Tag Archive: cross


Yesterday I had such a wondrous time reading Matthew chapters 5-7 — just alone time with my God and me. I started from the Beatitudes to the end of Christ’s words, and His teaching just struck me as so amazing. Stuff I had heard before, but for some reason I was seeing with new eyes. Like, He says, when your enemy forces you to go one mile with him, you should go with him two miles. Or if he sues you for your tunic, give him your coat also. Wow, how counter-intuitive! How totally lacking in bitterness — what a hard, amazing thing. He’s really saying, in a nutshell, to repay evil with good, to give to your opponent even when you are the one wronged.

THAT takes a lot of maturity — maturity in becoming Christlike. I was just thinking through these three chapters how a lot of it is about our relationships and our character-building — what righteousness is is Christlike character! The whole Christian experience is growing in that character so that we reflect God’s own perfect character. And all the things Christ was saying in these chapters — so counter-intuitive, against your expectations kind of things — it just made me realize how smart, wise Christ is.

Did you ever ponder how He is pretty smart, I mean, like you admire how other people are smart? I’ve been noticing the ingenuity of God lately, like how His greatest act of glory (redemption of fallen humans) is through His greatest humiliation (the cross)! I mean, how genius is that? Who ever thought of winning through utter defeat, giving life through death — that’s just mind-blowing!

My sis and I really started appreciating this because we’re trying to write a novel, and we come up with these story twists and character growths. And then we apply what we’re doing with what God’s doing, and suddenly we see how awesome God is — He is the greatest Storyteller ever. How He ever came up with the cross is astounding. He’s a person who wants to show His great glory — and yet He shows His greatest glory by becoming a weak, poor, tortured man who dies a criminal’s death on the cross. What’s with that — I mean, if I was trying to show my glory, that’s not the way I’d go about it! I’d blast the world with light or something and just everyone will be at their knees. That’s how we’d all do it.

But not God. He really has a humble streak in Him — He loves showing power through weakness, glory through meekness. O how beautiful — can’t you see how incredible He is! God is a genius — we talk about how loving or holy or merciful He is, but has anybody ever just thought of how He’s just so smart, so genius to come up with such a counter-intuitive way of showing all His glory in the most defeating way? Amazing! Awesome! Now He’s Someone to really admire — to revere and worship and just stand in awe!

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“For the love of God!” Ever said this? You probably weren’t thinking about God’s love or your love for God – in fact, maybe you don’t think God is much of a great guy anyway. Who does He think He is, telling me what to do as He lords over the cosmos? What has He ever done for me? What’s so great about God?

Maybe He doesn’t exist. That’s what I was wondering in my early teen years. I began to doubt God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, Heaven, and my own state as a Christian. Did these really exist? Was I a real Christian, or did I just believed these things because my parents did? It was strange: Often when my father, mother, or my sister had other personal troubles, each would not be afraid to talk about the trouble with me. Yet I shut my own agony within myself. Normal activities became escapes from the troubling thoughts, but even these did not always help. A murder mystery could stir up thoughts of death and the fearful unknown behind it. My every joy was dampened, for how could I be happy when my eternity was uncertain?

Yet God rescued me. He instilled in me a drive to investigate the factual foundations for my faith. I read books on the awesome complexity of God’s creation, the scientific foundations of the Genesis Flood, the historical accuracy of Christ’s resurrection, and the prophetic reliability of the Bible. I read about these proofs in the car and while eating lunch. I wrote research papers on their topics. And they became my comfort and joy. No matter how much I reasoned, the huge weight of evidence could not be doubted away. Christianity was not just the religion I happened to be born into; it stood on a foundation of evidence like no other. God’s Word could be trusted like no other word.

But what truly transformed my life was not a defense of Christianity. It was when I realized how great God really is. In April of 2006, I read Knowing God. As I learned about God’s sovereignty and perfect right over all His universe, I wondered in awe at His supreme greatness, righteousness, and glory. He is eternal; I am mortal. He is Creator; I am created. He is Sustainer; I am sustained. He is infinite; I am finite. He is everything; I am nothing.

Then I realized just how much this God had done for me. This great God, who answers to no one, suffered for my sins on the cross of Calvary. The God of infinite worth actually suffered for me. The thought brought tears down my cheeks. Surely my every deed and thought and breath should be devoted to the One who gives me all motion and mind and breath, for is not this my life’s purpose, to glorify God? Then I knew the love of God.

Do you not feel the greatness of God? Is it not strange that many hate God and many love Him? Such a paradoxical attitude towards God results from a fundamental, willful misunderstanding about God – and ourselves. God is very, very holy; we are very, very not. If you believe that holiness, and thus goodness, is not so important to God, then you will never understand why He must judge evil people, including ourselves. If you believe that we are good inside, then you will never understand the depth of the love of God. For God’s love is displayed at its greatest at the height of God’s judgment – on the cross of Calvary. Here God places judgment on Himself to pay the penalty for our evil deeds – death. How can we deserve such a punishment?

Just think – we as human beings are tiny creatures on a planet on the outskirts of a galaxy among a billion galaxies. We are the dust on a mountain, yet we rebel against God our Maker like we were big shots. We go about our lives as if He was nothing. Why didn’t He just wipe away the dust dirtying His pottery work of the cosmos? He had every right as Maker. He has every right to cast justice upon us who lie, cheat, hurt, and hate thousands of times in our lives. We have no excuse: We are guilty of evil countless times. We have become like a poisonous mold infecting a twig on a tree in God’s forest – why shouldn’t we be wiped away to rid the world of evil?

Yet He suffered for this bit of mold on a twig in the forest – He suffered for the cancerous mold that is us! He suffered and died to wipe away our evils and restore us to Himself – how wondrous, how glorious, how Loving! O, I cannot imagine a greater love than the Love of God. When you know just how holy He is and how He had every right to wipe us out in one second, then His mercy and love is made infinitely sweet. I stand in awe of God – I cry at the thought of His cross and its beauty. Praise the Lord! Praise His holy name! We have hardly an idea just how much God LOVES us!

O how God is everything to me. He is Creator, yet He clothed Himself as a creature like me. He is King, yet He became a criminal in place of me. He suffered poverty in life, ridicule in trial, and agony in death, to save me from my own evil. He is my Hero of heroes – for not even a hero dies for his enemies to save them. He didn’t have to suffer anything. But He did.

That’s what God has done for me – that’s why God is so great. And He has done the same for you. Though you may smirk at Him and laugh at Him and use His name as a curse word, He gave His life for you. He is like the President of the United States giving his life for Osama bin Ladin. O how we hate God and wish Him dead – yet He gave His life for us so that we could live.

This is why I worship Him – this is why I adore Him and devote my life to Him. He is my Lover and I am His beloved. Do not look strangely upon me as I love Someone I cannot see, hear, or touch, for His love letters He has handed to me in His perfect Word that has stood the test of time. To revere Him is sweetness and true delight. No other joy on earth can match the magnitude of loving Him. For the love of God, I long. For the love of God, I live. For the love of God is life. It is my battle-cry and my peace, my hope and my love.

For the love of God – love Him back! Make Him the love of your heart as He is the Lover of your soul. There is nothing greater in life than to know, cherish, praise, and love the God of heaven and earth, the God who came down from His throne to love you:

He is the Father, yet He became a babe.
He is Creator, yet He became a man.
He is wealthy, yet He became poor.
He dwells in Heaven, yet He lived on earth.
He is happy, yet He became “a man of sorrows.”
He is good, yet He “became sin for us.”
He is life, yet He met death for us.

We hate Him, yet He loved us. How great He is.

Easter: Beyond Eggs and Bunnies

As this Easter season draws near, I hope the local Easter egg hunt isn’t the only event that comes to mind. Because Easter didn’t begin with a game of eggs and bunnies — it started with a cross and climaxed with an empty tomb.

This Easter marks a special 1-year anniversary for me: It was the day before Easter a year ago that I first wore my cross pendant. Every day since then, with hardly an exception, I have worn that cross. It is a beautiful thing, gold-chained and glinting with diamonds (or so I speculate that’s what those stones are).

But did you know that what I’m wearing around my neck is an instrument of torture and death? Today we see bejeweled cross pendants all the time, often gracing the flesh of superstars singing steamy lyrics. But two thousand years ago, the cross was the most hideous of the hideous — its silhouette upon a hill would bring both chills and shouts of derision, for it was the choice of the Romans for public execution. Those traitors and criminals unlucky enough not to have Roman citizenship were subjected to this most humiliating of deaths: First each was beaten until the internal organs were exposed (many died during this stage); then each had to carry his cross all the way to the site of execution, with crowds jeering; then each lain down upon the cross and had nails driven through wrists and feet, crushing sensitive nerves; and then each was hosted up to hang naked upon the cross for all to see. Besides the extreme pain of the beating and the nails, the person would have to lift himself up with his feet in order to breath, for his particular hanging position would prevent breathing otherwise. After hours had passed, however, his exhaustion would overtake him, and he’d die of suffocation. Many times, the Romans would leave his body as food for the birds.

It is a far cry from diamonds and gold. Why do I wear this wretched symbol?

Partly, because my Lord and my God suffered upon the same instrument of death as those criminals thousands of years ago. His name on earth was Jesus of Nazareth, a carpenter-turned-preacher in ancient Israel. He healed the sick, raised the dead, and preached to the poor. And He revealed Himself to be God, the Creator clothed in human form: “‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us'” (Matthew 1:23). God came down to dwell with His creatures as one of them. His extraordinary deeds and claims are recorded in the Bible, which has been proven time and again in history and science as the reliable and extraordinary record of God’s Words. Hundreds of years before, God predicted that He would suffer death for men (Isaiah 53, etc.).

Why did God suffer on the cross? I would say that the cross is the most brutal and humiliating of deaths devised by man — why did the Creator of the universe let Himself be subjected to it? The answer lies in the saving purpose of God: “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). For “all of us like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:6).

We all have committed wrong and hurt God and our fellow men, who have been created in God’s image. Yet this God, instead of judging us all to our rightful punishment according to justice, laid the justice upon Himself in the form of Jesus Christ. He stepped into our deserved place on the cross.

Isn’t it unfathomable! The very thought has often brought tears to me as I stare outside a window, contemplating God. The Creator of the universe, the King of heaven and earth, owes me nothing and I owe Him everything. He could have wiped the slate clean the moment man did wrong and hurt others. He could have judged us all on the spot. But no — He brought Himself to suffer in our place — in the place of criminals and evil men! God suffered for us His enemies — it is beyond beautiful, beyond words!

But the cross is only half the story. If Jesus died and that was that, He would be like all the rest of religious leaders throughout history. Today we find their tombs and many venerate their final resting places. But not with Christ. Because on the third day, on that Sunday morn, Jesus rose from the dead. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Against the wishes of the religious authorities and the guarding of the tomb by Roman soldiers, He conquered death, the final enemy, and appeared to His disciples and over 500 people after His resurrection (1 Cor 15:6). The enemy of man, death, was no match for the God of life. And because Christ rose from the dead, we can be assured that we who believe will conquer death, too. We will rise and be with God for all eternity, because He rose from the dead.

For not only was the ticket of our sin paid in full on the cross, but our ticket to life was insured by the empty tomb. Christ rose, and so shall we. That is why I wear the cross, and that is what we should remember come this Easter morn.

  • “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up” (Matt. 20:18-19).

Ever since Jesus of Nazareth uttered this prophecy two thousand years ago, the whole world has been debating whether it came true. Theory upon theory has been proposed to explain away this miracle of miracles. Has a man really risen himself from the dead, never to die again? If Jesus arose, He would not be just any man, but the Possesser of the power of life. And all His claims would be proven true. He would be the long-sought Messiah of Old Testament prophesy (Is. 53; 9:6-7; Mic. 5:2, etc.), the Ransom for sinners (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45), and the very Creator of heaven and earth (Col. 1:16)! How fantastic, how unbelievable! And yet, the largest religion in the world shot up from nonexistence upon this very belief, that the resurrection actually happened in history.

But did it? Does the historical evidence prove or disprove the resurrection of Jesus?

Many today would wonder at hearing “historical” and “Jesus” in the same sentence. “Is not the story of Jesus a myth? How can anyone believe the Bible’s legends in the scientific age?” In fact, many scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries, especially the German higher critics, had declared that the New Testament was not written until the latter part of the 2nd century (McDowell, Resurrection Factor, pp. 24-25), much more than a hundred years after the alleged lifetime of Christ. Such a long period of time could have enabled myths to entangle the Biblical accounts in inaccuracy (Ibid., p. 24). As a result of this consensus from the 19th– and 20th-century higher critics, much of the modern world has supported some form of the “legend theory.”

However, three factors refute the Christ-myth: the witness of contemporaries, even those hostile to Christianity; the many preserved manuscript copies of the New Testament; and new discoveries in archaeology. Such discoveries all over the “Bible lands” of Judea and Asia Minor have unearthed a 1st-century civilization exactly as described by the New Testament writers, particularly Luke in his precisely detailed Acts of the disciples (McDowell, Evidence for Christianity, pp. 93-94). In fact, the numerous 1st-century references Luke makes to obscure local details, such as calling Philippian rulers praetors when scholars thought the correct term was duumuirs, have been proven right again and again as archaeologists unearth more of the Bible lands (Ibid., pp. 96-97). Such obscure details show a pervasive 1st-century, not 2nd century, background of the New Testament that has lead numerous scholars, such as the renown archaeologist Sir William Ramsay, to reverse their beliefs in the dating, and thus the reliability, of the New Testament: Instead of the late 2nd century, all New Testament books had to have been written before A.D. 64-80 by the disciples or their close contemporaries (McDowell, Resurrection, pp. 24-25 and McDowell, Evidence, pp. 93-94). Basically, the New Testament was written thirty or so years after the events of Jesus of Nazareth.

This early date combines powerfully with the vast number of surviving New Testament manuscript copies, which far surpasses the surviving copies of any other ancient written works (Morris, Many Infallible Proofs, p. 23). Preserved in multitudes of languages, the New Testament’s 24,970 manuscripts dwarf the next largest surviving group of manuscripts, the 643 of Homer’s Iliad (McDowell, Evidence, pp. 60-61). There are many ancient writings such as Herodotus’s History and Caesar’s Gallic Wars that are based on just a few manuscripts yet are never questioned in their authenticity by historians (Bruce, NTD, pp. 16-17 qtd in McDowell, Evidence, p. 64). Thus, if the New Testament is not to be trusted, then how can any other work of the ancient past be verified? If the existence of Jesus of Nazareth is questioned, then the existences of Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and any other ancient historical figure fall into the uncertainty of myth (Jeffrey, Signature of God, p. 86).

But the factor that settles Jesus of Nazareth beyond all speculation of myth is the testimonies of the witnesses, from His closest associates to the following multitudes to His arch enemies. When the disciples wrote down the miracles of Jesus they claimed to have seen and the words of Jesus they claimed to have heard, they reminded their readers that these things had “not been done in a corner” (Acts 26:26). In fact, they wrote that Jesus had preached and performed miracles before many multitudes of people over the course of His ministry, like giving sight to the blind (Matt. 9:27-30; 21:14), healing diseases (Luke 7:21; Matt. 8:2-3), feeding thousands with just a few loaves and fishes (Matt. 14:15-21), raising the dead to life (John 11:1-45), etc. And then the disciples wrote the most fantastic feat of all, that this same Jesus was crucified, was buried, but then arose from the dead on the third day (Matt. 27-28; Mark 15-16; Luke 23-24; John 19-20). They were practically calling, “Check the tomb. He’s not there!” Because the New Testament was written within the lifetimes of the witnesses to these events, anything the disciples wrote could be tested against the memories of countless thousands.

And myriads of these thousands believed, ballooning the new faith Christianity. Soon after the New Testament was written and preached to Gentiles as well as Jews, they spread the word to their own countrymen and translated the New Testament into many languages, to be read in Sunday meetings all across the land (Jeffrey, Signature of God, p. 88). Manuscripts multiplied, making the job of a forger so much more grueling (Ibid., pp. 88-89). The impossibility of any myth-formation in the New Testament text is superbly illustrated in Grant Jeffrey’s The Signature of God:

  • Imagine that some writer wanted to create a false story in the 1990s about President Kennedy performing miracles and being raised from the dead for forty days after his tragic assassination in November, 1963. To succeed with his plan the writer would have to accomplish two impossible things: (1) He would have to simultaneously acquire every one of the millions of books and newspaper reports about the president and insert his counterfeit passages in this material without being detected by a single reader. (2) He would have to simultaneously convince millions of people around the world to accept his forgery as true, despite the fact that these people who were alive when Kennedy lived have independent recollections that contradict his invented story (p. 89).

Thus, the thousands of New Testament manuscripts ensure its reliability. And the fact that Christianity was born in Jerusalem, outside whose gates Jesus was crucified, and then rapidly grew from this epicenter to engulf the entire Roman Empire and beyond testifies to the witness of many in that generation, who saw the works of Jesus as true history, not a myth (McDowell, Resurrection Factor, pp. 106-107).

Even the Jewish religious leaders, who hated Jesus for His condemning their hypocrisy and stirring the people away from them, could not deny His miracles or the empty tomb. Instead, they claimed that He received power to heal people using Satanic magic (Mark 3:22-23). When all Jerusalem was transformed into an uproar with the discovery of the empty tomb, the Jewish leaders did not deny its existence, but accused His disciples of stealing His body in an attempt to make Jesus’ resurrection prophecy come true (Matt. 27:62-64; 28:11-13). Their lone argument against His resurrection crumbled in the years ahead: These same disciples, who had formerly forsook Jesus during His arrest and trials, now passionately preached and converted thousands of Jews and even Gentiles while suffering intense persecution from the Jewish leadership and the Roman Empire. Nearly every one of these disciples was martyred for preaching a risen Christ, yet none renounced Him (McDowell, Resurrection Factor, p. 94). Would anyone live a persecuted life and die for his own fabrication? The obvious answer has lead this “stolen body theory” of the Jews to be discounted by critics today (Strobel, Case for Easter, p. 41). Thus, the hostile witness of the Jewish leaders all the more increases the trustworthiness of the disciples’ testimony.

Even secular writings opposed to Christianity attest to the existence, life, and death of Jesus. The greatest Roman historian, Cornelius Tacitus (A.D. 55-120), mentions in his Annals that “Christus [Christ], the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate” (qtd in McDowell, Evidence, p. 171); the 2nd century Greek satirist, Lucian of Samosata, declares in his The Death of Peregrine that “the Christians . . . deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws” (qtd in Ibid., p. 172); and another ancient historian, Phlegon, wrote in his Chronicles that “during the time of Tiberius Caesar an eclipse of the sun occurred during the full moon” (Africanus, Chronography, 18.1, qtd in Ibid., p. 174), a clear allusion to the chilling darkness that befell the land during the crucifixion of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels (Matt. 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44).

This last reference, in seeking a natural explanation for an actual, mystifying event, is disproven by science: For by its very nature, a solar eclipse can only occur during the new moon, when the moon is between the earth and the sun (Espenak, “Solar Eclipses for Beginners”). But Jesus was crucified the day before the Passover (Mark 15:42; Matt. 26:17), a holiday which occurred during the phase of the full moon (Parsons, Hebrew for Christians, “Pesach”). Thus, though secular critics of ancient times tried explaining away this strange darkness by natural means, it is nature that refutes them.

Not only do the witnesses, New Testament manuscripts, and archaeological discoveries fully refute the legend theory, but they also entangle all other theories in hopeless mazes. Many scholars, knowing the obvious fact that Jesus lived and died, have not attacked His existence but have proposed theories to explain the events recorded in the New Testament through natural circumstances. However, no theory has been able to fit each jigsaw of evidence into one coherent picture.

Consider the “wrong tomb theory,” as proposed by Professor Kirsopp Lake in The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (summarized in McDowell, Resurrection Factor, p. 79). This position theorizes that when Jesus was taken down from the cross, He was buried by Joseph of Arimathea, emissary of the Jewish leaders instead of a disciple of Jesus, in a tomb amidst the many tombs of Jerusalem, and the disciples and women close to Jesus were watching from afar at the moment of burial. Then on Sunday the women, who were planning to anoint His body with spices, went to the wrong tomb. A young man at this open tomb tells the astonished women “He is not here,” giving them the idea that the man was an angel proclaiming that Jesus had risen from the dead. Thus is born the resurrection tale.

Yet the plausibility of this theory is only superficial. For not only the women would have gone to the wrong tomb, the beloved grave of their Lord, but so would the disciples; the Jewish leaders; and even Joseph of Arimathea, owner of the tomb (Ibid., p. 80). Given the very short time interval, just three days, surely someone would have realized or at least suspected the error committed. Yet no one seemed even to have thought of this possibility until the modern age. Furthermore, the theory ignores the New Testament’s attestation to a guard being stationed at Jesus’ tomb by the Jewish leaders (in an attempt to prevent the disciples from stealing His body and claiming a resurrection) (Matt. 27:62-66). Surely anyone could verify the true location of Jesus’ tomb by locating the lone tomb guarded by soldiers and marked with an official seal. All rumor would have died, and Christianity, never born. Yet the faith lives on, and so does the angel’s statement: “He is not here, for He has risen” (Matt. 28:6).

Even more problems compound the more popular hallucination theory. This theory attempts to account for the appearances of Jesus after His death as hallucinations of His disciples, longing so hard for their dead Master that their minds resurrected Him in thought only. Yet if Jesus appeared in their minds only, what happened to the stationed guard, and why did the Jewish leaders acknowledge that the tomb was empty by claiming that the body was stolen (Matt. 28:11-13)? And how could thousands of Jews in Jerusalem instantly convert to Christianity at the preaching of their first sermon (Acts 2) when these Jews could have easily walked to Joseph’s tomb and verified whether it was truly empty (McDowell, Resurrection Factor, pp. 106-107)? Many of these converts would and did face persecution and even martyrdom, so witnessing for themselves the actual emptiness of the tomb would be essential (Ibid., p. 107).

Beyond even these grave problems, the theory’s key mechanism, the hallucination, just does not fit into what the disciples saw. People cannot have the same hallucination at the same time, since such visions are drawn from each individual’s unique personal experiences (Ibid., p. 84). In contrast, many different types of people saw Jesus at all times of the day (Matt. 28:1-9; Luke 24:13-32), and from one to five hundred individuals saw or conversed with Jesus (John 20:11-18; I Corinthians 15:6). Unlike a group of drug addicts, each high and each having a different hallucination, each person saw the same Jesus. Some even ate with Him (John 21) or touched His wounds (John 20:24-28); what kind of hallucination allows that? Their accounts are detailed, just as psychologists would expect of someone seeing reality (McDowell, Resurrection Factor, p. 84).

Besides, the seeing of a false image requires that a person expect to see the image (Ibid., pp. 85-86). The women and disciples were the last to expect that Jesus would rise to life (Ibid., p. 86). For the Gospels declare that on Sunday the women were bringing spices to anoint His body, obviously expecting His body to be there, and when they saw and spoke to their Lord alive in glory, they hurried and declared the stunning news to His disciples. But the defeated, dejected disciples, who had fled from their Master at His arrest and trial (Mark 14:50), rejected their testimony, having abandoned all hope since crucifixion day. Not until Jesus of Nazareth Himself appeared to them in the upper room and in subsequent places, speaking and comforting and reminding them of all the cross fulfilled in the Scriptures, did they finally believe what they saw and heard and felt was true.

This former skepticism and dejection of the disciples is one of the many factors forgotten by the proponents of another popular theory, the resuscitation or “swoon theory” (McDowell, Resurrection Factor, p. 97). It declares that the crucifixion did not actually kill Jesus. Instead, He fainted upon the cross, was presumed dead by medically-ignorant soldiers, was wrapped in graveclothes, and was placed in the tomb. The tomb’s cool air, however, revived Him despite His wounds. He walked out alive and appeared to His shocked disciples, who could not imagine that anything but a resurrection had taken place.

Yet this theory ignores what the disciples and their contemporaries knew too well about a crucifixion: its fatal brutality. It is one of the most tortuous deaths devised by man. Dr. Alexander Metherell, Ph.D., (qtd in Strobel, Case for Easter, pp. 12-24) describes what Jesus suffered on the day of His crucifixion: (1) a Roman whipping that stripped off the flesh to the bowels, causing severe blood loss and shock; (2) an arduous walk to the execution site carrying the wooden crossbar; (3) the nailing to the cross through the sensitive nerves of the wrists and feet; (4) the hanging from the cross, which pressured the chest in such a way that Jesus had to push Himself up continually in order to exhale and prevent suffocation, until total exhaustion set in; (5) cardiac arrest of the heart from the effects of shock and slow suffocation; and (6) the spear thrust into Jesus’ side, which let out a great volume of blood and water from a ruptured heart. How can anyone survive this ordeal? Many prisoners die even at the beating stage. Jesus could not have even “played dead,” for who can pretend for long not to breath? As Dr. Metherell so adamantly declares, there is no way that Jesus could have survived this ordeal.

But perhaps the greatest testimony to Jesus’ actual death and resurrection would be the skeptical disciples themselves (summarized in McDowell, Resurrection Factor, pp. 98-99, and Strobel, Case for Easter, pp. 24-26). For if by some “miracle” Jesus naturally swooned back to consciousness, unwrapped Himself from the hundred pounds of wrappings and spices wound tightly around Him, rolled the massive tombstone away, and fought or eluded the Roman guards; as the anti-Christian theologian David Strauss admitted, how could this weakened, gashed, and mutilated person, having just suffered the worst torture and agony a man can experience, so transform all the lives of the hopeless, cowardly disciples that they fan across from Jerusalem to the farthest reaches of the Roman Empire proclaiming the absolute fact of Jesus risen in glory and Conquerer of death, to the very second of their martyrdoms? What else could vanish all their fear of death, than the actual sight of their Lord risen from the dead to a glorious heavenly body, one without injury or decay?

For the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is not just the pivotal event of history, but the transformer of lives. Only an actual resurrection could explain the massive growth of Christianity in the very city where Jesus’ crucifixion took place. And because Jesus resurrected, we can be certain that He was who He claimed to be, the Christ, the Son of God, the very Creator incarnated in humanity to pay the penalty for men’s sins and save them. Because He rose, we can know that He is trustworthy and His promises are true. Because He conquered death, so we know that those who believe will not molder forever in the grave, but be resurrected also to life everlasting and be with our Lord and our God in His heavenly kingdom. For Jesus Christ is the Truth of the resurrection.

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

 

The Holy Bible. New American Standard Version.

 

Espenak, Fred. “Solar Eclipses for Beginners” MrEclipse.com. Sept. 26, 2009. Web. June 15, 2010.

 

Jeffrey, Grant R. The Signature of God: Astonishing Biblical Discoveries. Toronto: Frontier Research Publications, Inc., 1996.

 

McDowell, Josh D. Evidence for Christianity: Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2006.

 

McDowell, Josh [D.] The Resurrection Factor: Does the Historical Evidence Support the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1981.

 

Morris, Henry Madison, Ph.D. Many Infallible Proofs: Practical and Useful Evidences for Christianity. El Cajon, CA: Creation Life Publisher, Inc., 1974.

 

Parsons, John J. “Pesach – The Feast of Freedom.” Hebrew for Christians. Web. June 15, 2010.

 

Strobel, Lee. The Case for Easter: A Journalist Investigates the Evidence for the Resurrection. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003.