Archive for April 2012

Miracles Performed by Jesus

Miracles Performed by Jesus

What proof is there that Jesus was God’s son and divine? Some people believe that Jesus was just an ordinary man, merely a prophet or teacher that lived long ago. However, Christians believe that Jesus was extraordinary and divine. Why? Consider the many miracles that Jesus performed.

Jesus performed many miracles. In this discussion we will look at just a few and place them in the following categories: creation of matter, alteration of matter, creation of biological life, creation of force, healing sickness, healing disease, healing paralysis, and healing eyesight. Only God could perform such a variety of miracles.

  • Creation of matter
  • Alteration of matter
  • Creation of biological life
  • Creation of force
  • Healing sickness
  • Healing disease
  • Healing paralysis
  • Healing eyesight

Creation of matter

Example: Feeding 5,000 (Matthew 14:13-21)

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Alteration of matter

Example: Turning Water Into Wine (John 2:1-11)

1On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Creation of biological life

Example: Raising Lazarus From the Dead (John 11:38-44)

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Creation of force

Example: Stilling a Storm (Mark 4:37-41)

37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Healing sickness

Example: Healing Peter’s Mother-In-Law (Matthew 8:14-15)

14 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

Healing disease

Example: Healing Leper (Matthew 8:2-4)

2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

Healing paralysis

Example: Healing Paralytic (Matthew 9:2-8)

2 Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”
4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7 Then the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.

Healing eyesight

Example: Healing Two Blind Men (Matthew 9:27-31)

27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”
28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they replied.
29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.

As these miracles testify, Jesus was certainly no ordinary man. Ordinary men do not perform miracles. Only God can do that. Why did Jesus perform these miracles? “What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11)

Do you believe?

 

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Prophesies Fulfilled by Jesus

Prophesies Fulfilled by Jesus

What are the proofs that Jesus was God’s son and divine?  Most people acknowledge that Jesus really existed in history, but some do not believe that Jesus was anything but an ordinary man.  Christians certainly believe that Jesus was extraordinary and divine.  But why?  Consider the many prophesies fulfilled by Jesus that point to His uniqueness.

In Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Christ1, he interviews Louis Lapides, a Jew and Christian pastor.  Lapides had attended a conservative Jewish synagogue as a youth but began a spiritual quest after his parents divorced.  When instigated by a Christian pastor, Lapides began to investigate the Old Testament prophesies that point to a Messiah and Jesus.  His was convinced and accepted Jesus as his Savior.  Here are just eight of the prophesies that led to Lapides conversion, which we will discuss below:

  • Jesus’ suffering and death
  • When Jesus would live
  • Location of Jesus’ birth
  • Virgin birth and Jesus’ name
  • Miracles Jesus would perform
  • Jesus’ betrayal
  • Method of Jesus’ death
  • Jesus’ resurrection

Before, we discuss these prophesies, consider the odds that they would apply to one man. According to Lapides, “the probability of just eight prophecies being fulfilled is one chance in one hundred million billion. That number is millions of times greater than the total number of people who’ve ever walked the planet.”2

His suffering and death

( Isaiah 53:3-9, 12) Written 7th Century before Christ (in the 700 BC century)

Isaiah 53:3-12
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Jesus was “pierced” by crucifixion. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, crucified during Passover, when lambs were sacrificed. He “bore the sin of many” on the cross.

When He would live

( Daniel 9:25-26) Written: 6th Century Before Christ (in the 600 BC century)

25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.

The decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem was issued by King Artaxerxes of Persia around 446 BC. Seven ‘sevens’ and sixty-two ‘sevens’ would be 69 ‘sevens’or 483 years. 446 BC plus 483 years equals 37 A.D. However, in ancient times a year was a lunar year or 360 days, which would yield 476 calendar years (483 lunar years x 360 days = 173,880 days. 173,880 days/365.25 = 476 calendar years). 446 BC plus 476 years equals 30 AD, the exact year that many believe Jesus was crucified

Location of birth

( Micah 5:2) Written 7th Century before Christ (in the 700 BC century)

2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”

Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4).

Virgin birth and name

( Isaiah 7:14) Written: Written 7th Century before Christ (in the 700 BC century)

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Mary was a virgin when she gave birth (Matthew 1:18). The name Jesus in Hebrew is “Yehoshua,” meaning “Jehovah saves.” The name “Immanuel” means “God is with us.”

Miracles He would perform

( Isaiah 35:5-6) Written 7th Century before Christ (in the 700 BC century)

5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert

Jesus tells John the Baptist’s messenger, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor (Matthew 11:4-5).”

His betrayal

( Psalm 41:9) Written: 1015 BC3

9 Even my close friend,
someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
has turned against me.

Jesus was betrayed by his disciple, Judas Iscariot (Matthew 26: 14-15)

( Zechariah 11:13) Written 5th Century before Christ (in the 500 BC century

13 And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the LORD.

Jesus was betrayed by his disciple, Judas Iscariot for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26: 14-15)

Method of death

( Psalm 22:16) Written: 1044 BC4

16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.

(Zechariah 12:10) Written 5th Century before Christ (in the 500 BC century)

10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son

In 1044 BC crucifixion hadn’t been invented. Jesus was crucified by the Romans (Luke 23:33).

His resurrection

( Psalm 16:10) Written: 1044 BC

10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.

Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday, the first day of the week. Luke (24:1-5)

Jesus was certainly no ordinary man. Prophesies written up to 1,000 years in advance foretold of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection. For no one else in history has this occurred. Do you believe?

For Further Reading

Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus(Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1998)

References

  1. Lee Strobel, The Case For Christ (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1998)
  2. Ibid, 183.
  3. Nevin, Alfred, Ed., et al. “Table Showing the Probable Occassion when Each Psalm was Composed,” The Parallel Bible. Blue Letter Bible. 1 Aug 2002. 23 Apr 2012.
  4. Ibid.

 

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Even Russia Has a Flat Tax!

Did you know that former Communist countries have seen the light and adopted the flat tax? These include Russia, Ukraine, Romania and others, as shown in the graphic below. If they can figure out the advantages to a flat tax, why can’t we?

(Source: Fusion, September 2010(1))

According to a 2010 Fusion article(1), 25 countries have adopted the flat tax as of 2008. These include Hong Kong (with an individual flat tax rate of 15% and a corporate tax rate of 16.5%) and even Russia (with an individual flat tax rate of 13% and a corporate tax rate of 24%). Here are some reasons why a flat tax is superior to the system we now have:

  1. A flat tax closes loopholes and reduces special interest lobbying
  2. A flat tax reduces cheating
  3. A flat tax is fairer

A flat tax closes loopholes and reduces special interest lobbying

The tax code now contains 72,000 pages of complex rules. Why do you think our tax form and instructions grew from 4 pages in 1913 to 176 pages today? Answer: special interest lobbying. What lobby is there for the working family in the U.S.? Why should different groups of people be treated differently than the average family? A flat tax treats everybody the same.

A flat tax reduces cheating

With high taxes, there are more tax cheats. With a low flat tax rate of about 17%, tax cheating will decrease. As Dr. Daniel Mitchell explains, “Simply stated, people respond to incentives. When tax rates are punitive, folks earn and report less taxable income, and vice-versa….And when tax rates go up, sometimes they resort to illegal steps to protect themselves from the tax authority.” Mitchell cites an International Monetary Fund report that unambiguously concludes that high taxes are the main reason why people don’t comply with the law(2).

According to an Investopedia article, Walter Anderson, a former telecommunications executive, was accused of hiding his earnings, like $365 million. In 2006, he pled guilty to hiding approximately $365 million worth of income. He was sentenced to nine years in prison. His was the largest tax evasion case in the history of the United States. (3)

A flat tax is fairer

American taxpayers each spend on average 26.5 hours processing and preparing their tax returns(4). However companies and wealthy people hire teams of professionals to game the system. How is that fair? A flat tax treats everybody the same.  You don’t have to worry about missing deductions that the other guy is taking.

Twenty-five other countries in the world have adopted the flat tax, even former Communist countries. Why can’t we? Those other countries have understood that a flat tax reduces the incentive to game the system. Because of its simplicity and low tax rate, a flat tax encourages people to stop cheating and honestly report their income. They can be assured that both the rich and the poor are paying the same rates and taking the same deductions. We save time and money and make our country more competitive in the world.

References

  1. Chris Edwards, A Flat Tax To Restore Prosperity (Fusion, September, 2010) Available at: http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/259/45975/ (April 20, 2012)
  2. Daniel Mitchell, IRS Code: 72,000 Pages of Corruption and Sleaze(Townhall, January, 31, 2012) Available at: http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/danieljmitchell/2012/01/31/irs_code_72000_pages_of_corruption_and_sleaze/page/full/ (April 20, 2012)
  3. Tisa L. Silver, 5 Famous Tax Cheats (Investopedia, January 26, 2010 ) Available at: http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0110/Five-Famous-Tax-Cheats.aspx#ixzz1sVR7tssq (April 20, 2012)
  4. David Keating, A Taxing Trend: The Rise in Complexity, Forms, and Paperwork Burdens (National Taxpayers Union, April 18, 2011), 13. Available at: http://www.ntu.org/news-and-issues/taxes/tax-reform/ntupp130.html (April 20, 2012)
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Prepare a Postcard-Sized Tax Return in 10 Minutes

Our tax system is a monstrosity that began as a 4-page form for individuals to complete in 1913 and has grown to 176 pages, if you count today’s 1040 with instructions. For corporations, it’s even worse. The National Taxpayers Union reports that General Electric in 2006 set a record by filing a 24,000 page tax return! We waste 7.64 billion hours costing $227 billion trying to comply with the byzantine rules formulated over the years in response to special interest groups(1)

The flat tax saves money because it is simple

A flat tax would save time and money that could be spent on growing businesses and creating jobs. Here are the best reasons Tea Party Christians should favor a flat tax.

The current tax code contains 3.8 million words and takes a total of 7.6 billion hours and $227 billion to process/prepare tax returns(2). Now consider the flat-tax 10-line postage-card tax return above, where you basically enter your wages, subtract a couple of allowances, multiply the amount times 17%, subtract your withholding tax, and that’s it. Ten minutes tops.

Compare 10 minutes with the 24 hours it takes to process a typical 77-line 1040 form, not counting schedules. With the present 1040, to merely determine your income you must consider, wages, salaries, tips, taxable interest, tax-exempt interest, ordinary dividends, qualified dividends, taxable refunds, credits, or offsets of state and local income taxes, alimony received, business income or less, capital gain or loss, other gains or losses, IRA distributions, pensions and annuities, rental real estate, royalties, partnerships, S corporations, trusts, farm income or loss, unemployment compensation, social security benefits, other income. This is a joke!

According to the National Taxpayers Union, “The United States now ranks an embarrassing 124th out of 183 countries worldwide in total tax rate. Additionally, the U.S. ranked 66th worldwide for time spent complying with corporate tax filings, according to ‘Paying Taxes 2011,’ a study jointly published by the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and the World Bank Group” (3). We need to make the U.S. business friendly, attracting entrepreneurs from around the world not making it more burdensome.

The National Taxpayers Union states, “The Tax code is so convoluted that no one inside or outside the IRS understands it.” (4) They cite the 2007 USA Today story that asked five tax professionals to calculate a family’s tax bill and received five different answers. The National Taxpayers Union adds, “The IRS reported that taxpayers made an astounding 10.6 million math errors last year, up from 1.3 million the previous year” (5)

It need not be so. A flat tax would be simple, accurate, and efficient. We could collect the same total revenues, save time and money in the process, attract business entreprenuers and create jobs.

To Read More

David Keating, A Taxing Trend: The Rise in Complexity, Forms, and Paperwork Burdens (National Taxpayers Union, April 18, 2011) Available at: http://www.ntu.org/news-and-issues/taxes/tax-reform/complexity.html (April 15, 2012)

References

  1. David Keating, A Taxing Trend: The Rise in Complexity, Forms, and Paperwork Burdens (National Taxpayers Union, April 18, 2011) Available at: http://www.ntu.org/news-and-issues/taxes/tax-reform/complexity.html (April 15, 2012)
  2. Ibid, 1-2.
  3. Ibid, 5.
  4. Ibid, 14.
  5. Ibid, 2.

 

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Eyewitness Accounts of Jesus Sighting

Eyewitness Accounts of Jesus Sighting

The Christian faith rests squarely on Jesus is rising from the dead. According to the Apostle Paul, if this is not true, “we are to be pitied more than all men” (I Corinthians 15:19) for spreading such a falsehood and misleading so many people. Can we rely on the account in the Bible of the resurrection? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” There are many reasons why we can rely on the account. Here are just a few:

Authenticity of the Account

The account in the Bible just rings true. If you were going to rewrite the account to embellish it, wouldn’t you start with disciple leaders, like Peter or John, and write about their meeting the risen Christ?  But no, the account of who met the resurrected Jesus starts with a former demoniac, Mary Magdalene, and lists Mary the mother of James and Salome, two women who we aren’t even sure who they are. Why even mention them? Women were inconsequential in the 1st Century, barely above the status of property. According to Josephus, their testimony was considered worthless in a court of law.

Now, consider what newspaperman Henry Stanley wrote after his famous eight month search in Africa for the missing missionary, David Livingstone. He found Livingstone in Ujiji, a small village on the shore of Lake Tanganyika on November 10, 1871. He writes, “…I came in front of the semicircle of Arabs, in the front of which stood the white man with the gray beard…. walked deliberately to him, took off my hat, and said, ‘Dr. Livingstone, I presume?’(1).  He didn’t write, “…I came in front of the semicircle of Arabs. There was Rahib, and Hassan, the father of Ali, and Ahmad, the uncle of Abdullah…” He goes right to the quick. He doesn’t provide inconsequential details.

Multiple Eye Witness Attestations

Dr. Gary Habermas, distinguished professor at Liberty University provides the following list of people to which Jesus appeared:

In a court case usually one or two witnesses are required. Here we have over 500 witnesses most of whom were still alive when the account was written. In addition we have Paul, who was most certainly a hostile witness and chief opponent of Christianity, reporting that Jesus appeared to him (1 Corinthians 15: 8)(2).

Site of the Tomb

According to Dr. William Lane Craig there are no other competing burial traditions about Jesus, and most New Testament scholars today agree that Jesus was buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb (Mark 15:43-47). Joseph was in fact a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin. Why would somebody make up something so implausible and refutable if it were not true? In addition, the site of the tomb was well known. Mary Magdalene and several other women knew where it was. It was certainly known to the Romans who posted a guard there (Matthew 27: 62-66). Since Joseph of Arimathea was a prominent man, many people probably knew where it was. Therefore it is highly unlikely that people went to wrong tomb!(3)

The account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Bible is reliable. The account rings true and appears not to have been embellished because of the inconsequential details that appear. There are multiple eyewitness accounts that were written during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses and certainly could have been refuted. There is the empty tomb itself owned by a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, a most implausible owner, and certainly an account that would not have been recorded if not true. Therefore, the facts would indicate that the tomb was empty and that Jesus had risen from the dead. Now it’s up to you.

To Read More

Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus(Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1998)

References

  1. “Stanley Finds Livingstone, 1871″, EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2004)
  2. Lee Strobel, The Case For Christ (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1998), 234.
  3. Ibid, 210.

 

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The Empty Tomb of Jesus

The Empty Tomb of Jesus

The quickest way to stop the new Christian religion in A.D. 33 was to produce a body. However, the leaders of the day did not do so. Why? The tomb was empty. Jesus had risen.

Last week we discussed the proofs of Jesus’ death, such as the medical cause of death and the confirmation by non-Biblical sources. Today, we discuss the proofs of Jesus’ resurrection, namely the empty tomb. The civil and religious leaders of the time could easily have stopped the Christian religion in its tracks by producing a body.

The only reason Christianity could have grown was that converts truly believed that Jesus rose from the dead. Why would they martyr themselves for a failed Messiah? Who would spontaneously organize and devote their lives to a man they knew had supernatural powers but did not lift a finger when he was arrested, tried, and executed? What kind of a leader is that? He had the visibility. Why didn’t he perform a miracle and incite his followers to revolt from Roman rule? No, he basically says nothing during his trial, is convicted and executed along with two criminals. Not too inspiring!  However, ten of the remaining eleven disciples would die martyrs’ deaths because of him. The only answer that makes sense is that Jesus rose from the dead.

The empty tomb was not a legend but was reported in extremely early sources

In the Lee Strobel’s 1998 book The Case For Christ(1), he interviews Dr. Gary Habermas, distinguished professor at Liberty University. Habermas reports that the resurrection of Jesus is reported an a common Christian creed found in I Corinthians 15: 3-8:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

Habermas explains that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians between A.D. 55 and 57. In the passage above Paul indicates that he had already passed on the creed to the church at Corinth. He last visited Corinth in A.D. 51, which is less than 20 years after the crucifixion. He probably received the creed himself in A.D. 32 to 38 (within a couple of years of the crucifixion) in Damascus after his conversion (Acts 9:19) or when visiting the disciples in Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-28).(2)

Jesus’ resurrection was no legend formed hundreds of years after the fact. It was a common belief a mere couple of years after the crucifixion. It could only account for the willingness of the early Christians to die for their faith. They wouldn’t do so for a failed political leader. They would for a risen Lord.

For Further Reading

Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus(Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1998)

References

  1. Lee Strobel, The Case For Christ (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1998)
  2. Ibid, 230.

 

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Ancient Writers Confirm Jesus’ Crucifixion

Ancient Writers Confirm Jesus’ Crucifixion

Christians take the crucifixion claims about Jesus seriously.  The question is: Did anybody else in the ancient world?  The answer is yes.

 Ancient writers who confirm crucifixion

The following ancient writers confirmed the crucifixion of Jesus:

  1. Josephus
  2. Tacitus.
  3. Mara bar Serapion

Josephus

Josephus was a Jewish priest and Pharisee who surrendered to the Romans, rather than committing suicide like his comrades, during the A.D. 66 – 74 war.  He wrote a history called The Antiquities around A.D. 93. In it the following passage is found, “About the time there lived Jesus, a wise man… For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks….  When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him….”(1)

Tacitus

Tacitus was a Roman historian who wrote Roman Annals around A.D. 115 – 117.  In it appears the following phrase, “They get their name [Christians] from Christ, who was executed by sentence of procurator or Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius.”(2)

Mara bar Serapion

Mara bar Serapion was a man in prison sometime after A.D. 73 who wrote to his son Serapion, citing the deaths of Socrates, Pythagoras and Christ:

“What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death?  Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras?  In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King?  It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. 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.”(3)

There are multiple attestations in the Bible and other ancient manuscripts that Jesus Christ was crucified and died. Here it would have ended as a mere aside in history. However it did not end there. The world was changed–and even our method of recording time changed–because Jesus Christ did not stay dead.

For Further Reading

Stroble, L. The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998.

Bruce, F.F. Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament. Grand Rapids: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974.

References

  1. Quoted in Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus, 79.
  2. Quoted in F.F. Bruce, IJesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, 22.
  3. Ibid, 31.

 

 

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Medical Doctor Confirms Jesus Death on the Cross

Medical Doctor Confirms Jesus’ Death on the Cross

This week is Easter and we should fully understand how Jesus died.  It was necessary for Jesus to die before He could be resurrected. This is vitally important because our hope as Christians rests on Jesus’s resurrection from the dead.

DeAth By CRucifixion

In the Lee Strobel’s 1998 book The Case For Christ(1), he interviews Doctor Alexander Metherell, who possesses both medical and engineering degrees and was a former research scientist. Metherell explains the medical causes of Jesus’s death, although we must remember that Jesus voluntarily surrendered his spirit as is reported in Matthew 27:50. Dr. Metherell discusses the following:

  1. The Scourging
  2. The Crucifixion
  3. The Proof of Death

The Scourging

Metherell explains, “Roman floggings were known to be terribly brutal. They usually consisted of 39 lashes but frequently were a lot more than that, depending on the mood of the soldier applying the blows.

“The soldier would use a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them. When the whip would strike the flash, those balls would cause deep bruises or contusions, which would break open with further blows. And the whip had pieces of sharp bone as well, which would cut the flesh severely.

“The back would be so shredded that part of the spine was sometimes exposed by the deep, deep cuts. The whipping would have gone all the way from the shoulders down to the back, the buttocks, and the back of the legs. It was terrible.”(2)

Metherell continues, “We know that many people would die from this kind of beating even before they could be crucified. At the least, the victim would experience tremendous pain and go into hypovolemic shock.”(3)

This occurs when a person has lost a large amount of blood. The blood pressure drops causing fainting, and the person becomes very thirsty as the body craves fluids to replace the blood. Metherell continues, “Because of the terrible effects of this beating, there is no question that Jesus was already in serious to critical condition even before the nails were driven through his hands and feet.”(4)

The Crucifixion

Jesus would have been crucified at 9 AM on Friday and a would have died by 3 PM. The Romans used spikes that were 5 to 7 inches long and were driven through the wrists.  Metherell explains that the nails would have crushed the median nerve, creating extreme pain.  The word “excruciating” means “out of the cross.”   Most people died by asphyxiation when crucified. With the arms stretched out, the chest is locked into the inhale position.  To exhale, you have to push up with your feet.  However this is extremely difficult if your feet are nailed to the cross.  According to Metherell a patient such as Jesus would die from cardiac arrest. Hypovolemic shock would have caused a rapid heart rate that would have contributed to heart failure, resulting in the collection of fluid in the membrane around the heart, called pericardial effusion, as well as around the lungs, pleural effusion.

The Proof of Death

In John 19:34 it records that a Roman soldier confirmed that Jesus was dead by thrusting a spear into his side.  When the spear was pulled out, a clear fluid like water poured out, along with a large volume of blood.  This would have been the pericardial and plural effusion that the Roman soldier saw, confirming that Jesus had died.

The accounts of the Bible don’t require blind faith to believe.  Many details are provided for corroboration.  This is the case with Jesus’ death, in which details, such as the pericardial and pleural effusion are reported, so that we may believe that Jesus actually died.

 

For Further Reading

Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus(Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1998)

 

References

  1. Lee Strobel, The Case For Christ (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1998)
  2. Ibid, 195.
  3. Ibid, 196.
  4. Ibid.

 

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