The Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ
For the past 2000 years there has always been a debate concerning the death and resurrection of Christ. Shortly after the death and burial of Jesus, it is recorded in Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-10, that Christ had truly arisen from the grave as it was witnessed by not only his disciples but many others. However the soldiers who were instructed to watch over the tomb where Jesus was buried had somewhat of an earth shattering experience when God raised His Son from the dead. They ran to the chief priests and told them of what had transpired just a short while ago, the elders held counsel and gave the soldiers large amounts of money each for them to lie. They were to tell who ever required of this incident that His disciples came during the night, and stole him while they were asleep. And if necessary they would protect them should this come to the governor’s attention. So by spreading this lie amongst the Jews, this saying is commonly accepted amongst the Jewish people until this day, Matthew 28:11-15. His disciples were convinced and believed as did many others that Jesus was the Messiah the Son of the Living God, Matthew 16:16, Peter declares, “thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, John 6:69, “and we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the Living God”. The astounding thing is that Jesus placed everything on the line with the statements He made concerning his sufferings and death at the hands of the priests and scribes, and elders, and even that he would after three days rise again. The disciples were astounded at these sayings, and could not fully understand them yet. It was quite risky to foretell about your death and resurrection, but too go so far as to say exactly when you will be resurrected is pushing the limits of divine-deity. The disciples could just about grasp the boldness of Christ, but as far as the priests, scribes etc, were concerned, Jesus is bordering not only on blasphemy but rather he would simply just be another religious fraud as concerns these statements, as so many others before him were. So, how do we know that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead happened as He foretold? If this event [resurrection] never happened as Christ said it would, then we have no reason to believe that the way of life that Jesus Christ brought was any better or even more right than other religions. If it did happen as Christ predicted, there is such a vast difference between the Son of God and all other so-called religious leaders. And that is, that Jesus’ teachings are far superior and everything He said was\is true, and He is exactly who He claims to be….Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. That Jesus died and was buried is surely one of the best-established facts about Him. The Bible tells us again and again that Jesus died. The Moslems through their so-called holy book, the Koran, states that Jesus only seemed to be dead. Some have argued that Christ wasn’t completely dead when he was placed in the tomb. Some sceptics say He merely appeared dead, or possibly drugged, but was revived shortly thereafter inside the tomb and helped to escape. This was to convince His followers that He had risen.
But on examination of the Word of God concerning the extent of His wounds upon being tortured, it will by all logical reasoning be impossible to physically have survived this type of torturing. Isaiah 53 gives us a graphic report as to the suffering of the Messiah. Reading the 52nd chapter verse 14, we see a clearer picture to understanding this, “As many were astonished at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man and his form more than the sons of men”. My friend the reality of it all is this. Death, by crucifixion at the hands of the Roman torturers was a certainty. Jesus was beaten repeatedly and lashed with a Roman scourge [To punish with severity; to chastise; to afflict for sins or faults, and with the purpose of correction. To afflict greatly; to harass, torment or injure. A whip or a lash consisting of several straps or cords; an instrument of punishment or discipline], Matthew 27:26, 67. The leather scourge was a type of whip designed to inflict maximum pain and damage. It was braided with pieces of bone and metal woven at the ends that tore into and ripped out pieces of flesh from the victim. As it ripped into the flesh of the victim and into the underlying muscles strips of bleeding flesh would be left hanging quivering. Eusebius, a third-century historian reported that the victim’s veins were laid bare, and the muscles, sinews, and bowels were opened up from the beatings as to expose everything [quoted by Strobel, p. 193]. The extreme pain, and loss of blood would cause the victim to go into shock. The blood pressure would drop and cause fainting, or collapse with intense thirst. Jesus on his way to Golgotha experienced these very symptoms and couldn’t bear the weight of the cross-beam he carried. Simon of Cyrene was forced by the soldiers to carry it part of the way, Mark 15:21. When Jesus hung on the Cross he became thirsty, John 19:28. He had already suffered severe beatings before the scourging [by the soldiers], at his trial before the Sanhedrin, Matthew 26: 67-68, 27:29-30; Mark 15:16-19; John 19:3. And the extent of these beatings of Christ is expressed even more in Isaiah 50:6, “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting”. My friend after these beatings [before the Sanhedrin-council] and the scourging [by the Roman soldiers] Jesus by this time was so disfigured beyond recognition as a man that he should have died then and there. But I believe His Father sent angels to strengthen His Son through this ordeal, as He still had to endure the suffering and agony of the crucifixion.
The Romans used iron-nails when they crucified someone. These nails are some 5-7 inches long and about 3\8th of an inch wide. So this gives one an idea of the enormity of the pain that any person being crucified had to endure when these nails were driven through the wrists\hands and feet. Although the Bible does teach that the nails were driven through Jesus’ hands, the actual language of the day is that the wrist was part of the whole hand. The nails were driven into the wrists, between the arm bones and the hand itself. The reason being that the hands on its own could not support\hold\carry the weight of the one being crucified. In 1968 an archeological-find in Jerusalem of a man’s bones who had been crucified sometime during the first-century, showing a nail still embedded in his right heel bone, and also one of his right forearm bones having a groove and marks consistent with a nail that was driven between the two arm-bones of his wrists, giving us an idea of this ordeal of crucifixion. According to a Dr Alexander Metherell, MD, quoted by Strobel, p. 196 [from a medical view-point] the nails would be driven through the median-nerve, being the largest nerve going to the hand, and would cause indescribable pain. The pain was literally excruciating. The nails driven through the feet would bring similar pain. Jesus being hung by His arms [outstretched across the beam] would have caused Him great stress on His body. One can only imagine the pain that He suffered. As prophesied of Christ’s sufferings we read, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death”, Psalms 22:14-15. This is referring to His tortured condition. Continuing with a description of Christ’s agonies, Dr Metherell explains: “Once a victim is hanging in the vertical position… death is slow by asphyxiation, [literally meaning that the person is suffocating due to defective aeration of blood through impaired respiration]. The reason for this is that the stress on the muscles and diaphragm puts the chest into the inhaled position. Therefore to exhale the victim must push up on his feet so the tension on the muscles would bring ease for a moment, and in doing so the nail would tear through the foot, locking up against the tarsal bones. This is repeated over again continuously, as the victim scrapes his bloodied back against the rough\course wood of the cross. Eventually complete exhaustion would take over, and the person would not be able to push up and breathe anymore”, by Strobel pp. 265-266.
Many times over the Bible speaks of the importance of Christ’s shed blood, Acts 20:28; Ephesians 2:13; 1Peter 1:18-19. Without the shedding of blood there would be no forgiveness of sins, “And almost all things are by the Law purged with blood; and without the shedding of blood is no remission”, Hebrews 9:22. Very few things are ever purged with water, but almost all is with blood. The shed blood of Christ on the Cross is the only solution [answer] for the sins, the ills and problems of the world, and most of the Church has sadly at times tried to substitute the Cross for something other than the blood shed on that Cross. The Old Testament rituals of slaughtering animals, and the high priest entering into the holy place once a year with the blood that he must sprinkle on the mercy seat was to come to an end when Jesus died on the Cross. This sacrifice of Christ would and is the ultimate, once and for all time event. Jesus Himself said that the wine of the New Testament Covenant represented, “my blood, which is shed [poured out] for many for the remission [forgiveness] of sins”, Matthew 26:28. His death at Calvary would forever settle the sin debt, and that for all of humanity, at least those who would believe in Him; as is true that the Lord’s Supper ever directs the believer to the Cross. Because it was impossible to continue with the old ritual of sacrificing animals on the Passover, which as a shadow of something better and permanent to come, God then at the right time sent His Son. “Therefore Christ being come a high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God”, Hebrews 9:11-14. So without a doubt to the Christian faith the central focus of Christ’s sacrifice was His blood, which upon Him shedding [poured out] His blood opened the way for all humanity to receive forgiveness. Many debates have transpired over the years as to how and what was the actual cause of Christ dying. Was it the brutal beatings that caused His eventual death? Was it the agony of the nails driven into His hands\wrists and feet and hanging on the cross that caused His death? Was it the spear driven into His side, when water and blood flowed from the wound that caused His death? Was it the loss of blood that caused His death? In Roman crucifixions it was customary to break the legs of the victim so death was imminent; but not one of His bones were broken, John 19:33+36. This of course was fulfillment of scriptures pertaining to sacrificial lambs not having any bones broken, or having any kind of defect which God would not accept, during the Passover ceremony, Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; Psalms 34:20. The lambs to be sacrificed were to be perfect; so the more Christ was\is the perfect sacrificial Lamb, without spot or wrinkle. Christ presented Himself unto His Father in this manner. Likewise so that He might present the Church to the Father without spot or wrinkle. The love of Christ to the church is an example, which is sincere, pure, and constant, notwithstanding her failures. Christ gave himself for the church, that he might sanctify it in this world, and glorify it in the next, that he might bestow on all his members a principle of holiness, and deliver them from the guilt, the pollution, and the dominion of sin, by those influences of the Holy Spirit, of which baptismal water was the outward sign. The church and believers will not be without spot or wrinkle till they come to glory. But those only who are sanctified now, shall be glorified hereafter, Ephesians 5:27. Although the Church has failures and defects, it is Christ Himself who will present it, in view to the final presentation of the Church in perfect Holiness at the Coming of that Great Day, Ephesians 5:26-27. This is all made possible because of the shed blood of Christ on the Cross. It is the Cross of Christ alone through the shedding of His blood. So what was the cause of His death? What was the final fatal blow that caused Christ to die? In John 19:37, the apostle explains the prophecy of Zechariah 12:10……concerning Jesus’ body that was pierced. Psalms 22:16-18 and Rev 1:7 confirms what John is speaking about. Many have said Christ died of a broken heart. Taking that comment literally one can surmise that what John Lyle Cameron, MD. explains is and could be confirmation of said comment. “The Roman soldier would be well trained, proficient, and would know his duty. He would know also which part of the body to pierce in order that he might obtain a speedily fatal result or ensure that the victim was undeniably dead. The soldier standing below our crucified Lord as He hung on the Cross would with force thrust upwards under the left ribs. The broad, clean cutting, two-edged spearhead would enter the left side of the upper abdomen, would open the stomach, would pierce the diaphragm, would cut wide open the heart, lacerate great blood vessels, arteries and veins would be damaged. Even the lung would be lacerated. Considering the amount of damage that these wounds caused if one is to accept the historical or medical viewpoints, then it is safe to say that Matthew 20:24-27 is proof enough that Thomas was able to place not only his finger into the print of the nails, but also thrust his hand into Jesus’ side. Thomas had first hand proof of this as did the disciples, when Christ appeared to them after eight days. The lie that was spread by the priests that Jesus’ body was stolen by his disciples does not hold up to certain events that occurred after he was buried. Joseph of Arimathea, a follower of Christ, being a respected public figure and honorable counselor, also of good standing, and a rich man; went and acquired of Pilate if he could take the body of Christ to be buried. This is confirmation of Old Testament prophecy, Isaiah 53:9. Pilate inquired by the centurion [who overlooked the execution] if Jesus was indeed dead, and upon confirmation gave Joseph permission to take the body of our Lord, Mark 15:25-27, 35. Based on the evidence of God’s Word and the historical facts that Christ was indeed dead, from the brutal beatings that he endured and crucifixion on the Cross, we can accept that Christ was not in a comatose state, or that He had only fainted and was later resuscitated has no basis. The Roman soldiers were professional executioners, and though they were no medical experts they knew for sure that Christ was dead. Therefore it was not even necessary to break his legs as was customary when a victim was crucified, because Jesus was already dead, John 19:31-37.
Joseph now took down the body and, “bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulcher which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulcher”, Mark 15: 46-47. If Jesus was placed in the tomb and a stone of considerable size was rolled in front of the door, how in the world by all reasoning could any man have survived such beatings at the hands of the chief priests and elders, Mark 14: 53-65, thereafter the scourging from the soldiers, Mark 15: 15-20; and eventually the carrying and sufferings of the Cross, Mark 15: 21-32. Then also to be buried in a tomb for three days in the brutalized condition that He was with no medical attention; which was not only closed up by Joseph of Arimathea but also on instruction from Pilate that the soldiers seal the tomb, Matthew 27:62-66. Not only that, but placing Roman guards at the entrance to the tomb, to see that the body of Jesus would not be stolen. Yet this was the exact lie that the priests and elders asked of the soldiers concerning the disappearance of Jesus’ body once they reported on the turn of events, Matthew 28: 11-15. In other words folks based on this fact of scripture we can accept that the enemies of Jesus acknowledged that the tomb was empty, therefore the lie as recorded in Matthew 28. Would or could any man survive such an ordeal. Based on the evidence common sense tells me no!
The first persons to discover the empty tomb on the morning of the third day [first day of the week] was, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome. These three women had desired to anoint the body of Jesus hoping that someone would roll away the stone. But to their amazement found that the stone had already been rolled away. Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16: 1-8; Luke 24:1-12 and John 20:1-10 records the events that confirm Christ’s resurrection. These scriptures confirm the very opposite of all the lies that the chief priests and elders spread, Matthew 28:11-15; even though they themselves knew Christ had arisen; and removes any doubt by his followers that He indeed is risen. Matthew Henry has this to say concerning the resurrection event in his Concise Commentary.
“Christ rose the third day after his death; that was the time he had often spoken of. On the first day of the first week God commanded the light to shine out of darkness. On this day did He who is the Light of the world, shine out of the darkness of the grave; and this day is from henceforward often mentioned in the New Testament, as the day which Christians religiously observed in solemn assemblies, to the honor of Christ. Our Lord Jesus could have rolled back the stone by his own power, but he chose to have it done by an angel. The resurrection of Christ, as it is the joy of his friends, so it is the terror and confusion of his enemies. The angel encouraged the women against their fears. Let the sinners in Zion be afraid. Fear not ye, for his resurrection will be your consolation. Our communion with him must be spiritual, by faith in his word. When we are ready to make this world our home, and to say, It is good to be here, then let us remember our Lord Jesus is not here, he is risen; therefore let our hearts rise, and seek the things that are above. He is risen, as he said. Let us never think that strange which the word of Christ has told us to expect; whether the sufferings of this present time, or the glory that is to be revealed. It may have a good effect upon us, by faith to view the place where the Lord lay. Go quickly. It was good to be there, but the servants of God have other work appointed. Public usefulness must be chosen before the pleasure of secret communion with God. Tell the disciples, that they may be comforted under their present sorrows. Christ knows where his disciples dwell, and will visit them. Even to those at a distance from the plenty of the means of grace, he will graciously manifest himself. The fear and the joy together quickened their pace. The disciples of Christ should be forward to make known to each other their experiences of communion with their Lord; and should tell others what God has done for their souls”. Yes my friend He is risen indeed!!
During the society of Christ’s time and even before, women were held in very low esteem. Women were treated more like slaves\servants. How remarkable it was that women were the first discoverers of Christ’s empty tomb. However the Gospel writers faithfully recorded this truth what for them at the time was a very awkward and embarrassing detail. But that was orchestrated I believe by the Holy Spirit as a turning point for the future of a woman’s place in a marriage and in society as a whole. We have established that Jesus’ enemies acknowledged that the tomb was empty. According to Matthew 28:11-15 this was\is most probably the best and only excuse the authorities could come up with. The very enemies of Jesus Christ now admitted that He had indeed risen. We have scriptural evidence that the risen Christ not only appeared to the disciples after 8 days, but He was seen by many others. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth that, “He was seen by Cephas [Peter], then also by the Twelve and after by as many as 500 Brethren at once; He was also seen by James the Lord’s brother; then all the Apostles ”, 1Corinthians 15:5-6. James of course did not believe on Christ during His earthly Ministry, John 7:5. So where did Paul get all his information from? It stands to reason that Paul was acquainted with and had spoken with these people involved with these sightings of the risen Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:6 says that at the time of Paul writing to the Corinthian Church most of these believers were still alive, and Paul was able to hear firsthand accounts. All of Christ’ post-resurrection appearances were in bodily form, Luke 24: 36-43; John 20:24-29; 21:1-23. Because of these physical appearances it left no doubt in the disciple’s minds that Christ had indeed arisen. Therefore boldness took possession of them which they never had before. After the ordeal of the crucifixion most of the disciples and Christ’s followers lost all hope. But after it was confirmed by the three women mentioned above, and the very real physical appearance of Jesus to so many people, they grew bold with the knowledge that there Master was alive. At these appearances as mentioned in the above scriptures, Jesus spoke with them, ate with them, allowed the apostles to touch Him, and gave extensive instructions to the apostles. What more can be said as to this boldness than on the Day [Feast] of Pentecost when Pater stood with such an anointing of the Holy Spirit power that 3000 people of all races\nations came into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and only begotten Son of the Living God, Acts 2. Peter who had denied his Lord and Master now preached and proclaimed Christ as the One who was sent by God, as promised throughout the Old Testament prophecies. These people from all races and nations were not ignorant to the strange happenings surrounding Jesus, His ministry, His disciples, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection and the fact that people were also resurrected from their graves and walking the streets of the city. Also of the massive veil that was so thick and enormous where behind only the High Priest could enter to bring the blood before God for the remission of the sins of the people; torn from top to bottom in the magnificent Temple in Jerusalem. A remarkable change took place not only in the lives of the disciples\apostles, but also the many thousands that came into repentance since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The very reaction of the many thousands, apart from the few mockers, was quite telling of the mood and definite hunger of people for something new. No denial, no outcry, no attempt to stone Peter. And Peter knew that by the anointing he would preach the first message of salvation that would touch and change many lives for eternity. And it has been like this ever since that great outpouring of the Spirit. Millions and millions through the ages have said yes to that call. What is your answer to the same call my friend? Yes to Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God for eternal life, or no to eternal damnation with Satan and his angels\demons in the Lake of Fire.
In closing I want the reader to read up on some and compare Old Testament prophecies with New Testament fulfillment concerning the coming of Jesus Christ the Messiah.
He would be a descendant of King David: Isaiah 11:1-5 and Matthew 1:1+6.
He would be born in Bethlehem: Micah: 5:2 and Matthew 2:1
One would precede Him and announce His coming: Isaiah 40:3, 5; Malachi 3:1 and Matthew 3:1-3.
His own people would reject Him: Isaiah 53:3 and John 1:11.
A friend would betray Him: Psalms 41:9 and John 13:18-30.
The price for His betrayal would be 30 pieces of silver: Zechariah 11:12 and Matthew 26:15.
The 30 pieces of silver would buy a potter’s field: Zechariah 11:13 and Matthew 27:3-10.
Wicked people would pierce His hands and feet: Psalms 22:16; Luke 23:33; 24: 38-40.
He would suffer execution but without breaking any of His bones: Psalms 34:20 and John 19:33-36.
Others would cast lots for His garments: Psalms 22:18 and John 23:24.
He would be buried with the wealthy: Isaiah 53:9 and Matthew 27:57-60.
God would resurrect Him from the grave: Psalms 16:10 and Acts 2:30-32.
The New Testament Gospels abound with accounts of Messianic prophecies, as does the Old Testament with over 300 such prophecies. Jesus Himself could not control how these prophecies were to be fulfilled. No human could control the circumstances of His birth, who his ancestors are\were and where he was born. He could not control the actions of those who would betray Him, put him to death and laying his body in the unused tomb of a wealthy man. Yet these very same details were written in advance of up to 1000 years before His birth, foretelling precisely the details of Jesus’ death by crucifixion long before this method of punishment became known. How is this possible? Start reading the Bible and you will discover that God Almighty through the Holy Spirit inspired prophets of old, 2Peter 1:21. The answer my friend is in the Bible.