With countless religions in the world, some people don’t even think twice about attempting to answer this question, condemning the pursuit before investigating it – they close their minds and hearts to all possibilities.
Thankfully, God is not a God of confusion, and has revealed himself in an incredibly clear and reliable way, which means we don’t have to investigate every single religion to discover the truth about God.
Imagine for a moment the situation God is in. He created mankind morally perfect with the ability to choose between good and evil. Mankind chose to rebel against God, bringing sin into the world, and death through sin. Mankind is now separated from God, and cannot have a relationship with him because their sins separate them from him.
How would God make known himself to these people?
There are two powerful ways God has shown himself. Firstly, he raised Jesus from the dead, and secondly, through prophecy!
Evidence for the Resurrection
There are some great facts concerning the resurrection of Jesus that support in a powerful way the authenticity of the eye witness accounts!
1. Transformation of the Apostles
The Watergate scandal was a major political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s as a result of the June 17, 1972 break-in (robbery) at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration’s attempted to cover-up its involvement. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks.
Yet Jesus disciples testified they had seen Jesus risen from the dead! Not once, but they continued to say so for 40 years, never once denying it! Every one of those disciples were beaten, imprisoned, tortured, stoned, boiled alive, crucified, beheaded and more. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true.
In contrast these same disciples were formerly cowardly. Some of them denied Jesus before the resurrection, they scattered – ran away, some of them went into hiding, they were fearful. After the resurrection, there was an amazing transformation in all of them, despite the opposition, persecution, and even in the face of death – they were unwaveringly bold.
2. The Empty Tomb
Both the Romans and the Jewish religious leaders acknowledged that the tomb was empty.
3. The Testimony of Woman
The gospels describe that the resurrected Jesus first appeared to woman. In a culture where woman were oppressed, delegitimized, and taken lightly – the gospel accounts radiate authenticity. This is not something that we’d find if the story were invented.
4. Paul’s Letter to the Church in Corinth
In Paul’s letter to the Church in Corinth he alluded to a profound event when over 500 people witnessed the resurrected Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:5) at a single time! His letter was written as though the Corinthians Church knew many of these witnesses.
God spoke through people called ‘Prophets’. Some examples include Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah and Daniel amongst many others. These men encountered God, and wrote down specific details about the coming ‘Messiah’ (or anointed one); the one who would come and save humanity from the penalty, power and ultimately presence of sin.
So how can these Prophets be authenticated? The answer is in the content of their predictions. It’s absolutely amazing to discover that over 300, very specific predictions were made about the Messiahs first coming. Not only were all of these fulfilled perfectly in Jesus – but they were also (in a secularly, historically provable manner) translated from Hebrew into Greek over 300 years before Jesus was born. We call this translation – the Septuagint Translation of the Tenakh (Old Testament Scriptures).
You might be glad to know that we won’t be going through all 300 of these. But we will go through 15 and demonstrate from these that the way God has authenticated himself has been done so in away that establishes who he really is beyond reasonable doubt. Some, unaware of the evidence believe that Christianity is a blind faith, that has no substantial evidence. But the early church was a people who had faith founded from facts. They didn’t become martyrs because of blind faith, it was because of the undeniable evidence that they were persuaded to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
God is not the author of confusion, but peace – and so he has gone to incredible lengths to make sure that we all have sufficient facts to stand upon when it comes to putting our faith in him.
Isaiah wrote this about the coming Messiah:
“To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah wrote that God would become man.
Now let’s examine what else the prophets predicted about the coming Messiah.
King David, along with the prophets Samuel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah all predicted that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David (2 Samuel 7, Isaiah 11, Jeremiah 23, Psalm 89).
- Born Of A Virgin
Isaiah qualified the Messiah to be born of a virgin called Immanuel – which means ‘God with us’ (Isaiah 7).
- Birth Place
The Prophet Micah predicated that the coming Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5).
- Travel to Egypt
Hosea prophesied that the Messiah would travel to Egypt (Hosea 11).
- Heal the Sick
Isaiah prophesied that the messiah would heal the sick, open the eyes of the blind, and open the ears of the deaf. He said that he would heal the lame and mute (Isaiah 29, 35).
- Deliver Spiritual Captives
Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would deliver people from demonic captivity (Isaiah 61)
- Exact Day Of Arrival 483 Years To The Day
The Prophet Daniel had an encounter with an Angel from God (Daniel 9). The context of this visit was that Jerusalem had been taken and completely destroyed by the Babylonians. Daniel was one of the prisoners of war – a Babylonian captive. The Angel said that Jerusalem will be rebuilt – and from the day the command goes our to restore and build Jerusalem, until the day the Messiah arrives – there will be exactly 483 years (173,880 days).
Note: Most English translations of the bible say 69 weeks, or 69 7’s. In Hebrew it’s 69 heptads, meaning 483 years (69 * 7).
Historically, we know that King Artaxerxes Longimanus gave this command on March 14, 445 BC. 173,880 days later is April 6, 32 A.D. This is the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem.
- Enter Jerusalem As A King On A Donkey
Zechariah prophesied that the Messiah would ride into Jerusalem; declaring himself to be King, on a donkey (Zechariah 9).
- Despised & Rejected
Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be despised and rejected by men (Isaiah 53).
- Hated Without Cause
Both the Psalmist and Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be hated without cause (Psalm 69, Isaiah 49).
- Rejected By Rulers
The Psalmist prophesied that the Messiah would be rejected by the ruling authorities (Psalm 118).
- Betrayed For 30 Pieces Of Silver
Zechariah prophesied that the Messiah would be betrayed for exactly 30 pieces of silver. Then, Zechariah also prophesied that the same silver would be returned, and used to purchase a potters field (Zechariah 11).
Both the Psalmist and Isaiah prophesied that the messiah would be crucified. Isaiah said he would be pierced for our transgressions. That he would be bruised for our sins. That he would be put to death (Isaiah 53, Psalm 22).
- Buried With The Rich
Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be buried with the rich (Isaiah 53). In the Roman Empire, those that were crucified were not buried with the rich, but with the poor.
- Raised From The Dead
The Psalmist prophesied that the Messiah would be raised from the dead (Psalm 16).
The historical records written down by the eye witnesses testify to the fact the Jesus fulfilled, or filled full all of these predictions penned in advance by Gods prophets.
Jesus was a descendant of King David, both through the line of his mother Mary, and through the line of his adoptive father, Joseph. The records indicate the Mary was a virgin when she gave birth. Joseph, her husband testified alongside Mary that this was the case. Mary gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem, but soon later had to flee to Egypt because Herod received word that the Messiah had been born, and gave a command to murder all male babies.
All the eyewitnesses testify to the fact that Jesus performed incredible signs and wonders. He healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out demons. He opened the eyes of the blind, and the ears of the deaf. He caused the lame to walk, and the mute to speak. Even the religious leaders that opposed him didn’t contest that he performed these miracles, only the source for the power behind his miracles.
Jesus arrived at Jerusalem on a donkey, on the exact day Daniel wrote down. Not long after he was despised and rejected by the rulers, hated without cause, and put to death by means of crucifixion. Jesus was betrayed by Judas for exactly 30 pieces of silver. The silver was then returned and used to purchase a potters field.
Jesus was buried in a rich man’s tomb – contrary to Roman custom, and after 3 days, he was raised from the dead – defeating death!
Even putting aside the miraculous prophetic fulfillments of Jesus, you can make a mathematical case that demonstrates that we can be more certain that Jesus is God, than we are of even our own name.
The prophetic evidence speaks loud and clear, and testifies to the reality that Jesus really is the Son of God!
The early church saw Jesus fulfill these incredible prophecies, and the world was turned upside down as a result. Despite incredible persecution, the good news spread like wildfire. Almost all of the apostles became martyrs – except John. They truly did believe what they preached.
God is not far from any of us. He went to incredible effort to make a way for us to be reconciled to him. We all know that something has gone wrong with humanity. All of us do bad things. Most of us have told lies, stolen; we’ve hated our fellow human beings. None of us are perfect. But God is perfect! God is good! A defining attribute of goodness is justice. Justice always ensures that criminals are punished. This places all of us in a scary position. But God is also a God of love. He desires that none perish, but that all turn away from sin. God became a man – Jesus, who lived a sinless life and died on a cross, exchanging his perfect life, for our sinful life. This was a legal transaction. He was then buried in a tomb, and 3 days later, rose from death. He made a way for our sins to be forgiven and for us to be able to have a relationship with him. Jesus said that if you apologize to God, and turn away from your sins, putting your faith in him – you will be forgiven, and God will send his Holy Spirit to live within you. Turn away from sin, and cry out to God today! If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.