO DOUBT make very sure that Jesus is dead.
Jesus in such a state will NEVER be able to inspire his SCARED disciples to go out and preach the Gospel without any fear !!!
Just imagine that how a crippled Jesus who crawled out of the grave and meet with the disciples.....
Jesus in such a state could never have excited the disciples (especially Peter who have denied him 3 times) to change their attitude from being scared to boldly preach the gospel...
If a miserably looking Jesus appeared to the disciples, all that will do to the disciples is to make the disciples have pity on Him, and it WILL NOT change them from being cowards to someone who GAVE UP their lives in proclaiming the Gospels to non-believers.
The fact that John - without any medical knowledge - described that both blood and water flowed out of the wound showed that John was standing very close and was an eyewitness of the piercing.
(Also, Jesus spoke to John while he was hanging on the cross; another testimony that John was very very near and a true eyewitness - the other disciples have fled away)
The fact that John mentioned blood before water in John 19:34 does NOT imply that the blood came out first.
I have studied Latin for 2 years and I can tell you that the order of the ancient languages do NOT matter. All of the following Latin sentences mean "Marcus has pain":
It is customary to mention the most significant item first - so John saw a lot more blood than water, and put blood before water in the sentence. It does NOT imply that the water flow out before the blood. Today's medical knowledge tells us that the water would flow out first and then the blood. This knowledge does NOT contradict the order recorded by John.
We would have convincing evidence that Jesus did resurrect from death - because dead people normally don't do these 4 things....
I have already showed ample evidence that crucifixion was real, it was used in Jesus' time and there are reliable eyewitnesses to Jesus' crucifixion and that Jesus could not have survived. In other words: Jesus did died....
Therefore, they say, Jesus was not buried in his own grave, but in a mass-grave and you can't never find His body was missing.
But we are talking about "the normal practice", but one single case - in Jesus' case, something special happened and this event has been recorded and passed on to us reliably - as I will show you next.
Paul's letter was written on Pauls' 2nd mission (probably around 55 AD) which is very very early - well before any legendary material can develop.
Notice that Paul quoted that he received this teaching (when he met Peter in Jerusalem)
Scholars date Mark in th 70's, Matthew in the 80's and Luke in the 90's. Even with this liberal dating, the Gospels are still written within the life time of hostile witnesses who can counter-testify the Gospels. There are no such counter-testimonies against the burial account.
This is unlikely that Joseph of Arimathea was an invented figure because it was the Sanhedrin that condemned Jesus to dead - why would the gospels make someone in the Sanhedrin look good if it was not true ???
It is no wonder that the late John A. T. Robinson of Cambridge University ( click here ) said that the burial of Jesus is one of the most certain facts about the historical Jesus - (Reference: "Will the Real Jesus please stand up", page 27)
Imagine what would happen if Jesus' body was NOT missing. You would have the following event happening around Easter in 30 AD:
End of argument....
Jesus' disciples say: Our Lord has risen
Pharasees: Oh, yeah ?
Pharasees produce Jesus' dead body, saying:
Pharasees: No, he's not
End of argument....
And that would be the end of Christianity....
Instead of producing evidence to counter the disciple's proclamation about the risen Jesus, the Pharasees bribes the guards to make them say something that explains a missing body:
|Matthew 28:11-15 ---- some of the guards (who were guarding Jesus' tomb) came into the city, and told the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave a large amount of silver to the soldiers, saying, "Say that his disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. If this comes to the governor's ears, we will persuade him and make you free of worry." So they took the money and did as they were told. This saying was spread abroad among the Jews, and continues until this day.|
Clearly, the resurrected Jesus did not appear to everyone, so the Jewish leaders are right to claim that they have not seen the risen Jesus
But that does not disprove the claim that Jesus was seen alive after his burial....
How do we know that:
How do we know that:
And since it would be extremely easy to shut the disciples up from proclaiming their gospel of the risen Christ if the grave was not empty (by showing them the dead body of Jesus), but they did NOT. Because they COULD not. Instead, they gave an explanation for the missing body.
Therefore, we can conclude the Pharasees also know that Jesus body was missing - it's no longer inside the grave....
How do we know that:
Some men will die for a lie invented by others, but no man will die for a lie invented by himself. The disciples were the first ones that preached that Jesus was risen from the death - if this was a lie, these men would have died for a lie invented by themselves.
Yet this same James became one of the important leader of the church in Jerusalem (see the book of Acts) and even die for the belief that Jesus is the risen Christ (see Josephus - click here )
Fine, let's hear it from some FORMER UNBELIEVERS !
The fact is:
Sure, He did not appear to ALL unbelievers, but we have the testimony of two unbelievers who BECAUSE THEY saw the resurrected Jesus and believed !!!
James (as all of Jesus' brothers) did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God - and for a good reason too: it's hard to believe that your own brother can be the Son of God...
|John 7:3-5 ---- Therefore His (Jesus') brothers said to Him (Jesus), Move away from here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see the works that You do. For no one does anything in secret, while he himself seeks to be in public. If you do these things, reveal yourself to the world. For His brothers did not believe in Him.|
This James became a leader of the Church in Jerusalem - according to Paul in his letter to the Galatians, Paul made a trip to Jerusalem to consult with the disciples. There he met with Peter (the leader of the Church in Jerusalem) and James - the brother of Jesus. James must have been a very important figure if Paul ONLY met with Peter and James:
|Galatians 1:18-19 --- Then after three years I (Paul) went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.|
The Jewish historian Jesephus wrote about the DEATH of James in his book "Antiquities" - Book 20, Chapter 9 ( click here ):
|Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned...|
The Sanhedrin (religious leaders) had James put to death.... these Jewish religious leaders were persecuting Christians and James was killed for his faith.
The Bible did not say what made James change from an unbeliever to someone who would give his life in spreading the Gospel, but most Biblical scholar believe it is this:
|1 Corinthian 15:3-8 --- For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures; and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the Twelve. Afterward He was seen by over five hundred brothers at once, of whom the greater part remain until this present day, but also some fell asleep. Afterward He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. And last of all He was seen by me also, as one born out of time.|
When James saw the risen Jesus, he HAD TO believe.
Paul (or Saul) also lost his free will when he came face to face with his creator on the road to Damascus:
Act 9:3-5 ---- And as he (Paul) journeyed, he came near Damascus:
and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him,
Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said,
I am Jesus whom thou persecutest
1 Corinthian 15:8 --- And last of all He (Jesus) was seen by me (Paul) also, as one born out of time.
Paul confessed that he used to persecute Christians to death and after he saw Jesus (must have been the shock of his life), he dedicated his whole life to preaching the Gospel.
A common "intellectual" objection is: it would take a miracle to resurrect....
- to this, I have to say that they are right; I'm glad that it DID take a miracle because otherwise - if any John Doe can resurrect from the death, I would not have believed that Jesus is God.
In other words: your reason (intellect) will not stop you from believing in Jesus - there is plenty of evidence that can convince any reasonable man.
|"If a man chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own"|
In other words, if your free will decide to do God's will (i.e., if you decide to turn away from sin), then you will find out whether Jesus' teaching comes from God or decides on that Jesus was just a man and he "only talks the talk" (but does not walk the walk).
|Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe Him..... For this reason they could not believe....|
In other words: After Jesus had done many miracles before some people, they still did not believe because they chose not to. And because they chose not to believe, they could not believe.
So believing or not believing in Jesus is ultimately based of your free will - not on your mind. Your reason or mind cannot prevent you from not believing (although many people claim that, underneat all their "excuses" you will find a "unwillingness to believe").
Faith is achieved by free choice and that's why the quality that God appreciate most in men is faith.... not wisdom or intelligence or whatever. - a man that has faith is a man that has chosen by his own free will to follow God.
Case in point: Abraham was declared righteous by faith - not by his wisdom or knowledge:
By the way, I put quotes in some word of the title because a more accurate title of this liberal article is "Psuedo-scholars criticize Mel Gibson's depiction of the crucifixion" - because the basis of their reasoning is faulty which show they are not very scholarly and there is no "debate" at all in the article.
Joe Zias in the above article claimed: "There is no evidence that he (Jesus) was nailed" and "The Gospels say that he was crucified and leave it at that" - well, Joe did not read the Gospels very well....