Summary: Part 3 of the series, The Truth About Jesus Christ.
Jesus in the news:
• The Da Vinci Code
• The so-called gospel of Judas
THE APOSTLES’ CREED
(third-fourth centuries A.D.)
I believe in God the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven; and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy universal Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
1. FALSE: Jesus wasn’t supposed to die.
Some people claim that Jesus wasn’t supposed to die; and, as a result, His death had no meaning.
Jesus clearly stated that He came to this earth for the specific purpose of dying for the sins of the world. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).
Dying was His reason for living.
2. FALSE: Jesus wasn’t crucified.
This is known as the “substitution theory.” According to Islam, “Jesus Christ did not die on the cross. Various traditions say that He either miraculously substituted Judas Iscariot for Himself on the cross, or that God miraculously delivered Him from the hands of the Romans and Jews before He could be crucified. Most Muslims believe that Jesus Christ was taken bodily into heaven without having died” (The Kingdom of the Cults, p. 623).
Not only does this flatly contradict the Bible, but it also leaves open some big questions. For example, thousands of people knew Jesus, wouldn’t someone have noticed that the wrong man was being crucified? Jesus’ mother stood at the foot of the cross (John 19:25). Obviously she would have recognized her own son! If the wrong man was crucified, wouldn’t he have been yelling, “I’m not Jesus!”? Lastly, if Jesus wasn’t crucified, then what happened to Him after 30 A.D.? There’s no explanation for any of these problems.
3. FALSE: Jesus didn’t die on the cross.
This false claim is knows as the “swoon theory.” Some people say that Jesus was crucified and came very close to death but didn’t actually die—He just swooned. The theory goes on to say that after three days the coolness of the tomb revived Him, and He managed to roll away the immense stone and appear to the disciples, making them think He had risen from the dead.
If you saw The Passion of the Christ, you might wonder how Jesus even survived long enough to be crucified.
[Matthew 27:11-56] As I read this passage, notice the physical suffering He experienced.
• He was flogged (Matt. 27:26; Mark 15:15; John 19:1). [PICTURE] He was flogged with a whip embedded with pieces of metal to the ends of the leather strips. Each lash was administered and pulled across the back so as to rip the back open. Often the back muscles were so badly shredded that the skeletal structure was exposed. People very often died from this punishment alone.
• He was forced to carry His own cross during part of the walk to Golgotha (John 19:17). [PICTURE]
Many readers of the Gospels in the ancient world would have witnessed crucifixions and thus would have had a painfully vivid mental picture upon reading the simple words “And they crucified him” (Mark 15:24). A criminal who was crucified was essentially forced to inflict upon himself a very slow death by suffocation. When the criminal’s arms were outstretched and fastened by nails to the cross, he had to support most of the weight of his body with his arms. The chest cavity would be pulled upward and outward, making it difficult to exhale in order to be able to draw a fresh breath. But when the victim’s longing for oxygen became unbearable, he would have to push himself up with his feet, thus giving more natural support to the weight of his body, releasing some of the weight from his arms, and enabling his chest cavity to contract more normally. By pushing himself upward in his way the criminal could fend off suffocation, but it was extremely painful because it required putting the body’s weight on the nails holding the feet, and bending the elbows and pulling upward on the nails driven through the wrists. The criminal’s back, which had been torn open repeatedly by a previous flogging, would scrape against the wooden cross with each breath (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 572).