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Cruci-Fiction?

   There are attendant rumblings in the halls of learning over the veracity of the Bible's account of the crucifixion of Jesus. Whatever answer one adopts, it has far-reaching spiritual implications in one's life. It is, therefore, no surprise that one's position on this issue is often adopted with a personal agenda in mind. However, such motivation defeats the purpose of debate, which is to find truth. Turbulous times demand that we earnestly seek the simple truth which alone will "set us free", spiritually and otherwise.

To Christians, the crucifixion of Christ Jesus is the most significant event in history. It represents payment of the price of sin by the perfect sacrifice once and for all. Through this sacrifice, one's sins can be forgiven and a favorable relationship with God can be re-established. Since only God is perfect, the perfect sacrifice could be none other than God embodied in human form. Indeed, the Bible states that Jesus was God incarnate. This harmonizes with the nature and purpose of the Messiah of whom the Jewish prophets spoke. The Bible teaches, furthermore, that this is the only perfect, acceptable sacrifice for the penalty imposed upon man's soul because of sin. This implies (and the Bible teaches it clearly in Hebrews 10) that God rejects all other sacrifices since the crucifixion of Jesus, a notion that ruffles many religious agendas. Interestingly, the Vedic description of the supreme self-sacrifice for humanity's sins matches only one historical figure: Jesus Christ. The Qur'an also declares that doubts about Jesus the Messiah must be resolved by going to the "Injil" (the Bible: specifically, the New Testament).

But Easter is more than this gracious provision of God for humanity: it also celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection attests to the deity of Jesus, and is the heartbeat of the confidence that Christians have in Jesus' promise "because I live, you shall live also" (John 14:19). It also vitalizes the Christians' "blessed hope" that Jesus will return for all who have accepted the gift of Jesus' substitution in their stead on Judgment Day. Briefly put, this event will occur on the last day of earth's existence, when the mere power of His appearance will cause the dead to rise with a new immortal body which will unite with the departed soul; those who are still alive at that time will be transformed immediately into an immortal body; then the redeemed will rise to meet Him in the air while God's judgment begins to rain upon those who rejected the Holy One of God (Jesus the Messiah).

Such is the hope of the Cross to those who believe that the Bible's account of the crucifixion is true! But, as the Apostle Paul stated, if this has no substance, then Christians would be the ultimate personification of folly and misery! Many already characterize Christians and Christianity this way, and seize every opportunity to deflate the hope of the Cross, but unsuccessfully.

Clearly, the implications of the Biblical account invalidate the religious and secular beliefs of several groups of people; and clearly, it will be the prized target of these groups. Since my teenage years I have heard the same contentions raised over and over again as if they were "new and improved" ideas. For the sake of the humble, honest searcher, I will address some of them here. In the interest of brevity, only the more convincing ones will be addressed: the others simply have no substance, logical or otherwise.

Missing years in India?

Attempting to strike one quick deathblow to the deity of Jesus, some have attributed Jesus' miraculous power to training He purportedly received at the feet of Indian mystics in the Himalayan Mountains between the ages of twelve and thirty. They eagerly attempt to fill a perceived gap in His biography with this agenda in mind. The Bible does not leave a gap, however. It states in Luke 2:51 that Jesus "was subject unto " His parents. To Jewish parents this meant that He lived in their home, learnt the family business, and studied diligently the Jewish scriptures (Old Testament). Verse 52 states that " Jesus increased in wisdom and stature ..." as He applied himself to this Jewish custom of diligent study. When He began His ministry, people were astonished because they knew Him to be the simple Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter's son. Luke 4:16 states: "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day ...". The Bible states here clearly that He had been brought up in Nazareth and that He went to the synagogue religiously according to Jewish custom! Luke 4:22 continues: "And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?" Had Jesus left the scene between twelve and thirty, He would not have been so readily recognized. The Bible is so clear: there were no missing years.

On the other hand, if Jesus the Christ did receive tutoring in miracle working in India, is it not strange that the world was not inundated with news of those teachers of miracles in the Himalayan Mountains? Had it been so, the Indians would have flocked that area in their usual zeal for religion, and the entire world would have gravitated towards such a healing center. Neither reliable folklore nor logic supports this notion. The Lord Jesus, being perfect even in teenage obedience and growth under the Torah, was readily recognized by the townsfolk as he entered their temple, and they wondered where the sudden ability to perform miracles came from. No! It did not come from men, but it was the manifestation of the power of God himself.

Did He Die On The Cross?

Again, the motive behind this question is to reject His deity. Some say that Jesus was nailed to the cross but that He did not die on the cross. If this were so, then they can claim a two-fold victory: (1) He would not have fulfilled the role of the sacrificial Lamb of God, and (2) He could not have arisen from the dead. The Bible states that He died on the cross, was placed in a tomb in the customary way, and that He rose again on the third day.

I never cease to be amazed at the length to which some will go to deny the death on the cross. If it were not so tragic, I would laugh at the pseudo-intellectualism and pseudo-science which form the premises for this denial. One anti-Christian writer claims that it is a medical fact that blood and water could not have flowed from the spear wound to Jesus' side if He was already dead (John 19:34). This "medical expert" is providing misinformation, however. The fact is that the Bible's specific mention of both blood and water as two visibly distinct entities is amazingly accurate, as if in anticipation of a forthcoming challenge to the death on the cross. Had He not died, only visibly homogeneous blood would have been observed to flow. Only after death would the laborious breathing movements of crucifixion cease, allowing the red blood cells ("red blood") to settle out of the straw-colored blood plasma ("water"). Then these two visibly distinct blood components would then gush out of the gaping wound caused by a spear. This is scientific proof that Jesus did die on the cross before His body was taken down. The American Medical Association performed an independent forensic study of this account and was overwhelmed by the scientific nature of the detailed description of the crucifixion; they were also amazed that the Romans had devised this form of punishment because it required an understanding of human anatomy and physiology! Dr. Uku, world renowned forensic pathologist (of O.J. Simpson's dream team fame), said that he is always awed when he ponders the amazing accuracy of the crucifixion from a forensic anthropology standpoint!

Expert testimony also is very convincing evidence of Jesus' death on the cross. The Roman soldiers were experts at this cruel form of execution. What intelligent being will believe that Jesus was only "comatose" while the executioners confirmed in their minds that He was dead, even ensuring his death by thrusting a spear in His side? The soldiers knew that no victim could walk away after the median and tibial nerves of the hands and feet were crushed/severed, and especially after the blood was drained through the spear wound. They were so sure He would not be needing His coat that they took it for themselves. No one has ever been known to survive such a crucifixion! The Jewish leaders also insured that He had died.

There is also the wild, unrealistic claim that Jesus' disciples assisted His escape to India while fabricating the resurrection. Indeed, it would be a miracle that He could travel to India after a badly botched crucifixion! This claim is as empty as it is unsubstantiated, and so is the sequel to it: that certain tribes in India tell a story of Jesus' escape to their area. Suspiciously, such frivolous assertions are motivated by strong anti-Christian sentiments and have no rational basis. In fact, the Jewish leaders saw to it that He was placed in the tomb; that the tomb was sealed; and that Roman soldiers were placed to guard the tomb. Then they fabricated the story (as written in Matthew 27:62-65 and 28:11-15) that the soldiers had fallen asleep and allowed His body to be taken: they paid a goodly sum and promised to defend the soldiers who would lose their lives for such ineptitude. The lie continues today, just as God anticipated! This in itself constitutes proof of the accuracy of the Biblical account.

The fact is that there were many witnesses of His death: both the Roman soldiers and the Jewish leaders were there to insure that He would be out of commission permanently, and they were masterful at it. Thankfully, Jesus did die on the cross according to His plan and purpose! Greater love than this has no man. Neither did any other religious figure throughout history lay his life down for sinful man: everyone else oppressed and condemned us.

HE LIVES!

Jesus had divine supernatural power. He chose to die on the cross as the sacrificial Lamb of God for the sin of mankind. And He overcame death by His resurrection so that those souls who are cleansed through His sacrifice will have eternal life. Curiously, very little doubt is raised about the resurrection. Regardless of what one believes about the crucifixion, why would the scared, scattered disciples lay their lives on the line to teach the resurrection? These people were from a cross-section of Jewish society: educated, illiterate, arrogant, coward, refined, coarse, wealthy, and poor. They had all distanced themselves from Jesus for fear of persecution. What could cause so radical a change in them after a mere fifty days from the crucifixion that they preached the crucifixion and the resurrection boldly (Acts 4:13), some even giving themselves to martyrdom? What could make eight thousand Jews believe so readily in response to Peter's preaching? His two sermons drew their attention to their witness of Jesus' miracles, His death, and His resurrection. They could not deny them! The disciples were so confident and would no longer run into hiding because of a new solid assurance that their Master whom they lay in the tomb was alive and that He ascended into Heaven just as the account states in Acts 1. These people were not foolish or gullible: they acted with utmost confidence, which comes only from absolute assurance in the "many infallible proofs, being seen of them ..." (Acts 1:3)! The Biblical account is irrefutable, and stands up well to scrutiny by competent scientists, anthropologists, linguists, historians, jurists, and those who have experienced the power of Jesus Christ in their lives!

QUEST FOR TRUTH

The challenge is this: if you, the reader, are seriously interested in the truth surrounding this issue, read for yourself the books of John and Acts in the Bible. You will find fulfillment of prophecies of the most astounding dimension. You will find reasons to make you believe. Above all this, you will experience the living Jesus Himself in your life! Jesus said: "I am the door. By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture." From everlasting to everlasting, He is God!

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