Pt. V – The Redemption of Mankind
Okay, for a quick recap of what we’ve talked about so far (and the part of the series they’re found in):
(1) God DOES exist. (Part 2)
(2) The Bible is true as a history book and offers some great moral teachings too. (Part 3)
(3) God made everything and gave us a free will. (Part 4)
(4) We screwed up in our own free will and died spiritually because of it. (Part 4)
Now, on to Part 5: The Redemption of Mankind – The Jesus of the Bible
Before we can go into this topic, we must get a few facts straight:
(1) How do we know Jesus existed at all?
(2a) Who exactly is Jesus?
(2b) How can we know that He is who He says?
So, without further ado, here we go!!
(1) How do we know Jesus existed at all?
The New Testament contains 27 separate documents written from around 4 B.C. to around A.D. 90. Now, all the facts in these documents were recorded by eyewitnesses, who gave a firsthand testimony to what they had seen and heard. Another thing is, the Bible isn’t the only thing to mention Jesus, the man. All the historians I listed in part 3 and many more also testify to His existence on this earth. Also, we know more about Jesus than just about any other person in the ancient world. “His birth, life, and death are revealed in much more detail than most ancient figures whose existence is taken for granted by historians” (Answers to Tough Questions by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart). That statement brings us into the second question.
(2) Who exactly is Jesus?
Jesus was a Jewish carpenter in the ancient days whose preaching and teaching about morals and the Kingdom of God entranced and drew crowds of listeners from all over the ancient world and was second to none. Not only that, but He was the single greatest example of the lifestyle that He was preaching about. He is a unique individual Who loved and accepted all manner of people from all walks of life and never turned anyone away who wished to speak with Him. As His ministry grew, so did His popularity. Some ancient Jews viewed Him as a Rabbi (a teacher), some viewed Him as a prophet, still more viewed Him as the Messiah who would deliver them from Roman rule. As His popularity grew, though, He also gained His fair share of enemies in the ancient world as well. The Pharisees and Sadducees frowned upon Him and accused Him of blasphemy when He claimed to be God in His teachings. They never stopped to consider that it might be true. So, who exactly was (is) Jesus?
(=+=( Jesus, the Man )=+=)
The Bible has many references to His human side throughout the Gospels:
-> He developed like all humans do: Born, grew up as a boy mentally, physically, and emotionally (Luke 2:32)
-> The crowds recognized age on Him (John 8:57)
-> He was hungry (Matt. 4:2)
-> He was thirsty (John 19:28)
-> He got tired (Mark 4:38)
-> He breathed (Luke 23:46)
-> He had sorrow (Matt. 26:38)
-> He was tempted to sin (Matt. 4:1-11)
-> He died as witnessed by a large crowd as they gathered for the Passover from all over the world.
But that’s not all He was; He IS also the Son of God. How do I know? Just pay attention to this section very closely…
(=+=( Jesus, the Lord )=+=)
Countless times throughout the Gospels, Jesus refers to Himself as being equal to God Almighty. Now, anyone can CLAIM to be God, but none except Him can actually prove it. The proof is all in the miracles. What is a miracle, you ask? It is an act of God that confirms the truth of God associated with it. Now, Jesus offered 3 forms of miracles: (1) fulfilled prophecy, (2) a sinless life and miraculous deeds, and most importantly, (3) His resurrection. Well, let’s get rolling. You with me?
== Miracle 1: Fulfilled prophecy ==
There are over 300 Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament that were all fulfilled with the coming of Christ. Now don’t get scared at that number, I’m not gonna list em all, or we’d be here all week, but I will outline a few of them. The Old Testament references listed are the prophecies and the New Testament references are the fulfillment of that piece of prophecy through Jesus. Okay, here we go:
-> Of the Tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10/Luke 3:23,33)
-> Of the seed of Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3/Matt. 1:1)
-> Of the House of David (2 Sam. 7:12/Matt. 1:1)
-> Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2/Matt. 2:1)
-> Born of a virgin (Is. 7:14/Matt. 1:18-25)
-> Preceded by a messenger (AKA John the Baptist) (Is. 40:3, Mal. 3:1/Matt. 3:1-2)
-> Would die a humiliating death (Ps. 22, Is. 53)
<> Rejection (Is. 53:3/John 1:10)
<> Piercing His hands and feet (Ps. 22:16/Luke 23:33)
<> Crucified with thieves (Is. 53:12/Matt. 27:57)
<> Buried in a rich man’s tomb (Is. 53:9/Matt. 27:57)
<> Casting lots for His garments (Ps. 22:18/John 19:23)
<> Would rise from the dead (Ps. 16:10/Mark 16:6)
== Miracle 2: Sinless life and miraculous deeds ==
There are many references to the miraculous deeds Jesus performed all throughout the Gospels. They are part of what drew so many people to Him. One touch from His hand could heal a person from a disease that had afflicted them for their whole life (Matt. 10:27-31, Matt. 16: 29-31, Mark 1:40-45, 8:1-10…). One spoken sentence could calm a torrential storm (Matt. 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25). He walked on water (Matt. 15:22-33, Mark 6:45-52, John 6:14-21), He turned the water into wine at a wedding (John 2:1-11), He fed a group of at least 5,000 people with 3 loaves of bread and 2 fish (Matt. 15: 13-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:11-17, John 6:1-13), and the list goes on.
As far as His sinless life goes, many people testified to this: Pilate found him guiltless (Luke 23:4), the thief on the cross believed in Him as Lord (Luke 23:41), the soldier at the cross believed as he watched Him die (Luke 23:47), Peter said He was a “Lamb without blemish” (I Peter 1:19), John said “Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1), Paul agreed with the Church that “He knew no sin” (II Cor. 5:21), Hebrews said He was tempted but without sin (Heb. 4:15). That verse in Hebrews is a huge encouragement to me, knowing that He understands everything we could possibly go through, and He knows how to avoid falling when we’re tempted, and is waiting to tell us how. We just need to listen. But I digress.
== Miracle 3: His resurrection ==
Our faith as Christians stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus, so naturally, this is the subsection I’ll write the most in. If He didn’t rise from the dead, then our faith is hopeless and dead, and millions of people are spending their eternity in hell because they believed in a lie (we’ll talk more about heaven and hell in the next blog in the series). But He DID rise from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the throne of God. How do I know this? Just follow me here: We know for certain 4 things about the life of Jesus Christ: (1) He lived, (2) He died, (3) He was buried, and three days later, (4) His body was gone. These are historical facts, people. There’s hardly a historian out there who will deny these 4 facts about Jesus. Now, His body was gone, so where did it go? There’s been a heck of a lot of debate over that very question and many theories about where His body went. The ones I’m gonna talk about are the following 6. Maybe you’ve heard some of these before. It’s your choice which one you believe: (1) Swoon, (2) Theft, (3) Hallucination, (4) Wrong tomb, (5) Passover plot, (6) He RESURRECTED (like He said He would). Let’s get started!!
Basically, this one says Jesus just fainted on the cross and the coolness of the tomb and the smell of the spices woke Him up. I say this one makes no sense, because:
(1) All the ancient records say He died
(2) The coolness would sap His strength (think of what happens to a person when they are buried under a big snowdrift for hours at a time)
(3) No medical attention was given to Him after being beaten, hung, and stabbed in the chest
(4) How would He have unwrapped Himself from the death cloth?
(5) 75-100 lbs. of spices* would help suffocate Him as well as infect the open wounds
[(* – Back then, when the people prepared a body for burial, they crushed up the leaves of the spices into a fine powder and then mixed it with water and a few other ingredients and “painted” the mixture on. The mixture would then harden and become sorta like cement (The reason they put so much on Jesus’ body was because they considered Him to be royalty and that was the amount that kings and other royal figures would be buried with, hence the suffocating comment)].
(6) How would He have rolled the stone away?
(7) Emmaus (where He appeared to a couple of His disciples soon after His resurrection) was roughly 7 mi. from the grave site in Jerusalem
(8) Imagine how He would have looked to His followers if a true resurrection hadn’t occurred
This one says that someone took and hid the body to start rumors of a resurrection. Pretty simple, right? This was actually one of the more persuasive arguments in Jesus’ day. I say this one is bogus too.
(1) “Well, the soldiers would have the greatest opportunity, so they probably did it…”
-> Why would they do it?
-> Where would they put the body once they got it out of the tomb?
-> Besides, aren’t there punishments for soldiers who don’t do their jobs?
(2) “Umm, well, ok, there’s also common grave robbers that might do it too. Jesus was buried in a rich man’s (Joseph of Arimathaea’s) tomb after all…”
-> Don’t robbers typically take the easy way?
-> Would robbing heavily guarded graves be considered the “easy way”?
-> What would their motive be for taking the body?
(3) “Okay, well, how about the disciples then?…”
-> How did they react when Jesus was being judged and beaten (They disowned Him)
-> What was their reaction after Jesus’ death? (They feared for their lives)
-> Is there anything to indicate why they’d suddenly be so brave after His death?
-> What would have been their motive?
-> Why would they die horrible deaths for a known lie?
-> How history records the Apostles’ deaths:
<> Andrew – severely beaten, then hung on an “X” shaped cross for 2 days before he died
<> Bartholomew – flayed to death by a whip
<> James (Jesus’ brother) – thrown 100 ft. off the Temple, survived, clubbed to death
<> Matthias – stoned and beheaded
<> Peter – executed by Nero on a cross upside-down
<> Philip – executed
<> Matthew – stabbed to death
<> James the Greater – beheaded
<> Simon the Zealot – refused to worship Baal and was killed
<> Thomas – killed by spears
<> Paul – beheaded by Nero
<> John – boiled in oil, survived, exiled to Patmos (only one to die naturally)
-> You be the judge…
Everybody who saw Jesus after He died was suffering from a mass hallucination…yea right.
First, lets look at some of the people who saw Him after He rose:
(1) Mary Magdalene (John 20:11)
(2) Other women (Matt. 28:9)
(3) Peter (Luke 24:34)
(4) 4 Disciples (Luke 24:13)
(5) 10 Apostles (Luke 24: 33)
(6) Thomas and other Apostles (John 20:26)
(7) 7 Apostles (John 21)
(8) To all Apostles (Matt. 28:16)
(9) To all Apostles (again) (Acts 1:49)
(10) To 500 brethren (Christians, and no, that number’s not a typo) (I Cor. 15:6)
(11) James (I Cor. 15:7)
(12) Paul (I Cor. 15:7)
The reasons this theory is bogus:
(1) It contradicts known laws and principles as determined by psychiatrists and psychologists (hallucinations are individualistic and subjective)
(2) Only particular types of people have hallucinations (high strung, highly imaginative, or very nervous)
(3) There must be an intense desire for hallucinations to occur (don’t get me wrong…I’m sure the followers of Jesus wanted to see Him again after He died, but not to the extent needed to produce hallucinations.)
_(4)_WRONG TOMB THEORY_(4)_
The people went to the wrong tomb and they found it empty. Again, seriously think about this.
(1) How many people forget within three days where someone they loved was buried?
(2) Someone would have corrected the mistake after such huge claims surfaced (they could show the people the real tomb)
(3) Are you serious?!?
_(5)_PASSOVER PLOT THEORY_(5)_
This one’s the most insane of them all…like secret agent stuff here…or…X-Files…
Jesus was a Messianic pretender who secretly plotted with Joseph of Arimathaea and a couple other guys to fake His death and resurrection. The plan was thwarted, however, when the guard stabbed Him in the chest…wooooooOOOOOOOOooooooooOOOOOOOoooooo…crazy, huh?
(1) This goes against EVERYTHING Jesus taught and stood for (honesty, integrity, honor, justice, etc.)
(2) Due to the nature of prophecy, Jesus couldn’t have manipulated events to match up with the prophecies so that they all pointed with complete accuracy to Who He was.
(3) Hundreds witnessed His resurrected body, not just His Apostles.
(4) How do you explain the change in the Apostles to the point of death?
(5) Again, ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!?!?!?!?
Ah, much better…This is what really happened.
Three days after He died, Jesus, through His power as God, was raised from the dead. The stone was rolled away, and He appeared to many, many people before returning to Heaven.
(1) Literally hundreds of people witnessed His resurrected body
(2) This act fulfilled prophecy
(3) It’s the only one that actually makes sense when weighed on the scales
(4) Think about it seriously
Okay, folks. I’ve done my best to show you Who Jesus was and IS still today. But for those of you who didn’t catch it all, here’s the short version:
(0) Everything about Him was predicted hundreds of years before His birth.
(1) He was born of a virgin in Bethlehem.
(2) He grew up like a normal kid.
(3) He started His ministry when He was in His 30’s or so.
(4) He gained a huge following because of His teachings and miracles.
(5) He made a lot of enemies by proclaiming He was God.
(6) He was fully man and fully God while here on earth.
(7) He lived a sinless life here on earth and practiced perfectly what He preached.
(8) He was betrayed by a kiss from one of His closest friends.
(9) He was sentenced to a horrible death and beaten beyond recognition.
(10) He was crucified and buried.
(11) He rose again three days later.
(12) He appeared to many after His resurrection.
(13) He ascended back into heaven.
(14) He fulfilled every one of the prophecies about Him with His birth, life, death, and resurrection, proving He was fully God as well as fully man.
(15) He is coming back real soon, so be on the lookout.
That’s it for Part 5. Part 6 is coming soon. Keep watching the eastern sky.