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If Jesus was the Son of God, why did He call Himself the Son of Man?

 

 

Son of God, Son of Man

This sounds like some kind of contradiction at first glance, but in fact there is no contradiction. An examination of Scripture reveals that the phrase "Son of Man" carries broad significance.

First of all, even if the phrase "Son of Man" is a reference to Jesus' humanity, it is not a denial of His deity. By becoming a man, Jesus did not cease being God. The incarnation of Christ did not involve the subtraction of deity, but the addition of humanity. Jesus clearly claimed to be God on many occasions (Matthew 16:16,17; John 8:58; 10:30). But in addition to being divine, He was also human (see Philippians 2:6-8). He had two natures (divine and human) conjoined in one person.

Further, Scripture indicates that Jesus was not denying His deity by referring to Himself as the Son of Man. In fact, it is highly revealing that the term "Son of Man" is used in Scripture in contexts of Christ's deity. For example, the Bible says that only God can forgive sins (Isaiah 43:25; Mark 2:7). But as the "Son of Man," Jesus had the power to forgive sins (Mark 2:10). Likewise, Christ will return to earth as the "Son of Man" in clouds of glory to reign on earth (Matthew 26:63-64). In this passage, Jesus is citing Daniel 7:13 where the Messiah is described as the "Ancient of Days," a phrase used to indicate His deity (cf. Daniel 7:9).

Further, when Jesus was asked by the high priest whether He was the "Son of God" (Matthew 26:63), He responded affirmatively, declaring that He was the "Son of Man" who would come in power and great glory (verse 64). This indicated that Jesus Himself used the phrase "Son of Man" to indicate His deity as the Son of God.

Finally, the phrase "Son of Man" also emphasizes who Jesus is in relation to His incarnation and His work of salvation. In the Old Testament (Leviticus 25:25-26, 48-49; Ruth 2:20), the next of kin (one related by blood) always functioned as the "kinsman-redeemer" of a family member who needed redemption from jail. Jesus became related to us "by blood" (that is, He became a man) so He could function as our Kinsman-Redeemer and rescue us from sin.

What was the Star of Bethlehem?

 

 

Three wisemen.

Matthew 2:1-9 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'" Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also." When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. (New King James Version)



There have been many attempts to explain the Christmas Star scientifically, and three ideas will be mentioned here.

  1. Some scholars think this "star" was a comet, an object traditionally connected with important events in history, such as the birth of kings. However, records of comet sightings do not match up with the Lord's birth. For example, Halley's Comet was present in 11 B.C., but the first Christmas took place around 5 to 7 B.C.
  2. Others believe that the Star of Bethlehem was a conjunction, or gathering of planets in the night sky. Since planets orbit the sun at different speeds and distances, they occasionally seem to approach each other closely. Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) preferred this view. However, multiple planets do not look like a single light source, as described in Scripture. Also, planet alignments are rather frequent and therefore not that unusual. There was a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 6 B.C., but an even closer gathering in 66 B.C., much too early!
  3. Finally, an exploding star, or supernova, has been proposed to explain the Christmas Star. Some stars are unstable and explode in this way with a bright blaze. However, historical records do not indicate a supernova at the time of the Lord's birth.

All three explanations for the Star of Bethlehem fall short of the nativity story as predicted in Numbers 24:17 and recorded in Matthew 2:1-12

Two details in Matthew are of special interest:

First, the text implies that only the Magi saw the star. However comets, conjunctions, and exploding stars would be visible to everyone on earth.

Second, the star went before the Magi and led them directly from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. This is a distance of about six miles, in a direction from north to south. However, every natural object in the sky moves from east to west due to the earth's rotation. It also is difficult to imagine how a natural light could lead the way to a particular house.

The conclusion is that the Star of Bethlehem cannot be naturally explained by science! It was a temporary and supernatural light. After all, the first Christmas was a time of miracles.

God has often used special, heavenly lights to guide his people, such as the glory that filled the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38) and the temple (1 Kings 8:10) and that shone upon the apostle Paul (Acts 9:3). Such visible signs of God's presence are known as the Shekinah Glory, or dwelling place of God. This special light is a visible manifestation of divine majesty.

The great mystery of the first Christmas is not the origin of its special star. It is the question of why the Magi were chosen to follow the light to the Messiah and why we are given the same invitation today.

What has archaeology shown about the town of Capernaum where Jesus spent much of his life and ministry?

 

Shore of the northern end of the Sea of Galilee. Photo copyrighted, BiblePlaces.
Modern shore of the Sea of Galilee, showing the location of Capernaum. Archaeological evidence indicates the town did not begin until the 2nd century B.C., which explains why it is only mentioned in the New Testament, not the Old. It is located below sea level, and is 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Tiberias. The ruins can be reached by road and by boat. (Photo by BiblePlaces.com - a ChristianAnswers associate.)

Capernaum was a large Galilean fishing village and busy trading center. This place is of special interest to Christians because of its frequent mention in the history of Jesus Christ. Peter, Andrew, James and John also lived here. It played a unique and important part in Christ's life and ministry, and in his outreach to the people of Israel. The inhabitants of Capernaum, including various high ranking citizens, were given unique and abundant opportunities to hear Jesus Christ's message firsthand and witness His awesome power and love.

2.5 miles (4 km) from the Jordan River, Capernaum stood on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee (modern Lake Kinneret, which the Bible also called the lake of Gennesaret, Sea of Chinnereth and the Sea of Tiberias). The ancient city of Capernaum was abandoned about a thousand years ago or more, and was rediscovered by archaeologists beginning in the 1800s. In modern times, it is called Kefar Nahum (Hebrew) and Talhum (Arabic).

Ancient via Maris highway milestone at Capernaum. Photo copyrighted, BiblePlaces.
Ancient Via Maris highway milestone at Capernaum.

 

The Gennesaret area was one of the most prosperous and crowded districts of Palestine. Capernaum lay on the great Via Maris highway between Damascus (Syria) and Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean Sea, and between Tyre and Egypt. Customs taxes were collected from travelers at this crossroads (Matthew 9:9). This was the job of Levi, the tax collector, who became Christ's disciple and was later named Matthew. Jews criticized Jesus for befriending him and other tax collectors.

Caravans stopped at Capernaum to resupply themselves with produce and dried fish. At the lake shore, where Peter and other fishermen worked, archaeologists discovered a fish sales area.

This well-built structure measured 2 meters in width and 5 meters in length and contained two large, rather shallow, semicircular pools, one at each end, with a rectangular platform in the middle on which, presumably, the fish were cleaned and sold... The two pools had a thick coat of watertight plaster. [Herold Weiss, "Recent Work at Capernaum," Bible and Spade, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Associates for Biblical Research, 1981), p. 24.]

After our Lord's expulsion from Nazareth (Matt. 4:13-16; Luke 4:16-31), Capernaum became his "own city." It was the scene of many acts and incidents of his life (Matt. 8:5, 14,15; 9:2-6, 10-17; 15:1-20; Mark 1:32-34, etc.).

White stone synagogue at Capernaum. Photo copyrighted, BiblePlaces
Well-preserved ruins of Capernaum's white stone synagogue that replaced the one built by the centurion.

Capernaum, remains over Peters house. Copyright, BiblePlaces.com
Excavations revealed one residence that stood out from the others. This house was the object of early Christian attention with 2nd century graffiti and a 4th century house church built above it. In the 5th century a large octagonal Byzantine church was erected above this, complete with a baptistery. Pilgrims referred to this as the house of the apostle Peter. (Caption and photos by BiblePlaces.com
- a ChristianAnswers associate.)

 

SYNAGOGUE -- The Bible tells us that a Roman centurion built a synagogue here for the Jews (Luke 7:1-5). His servant was later healed from severe palsy by Jesus (Matt. 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10). The remains of what must have been a beautiful basalt synagogue has been discovered by archaeologists. As expected for such a sacred building, it was found at the highest point in town.

 

Capernaum synagogue wall with earlier basalt level. Photo copyrighted, BiblePlaces.
Capernaum synagogue wall with earlier basalt level below -- the remains of the synagogue where Jesus taught

This is the synagogue where our Lord frequently taught (John 6:59; Mark 1:21; Luke 4:33). Here, Jesus cured a demon-posssed man (Mark 1:21-28) and delivered the sermon on the bread of life (John 6:25-59). He even restored the life of the daughter of one rulers of this synagogue (Mark 5:22; Luke 8:41).

The synagogue is near the lake, and is built so that when the Jews prayed here, they faced Jerusalem. It was destroyed along with Jerusalem's temple, around 70 A.D. Many years later, it was replaced with a white stone synagogue (perhaps 250-300 A.D.) (shown above).

PETER'S HOUSE - Only a few hundred feet from the synagogue, the stone house of the disciple Peter has also been found at Capernaum. This is where Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law and others (Matthew 8:14-16). Jesus may have lived with Peter while staying in Capernaum. In the years following Jesus' death and resurrection, the house apparently became a house-church. Centuries later, Christians honored the site by building a church here. It was destroyed in a later conquest of the city. Archaeologists have excavated both the church and the earlier house below. Stanislao Loffreda reported,

 

Isometric reconstruction of Peter's house (Level 1, first century B.D. to fourth century A.D.) Photo copyrighted, BiblePlaces.
Archaeological reconstruction of Peter's house as it may have appeared at Jesus' time.

Literary sources and recent archaeological discoveries make the identification of the house of St. Peter in Capernaum virtually certain.

The house was built at the very end of the Hellenistic period (first century B.C.). In the second half of the first century A.D. some peculiar features set apart this building from all the others so far excavated in Capernaum. Here, in fact, the pavements received floors of lime several times. Interesting enough, many pieces of broken lamps were found in the thin layers of lime. ...One hundred and thirty-one inscriptions were found. They were written in four languages, namley: in Greek (110), Aramaic (10), Estrangelo (9), and Latin (2).

The name of Jesus appears several times. He is called Christ, the Lord, and the Most High God. An inscription in Estrangelo mentions the Eucharist.

There are also symbols and monograms, namely: crosses of different forms, a boat, the monogram of Jesus. The name of St. Peter occurs at least twice: his monogram is written in Latin but with Greek letters. In another graffito St. Peter is called the helper of Rome. A third inscription mentions Peter and Berenike. This Peter, however, might be the name of a pilgrim. On several hundred pieces of plaster, decorative motifs appear. the colors employed are: green, blue, yellow, red, brown, white and black. Among the subjects one can distinguish floral crosses, pomegranates, figs, trifolium, stylized flowers and geometric designs such as circles, squares, etc.

...At the beginning of the fifth century, the house of St. Peter was still standing, but it had been previously changed into a church. This we learn from Eteria, a Spanish pilgrim, who wrote in her diary: "In Capernaum, the house of the Prince of the Apostles (=St. Peter) became a church. The walls, however, (of that house) have remained unchanged to the present day."
[Stanislao Loffreda, "Caperaum - Jesus' Own City," Bible and Spade, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Associates for Biblical Research, 1981), pp. 12, 7-8.]

Mary, the mother of Jesus, made her way to Capernaum with her other sons (Matt. 12:46,48,49). It was here that Christ uttered the memorable words, "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!"

Some miracles of Christ that occurred at Capernaum are:

 

Daughter of Jairus, restored to life by Jesus.
Jesus restored the life of the Capernaum synagogue ruler's daughter.

         Dead daughter of Jairus raised (Mark 5:22; Luke 8:41)

         Drove evil spirit from a man in the synagogue (Mark 1:21-28)

         Paralyzed man let down through the roof and healed (Mark 2:1-12)

         Jesus caused four of disciples to catch fish in a miraculous way (Luke 5:1-11)

         Through a fish, Jesus supplied tribute tax money needed by Peter (Matthew 17:24-27)

         Healing of the centurion's servant afflicted with palsy (Matt. 8:5-13)

         Healing of the son of a nobleman in the King's court (Herod Antipas) (John 4:46-54)

         Healing many other people and casting out demons, as "all the city was gathered together at the door" (Mark 1:29-34)

Despite the unique number of evidences our Lord presented to them, most of the people of Capernaum remained unrepentant disbelievers. Because they turned so strongly away from the uniquely gracious light given, they were strongly judged. "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required..." (Luke 12:48). Thus, along with nearby Chorazin and Bethsaida, Capernaum received a very stern warning from Jesus (Matt. 11:21-24). "It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee." Ultimately, the cities were all destroyed, and Capernaum became virtually uninhabited ruins for centuries.

Today, Capernaum's inhabitants consist of a Franciscan Monastery and a nearby Greek Orthodox Church.

Sea of Galilee

(Matt. 4:18; 15:29)

The Sea of Galilee is mentioned in the Bible under three other names.

1.      In the Old Testament, it is called the "sea of Chinnereth" (Num. 34:11; Josh. 12:3; 13:27), as is supposed from its harp-like shape.

2.      The "lake of Gennesareth" (Gennesaret) once by Luke (5:1), from the flat district lying on its west coast.

3.      John (6:1; 21:1) calls it the "sea of Tiberias" (q.v.). The modern Arabs retain this name, Bahr Tabariyeh.

This lake is 12 1/2 miles long, and from 4 to 7 1/2 broad. Its surface is 682 feet below the level of the Mediterranean. Its depth is from 80 to 160 feet. The Jordan enters it 10 1/2 miles below the southern extremity of the Huleh Lake, or about 26 1/2 miles from its source. In this distance of 26 1/2 miles there is a fall in the river of 1,682 feet, or of more than 60 feet to the mile. It is 27 miles east of the Mediterranean, and about 60 miles northeast of Jerusalem. It is of an oval shape, and abounds in fish.

Its appearance in the late 19th century was thus described:

"The utter loneliness and absolute stillness of the scene are exceedingly impressive. It seems as if all nature had gone to rest, languishing under the scorching heat. How different it was in the days of our Lord! Then all was life and bustle along the shores; the cities and villages that thickly studded them resounded with the hum of a busy population; while from hill-side and corn-field came the cheerful cry of shepherd and ploughman. The lake, too, was dotted with dark fishing-boats and spangled with white sails. Now a mournful, solitary silence reigns over sea and shore. The cities are in ruins!"

This sea is chiefly of interest as associated with the public ministry of our Lord. Capernaum, "his own city" (Matt. 9:1), stood on its shores. From among the fishermen who plied their calling on its waters he chose Peter and his brother Andrew, and James and John, to be disciples, and sent them forth to be "fishers of men" (Matt. 4:18,22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5: 1-11). He stilled its tempest, saying to the storm that swept over it, "Peace, be still" (Matt. 8:23-27; Mark 7:31-35); and here also he showed himself after his resurrection to his disciples (John 21).

"The Sea of Galilee is indeed the cradle of the gospel. The subterranean fires of nature prepared a lake basin, through which a river afterwards ran, keeping its waters always fresh. In this basin a vast quantity of shell-fish swarmed, and multiplied to such an extent that they formed the food of an extraordinary profusion of fish. The great variety and abundance of the fish in the lake attracted to its shores a larger and more varied population than existed elsewhere in Palestine, whereby this secluded district was brought into contact with all parts of the world. And this large and varied population, with access to all nations and countries, attracted the Lord Jesus, and induced him to make this spot the center of his public ministry."

Gennesaret (Gennesareth)

Meaning: a garden of riches

1.      A town of Naphtali, called Chinnereth (Josh. 19:35), sometimes in the plural form Chinneroth (11:2). In later times the name was gradually changed to Genezar and Gennesaret (Luke 5:1). This city stood on the western shore of the lake to which it gave its name. No trace of it remains. The plain of Gennesaret has been called, from its fertility and beauty, "the Paradise of Galilee." It is now called el-Ghuweir.

2.      The Lake of Gennesaret, the Grecized form of CHINNERETH (q.v.). (See GALILEE, SEA OF.)

 

Bethsaida (Beth Saida)

Meaning: house of fish

The name of two biblical cities...

Shore of the northern end of the Sea of Galilee. Copyright, BiblePlaces.
Shore of the Sea of Galilee, showing the location of Bethsaida (1, below), near Capernaum.

1.      A town in Galilee, on the west side of the Sea of Galilee, in the "land of Gennesaret." It was the native place of Peter, Andrew, and Philip, and was frequently resorted to by Jesus (Mark 6:45; John 1:44; 12:21). It is supposed to have been at the modern 'Ain Tabighah, a bay to the north of Gennesaret.

2.      A city near which Christ fed 5,000 (Luke 9:10; compare John 6:17; Matt. 14:15-21), and where the blind man had his sight restored (Mark 8:22), on the east side of the lake, two miles up the Jordan. It stood within the region of Gaulonitis, and was enlarged by Philip the tetrarch, who called it "Julias," after the emperor's daughter. Or, as some have supposed, there may have been but one Bethsaida built on both sides of the lake, near where the Jordan enters it. Now the ruins et-Tel.

Chorazin

Was named along with Bethsaida and Capernaum as one of the cities in which our Lord's "mighty works" were done, and which was doomed to woe because of signal privileges neglected (Matt. 11:21; Luke 10:13). It has been identified by general consent with the modern Kerazeh, about 2 1/2 miles up the Wady Kerazeh from Capernaum; i.e., Tell Hum.

Peter

originally called Simon (= Simeon ,i.e., "hearing"), a very common Jewish name in the New Testament

He was the son of Jona (Matt. 16:17). His mother is nowhere named in Scripture. He had a younger brother called Andrew, who first brought him to Jesus (John 1:40-42). His native town was Bethsaida, on the western coast of the Sea of Galilee, to which also Philip belonged. Here he was brought up by the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and was trained to the occupation of a fisher. His father had probably died while he was still young, and he and his brother were brought up under the care of Zebedee and his wife Salome (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40; 16:1). There the four youths, Simon, Andrew, James, and John, spent their boyhood and early manhood in constant fellowship. Simon and his brother doubtless enjoyed all the advantages of a religious training, and were early instructed in an acquaintance with the Scriptures and with the great prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah. They did not probably enjoy, however, any special training in the study of the law under any of the rabbis. When Peter appeared before the Sanhedrin, he looked like an "unlearned man" (Acts 4:13).

"Simon was a Galilean, and he was that out and out...The Galileans had a marked character of their own. They had a reputation for an independence and energy which often ran out into turbulence. They were at the same time of a franker and more transparent disposition than their brethren in the south. In all these respects, in bluntness, impetuosity, headiness, and simplicity, Simon was a genuine Galilean. They spoke a peculiar dialect. They had a difficulty with the guttural sounds and some others, and their pronunciation was reckoned harsh in Judea. The Galilean accent stuck to Simon all through his career. It betrayed him as a follower of Christ when he stood within the judgment-hall (Mark 14:70). It betrayed his own nationality and that of those conjoined with him on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:7)." It would seem that Simon was married before he became an apostle. His wife's mother is referred to (Matt. 8:14; Mark 1:30; Luke 4:38). He was in all probability accompanied by his wife on his missionary journeys (1 Cor. 9:5; compare 1 Pet. 5:13).

He appears to have been settled at Capernaum when Christ entered on his public ministry, and may have reached beyond the age of thirty. His house was large enough to give a home to his brother Andrew, his wife's mother, and also to Christ, who seems to have lived with him (Mark 1:29, 36; 2:1), as well as to his own family. It was apparently two stories high (2:4).

At Bethabara (R.V., John 1:28, "Bethany"), beyond Jordan, John the Baptist had borne testimony concerning Jesus as the "Lamb of God" (John 1:29-36). Andrew and John hearing it, followed Jesus, and abode with him where he was. They were convinced, by his gracious words and by the authority with which he spoke, that he was the Messiah (Luke 4:22; Matt. 7:29); and Andrew went forth and found Simon and brought him to Jesus (John 1:41).

Jesus at once recognized Simon, and declared that hereafter he would be called Cephas, an Aramaic name corresponding to the Greek Petros, which means "a mass of rock detached from the living rock." The Aramaic name does not occur again, but the name Peter gradually displaces the old name Simon, though our Lord himself always uses the name Simon when addressing him (Matt. 17:25; Mark 14:37; Luke 22:31, compare 21:15-17). We are not told what impression the first interview with Jesus produced on the mind of Simon. When we next meet him it is by the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 4:18-22). There the four (Simon and Andrew, James and John) had had an unsuccessful night's fishing. Jesus appeared suddenly, and entering into Simon's boat, bade him launch forth and let down the nets. He did so, and enclosed a great multitude of fishes. This was plainly a miracle wrought before Simon's eyes. The awe-stricken disciple cast himself at the feet of Jesus, crying, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Luke 5:8). Jesus addressed him with the assuring words, "Fear not," and announced to him his life's work. Simon responded at once to the call to become a disciple, and after this we find him in constant attendance on our Lord.

He is next called into the rank of the apostleship, and becomes a "fisher of men" (Matt. 4:19) in the stormy seas of the world of human life (Matt. 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:13-16), and takes a more and more prominent part in all the leading events of our Lord's life. It is he who utters that notable profession of faith at Capernaum (John 6:66-69), and again at Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-20). This profession at Caesarea was one of supreme importance, and our Lord in response used these memorable words: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church."

"From that time forth" Jesus began to speak of his sufferings. For this Peter rebuked him. But our Lord in return rebuked Peter, speaking to him in sterner words than he ever used to any other of his disciples (Matt. 16:21-23; Mark 8:31-33). At the close of his brief sojourn at Caesarea our Lord took Peter and James and John with him into "an high mountain apart," and was transfigured before them. Peter on that occasion, under the impression the scene produced on his mind, exclaimed, "Lord, it is good for us to be here: let us make three tabernacles" (Matt. 17:1-9).

On his return to Capernaum the collectors of the temple tax (a didrachma, half a sacred shekel), which every Israelite of twenty years old and upwards had to pay (Ex. 30:15), came to Peter and reminded him that Jesus had not paid it (Matt. 17:24-27). Our Lord instructed Peter to go and catch a fish in the lake and take from its mouth the exact amount needed for the tax, viz., a stater, or two half-shekels. "That take," said our Lord, "and give unto them for me and thee."

As the end was drawing nigh, our Lord sent Peter and John (Luke 22:7-13) into the city to prepare a place where he should keep the feast with his disciples. There he was forewarned of the fearful sin into which he afterwards fell (22:31-34). He accompanied our Lord from the guest-chamber to the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46), which he and the other two who had been witnesses of the transfiguration were permitted to enter with our Lord, while the rest were left without. Here he passed through a strange experience. Under a sudden impulse he cut off the ear of Malchus (47-51), one of the band that had come forth to take Jesus. Then follow the scenes of the judgment-hall (54-61) and his bitter grief (62).

He is found in John's company early on the morning of the resurrection. He boldly entered into the empty grave (John 20:1-10), and saw the "linen clothes laid by themselves" (Luke 24:9-12). To him, the first of the apostles, our risen Lord revealed himself, thus conferring on him a signal honor, and showing how fully he was restored to his favor (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5). We next read of our Lord's singular interview with Peter on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where he thrice asked him, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" (John 21:1-19). (See LOVE.)

After this scene at the lake we hear nothing of Peter till he again appears with the others at the ascension (Acts 1:15-26). It was he who proposed that the vacancy caused by the apostasy of Judas should be filled up. He is prominent on the day of Pentecost (2:14-40). The events of that day "completed the change in Peter himself which the painful discipline of his fall and all the lengthened process of previous training had been slowly making. He is now no more the unreliable, changeful, self-confident man, ever swaying between rash courage and weak timidity, but the stead-fast, trusted guide and director of the fellowship of believers, the intrepid preacher of Christ in Jerusalem and abroad. And now that he is become Cephas indeed, we hear almost nothing of the name Simon (only in Acts 10:5, 32; 15:14), and he is known to us finally as Peter."

After the miracle at the temple gate (Acts 3) persecution arose against the Christians, and Peter was cast into prison. He boldly defended himself and his companions at the bar of the council (4:19, 20). A fresh outburst of violence against the Christians (5:17-21) led to the whole body of the apostles being cast into prison; but during the night they were wonderfully delivered, and were found in the morning teaching in the temple. A second time Peter defended them before the council (Acts 5:29-32), who, "when they had called the apostles and beaten them, let them go."

The time had come for Peter to leave Jerusalem. After laboring for some time in Samaria, he returned to Jerusalem, and reported to the church there the results of his work (Acts 8:14-25). Here he remained for a period, during which he met Paul for the first time since his conversion (9:26-30; Gal. 1:18). Leaving Jerusalem again, he went forth on a missionary journey to Lydda and Joppa (Acts 9:32-43). He is next called on to open the door of the Christian church to the Gentiles by the admission of Cornelius of Caesarea (ch. 10).

After remaining for some time at Caesarea, he returned to Jerusalem (Acts 11:1-18), where he defended his conduct with reference to the Gentiles. Next we hear of his being cast into prison by Herod Agrippa (12:1-19); but in the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison gates, and he went forth and found refuge in the house of Mary.

He took part in the deliberations of the council in Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-31; Gal. 2:1-10) regarding the relation of the Gentiles to the church. This subject had awakened new interest at Antioch, and for its settlement was referred to the council of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. Here Paul and Peter met again.

We have no further mention of Peter in the Acts of the Apostles. He seems to have gone down to Antioch after the council at Jerusalem, and there to have been guilty of dissembling, for which he was severely reprimanded by Paul (Gal. 2:11-16), who "rebuked him to his face."

After this he appears to have carried the gospel to the east, and to have labored for a while at Babylon, on the Euphrates (1 Pet. 5:13). There is no satisfactory evidence that he was ever at Rome. Where or when he died is not certainly known. Probably he died between A.D. 64 and 67.

Andrew

Meaning: manliness, a Greek name.

This is the name of one of the apostles of our Lord. He was from Bethsaida in Galilee (John 1:44), and was the brother of Simon Peter (Matt. 4:18; 10:2). On one occasion John the Baptist, whose disciple he then was, pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God" (John 1:40); and Andrew, hearing him, immediately became a follower of Jesus, the first of his disciples.

After Andrew had been led to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, his first desire was to bring his brother Simon to Jesus. After this, the two brothers seem to have continued being fishermen for a while, and did not become the fully follow the Lord as attendants till after John's imprisonment (Matt. 4:18,19; Mark 1:16,17).

The Bible tells us very little about Andrew. He was one of the confidential disciples (John 6:8; 12:22), and with Peter, James, and John questioned our Lord privately concerning his future coming (Mark 13:3). He was present at the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:9), and he introduced the Greeks who desired to see Jesus (John 12:22). Little else is known about him.

It is noteworthy that Andrew brings others to Christ three times, (1) Peter; (2) the lad with the loaves; and (3) certain Greeks. These incidents may be regarded as a key to understanding his character.

James

(1.) The son of Zebedee and Salome; an elder brother of John the apostle. He was one of the twelve. He was by trade a fisherman, in partnership with Peter (Matt. 20:20; 27:56). With John and Peter he was present at the transfiguration (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2), at the raising of Jairus's daughter (Mark 5:37-43), and in the garden with our Lord (14:33). Because, probably, of their boldness and energy, he and John were called Boanerges, i.e., "sons of thunder." He was the first martyr among the apostles, having been beheaded by King Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1, 2), A.D. 44. (Compare Matt. 4:21; 20:20-23).

(2.) The son of Alphaeus, or Cleopas, "the brother" or near kinsman or cousin of our Lord (Gal. 1:18, 19), called James "the Less," or "the Little," probably because he was of low stature. He is mentioned along with the other apostles (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15). He had a separate interview with our Lord after his resurrection (1 Cor. 15:7), and is mentioned as one of the apostles of the circumcision (Acts 1:13). He appears to have occupied the position of head of the Church at Jerusalem, where he presided at the council held to consider the case of the Gentiles (Acts 12:17; 15:13-29: 21:18-24). This James was the author of the epistle which bears his name.

 

John

The name "John" is mentioned 131 times in the King James Bible. This was the name of various biblical men, including:

1.      One who, with Annas and Caiaphas, sat in judgment on the apostles Peter and John (Acts 4:6). He was of the relatives of the high priest; otherwise unknown.

2.      John Mark: John was the Hebrew name of Mark (q.v.). He is designated by this name in the acts of the Apostles (12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15:37).

3.      John THE APOSTLE, brother of James the "Greater" (Matt. 4:21; 10:2; Mark 1:19; 3:17; 10:35). He was one, probably the younger, of the sons of Zebedee (Matt. 4:21) and Salome (Matt. 27:56; compare Mark 15:40), and was born at Bethsaida. His father was apparently a man of some wealth (compare Mark 1:20; Luke 5:3; John 19:27).

He doubtlessly received the same Hebrew education as did other Jewish youths. When he grew up, he became a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. When John the Baptist began his ministry in the wilderness of Judea, John, with many others, gathered round him, and was deeply influenced by his teaching. There he heard the announcement, "Behold the Lamb of God," and forthwith, on the invitation of Jesus, became a disciple and ranked among his followers (John 1:36,37) for a time.

He and his brother then returned to their former avocation, for how long is uncertain.

Jesus again called them (Matt. 4:21; Luke 5:1-11), and now they left all and permanently attached themselves to the company of his disciples. He became one of the innermost circle (Mark 5:37; Matt. 17:1; 26:37; Mark 13:3). He was the disciple "whom Jesus loved."

In zeal and intensity of character he was a "Boanerges" (Mark 3:17). This spirit once and again broke out (Matt. 20:20-24; Mark 10:35-41; Luke 9:49, 54).

At the betrayal of Jesus, he and Peter follow Christ afar off, while the others hastily flee (John 18:15). At the trial he boldly follows Christ into the council chamber, and from there to the praetorium (18:16,19, 28) and to the place of crucifixion (19:26,27). To him and Peter, Mary first conveys tidings of the resurrection (20:2), and they are the first to go and see what her strange words mean.

After the resurrection he and Peter again return to the Sea of Galilee, where the Lord reveals himself to them (21:1,7).

We find Peter and John frequently together after this (Acts 3:1; 4:13).

 

John apparently remained in Jerusalem as the leader of the church there (Acts 15:6; Gal. 2:9). His subsequent history is unrecorded. He was not there, however, at the time of Paul's last visit (Acts 21:15-40). He appears to have retired to Ephesus, but at what time is unknown.

The seven churches of Asia were the objects of his special care (Rev. 1:11).

He suffered under persecution, and was banished to Patmos (1:9). When he was eventually released, he apparently returned to Ephesus, where he died, probably about A.D. 98, having outlived all or nearly all his friends and companions, even those older than him. Some scholars, differ, believing that this John and the John of Ephesus, were not the same person.

There are many interesting traditions concerning John during his residence at Ephesus, but these cannot be confirmed as historical truth.


Cornelius

the name of a centurion whose history is narrated in Acts 10

He was a "devout man," and like the centurion of Capernaum, believed in the God of Israel. His residence at Caesrea probably brought him into contact with Jews who communicated to him their expectations regarding the Messiah; and thus he was prepared to welcome the message Peter brought him. He became the first fruit of the Gentile world to Christ. He and his family were baptized and admitted into the Christian church (Acts 10:1, 44-48). (See CENTURION.)

Jairus

a ruler of the synagogue at Capernaum, whose only daughter Jesus restored to life (Mark 5:22; Luke 8:41)

Entering into the chamber of death, accompanied by Peter and James and John and the father and mother of the maiden, he went forward to the bed whereon the corpse lay, and said, Talitha cumi, i.e., "Maid, arise," and immediately the spirit of the maiden came to her again, and she arose straightway; and "at once to strengthen that life which had come back to her, and to prove that she was indeed no ghost, but had returned to the realities of a mortal existence, he commanded to give her something to eat" (Mark 5:43).

Nazareth

Meaning: separated, generally supposed to be the Greek form of the Hebrew netser, a "shoot" or "sprout"

Some, however, think that the name of the city must be connected with the name of the hill behind it, from which one of the finest prospects in Palestine is obtained, and accordingly they derive it from the Hebrew notserah, i.e., one guarding or watching, thus designating the hill which overlooks and thus guards an extensive region.

This city is not mentioned in the Old Testament. It was the home of Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:39), and here the angel announced to the Virgin the birth of the Messiah (1:26-28). Here Jesus grew up from his infancy to manhood (4:16); and here he began his public ministry in the synagogue (Matt. 13:54), at which the people were so offended that they sought to cast him down from the precipice whereon their city was built (Luke 4:29). Twice they expelled him from their borders (4:16-29; Matt. 13:54-58); and he finally retired from the city, where he did not many mighty works because of their unbelief (Matt. 13:58), and took up his residence in Capernaum.

Nazareth is situated among the southern ridges of Lebanon, on the steep slope of a hill, about 14 miles from the Sea of Galilee and about 6 west from Mount Tabor. It is identified with the modern village en-Nazirah, of six or ten thousand inhabitants. It lies "as in a hollow cup" lower down upon the hill than the ancient city. The main road for traffic between Egypt and the interior of Asia passed by Nazareth near the foot of Tabor, and thence northward to Damascus.

It is supposed from the words of Nathanael in John 1:46 that the city of Nazareth was held in great disrepute, either because, it is said, the people of Galilee were a rude and less cultivated class, and were largely influenced by the Gentiles who mingled with them, or because of their lower type of moral and religious character. But there seems to be no sufficient reason for these suppositions. The Jews believed that, according to Micah 5:2, the birth of the Messiah would take place at Bethlehem, and nowhere else. Nathanael held the same opinion as his countrymen, and believed that the great "good" which they were all expecting could not come from Nazareth. This is probably what Nathanael meant. Moreover, there does not seem to be any evidence that the inhabitants of Galilee were in any respect inferior, or that a Galilean was held in contempt, in the time of our Lord. (See Dr. Merrill's Galilee in the Time of Christ.)

The population of this city (now about 10,000) in the time of Christ probably amounted to 15,000 or 20,000 souls.

"The so-called 'Holy House' is a cave under the Latin church, which appears to have been originally a tank. The 'brow of the hill', site of the attempted precipitation, is probably the northern cliff: the traditional site has been shown since the middle ages at some distance to the south. None of the traditional sites are traceable very early, and they have no authority. The name Nazareth perhaps means 'a watch tower' (now en-Nasrah), but is connected in the New Testament with Netzer, 'a branch' (Isa. 4:2; Jer. 23:5; Zech. 3:8; 6:12; Matt. 2:23), Nazarene being quite a different word from Nazarite."

Nobleman

Greek: basilikos, i.e., "king's man"

an officer of state (John 4:49) in the service of Herod Antipas

He is supposed to have been the Chuza, Herod's steward, whose wife was one of those women who "ministered unto the Lord of their substance" (Luke 8:3). This officer came to Jesus at Cana and besought him to go down to Capernaum and heal his son, who lay there at the point of death. Our Lord sent him away with the joyful assurance that his son was alive.

Sermon on the mount

After spending a night in solemn meditation and prayer in the lonely mountain-range to the west of the Lake of Galilee (Luke 6:12), on the following morning our Lord called to him his disciples, and from among them chose twelve, who were to be henceforth trained to be his apostles (Mark 3:14,15).

After this solemn consecration of the twelve, he descended from the mountain-peak to a more level spot (Luke 6:17), and there he sat down and delivered the "sermon on the mount" (Matt. 5-7; Luke 6:20-49) to the assembled multitude.

The mountain here spoken of was probably that known by the name of the "Horns of Hattin" (Kurun Hattin), a ridge running east and west, not far from Capernaum. It was afterwards called the "Mount of Beatitudes."

Zebedee

...a Galilean fisherman, the husband of Salome (q.v.), and the father of James and John, two of our Lord's disciples (Matt. 4:21; 27:56; Mark 15:40). He seems to have been a man of some position in Capernaum, for he had two boats (Luke 5:4) and "hired servants" (Mark 1:20) of his own. No mention is made of him after the call of his two sons by Jesus.

City

The earliest mention of city-building is that of Enoch, which was built by Cain (Gen. 4:17). After the confusion of tongues, the descendants of Nimrod founded several cities (10:10-12).

Next, we have a record of the cities of the Canaanites, Sidon, Gaza, Sodom, etc. (10:12, 19; 11:3, 9; 36:31-39). The earliest description of a city is that of Sodom (19:1-22). Damascus is said to be the the oldest of the post-Flood cities, still inhabited today.

Before the time of Abraham there were cities in Egypt (Num. 13:22). The Israelites in Egypt were employed in building the "treasure cities" of Pithom and Raamses (Ex. 1:11); but it does not seem that they had any cities of their own in Goshen (Gen. 46:34; 47:1-11).

In the kingdom of Og in Bashan there were sixty "great cities with walls," and twenty-three cities in Gilead partly rebuilt by the tribes on the east of Jordan (Num. 21:21, 32,33,35; 32:1-3, 34-42; Deut. 3:4,5, 14; 1 Kings 4:13). On the west of Jordan were thirty-one "royal cities" (Josh. 12), besides many others spoken of in the history of Israel.

Fenced Cities

A fenced city was a city surrounded by fortifications and high walls, with watch-towers upon them (2 Chr. 11:11; Deut. 3:5). There was also within the city generally a tower to which the citizens might flee when danger threatened them (Judg. 9:46-52).

Suburbs

A city with suburbs was a city surrounded with open pasture-grounds, such as the forty-eight cities which were given to the Levites (Num. 35:2-7).

Cities of Refuge

There were six cities of refuge, three on each side of Jordan, namely, Kadesh, Shechem, Hebron, on the west of Jordan; and on the east, Bezer, Ramoth-gilead, and Golan. The cities on each side of the river were nearly opposite each other. The regulations concerning these cities are given in Num. 35:9-34; Deut. 19:1-13; Ex. 21:12-14.

City of David

When David reduced the fortress of the Jebusites which stood on Mount Zion, he built on the site of it a palace and a city, which he called by his own name (1 Chr. 11:5), the city of David. Bethlehem is also so called as being David's native town (Luke 2:4).

Holy City

Jerusalem is called the Holy City, the holiness of the temple being regarded as extending in some measure over the whole city (Neh. 11:1).

Treasure Cities

Pithom and Raamses, built by the Israelites as "treasure cities," were not places where royal treasures were kept, but were fortified towns where merchants might store their goods and transact their business in safety, or cities in which munitions of war were stored. (See PITHOM.)

How do we know the Bible is true?

 

 

There have been hundreds of books written on the subject of the evidences of the divine inspiration of the Bible, and these evidences are many and varied. Most people today, unfortunately, have not read any of these books. In fact, few have even read the Bible itself! Thus, many people tend to go along with the popular delusion that the Bible is full of mistakes and is no longer relevant to our modern world.

Nevertheless the Bible writers claimed repeatedly that they were transmitting the very Word of God, infallible and authoritative in the highest degree. This is an amazing thing for any writer to say, and if the forty or so men who wrote the Scriptures were wrong in these claims, then they must have been lying, or insane, or both.

But, on the other hand, if the greatest and most influential book of the ages, containing the most beautiful literature and the most perfect moral code ever devised, was written by deceiving fanatics, then what hope is there for ever finding meaning and purpose in this world?

If one will seriously investigate these Biblical evidences, he will find that their claims of divine inspiration (stated over 3,000 times, in various ways) were amply justified.

Fulfilled Prophecies

The remarkable evidence of fulfilled prophecy is just one case in point. Hundreds of Bible prophecies have been fulfilled, specifically and meticulously, often long after the prophetic writer had passed away.

For example, Daniel the prophet predicted in about 538 BC (Daniel 9:24-27) that Christ would come as Israel's promised Savior and Prince 483 years after the Persian emperor would give the Jews authority to rebuild Jerusalem, which was then in ruins. This was clearly and definitely fulfilled, hundreds of years later.

There are extensive prophecies dealing with individual nations and cities and with the course of history in general, all of which have been literally fulfilled. More than 300 prophecies were fulfilled by Christ Himself at His first coming. Other prophecies deal with the spread of Christianity, as well as various false religions, and many other subjects.

There is no other book, ancient or modern, like this. The vague, and usually erroneous, prophecies of people like Jeanne Dixon, Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and others like them are not in the same category at all, and neither are other religious books such as the Koran, the Confucian Analects, and similar religious writings. Only the Bible manifests this remarkable prophetic evidence, and it does so on such a tremendous scale as to render completely absurd any explanation other than divine revelation.

Unique Historical Accuracy

 

The historical accuracy of the Scriptures is likewise in a class by itself, far superior to the written records of Egypt, Assyria, and other early nations. Archeological confirmations of the Biblical record have been almost innumerable in the last century. Dr. Nelson Glueck, probably the greatest modern authority on Israeli archeology, has said:

"No archeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries."

Scientific Accuracy

Another striking evidence of divine inspiration is found in the fact that many of the principles of modern science were recorded as facts of nature in the Bible long before scientist confirmed them experimentally. A sampling of these would include:

These are not stated in the technical jargon of modern science, of course, but in terms of the basic world of man's everyday experience; nevertheless, they are completely in accord with the most modern scientific facts.

It is significant also that no real mistake has ever been demonstrated in the Bible, in science, in history, or in any other subject. Many have been claimed, of course, but conservative Bible scholars have always been able to work out reasonable solutions to all such problems.

Unique Structure

The remarkable structure of the Bible should also be stressed. Although it is a collection of 66 books, written by 40 or more different men over a period of 2,000 years, it is clearly one Book, with perfect unity and consistency throughout.

The individual writers, at the time of writing, had no idea that their message was eventually to be incorporated into such a Book, but each nevertheless fits perfectly into place and serves its own unique purpose as a component of the whole. Anyone who diligently studies the Bible will continually find remarkable structural and mathematical patterns woven throughout its fabric, with an intricacy and symmetry incapable of explanation by chance or collusion.

The one consistent theme of the Bible, developing in grandeur from Genesis to Revelation, is God's great work in the creation and redemption of all things, through His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Bible's Unique Effect

 

The Bible is unique also in terms of its effect on individual men and on the history of nations. It is the all-time best seller, appealing both to hearts and minds, beloved by at least some in every race or nation or tribe to which it has gone, rich or poor, scholar or simple, king or commoner, men of literally every background and walk of life. No other book has ever held such universal appeal nor produced such lasting effects.

One final evidence that the Bible is true is found in the testimony of those who have believed it. Multitudes of people, past and present, have found from personal experience that its promises are true, its counsel is sound, its commands and restrictions are wise, and its wonderful message of salvation meets every need for both time and eternity.

How did Jesus Christ die?

 

 

 

Jesus was severely beaten.

 

"Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.'"
     -Luke 23:34

 


Medical experts, historians and archaeologists have examined in detail the execution that Jesus Christ voluntarily endured. All agree that he suffered one of the most gruelling and painful forms of capital punishment ever devised by man. Here is a brief summary of some of the things we know from history, archaeology and medicine about his last hours...

SEVERE STRESS, EVEN BEFORE THE ABUSE BEGAN -- Jesus had the weight of the world on his shoulders. Even before the crucifixion, began he clearly had physical symptoms associated with severe stress. The night before the execution, his disciples reported seeing Jesus in "agony" on the Mount of Olives. Not only did he not sleep all night, but he seems to have been sweating profusely. So great was the stress that tiny blood vessels were rupturing in his sweat glands and emitting as great red drops that fell to the ground (see Luke 22:44). This symptom of severe stress is called hematohidrosis. (Learn more...)

Jesus was physically exhausted and in danger of going into shock unless he received fluids (which he apparently did not). This is the man that the Roman soldiers tortured.

Jesus scouraged.

TORTURE BY BEATING WITH ROMAN SCOURGES -- Having previously been beaten by the Jews, it was now the Romans' turn. The beatings administered by Roman soldiers are well known to be very bloody, leaving lacerations all over the body. Romans designed their whips to cut the flesh from their victim's bodies. These beatings were designed to be painful to the extreme. It would also cause a fluid build up around his lungs. In addition, a crown of thorns was forced into his scalp which was capable of severely irritating major nerves in his head, causing increasing and excruciating pain, as the hours wore on.

In Christ's severely stressed condition, these beatings were easily enough to kill him. His body was horribly bruised, cut and bleeding. Having had no nourishment for many hours, and having lost fluids through profuse sweating and much bleeding, Jesus would have been severely dehydrated. This brutal torture would certainly be sending him into what doctors call "shock," and shock kills.

In addition, Jesus was forced to carry the the wooden beam on which he would die. Imagine the effect of carrying a heavy weight if you were in that condition.

CRUCIFIXION -- Hung completely naked before the crowd, the pain and damage caused by crucifixion were designed to be so devilishly intense that one would continually long for death, but could linger for days with no relief.

According to Dr. Frederick Zugibe, piercing of the median nerve of the hands with a nail can cause pain so incredible that even morphine won't help, "severe, excruciating, burning pain, like lightning bolts traversing the arm into the spinal cord." Rupturing the foot's plantar nerve with a nail would have a similarly horrible effect.

Furthermore, the position of the body on a cross is designed to make it extremely difficult to breathe.

Frederick Farrar described the intended, torturous effect: "For indeed a death by crucifixion seems to include all that pain and death can have of horrible and ghastly--dizziness, cramp, thirst, starvation, sleeplessness, traumatic fever, tetanus, shame, publicity of shame, long continuance of torment, horror of anticipation, mortification of untended wounds--all intensified just up to the point at which they can be endured at all, but all stopping just short of the point which would give to the suffer the relief of unconsciousness."

One doctor has called it "a symphony of pain" produced by every movement, with every breath; even a slight breeze on his skin could bring screaming pain at this point.

Medical examiner, Dr. Frederick Zugibe, believes Christ died from shock due to loss of blood and fluid, plus traumatic shock from his injuries, plus cardiogenic shock causing Christ's heart to fail.

Jesus Crucified.

At the ninth hour (the time at which a sacrificial lamb was killed everyday in the Jewish temple), Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" and soon died, after saying "It is finished." At about this moment is probably the time when the temple's priestly ram's horn would have been blown that day, announcing that the priests had completed the sacrifice of the lamb for the sins of Israel. Also at that moment, the great, thick curtain that closed the Holy of Holies room from view, ripped open from top to bottom.
-Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46


James Thompson believed that Jesus did not die from exhaustion, the beatings or the 3 hours of crucifixion, but that he died from agony of mind producing rupture of the heart. His evidence comes from what happened when the Roman soldier pierced Christ's left side. The spear released a sudden flow of blood and water (John 19:34). Not only does this prove that Jesus was already dead when pierced, but Thompson believes it is also evidence of cardiac rupture. Respected physiologist Samuel Houghton believed that only the combination of crucifixion and rupture of the heart could produce this result.

Whatever the final cause of death, there is no question that it was painful beyond words.

Near the end, a criminal beside him mocked, "If you are the Christ, save yourself and us." Little did this sinner know that the man he was speaking to hung there voluntarily. He was speaking to our Creator, capable of releasing all the power in the universe and beyond, and easily saving himself. Jesus remained in this agony and shame, not because he was powerless, but because of his incredible love for humanity. He suffered to provide the needed way of salvation for you and me.

You can read about Christ's death in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - each of these disciples reported what happened, with greater or lesser details depending on their main focus.

 

SOURCES

  Frederick W. Farrar, The Life of Christ (Dutton, Dovar: Cassell and Co., 1897).

  Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Campus Crusade).

  Michael Green, Man Alive (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Inter-Varsity Press, 1968.

  Dr. Ramsay MacMullen, History Professor Emeritus of Yale University, Dr. James Strange, Professor of Religious Studies, University of South Flordia, and Dr. Frederick Zugibe, medical examiner, in "How Jesus Died: The Final 18 Hours" a video released by Trinity Pictures.

  Death & Resurrection of the Messiah, Faith Lessons (video) (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Focus on the Family).

 

 

Did Jesus really sweat drops of blood?

 

Before the crucifixion, as Jesus Christ prayed in the Garden of Gesthemane, the disciple and physician Luke noted that:

"And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground."
-Luke 22:44 (NKJV)

This was written by the physician Luke, a well-educated man and a careful observer by profession.

Luke is also the only gospel writer to mention the bloody sweat, possibly because of his interest as a physician in this rare physiological phenomenon, which spoke elequently of the intense spiritual agony Jesus was suffering... (Dr. Henry M. Morris, The Defenders Bible, arginal notes for Luke 22:44)

Although this medical condition is relatively rare, according to Dr. Frederick Zugibe (Chief Medical Examiner of Rockland County, New York) it is well-known, and there have been many cases of it. The clinical term is "hematohidrosis." "Around the sweat glands, there are multiple blood vessels in a net-like form." Under the pressure of great stress the vessels constrict. Then as the anxiety passes "the blood vessels dilate to the point of rupture. The blood goes into the sweat glands." As the sweat glands are producing a lot of sweat, it pushes the blood to the surface - coming out as droplets of blood mixed with sweat.

 

What was the source of Jesusí great stress and anguish? Clearly he was in intense spiritual agony. Being the Son of God, he would have in detail everything that was about to happen to him. He knew that he was physically facing one of the most horrible forms of capital punishment there has ever been. His body was human, and he would feel everything at least as intensely as we would. Was this the source of his severe stress? It is doubtful.

The really great weight upon Jesus was the knowledge that he would soon bear the terrible trauma of taking the guilt for all of our sins upon him -- my sins and yours. He knew that under this weight of sin, the Father would forsake him and thus he would endure a form of hell itself for lost sinners.

As powerful as Jesus is, he could easily have avoided all of this and simply disappeared. He could have brought down a legion of angels to protect him. He could have made his skin impenetrable. He could have anesthetized his pain so that he felt nothing. But he chose to do none of these things. Rather, he willingly chose to genuinely be "wounded for our transgressions" and "bruised for our iniquities" so that he could truly pay for our sins and suffer human death.

"...He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth." (Isaiah 53:5,7, NKJV)

Is it possible that Jesus did not die, but only fainted on the cross, later recovering from His wounds?

Artist's conception - Jesus being nailed to the cross by soliders.
Artist's conception - Jesus being nailed to the cross by soliders.

 

Crucifixion was an excruciating experience -- indeed, these two words are clearly related. The cause of death by crucifixion was multifaceted and torturous! These factors included exhaustion asphyxia, dehydration, and congestive heart failure.[1]

That Jesus could have survived such agony on a Roman cross, to limp out of the tomb by His own power, is improbable enough! That His bruised and grievously wounded appearance could have been hidden, so that He could deceive despairing disciples into believing He was "The Risen Lord of Life" and conqueror of death, is absurd! A man in such a condition could hardly have inspired his disciples. Jesus would have been incriminated as a fraud. Only a supernaturally raised Jesus was capable of healing the broken hearts of the disciples.

The Roman soldiers pronounced Jesus dead, and He was dead. The mixture of blood and water that poured out of the wound they made in his side is clear evidence of this.

 

If the writers of the Gospels had been inclined to exaggerate, they would have been restrained from doing that by the fact that a great many people were still living who had witnessed the events of which they were writing. Many were foes. If the disciples had put in errors or exaggerations, they would have been challenged by people in a position to know.

Artist Caravaggio's conception of the scene when Christ's body was removed from the crossSome today might naively assume that the First Century was an age of extreme childish credulity - that people in those days were willing to attribute supernaturalism to almost any unusual occurrence. But this is an unfair way to describe that time. Jerusalem was a crossroads of the world. Educated men had been reading Aristotle for over three centuries. Epicureanism was the prevailing philosophy of the day (eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die). Many in the Greek and Roman world barely recognized the existence of a real God and held in utter contempt the idea of God intervening in the affairs of men. The Jews also were skeptical and reasoned people, and had absorbed Roman philosophical ideas. (They were part of the Roman world with Roman laws and Roman courts.)

REFERENCES AND FOOTNOTES

  1. William Edwards, M.D., et.al., "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ," Journal of the American Medical Association (March 26, 1986), pp. 1455-1463.

The Resurrection of Christ - What happened? Who saw Jesus alive after his death? Why was his resurrection important?

Resurrection of Christ

Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead is one of the cardinal facts and doctrines of the gospel. If Christ be not risen, our faith is vain (1 Cor. 15:14). The whole of the New Testament revelation rests on this as an historical fact. On the day of Pentecost, Peter argued the necessity of Christ's resurrection from the prediction in Psalm 16 (Acts 2:24-28). In his own discourses, also, our Lord clearly intimates his resurrection (Matt. 20:19; Mark 9:9; 14:28; Luke 18:33; John 2:19-22).

The evangelists give circumstantial accounts of the facts connected with that event, and the apostles, also, in their public teaching largely insist upon it.

How many times did Jesus appear after his death and resurrection?

Eleven different appearances of our risen Lord are recorded in the New Testament...

1.      To Mary Magdalene at the sepulchre alone. This is recorded at length only by John (20:11-18), and alluded to by Mark (16:9-11).

2.      To certain women, "the other Mary," Salome, Joanna, and others, as they returned from the sepulchre. Matthew (28:1-10) alone gives an account of this. (Compare Mark 16:1-8, and Luke 24:1-11.)

3.      To Simon Peter alone on the day of the resurrection. (See Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5.)

4.      To the two disciples on the way to Emmaus on the day of the resurrection, recorded fully only by Luke (24:13-35. Compare Mark 16:12,13).

5.      To the ten disciples (Thomas being absent) and others "with them," at Jerusalem on the evening of the resurrection day. One of the evangelists gives an account of this appearance, John (20:19-24).

6.      To the disciples again (Thomas being present) at Jerusalem (Mark 16:14-18; Luke 24:33-40; John 20:26-28. See also 1 Cor. 15:5).

7.      To the disciples when fishing at the Sea of Galilee. Of this appearance also John (21:1-23) alone gives an account.

8.      To the eleven, and above 500 brethren at once, at an appointed place in Galilee (1 Cor. 15:6; compare Matt. 28:16-20).

9.      To James, but under what circumstances we are not informed (1 Cor. 15:7).

10. To the apostles immediately before the ascension. They accompanied him from Jerusalem to Mount Olivet, and there they saw him ascend "till a cloud received him out of their sight" (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-52; Acts 1:4-10).

It is worthy of note that it is distinctly related that on most of these occasions our Lord afforded his disciples the amplest opportunity of testing the fact of his resurrection. He conversed with them face to face. They touched him (Matt. 28:9; Luke 24:39; John 20:27), and he ate bread with them (Luke 24:42,43; John 21:12,13).

11. In addition to the above, mention might be made of Christ's manifestation of himself to Paul at Damascus, who speaks of it as an appearance of the risen Savior (Acts 9:3-9, 17; 1 Cor. 15:8; 9:1).

12. It is implied in the words of Luke (Acts 1:3) that there may have been other appearances of which we have no record.

Who performed the resurrection?

The resurrection is spoken of as the act...

1.      of God the Father (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:24; 3:15; Rom. 8:11; Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12; Heb. 13:20)

2.      of Christ himself (John 2:19; 10:18)

3.      of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 3:18)

Why is the resurrection important?

The resurrection is a public testimony of Christ's release from his undertaking as surety, and an evidence of the Father's acceptance of his work of redemption. It is a victory over death and the grave for all his followers.

The importance of Christ's resurrection will be seen when we consider that if he rose the gospel is true, and if he rose not it is false. His resurrection from the dead makes it manifest that his sacrifice was accepted.

Our justification was secured by his obedience to the death, and therefore he was raised from the dead (Rom. 4:25).

His resurrection is a proof that he made a full atonement for our sins, that his sacrifice was accepted as a satisfaction to divine justice, and his blood a ransom for sinners. It is also a pledge and an earnest of the resurrection of all believers (Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:14; 15:47-49; Phil. 3:21; 1 John 3:2). As he lives, they shall live also.

It proved him to be the Son of God, inasmuch as it authenticated all his claims (John 2:19; 10:17).

"If Christ did not rise, the whole scheme of redemption is a failure, and all the predictions and anticipations of its glorious results for time and for eternity, for men and for angels of every rank and order, are proved to be chimeras. 'But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.' Therefore the Bible is true from Genesis to Revelation. The kingdom of darkness has been overthrown, Satan has fallen as lightning from heaven, and the triumph of truth over error, of good over evil, of happiness over misery is for ever secured" (Hodge).

What about claims that Jesus did not rise from the dead?

With reference to the report which the Roman soldiers were bribed (Matt. 28:12-14) to circulate concerning Christ's resurrection, "his disciples came by night and stole him away while we slept," Matthew Henry in his "Commentary," under John 20:1-10, fittingly remarks,

"The grave-clothes in which Christ had been buried were found in very good order, which serves for an evidence that his body was not 'stolen away while men slept.' Robbers of tombs have been known to take away 'the clothes' and leave the body; but none ever took away 'the body' and left the clothes, especially when they were 'fine linen' and new (Mark 15:46). Any one would rather choose to carry a dead body in its clothes than naked. Or if they that were supposed to have stolen it would have left the grave-clothes behind, yet it cannot be supposed they would find leisure to 'fold up the linen.'"