Every year the media focuses on Easter and its significance for followers of Christ. Questions are raised about Christ’s life, death and his resurrection. “Was he the King of the Jews?” “Did he walk the Earth after his resurrection? Was he truly the Son of God?” Certainly, followers of Christ live by faith; but is there also conclusive proof of Christ’s resurrection throughout the Bible, outside the Bible and throughout history? “If there is no resurrection from the dead,” said the jailed Apostle Paul, “then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is our faith (1 Corinthians 15:12).” Hopefully, my research will help you draw your own conclusions.
The most powerful argument for the existence of Christ is changed lives as seen recently in the movie and book, The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. He, like CS Lewis, was an atheist. Being a successful investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune and an author, he decided to do his own investigation after being threatened by his wife’s conversion. He found the proof for the resurrection to be overwhelming. My own life is also an example. I was raised a Lutheran, but became an agnostic at the age of 17. I thought smart people don’t believe in God. I have always been moved by nature though, and looking at a sunset one evening during my freshman year at Northern Illinois University, I told God if he was there, he could have my life. But he had to prove to me that he really existed and was not a figment of my imagination. That night I met my husband and the adventure began.
I had so many questions but the answers came one at a time as I searched the scriptures. If you are feeling like something is missing in your life, could it be because you were created for so much more——a relationship with the living God? “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:12).” Not many people are willing to do the research. They look everywhere else, but rarely study the words of Jesus, his disciples and the prophets. If Christ was the Messiah and there is such a thing as abundant life here and life after death, wouldn’t you want to know? The next job, the next vacation, the next house—- is that what will fill your life? Pascal once said that there is a God-shaped vacuum in each of us, and it can only be filled by a relationship with Him who knows and loves each of us. Yes, faith is important but the following essay will give facts from my research. With a Master’s degree and 60 hours beyond, research comes naturally.
To begin, the most powerful arguments are the prophecies concerning Christ’s first coming and his crucifixion. No person could possibly script his life to fit where he would be born, how he would die, and where and how he would be buried. These prophecies can be found throughout the Old Testament. But for the sake of brevity, we’ll center on two books. First, the book of Isaiah which was written in 740-680 B.C. Isaiah was born into an upper-class family where he rubbed shoulders with royalty and gave advice concerning foreign affairs of the nation. He also attacked the social ills of his day like many of us who are concerned about the welfare of our nation. He viewed these social abuses as symptoms of spiritual declension. To give you a flavor of his writing, see Isaiah 1: 23. “Your rulers are rebels and companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them.” Today, we can throw our corrupt politicians/governors in jail. Unfortunately for Isaiah, who lived most of his life in Jerusalem, his outspoken words got him martyred by being sawed in two while inside a hollow log (Hebrews 11:37) under the reign of Manasseh. Here are the statements of a God inspired man. When reading Isaiah 53, you would be reading the lyrics for Handel’s Messiah. Many of these verses will resonate with you.
- “He was despised and rejected by men-a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53.3
- “But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds, we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all……he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. Isaiah 53.5-7
- “He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” Isaiah 53:9
- “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life, and be satisfied: Isaiah 53:9
- “For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered on January 28, 1949. The whole Old Testament was discovered except for the book of Esther. The book of Isaiah was relatively intact and is 1000 years older than anything found previously. The Isaiah scroll dates back to the second century B.C. which would make it impossible to falsify to fit the life of Christ... The Dead Sea Scrolls also called the Qumran scrolls (Qumran is the main location in the Dead Sea area where the scrolls were discovered) demonstrates unequivocally the fact that the Jews were faithful in their transcription of biblical manuscripts. The Jewish writers were extremely conscientious about copying the biblical text, and memorization was a key component of their education. The Old Testament books from Qumran are those which we find in our Bibles. Comparing today’s scripture to those found in the Dead Sea Scrolls speaks of the accuracy found in the text.
The second book I examined was the book of Psalms which was also found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The following are some of the prophecies of the Messiah.
- “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads; He trusts in the Lord let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” Psalms 22: 7-8
- “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me…my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; Psalms 22:14 (Medically this is an accurate description of what takes place when a person is crucified.)
- “They have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” Psalms 22:16
- “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” Psalms 69:21
- “Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy one see decay.” Psalms 16:10
There are hundreds of prophecies concerning the coming Messiah which Jesus has fulfilled. Here are a few more.
- Bethlehem was named as the birthplace of the Messiah seven centuries before the event. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)
- “See your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9
- “They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” Zechariah 12:10
I have only touched lightly on this topic. Research has uncovered documents by historians like Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and others. Historian Gary Habermas details a total of thirty-nine ancient sources documenting the life of Jesus. We have also uncovered material by first century Christians which dates back to shortly after Christ’s resurrection—–with no time for legend to develop. But the biggest change is what happens to a person’s life when he or she truly follows Christ. I welcome questions and discussion on this all-important topic.
Sue Schuerr (firstname.lastname@example.org) or www.lifewithlarry.org