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Choose Life That You Might Live

Part 6: Comparing Jesus With Other Religious Leaders...
Why Jesus Is Without Equal
It seems within the bounds of common sense that if God were to send a messenger/savior to mankind, He would have at least given us some way to distinguish the true messenger from the false (and potentially dangerous) one.

Carol Brooks
Edited by Vicki Narlee

List of Chapters
For a slightly longer description of each chapter, please go to the Main Index

YOU ARE HERE 001orange Part 1: Spiritual not Religious. The question is how do you know that the spiritual path you are on will lead somewhere you want to be? What does it offer you in the long run... beyond this life?
Part 2: Religious Pluralism. It is tragically true that few of those who believe that all spiritual beliefs are valid paths to God seem to have made an in depth study of various religions to see if their claims are based on fact, or fairy dust.
Part 3: Faith and The Bible. Christianity is perhaps the only religion that does not demand 'blind faith' from its followers.
Part 4: God And His Bible. There is far more evidence in favor of the Bible being true, than there is for any of the other 'holy books which usually consist of endless streams of often mind numbing philosophy, with little or no framework or context. The evidence includes the Bible’s humanly impossible authorship, its archaeological and scientific accuracy and  fulfilled prophecy.
Part 5: Alleged Old Testament Discrepancies. The charges are usually careless, overconfident and unsubstantiated.
YOU ARE HERE 001orange Part 6: Why Jesus Is Without Equal.  Many so called holy men claim to to be divine or divinely inspired - to have had mystical visions or experiences. So what?
Part 7: The Reliability of The New Testament. If we applied whatever criteria liberal scholars use to dismiss the Gospels, to the evidence for other historical people and events, we would have to dismiss as myth everything we think we think we know about the ancient past.
Part 8: New Testament Differences and Discrepancies  Most alleged 'mistakes' arise from understanding too little about the Bible.
Part 8 b:The Resurrection Accounts The so-called contradictions are trotted out without a single reference to the possible solutions that can very plausibly and naturally explain them.
Part 9: The Bible, Then And Now. People commonly reject the Bible because they believe the original text has been changed significantly since it was first written, and therefore, it is a corrupted book. But is there any truth to the charge?
Part 10: Historical Corroboration. Were any of the Gospel accounts substantiated by non-Christian sources?
Part 11: Archaeology and The Bible. Does archaeology confirm, or undermine, the New Testament accounts?
Part 12: Is The Evidence Insufficient or Too Obscure? A far more sensible way to look at it is... the more severe the consequences, the fewer risks we should take.
Part 13: The Message of The Bible. The Heaven Jesus was sent to tell us about is no pie in the sky ethereal place 'somewhere out there. In fact, the Bible's description of the coming kingdom is far more practical than that of our theologians. '
Part 14: The Warning of The Bible. We are all under the death penalty. If dying once sounds terrible to you, how does doing it twice sound? -  which is exactly what the Bible says will happen if...
Part 15: Who Is and Isn't a Christian. Since the word originated with the Bible, only the Bible has the right to define what a "Christian" is.
Part 16: Myths and Misconceptions that stem from knowing too little about Biblical Christianity.

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Claims to Authority Based on Personal Experiences
The claim to authority made by the founders of most religions, is generally based on visions they claim to have had, and/or their own experiences or wisdom. However, anyone can claim to be divine, be divinely inspired, or have mystical visions or experiences. On the other hand, they sometimes expressed self-doubt, uncertainty, and a lack of knowledge in some very important areas.

What Jesus Claimed About Himself And What The New Testament Says About His Character
His were most extravagant of all claims

The Million Dollar Question... How Can We Distinguish The True Messenger From The Counterfeit?
It seems within the bounds of common sense that if God were to send a messenger/savior to mankind, He would have at least given us some way to distinguish the true messenger from the false (and potentially dangerous) one. And, so He did. In fact God’s method was pretty foolproof... He simply told us about the Messiah beforehand.

Only Jesus Was Foretold Centuries in Advance
Not only did the prophets give us details about Jesus' birth, the miracles He worked, His betrayal, death, and resurrection, but Daniel Specified EXACTLY When the Messiah would appear.

The Seven Feasts of Israel
While most Christian apologetic articles and books refer to the above prophecies (and others like these), I find that few mention the Seven Feasts of Israel, which I find to be the most convincing and close to impossible to argue with.

Moses' Messianic Prophecy
In a very specific prediction, Moses told the Jews that God would, in the future, raise up another prophet who would, in some way, be "like" himself, and those that did not listen to this prophet would be held accountable by the Lord Himself.

Among All Religious Founders, Only Jesus Backed His Claims by Working Miracles
If a person claims to be God, it would greatly help if they actually provided some kind of supernatural confirmation. Jesus did... in spades. (Mohammed claimed to be only a human messenger, thus performed no miracles.)

Among All Religious Founders, Only Jesus Made Prophecies That Were Fulfilled
He very expressly stated that he did so because, when His words came to pass, we would know He was who He claimed to be, and would believe in Him.

Only Jesus Died For Us
While you are sure to hear many, many long and philosophical discourses, which religion besides Christianity will tell you of a God who willingly came down to earth to save those who would be His people, by paying the price of their sins?

Only Jesus is Alive
The fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead is the crux of the Christian faith. If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, then we could just as well take everything else he said, write it down on little bits of paper, and stuff them into fortune cookies.



Claims to Authority Based on Personal Experiences
To reiterate some of what was said in the chapter Faith and The Bible... The claim to authority made by the founders of most religions, is generally based on visions they claim to have had, and/or their own experiences or wisdom. However, considering that anyone can claim to be divine, be divinely inspired, or have mystical visions or experiences, it might be well to remember that ...

    1) The claimant may be a charismatic, powerful personality, and appear to be very wise. His teachings and messages may sound profound, enigmatic, enlightened, positive, or any combination thereof. None of which tells us these teachings or messages necessarily originated with God. Similarly...

    2) Righteousness, humility, wisdom, and compassion do not necessarily mean the person is correct in all they say, much less that they are inspired of God. Even the best of people can be deceived and make erroneous assumptions.

    3) Eloquence, whether written or spoken, is no proof of Divine inspiration. (Sometimes it seems to me that the more convoluted the language, the more people will attribute it to the "wisdom" of the speaker and hang on to every word).

Bearing the above in mind, why should we take Mohammed and Joseph Smith's word for it that they were visited by angels. Can we simply trust that Bahá’ullah's visions were actually inspired of God, and that Guru Nanak and the other gurus were manifestations of God (the Sikh holy book says "To save the world the Lord incarnated himself." [Adi Granth 1409:8]).

Should we also simply take Gautama Buddha's word for it that he had achieved "nirvana", and that this 'nothingness' is the pinnacle of spiritual achievement. Since Lao Tzu the father of Taoism, and Confucius the father of Confucianism both claimed to know the truth based on their own acquired wisdom, are we to simply trust that they were incapable of erring, or even had the slightest clue as to what they were talking about? Similarly, Shintoism has to stand on the merit of its own teachings.

Confucianism is more an ethical and philosophical system, rather than a religion. The Analects of Confucius, also known by its Chinese name as the Lunyu (lit. "Selected Sayings"), is the collection of sayings and ideas attributed to the Chinese philosopher Confucius and, traditionally believed to have been written by Confucius' followers. In it he says he is "A transmitter and not a maker" (7.1). How do we know this is true? And, if it is, who was transmitting through him?

Are we not leaning towards gullibility if we simply 'believe' that the New Age channeler is not only in contact with a spirit, but that it is actually a benevolent spirit, not one that is simply pretending to be.


Mere Men Expressed Self Doubt
Besides which, the fallibility of some of the other religious leaders is clearly seen in the fact that they sometimes expressed self-doubt, uncertainty, and a lack of knowledge in some very important areas, their own fate for instance.

Islam
The Qur'an, clearly states that the Muslim prophet Muhammad was naught but a messenger. (Sura 3:144. Surat 'Ali Imran). In Muhammad's own words...

    I am only a man like you, to whom has been revealed that your god is one God." (Sura 18:110)

    Exalted is my Lord! Was I ever but a human messenger?" (Sura 17:93. Surat Al-'Isra')

And that Muhammad would die...

    "Indeed, you are to die, and indeed, they are to die" (Sura 39:30 Surat Az-Zumar).

It is no wonder he was uncertain about his own future

    Say, "I am not something original among the messengers, nor do I know what will be done with me or with you. I only follow that which is revealed to me, and I am not but a clear warner."

Interestingly, any doubts Muhammad had were to be referred to "those who have been reading the Scripture before you"... the Jews and the Christians...

    So if you are in doubt, [O Muhammad], about that which We have revealed to you, then ask those who have been reading the Scripture before you. The truth has certainly come to you from your Lord, so never be among the doubters. And never be of those who deny the signs of Allah and [thus] be among the losers. (Sura 10:94-95. Surat Yunus)

This advice is repeated in Sura 21:7, which says "...the apostles We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration. If ye realize this not, Ask of those who possess the message." Please pay careful attention to the wording. The verse does not say 'those who possessed the message', but 'those who possess the message'. In other words, according to the Qur'an at the time of this revelation in the seventh century, the Bible was considered to be the Word of God... not 'corrupted' as Muslims later claimed.


Sikhism
Guru Nanak thus describes the Muhammadan (Muslim) rulers and the state of India in his time (Emphasis Added)

    This age is a knife, kings are butchers ; justice hath taken wings and fled. In this completely dark night of falsehood the moon of truth is never seen to rise. I have become perplexed in my search; In the darkness I find no way. Devoted to pride, I weep in sorrow; How shall deliverance be obtained ? [Mâjh ki Wâr.] [01]

One has to wonder, that if he were a manifestation, or even a messenger of God, why he did not know how deliverance was to be obtained.

Confucianism and Chinese Buddhism
The Tao Te Ching or The Book of The Way, ascribed to the sage Lao Tzu, is a fundamental text for both philosophical and religious Taoism. It is a short text of around 5,000 Chinese characters in 81 brief chapters, which strongly influenced Confucianism and Chinese Buddhism. Lao Tzu is also revered as a deity in religious Taoism and traditional Chinese religions. In chapter 20, he says

    The people are bright and certain, Where I am dim and confused; The people are clever and wise, Where I am dull and ignorant; Aimless as a wave drifting over the sea, Attached to nothing. [02]

Zoroastrianism
Zarathusthra (Zoroaster), religious reformer and founder of Zoroastrianism is said to have received a vision from Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord, who appointed him to preach the truth. He is believed to have composed the Gathas, 17 hymns which are the most sacred texts of the Zoroastrian faith

    This I ask You, tell me truly, Lord. Are the things I speak forth indeed true? (Gathas: 9-6)

    This I ask You, tell me truly, Lord. Who is the foremost creator and parent of righteousness? Who made the sun and the stars in their paths? Who makes the moon wax and wane? I am, Wise One, eager to know all this and more. (Gathas: 9-3) [03]

Neither of these appears to be rhetorical questions. Did Zoroaster not know who created and controlled the solar system and, more alarmingly, whether or not he was teaching truth?

Added to this is the problem of the vastly different beliefs and teachings of these religious leaders

The Contradictory Claims Made by Each of These Religious Leaders
For example, contrary to most of the major religions, Buddha did not seem to believe there is an absolute Deity and taught that it was futile to seek something we did not know even existed. Islam flatly declares that it is blasphemy to believe God has a Son. (Sura 18:4-5) Baha'i contradicts Islam's belief that Muhammad is the last and final prophet, and so on and so forth.

    Note: Islam's attack on God having a "Son" arises from a basic misunderstanding of how the word is used in the Bible. The phrase "Son of God" conveys the idea of an unparalleled, and exclusive, intimacy with the Father, not that Jesus was God's 'offspring'. [See Was Jesus the "offspring" of God?]

The only logical conclusion one can draw from these contradictions is that all of these men cannot possibly be messengers, prophets or manifestations of the same God. In light of which, how can we know which one of them was truly divinely inspired? Especially since, all of these religions stand or fall on something which no one can prove or disprove, all we have to go on is what the founder of the religion said (blind faith), and whether the teachings seem to work in our own lives.


What Jesus Claimed About Himself
The problem is further compounded by the fact that the New Testament has Jesus making the most extravagant claims of all. For example, He claimed...

    A) Not to be of this world (John 8:23), but to have existed in heaven before He was incarnated as a man (John 3:13, 6:33, 6:62 and 17:5).

    B) To have a unique relationship with God the Father, that is...

      a) to be the only one to have seen the Father (John 6:46),
      b) to have exclusive knowledge of the Father.
      c) to have learned directly from the Father (Matthew 11:27 and John 8:38).
      d) to always please the Father (John 8:29).
      e) In fact Jesus claimed to be one with God (John 10:30),

    C) To have fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah (Luke 24:44).

    D) To be able to raise himself from the dead (John 2:19-21 and 10:17-18).

    E) And that He would return in 'the glory of the Father' (Mark 8:38)

But most extravagant of all, Jesus did not claim to be a prophet or messenger sent from God, or a manifestation of God... He claimed to be God. See The Deity of Jesus Christ. Was He Lord, Liar, Or Lunatic?

Considering, Jesus made the most grandiose claims of all, how can we have any assurance that what He claimed was true?

The answer to this question should not be filed under 'differences of opinion' and left at that, since the practical implications for every single person on this planet, are enormous. If Jesus was not who he claimed to be, and was not who the Bible says He is, then we can safely ignore His teachings as the product of the devious mind of an out and out charlatan, or the ranting of one who was vastly deluded, or simply insane.

On the other hand, if His claims are true, then every one of us needs to sit up and pay close attention to everything He said. Especially since Jesus has promised to return and set up His Father's kingdom here on earth. See What and Where is Heaven? However, since the concept of a coming world teacher... a messiah, who sets up a golden age on earth can be found in many world religious systems, as well as in the literature of the occult It is easy to see how a charismatic leader who promises (and seems to deliver) utopia will be accepted nay, even welcomed, by much of the world ...which will be the greatest of all deceptions. [See Footnote I]


The Million Dollar Question... How Can We Distinguish The True Messenger From The Counterfeit?
It seems within the bounds of common sense that if God were to send a messenger/savior to mankind, He would have at least given us some way to distinguish the true messenger from the false (and potentially dangerous) one. And, it certainly seems to me that the simplest way to do this would be to tell us about him before hand.

Why?

Because, neither men nor false gods can make infallible and 100% accurate prophecies about the future. Only the Supreme Being can consistently and precisely predict the future in detail, because He is the one that makes the future happen.

    "Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. "Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure'; (Isaiah 46:8-10 NASB. Emphasis Added)

In the book of Isaiah, the Lord says He is the first and the last, and there is no God besides Him. He challenges the idol gods to "Declare the things that are going to come afterward, that we may know that you are gods". And since this is impossible for them, He then goes on to say "Behold, you are of no account, And your work amounts to nothing; He who chooses you is an abomination." (Isaiah 41:3-4)


Only Jesus Was Foretold Centuries in Advance
Virtually all facets of Jesus' life was foretold hundreds of years in advance... including His birth, His ministry, His death, and His resurrection. However, in spite of the claim of many of the religious leaders to be messengers of/sent by God, not a single prophecy exists which foretells any of their births or missions, much less any precise details of their lives and deaths.

The Old Testament, which was completed some 400 years before Jesus was born, contains a large number of very significant prophecies made over several hundred years, which were fulfilled in Jesus' thirty years life span... many of them in one day. In fact, the entire Old Testament, while a historical record of God's dealings with the nation of Israel, was squarely focused on the Redeemer who was to come.  As Jesus Himself told the Jews of His day...

    You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me" (John 5:39 NASB).

    Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." (Luke 24:44 NASB)

The prophets spoke of the coming Messiah with such certainty that they often used the perfect tense (sometimes called the prophetic perfect) not to signify that the event had already happened, but that it would, without fail, be completed in the future. To the prophet, the coming event they foretold was as good as accomplished.

That these prophecies were not written after the fact is proved by the 1947 accidental discovery of ancient scrolls in a number of caves along the Dead Sea in the Qumran desert. These documents, called the Dead Sea Scrolls, were the property of the Essenes, a sect of Jews who lived a monastic life in the desert, devoting themselves to studying and copying the Scriptures, while awaiting the return of the Messiah. As tension built up between the Jews and the Romans, the Essenes hid their precious scrolls in caves, where they survived for about two thousand years, although the community itself did not.

These eleven caves contained nearly 1,100 ancient documents, which included several scrolls and more than 100,000 fragments dating back to as early as the third century B.C. The well preserved, twenty-four foot long, Isaiah Scroll, found in cave 4, dates back to 100 B.C.

An additional detail worth remembering is, that while the Old Testament prophecies were made by men, hand-picked by God Himself, to foretell the coming of the Messiah, the entire Hebrew Bible was meticulously preserved through the centuries by people who, for the most part, rejected the idea of Jesus being the savior.

[See Are The Biblical Documents Reliable?   And The Dead Sea Scrolls ]

The Prophecies About The Birth of Christ
The prophet Isaiah said that the Messiah would be born to the lineage of Jesse, while Jeremiah narrowed it down to Jesse's eighth and youngest son, David.

    Prophecies: Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-2 NASB)

    Then in that day The nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10 NASB)

    "Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land. (Jeremiah 23:5 NASB)

    Fulfillment: See Matthew 1


The prophet Micah said Jesus would be born in the small village of Bethlehem, and described Him as one who eternally existed before being incarnated as a man,

    Prophecy: "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity." (Micah 5:2 NASB. written circa 710 b.c )

    Fulfillment: Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." (Matthew 2:1-2 NASB)


The prophet Isaiah also emphasized that the Messiah would be born to a virgin, the clear intent of which was to show that the Messiah was to be supernaturally conceived without benefit of a human father. Note: the title, "Immanuel" means God with us.

    Prophecy: "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.  (Isaiah 7:14 NASB)

    Fulfillment: The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" (Luke 1:30-34 NASB)

However, one ancient prophet went much further. In an awesome display of foreknowledge (which could only come from God Himself) Daniel pinpointed exactly when the Messiah would appear.


Daniel Specified EXACTLY When The Messiah Would Appear
In the ninth chapter of the book of Daniel, we are told of the prophet being visited a second time by the angel Gabriel who told Daniel that he had come to give him understanding of a previous vision. Part of what Gabriel said was ...

    So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks (seven sevens) and sixty-two weeks (sixty-two sevens); it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.  (Vs. 25 NASB)

The use of the English "weeks" is not totally accurate. The Hebrew word actually means "seven" ... of anything. It is only the context which tells us seven what. In this case, after reading the writings of Jeremiah, Daniel had been thinking and praying about the 70 years that the nation was supposed to be captive in Babylon, which period of time, he had realized, was coming to an end. However, Gabriel first pointed out that much more important events were to take place in, not seventy years, but in "seventy times seven". Gabriel then divided up these years, telling Daniel that there would be total of 69 times seven years (483 years) between the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the Messiah.

There was more than one decree regarding the return and restoration of the Jews issued by the Persian kings. While it was king Cyrus who set the rebuilding of the temple in motion, and Darius who confirmed his orders, it was under Artaxerxes that the high priest Ezra left for Jerusalem (Ezra 7).

 Ezra's importance cannot be overstated. As "a scribe skilled in the law of Moses" (Ezra 7:6), it fell to him to teach the Lord's "statutes and ordinances in Israel" (Ezra 7:10).

The problem is that although The first wave of returnees, including Zerubbabel and Nehemiah (Ezra 2:1-2), built the altar of God on its original foundation and offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, then laid the foundation of the temple itself (Ezra 3), the people of Israel were intermarrying with the pagan nation around them, including the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians and the Amorites (Ezra 9:1-2). They had apparently forgotten or ignored the Lord's command not to do so. The mixed marriages had prevented the complete separation of the people of God from the abominations of these nations.

It was Ezra that ordered all the exiles to assemble in Jerusalem where he  instructed them to separate themselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives, which they did over a period of time (Read Ezra 9-10). Without a return to all the laws of Moses, the rebuilt temple would have been just another building, and Jerusalem just another walled city.

Therefore it is this decree issued by king Artaxerxes that we must turn our attention to. 

Artaxerxes I was king of the Persian Empire from 465 B.C to 424 BC. According to Ezra, chapter 7, Artaxerxes issued said decree in the seventh year of his reign, i.e. 457 B.C., which brings us to an uncannily precise date.

Remembering that there was no year zero, counting 483 years from 457 B.C. takes us to A.D. 27, which was the year Christ was baptized by John, and began His ministry. Note Jesus' words as He came into Galilee preaching the gospel, shortly after his baptism... "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:14-15 NASB).

In other words, the time specified by Daniel had been fulfilled.

But how can we say Jesus was baptized in the year A.D. 27, when Luke so clearly stated that when He began His ministry, Jesus was about 30 years old (Luke 3:23)?  While it is commonly believed that Jesus was born at the turn of the century, the fact is He had to have been born a little earlier.

The pro-Roman king Herod, who was referred to as “the evil genius of the Judean nation” not only had several of his own family (including three sons) murdered, but also tried to have Jesus killed, shortly after his birth. Herod died in 4 B.C. [04] which means it is entirely possible that Jesus was born in that year (but no later), then baptized in 27 A.D. at the age of 30.

There was a great deal more to Daniel’s prophecy than I can cover here. But, as an example, the very next verse (26) had the angel saying

    Then after the sixty-two weeks (sixty-two sevens) the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

Jesus was "cut off", and the Romans (under the emperor Titus) did destroy the city and the temple in 70 AD. That the Romans were the people of the prince who is to come, also called the antichrist, is also hugely important considering that we will find ourselves face to face with him in the very near future. See The Antichrist


The Prophecies About The Miracles of Christ
The prophet Isaiah foretold that the Messiah would heal the blind, the deaf, and the lame.

    Prophecy: Then the eyes of the blind will be opened And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness And streams in the Arabah. (Isaiah 35:5-6 NASB)

    Fulfillment: (Among many other verses)
    And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.  (Matthew 21:14 NASB)

    And large crowds came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, mute, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them. (Matthew 15:30 NASB)

    But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  (Luke 5:15 NASB)


The Prophets Told Us How Christ Would be Betrayed, Gave Us Details About His Death and Told Us Where He Would Be Buried
Some 500 years before Christ, Zechariah specified HOW the Messiah would arrive in Jerusalem just prior to his trial and crucifixion. He said the Messiah would come into Jerusalem riding on, of all things.... a donkey.

    Prophecy: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)

Which, as recounted by Matthew in the 21st chapter of his gospel, is exactly what happened. Some complain that Jesus orchestrated this event to fulfill the prophecy which, one has to admit, is certainly possible. However, Jesus could not have manipulated the fulfillment of the next prophecy also made by Zechariah, who said that the Messiah would be betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver; the money would be thrown on the floor of the Temple; and that it would be used to buy a potter's field.

    Prophecy: I said to them, "If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!" So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. Then the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them." So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD. (Zechariah 11:12-13 NASB. )

    Fulfillment: Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?" And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. (Matthew 26:14-15 NASB)

    Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." But they said, "What is that to us? See to that yourself!" And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, "It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood." And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter's Field as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. (Matthew 27:3-8 NASB)

While we do not know exactly when it was written, King David, who lived from about 1037 BC - 967 BC was the author of Psalm 22. In other words, more than a thousand years before it happened, King David described the Messiah's death in painful detail down to the piercing of his hands and feet, the taunting of the crowds, and the casting of lots for his clothing. Isaiah gave additional details of the crucifixion of the Messiah

    Prophecy: They open wide their mouth at me, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots. (Psalms 22:13-18 NASB)

    All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, "Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him." (Psalms 22:7-8 NASB)

    But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.  (Isaiah 53:5 NASB)

    Fulfillment: And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. (Matthew 27:29-30 NASB)

    And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots.  (Matthew 27:35 NASB)

The Messiah would be given gall and vinegar to drink

    Prophecy: They also gave me gall for my food, And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. (Psalm 69:21)

    Fulfillment: Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink.  (Matthew 27:48 NASB)

    After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, *said, "I am thirsty." A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. (John 19:28-29 NASB)

Isaiah said the Messiah would be executed with criminals, and then buried in a rich man's grave.

    Prophecy: His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. (Isaiah 53:9 NASB)

    Fulfillment: When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. (Matthew 27:57-60 NASB)

Also See Questions Skeptics Ask About Messianic Prophecy...
Could there be validity to their claim that Christians read Jesus back into the Old Testament?


They Also Told Us About The Resurrection of Christ
The most straight forward and unambiguous of the resurrection prophecies was the one made by David so many centuries ago...

    For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.  (Psalms 16:10 NASB)

The first century Jews certainly saw the correlation. As said by Dr. David R. Reagan

    On the Day of Pentecost, when Peter preached the first Gospel sermon, he boldly asserted that God had raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 2:24). He then explained that God had performed this miraculous deed in fulfillment of David's prophecy in Psalm 16. In fact, he quoted the words of David in detail as contained in Psalm 16:8-11. Years later, Paul did the same thing when he spoke to the Jews of Antioch in Pisidia. Like Peter, he declared that God had raised Jesus from the dead in fulfillment of Psalm 16:10 (Acts 13: 33-35). [05]

    For Details See Did Christ Really Rise From The Dead?
    and Evidence For The Resurrection Of Christ


Conclusion:

The probability of all these prophecies being coincidentally fulfilled in one person is, quite simply, mathematically impossible. However, there is more.


The Seven Feasts of Israel
While most Christian apologists refer to the above prophecies (and other similar ones), few mention the Seven Feasts of Israel, which I find to be the most convincing and the most impossible to argue with. In fact, it is these Seven Feasts that not only gave us the exact circumstances and timing of Jesus' death, resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit, they also provide us with a road map of events to come.

God introduced the Seven Feasts as the children of Israel were encamped at Mount Sinai after being rescued from slavery in Egypt. Although these feasts are referred to in more than one place in the Bible, it is only in Leviticus 23 that all seven are listed in chronological order. They are called "the feasts of the Lord" which simply means that they were instituted by the Lord Himself, which gave them much solemnity and importance. They were "holy convocations" that took place at "appointed times".

    Note: The feasts are celebrated on the same day of the Jewish calendar every year. However, the date shifts on the Gregorian calendar because the Jewish year is not the same length as a solar year on the Gregorian calendar used by most of the western world.

The prophetic significance of these special days is perhaps one of the most fascinating Biblical studies. They not only celebrated a historical event in Israel's past but were, at the same time, a prophecy of future events. God's plan of salvation for mankind is summed up in these feasts, which were related to Israel's agricultural seasons, and therefore fall into three clusters... the spring, summer and fall Feasts.

The first four feasts have already been fulfilled, the first two by Jesus Christ on the actual feast days according to the Hebrew calendar... He was sacrificed on Passover, and resurrected on the Feast of First Fruits. The third... The Feast of Unleavened Bread carried great significance in light of His sacrifice, while the Fourth, Shavuot, or the Festival of Weeks was again fulfilled on the exact day... what we now call Pentecost.

While we certainly do not know exactly how the other three feasts will be fulfilled, what we can be absolutely certain of is that they will be fulfilled exactly as the others were... on the actual feast day.

Besides which, it is important to note that the Feasts that symbolize a sequence of events, were given by God in a set chronological order. Therefore the events that they symbolize will take place in the same exact order. I have read way too many interpretations of the Feasts that jump backwards and forwards between them in an effort to make them fit into pre-conceived end time scenarios. What we need to do is make the order of the Feasts our guideline to coming events, instead of scrambling them to fit our ideas. [Please note.... this is an extremely shortened version of the Feasts, and their significance. [For details see The Seven Feasts of Israel]


Moses' Messianic Prophecy
Moses was the person chosen by God to liberate the Jews from slavery in Egypt. He not only worked great miracles in Egypt, but led the Jews through forty years of wandering in the wilderness, finally taking them to the edge of the promised land. Perhaps, most importantly, it was Moses who received the law from God on Mt. Sinai, and was the only person we know of that God spoke to "face to face". [See Has Anyone Ever Seen God?]

In a very specific prediction, Moses told the Jews that God would, in the future, raise up another prophet who would, in some way, be "like" Moses, and those that did not listen to this prophet would be held accountable by the Lord Himself.

    The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him... 'I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 'It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. [Deuteronomy 18:15. 18-19 NASB]

Not only does Christianity recognize this prophecy as a clear reference to the Messiah, but the Jews did so as well.

    This is clearly seen in the dialogue that took place between John the Baptist and the priests and Levites from Jerusalem [John 1:19-23] who asked John whether he was Elijah come to announce the advent of the Messiah, or whether he was the "the Prophet"... a clear reference to the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18.

    Similarly, when Jesus spoke to the people at the Feast of Tabernacles, many of them were astonished at His teachings and once again thought He had to be either the Messiah Himself, or "the prophet" [John 7:40-41].

    After Jesus found and instructed Phillip to follow Him, Phillip found Nathanael and told him that they had found the one of whom Moses wrote [John 1:43-45]

Some of the parallels between Jesus and Moses are

    In Moses' time, Pharaoh, fearing the numbers of the Hebrew slaves, ordered the death of all new born male babies. Similarly, just after Jesus was born, Herod, fearing the rise of another ruler, ordered the death of all male children under the age of two.

    Both Moses and Jesus spent their early years in Egypt, miraculously protected from those who sought their lives. (Since Luke says nothing about Jesus, Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt, and Matthew is silent about their trip to Nazareth soon after Jesus' birth, does one of them have their facts wrong? DETAILS

    Both Moses and Jesus authenticated their mission and teachings with signs and miracles.

    Both Moses and Jesus were mediators of blood covenants: Moses was the mediator of the first covenant, while Jesus was the mediator of the new covenant.

    Moses stretched his hand over the Red Sea causing it to part, Jesus calmed a storm by rebuking the winds and the sea (possibly the Sea of Tiberias).

    Both fasted for 40 days and faced spiritual crises on mountain tops.

    Moses appointed 70 elders to help him deal with the people. Jesus appointed 70 disciples to go into the villages and towns.

    Moses' brother Aaron became the first high priest of the temple. Jesus' brother James became the head of the Jerusalem church.

    Moses promised that another Prophet would come; Jesus promised believers that His Father would send them the Holy Spirit. 

    Neither Moses' nor Jesus' body remained where it was interred.

For Details and Bible references, See Moses' Great Messianic Prophecy.


Among All Religious Founders, Only Jesus Backed His Claims by Working Miracles
If a person claims to be God, it would greatly help if they actually provided some kind of supernatural confirmation.

Jesus did so... in spades.

In sharp contrast to other religious leaders, everything that Jesus said and taught was supported by physical evidence. When John the Baptist sent men to ask Jesus if He was "the Coming One" or whether they were to look for another, Jesus did not make any profound sounding statements, or chide John for his lack of faith. His reply was simply to point them in the direction of the miraculous works He had done... "

    Go and tell John the things which ye have seen and heard; the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good tidings preached to them.” (verse 22)

Jesus' point was that He was doing things that the prophets predicted would be accomplished by the Messiah, at the coming of the Kingdom. These miracles were unequivocal proof given to the nation of Israel that he was the long-awaited Messiah sent from God. His miracles demonstrated His power and authority over a) nature, b) illness, c) death, and d) demons.

    a) In the first category, He walked on water (Matthew 14:25), multiplied bread and fish (Matthew 14:15-21), and calmed a storm (Mark 4:35-41).

    b) He showed His authority over sickness with His instantaneous healings of incurable diseases such as blindness (John 9), leprosy (Luke 17), deafness (Mark 7) and paralysis (Matthew 9:2-7 and Mark 2).

    c) Jesus raised the ruler's daughter from the dead in Matthew 9:18-26, the widow's only son in Luke 7:11-17, and Lazarus in John 11.

    d) There are several instances (that we know of) when Jesus demonstrated His authority over demonic entities, forcing them to relinquish possession of a person's body.

And there were many other unrecorded miracles. As the book of John says "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written." [John 21:25].  Certainly the miracles did cause many to believe. For example,

    When Jesus stilled the storm, the disciples cried out, "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:27).

    Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed on his name, beholding his signs which he did". (John 2:23)

    When the Pharisee Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, he said, "We know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him" (John 3:2).

    When Jesus fed thousands from five loaves of bread and two fishes, the people said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world" (John 6:14).

    The apostle Peter stressed this point to the assembled throng on Pentecost "Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst" (Acts 2:22).

Also note Peter's words to the crowd gathered in Jerusalem for the feast

    Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know (Acts 2:22 NASB)

John also makes it clear that some of the miracles were recorded so that people, who did not see these signs and wonders for themselves, would believe that Jesus was the Son of God.

    Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31 NASB) Also See Authenticating The Coming of The Messiah and The Advent of the Kingdom


Hostile Witnesses
The Pharisee Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus under cover of darkness and told Him... "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." The "we" that Nicodemus was referring to had to be, in all likelihood, the other religious leaders. While Nicodemus cannot be considered a "hostile witness', many of the Pharisees, who were bitterly opposed to Jesus, definitely were.

What is particularly telling is the fact that some of the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by "Beelzebul the ruler of the demons." (Matthew 12:24) and, when He was hanging on the cross, they mockingly said 'He saved others; now let him save himself'. (Matthew 27:42).

In other words, people who were not at all friendly or sympathetic to Jesus admitted that He actually cast out demons and raised people from the dead. (See John 11:43-48)


Mohammed claimed to be only a human messenger, thus performed no miracles.
Although it places the incident of Moses’ hand turning white in Egypt, rather than at the burning bush when God first spoke to him, the Qur'an says that when Moses was challenged by the Pharaoh, he responded with miracles (Sura 7:103-108).

It is interesting that the Qur'an also says the miracles performed by Jesus, (specifically mentioning healing the blind and the leper, and bringing forth the dead) was "clear proof" to the children of Israel. (Sura 5. Surat Al-Ma'idah. V. 110). Verse 111 then enjoins the reader to "believe in Me (Allah) and my messenger Jesus". Additionally, the Qur'an says when the disciples asked Jesus if His Lord could send down to them a table [spread with food] from the heaven? Allah replied saying

    Indeed, I will sent it down to you, but whoever disbelieves afterwards from among you - then indeed will I punish him with a punishment by which I have not punished anyone among the worlds." (Sura 5:112-115. Surat Al-Ma'idah)

However, when the people told Mohammed that they would not believe him unless he performed a miracle, such as causing a spring to gush forth from the ground, ascending into the sky, or making Allah and the angels appear, Mohammed said he was only a human messenger [Sura 17: 90-93. Surat Al-'Isra']. This in spite of the fact that Mohammed admitted that "Allah is able to send down a sign" (sura 6:37).

So why didn't Muhammad perform miracles? Simply because, as the Qur'an itself says, he was only a "warner", which implies that warners weren't equipped with signs and wonders

    And those who disbelieved say, "Why has a sign not been sent down to him from his Lord?" You are only a warner, and for every people is a guide. (Sura 13:7. Surat Ar-Ra`d )

    But they say, "Why are not signs sent down to him from his Lord?" Say, "The signs are only with Allah , and I am only a clear warner." (Sura 29:50. Surat Al-`Ankabut). Also See Suras 7:188 and 11:12

But here is what I find fascinating. Sura 5 actually curses those who disbelieve what Jesus said...

    Cursed were those who disbelieved among the Children of Israel by the tongue of David and of Jesus, the son of Mary. That was because they disobeyed and [habitually] transgressed. (Sura 5:78. Surat Al-Ma'idah)

But this same Jesus, said He was the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no man came to the Father but through Him (John 14:6). Am I missing something here, or is this a classic case of choosing only what one wishes to believe? And yes, I know that many Muslims claim that there were many, many verses altered or even added into the New Testament. Sadly, considering the number of manuscripts in our possession this would have been impossible. [For details see chapter The Bible Then and Now].


Among All Religious Founders, Only Jesus Made Prophecies That Were Fulfilled
In turn, Jesus Himself was a prophet. As previously mentioned, the test of the prophets of the Old Testament was that their predictions be accurately fulfilled. In line with this, when Jesus prophesied, He very expressly stated that he did so because, when His words came to pass, we would know He was who He claimed to be, and would believe in Him.

    From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.  (John 13:19 NASB)

Please note that none of the other religious founders made prophecies, and certainly none that have been fulfilled in such minute detail. But here are some that Jesus made...
 

His Words Would Endure:
Although not exactly a 'flamboyant' prophecy, the following is a very strong indication of who Jesus really was. In His words...

    Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away (Matthew 24:35. Also See (Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33).

Think about it for a moment. Jesus was an ordinary carpenter from a village the people of the day turned their noses up at. He had no formal education, never held office, never wrote a book and, after His earliest years in Egypt, never ventured beyond the borders of His very small country. His few disciples were peasants and fishermen. Besides which, those in power (the political and religious leaders of the nation) seemed determined to silence Him.

Unless he had delusions of grandeur, an ego the size of the Grand Canyon, and/or was a raving lunatic, no ordinary man would make the absurd statement that His teachings would survive His own short life-span, much less outlast heaven and earth. But Jesus' words have not only survived two thousand years, but as predicted, will outlast the earth itself.


His Instructions to His Disciples
:
Additionally, Jesus told His disciples to follow Him, and He would make them "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). Sometime later He instructed them to "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Both of these seemed ridiculous instructions to give untrained, uneducated, unsophisticated, and politically naive peasants. He then followed it up with what seemed like an outrageous prophecy...

    But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).

So what happened? The power of God's spirit suddenly converted these men who, having lost their leader and probably very fearful for their own lives, were cowering in the background, into the original driving force behind the global spread of Christianity.

John also records Jesus as making a very strange statement to the crowd listening to Him. He said... "And I, if I am lifted up (Gk. hupsoō) from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."  In the very next verse John explains that, by these words, Jesus was indicating "the kind of death by which He was to die". (John 12:32-33 NASB). Obviously death by crucifixion was one of the most terrible ways to die. It seems hardly imaginable that a man in agony on a cross would "draw all men" to Him.

Yet, this prophecy has been remarkably fulfilled. The cross has become, not a symbol of a hideous death, but one of God's love towards men, in that His only begotten Son gave His life that we might live. It is a symbol of hope... of the victory of life over death. And, just as Jesus prophesied, it has drawn men and women from every corner of the earth to Him.

Note: Sometime earlier, when talking to the Pharisee Nicodemus, who was a ruler of the Jews, Jesus, using the same Greek word, drew a parallel between His death and Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness. [See Footnote II]

Some of Jesus' very specific prophecies include....

He Would Be Betrayed By One Of His Disciples
On the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Jesus told His disciples that one of them would betray Him. (Matthew 26:21-22)

    As they were eating, He said, "Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me." Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, "Surely not I, Lord?" And He answered, "He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. (Matthew 26:21-23 NASB)

This was literally fulfilled by Judas Iscariot.

    While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" (Luke 22:47-48 NASB)

All Of His Disciples Would Leave Him When He was Betrayed
One prophecy that, at the time, must really have upset the disciples was

    Then Jesus *said to them, "You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, 'I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.' "But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee." (Matthew 26:31-32 NASB)

This was literally fulfilled when Jesus was arrested.

    "But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets." Then all the disciples left Him and fled.  (Matthew 26:56 NASB)

Peter Would Deny Him Three Times
Much to Peter's horror, Jesus predicted that He (Peter) would thrice deny Him.

    But Peter said to Him, "Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away." Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." Peter *said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You." All the disciples said the same thing too. (Matthew 26:33-35 NASB)

Sadly, this was exactly what happened.

    Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know the man!" And immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, "Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:74-75 NASB).

He Would Suffer Because Of The Religious Rulers, and Be Crucified in Jerusalem
Jesus not only predicted that His death would take place in Jerusalem, but it would be by crucifixion, on the Passover, in Jerusalem, after being beaten by those in authority

    From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. (Matthew 16:21 NASB)

    "You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion." (Matthew 26:2 NASB)

All of which were fulfilled to the letter

    Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him and beating Him,  (Luke 22:63 NASB)

    There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome. When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem. (Mark 15:40-41 NASB)

    It was the third hour when they crucified Him. The inscription of the charge against Him read, "The King of the Jews." (Mark 15:25-26 NASB)

He Would be Resurrected on The Third Day:
When the Jews of Jesus' day asked for a sign of His authority, Jesus referred to them to His coming resurrection..

    The Jews then said to Him, "What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews then said, "It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" What the Jews did not realize at the time is that Jesus was not speaking of the physical temple down the road, but the temple of His body. (John 2:18-21 NASB)

    From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. (Matthew 16:21 NASB)

Not only did the women find an empty tomb when they went to the grave site...

    The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. "He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. (Matthew 28:5-6 NASB)

But He was resurrected on the third day, by the Jewish method of counting days... from sundown to sundown.

(Also See How Many Angels?)

The Temple In Jerusalem Would Be Destroyed
Jesus had just emerged from the temple and about to leave when His disciples came up to point out the beauty of the buildings. Jesus' response?... "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down." (Matthew 24:1-2, Luke 21:5-6 NASB)

This happened exactly as predicted. After a siege of several months, Titus invaded Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and reduced the city to rubble. The Romans pretty much dismantled the temple, leaving few stones standing on another.

The "Prophet" Muhammad
"Seal of The Prophet"?

The Quran says that Muhammad is the seal of the prophets:

    Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah is ever Aware of all things. (Yusuf Ali. Surat Al-'Ahzab 33:40 http://quran.com/search?q=seal+of+the+prophets)

While the phrase "Seal of the Prophets" comes across as a rather impressive spiritual symbol, in reality it was a a purely physical sign, i.e. a mole.

    My aunt took me to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Apostle! This son of my sister has got a disease in his legs." So he passed his hands on my head and prayed for Allah's blessings for me; then he performed ablution and I drank from the remaining water. I stood behind him and saw the seal of Prophethood between his shoulders, and it was like the "Zir-al-Hijla" (means the button of a small tent, but some said 'egg of a partridge.' etc.) (Volume 1, Book 4, Number 189: Narrated As-Sa'ib bin Yazid: http://www.quranwebsite.com/hadith/bukhari_volume_1.html)

    My aunt took me to Allah's Apostle and said, "O Allah's Apostle! My nephew is- ill." The Prophet touched my head with his hand and invoked Allah to bless me. He then performed ablution and I drank of the remaining water of his ablution and then stood behind his back and saw "Khatam An-Nubuwwa" (The Seal of Prophethood) between his shoulders like a button of a tent. (Volume 7, Book 70, Number 574: Narrated As-Sa'ib: http://www.quranwebsite.com/hadith/bukhari_volume_7.html)

Muhammad Made No Prophecies
Yet, in spite of this "seal", Mohammed was quite clear that he could not see "the unseen".

    Say, "I hold not for myself [the power of] benefit or harm, except what Allah has willed. And if I knew the unseen, I could have acquired much wealth, and no harm would have touched me. I am not except a warner and a bringer of good tidings to a people who believe." [Sura 7:188 Surat Al-'A`raf]

    Indeed, Allah [alone] has knowledge of the Hour and sends down the rain and knows what is in the wombs. And no soul perceives what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul perceives in what land it will die. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. [Sura 31:34 Surat Luqman]

    Say, "I do not know if what you are promised is near or if my Lord will grant for it a [long] period."[He is] Knower of the unseen, and He does not disclose His [knowledge of the] unseen to [Sura 72:25-26 Surat Al-Jinn)

Actually this is hardly surprising, considering He ‘forgot’ the date of the most momentous happening of his life. ....

Muhammad's 'Forgetfulness'
Muslims consider Laylat Al Qadr to be the holiest night of the year. Traditionally celebrated on the 27th day of Ramadan, it is the anniversary of two very important dates in Islam. 1) the night Muslims believe the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. 2) The night when God forgives all sins.

    Whoever stands (in prayer) during the Nigh of Al-Qadr with faith and expecting reward (from Allah), he will be forgiven for his previous sins." (Fath Al-Bari 4:294, and Muslim 1:253) [06]

Yet, Muhammad said he had forgotten the exact date, but knew it occurred on one of the "odd nights of the last ten nights" (of Ramadan). [07]. So what in the world makes us believe that the will of god was expressed through him?

However, when all is said and done, the one point that should resonate with everyone is the fact that....


Only Jesus Died For Us
It is very true that there is an ethical core that most, if not all, religions have in common. Many of the founders of the various religions taught against any form of racial or class prejudice. Guru Nanak was fearlessly outspoken against political repression, injustice and inequality. Baha'ullah "outlined a framework for the reconstruction of human society at all levels: spiritual, moral, economic, political, and philosophical". [08] Buddhism teaches that to be a truly balanced and complete individual, a person must develop both wisdom and compassion. [09]

As Keith E. Johnson says...

    There is an ethical core which all religions share in common. Some formulation of the Golden Rule, for example, is found in Judaism, Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity, Taoism, Islam, and Buddhism. In addition, each of these traditions produces a similar ethical/moral transformation in the lives of its followers. Certainly it would be difficult to prove that one religious tradition is more effective than others in transforming the lives of its followers. [10]

    (Note: This very true... on the surface. However, I believe the Christian 'born again'  experience changes more than we could possibly imagine. Fascinatingly, it is science that has given us some clues as to what this transformation may entail. . See Original Sin and Epigenetics.

However, while you are sure to hear many, many long and philosophical discourses, which religion besides Christianity will tell you of a God who willingly came down to earth to save those who would be His people, by paying the price of their sins? And this by dying a horrible death. While many religions speak of and teach compassion and justice, where do you hear of a God who would not set aside His own laws, but had so much compassion for us that He Himself bore the sentence that justice demanded? See Chapter The Message of The Bible

Additionally, and this point is crucial... Jesus didn't stay dead.


Jesus is Alive
In his booklet Exploring Christianity - Religions, the Rev. Dick Tripp tells the story of someone who was converted to Christ. When his friends asked him why he became a Christian. He answered,...

    Well, it's like this. Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly the road forked in two directions, and you didn't know which way to go; and there at the fork were two men, one dead and one alive. Which one would you ask the way to go?" The fact that Christ was alive attracted him to Christianity. Of the four major world religions that are based on a personality, rather than on a philosophical system, only Christianity claims that its founder came back to life after death. [11]

The fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead is the crux of the Christian faith. As Paul said, if Christ were not resurrected then their preaching was a waste of time, and our faith is in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:14). In other words, if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, then we could just as well take everything else he said, write it down on little bits of paper and stuff them into fortune cookies.

[Why the Resurrection is the crux of the Christian faith is covered in the chapter The Message of The Bible].


Founders of Other Religions

It is not difficult to find out where most of the founders of various religions were buried. Please Note: My sole intention is to link to the actual photographs of the tombs and shrines of various religious leaders. I do not know what information there is in the connected articles, which may, or may not, be accurate)

    The Qur'an says Muhammad would die... "Indeed, you are to die, and indeed, they are to die" (Sura 39:30 Surat Az-Zumar). That was certainly true... Muhammad is buried in the "Mosque of the Prophet" in the city of Medina in Saudi Arabia. Muhammad's grave lies within the confines of what used to be his wife Aisha's and his house. (SEE)

    Buddha died in the village of Kushinigar, close to the Nepal border. He was cremated and his relics distributed, finally finding their home in various Stupas across Asia. [12] (SEE). One tooth is said to be housed in a temple, in Kandy, Sri Lanka. (SEE)

    Bahá'ulláh, died in Bahjí near Acre, Israel. A shrine built there contains his remains and is therefore considered a very holy place for Bahais.  (SEE).

    Bahá'u'lláh's forerunner, the Báb, who is one of three central figures of the Bahá'í Faith, is buried on Mount Carmel, in Haifa, Israel. The Shrine of the Báb is considered to be the second holiest place on Earth for Bahá'ís, after the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh in Acre. (SEE)

    Joseph Smith and his brother were initially buried under the unfinished Nauvoo House in of Nauvoo, Illinois. They were later disinterred and re-buried under an out-building on the Smith homestead. Joseph's wife Emma was also buried in the same spot. (SEE)

    Confucius, founder of Confucianism, is buried in his home town of Qufu in Shandong Province, China. Confucius' grave is located in a large cemetery where more than 100,000 of his descendants are also buried. (SEE)

    When Guru Nanak died in 1539, Hindus and Muslims disagreed on how to perform his last rites. The Hindus wanted him cremated, while the Muslims wanted to bury him. According to tradition, Guru Nanak brokered a compromise by suggesting that each group should place a garland of flowers beside his body, and those whose garland still remained fresh on the following day could dispose of his body according to their tradition. However, the next morning, upon raising the cloth under which the Guru's body lay, only the flowers shared between his followers were found. There was no trace of the guru's body. The Hindus cremated their flowers whereas the Muslims buried theirs.

    Scientology was founded by L. Ron Hubbard. Upon his death, Hubbard was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean [13]

    Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, the central figure of the Rastafari movement, is interred at Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (SEE)

    There is no consensus as to where Zoroaster lived, much less where he died or what became of his remains.

Please note The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem was built, by the Roman emperor Constantine, as two connected churches over two different sites... 1) the traditional site of Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified, is in one corner. 2) On the other side, a rotunda contains the remains of a rock-cut room that someone identified as the burial site of Jesus. However, it is also to be noted that this rotunda is called the Anastasis ("Resurrection")

But, is there any evidence at all that Jesus is no longer in the place where the disciples buried Him? Let's see what the first century writers had to say about this event.

    Luke summed it up in the opening chapter of his second book.. The Acts of The Apostles. In his words "The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:1-3 NASB)

    Speaking to the Roman centurion, Cornelius, Peter stated they were witnesses, not only of all the things Jesus did, but that they  "ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead". (Acts 10:39-41 NASB)

    In his letter to the Corinthians Paul did not appeal to circumstantial evidence to prove the resurrection of Christ, but to the testimony of more than 500 eyewitnesses, most of whom must have still been alive at the time of writing . Paul mentions some of those whom the risen Lord appeared to... Peter, the other disciples, his brother James, the apostles, five hundred others and to Paul himself. (1 Corinthians 15:4-8 NASB). Not mentioned however, are the women that Jesus first appeared to.

I would, at this point, like to bring up a very common objection. Many critics and skeptics object to the resurrection on the grounds that there is absolutely no evidence that a dead person has ever come to life in any country, in any age.

So?

It is a never ending source of amazement that we, in our infinite wisdom, think that something cannot possibly be true simply because we haven't found any tangible evidence for it.

The point is, only God Almighty can raise someone from the dead, and He certainly did not, and does not, spend His time running around raising people who have already been buried. Besides which, anyone who believes a Supreme Deity should not have any difficulty in believing that such a Being could not only create, but also resurrect. For God, this is not a 'miracle', but all in a day's work, so to speak.

In any case, that Jesus was resurrected from the dead is the whole point and hope of the Gospel message. He was the first to be permanently raised, and will be followed in due course by believers. (Even the few people who were miraculously resurrected by ancient prophets including Jesus Himself, and the apostles after Him, did not live forever. They were all destined to die again at some point).

This is covered in the chapter The Message of The Bible, but before we come to this chapter, there are several very common objections to believing anything said by the New Testament authors, different aspects of which are dealt with in the intervening five chapters....


Summary
To summarize... none of the founders of any of the religions, other than Christianity, were the subject of any prophecies that foretold their births or mission. Jesus was foretold in a very large number of prophecies, which specified where He would be born, gave great details about how He would die, and the fact that He would be resurrected from the grave. They also told what His mission would be and the miracles He would do to substantiate His claims.

Although they variously claimed to be messengers, prophets, or manifestations of God, none of the founders of the various religions backed up their claims by any supernatural means... no prophecies, no miracles... no nothing. And, once again, please remember that eloquence is not proof of divine inspiration. Jesus made the most mind boggling claims of all, but not only did he fulfill a large number of prophecies made hundreds of years before He was born, but His claims were supported by the many miracles He performed, the prophecies He Himself made and, above all, by His resurrection from the dead which was witnessed by many living at the time.

Additionally, all the founders of other religions were born of a natural union between their human fathers and mothers. The Messiah was supernaturally conceived without benefit of a human father, born of a woman who was yet a virgin.

As Greg Koukl pointed out, 99.9 % of everything we know comes from someone else, not from our own research. For example, all our knowledge about the universe, the microscopic world, distant lands, and history, comes from one authority or another. The key issue being the reliability and credibility of the source. He goes on to say that

    "...a good case can be make that Jesus was that kind of authority. First He made certain claims about the nature of the universe, about Himself, and about God. He then worked miracles, cast out demons, raised the dead, predicted his own crucifixion, death and resurrection, and then self-consciously raised himself from the dead. Now if Jesus, in fact, did those things, I think He's earned the right to speak authoritatively about spiritual things" [14]

And, since Jesus had the right to speak authoritatively about spiritual matter, perhaps we should bear in mind His very unambiguous statement...

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. ( John 14:6)

In other words, without Jesus, you, me, and everyone else, isn't going to reach the Father, be resurrected from the dead, and live for all eternity in a perfect world. In short, without Him... we're toast.

 
Continue on to Part 7: The Reliability of The New Testament
If we applied whatever criteria liberal scholars use to dismiss the Gospels, to the evidence for other ancient historical people and events, we would be forced to dismiss as myth every single thing we think we think we know about the ancient past, simply because everything we assume to be factual history is based (just as the Gospels are) on historians. So what is the excuse for many scholar's policy that what's sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander? And, bias aside, do the New Testament records fulfill the historian's requirements of internal, external and transmissional reliability. In other words, when were the Gospel accounts written, were they authored by the people whose name they bear, did they intend to record history, or did they have a hidden agenda? Finally, can we be reasonably certain that the text we have to today is what was originally written. CLICK HERE

 

Endnotes (Chapter 6)Endnotes (Chapter 6)

[01] Max Arthur MacAuliffe [1842-1913]. The Sikh Religion, Volume 1. Chapter 1. Oxford University Press [1909]
http://www.sacred-texts.com/skh/tsr1/tsr103.htm

[02] TaoDeChing - Lao Tze. http://www.chinapage.com/gnl.html. Copyright © Ming L. Pei 1995-2009

[03] Ushtavaiti Gatha. The Songs Leading To Radiant Happiness. Song 9.
http://zoroastrian.org/GathaSongs/song09.htm. © The Zarathushtrian Assembly

[04] http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/12/herod/mueller-text/5

[05] Dr. David R. Reagan. The Resurrection in Prophecy. Copyright © 1996-2014 Lamb & Lion Ministries.
http://www.lamblion.com/articles/articles_first8.php

[06] Tafsir of Surah Al Qadr (The Night Of Power) http://navedz.com/2014/07/21/tafsir-surah-al-qadr-night-power/

[07] Bukhari. Hadith 1:777. http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/bukhari/bh1/bh1_779.htm

[08] Bahá'u'lláh. An Introduction to the life of Bahá'u'lláh. http://bahaullah.com/

[09] Buddhist Studies. Basic Buddhism. http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/qanda07.htm

[10] Keith E. Johnson. Do All Paths Lead to the Same Destination? http://www.leaderu.com/wri/articles/paths.html

[11] Dick Tripp. Exploring Christianity - Religions. A victory over evil & death which has already been won.
http://www.christianity.co.nz/religon7.htm

[12] Kusinara - place of the Great Passing Away. http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhistworld/kusinaga.htm. Copyright © 2008 - BDEA Inc. & BuddhaNet

[13] Find A Grave. L. Ron Hubbard http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=3476

[14] Greg Koukl. Testing Religious Truth Claims. http://www.str.org/articles/testing-religious-truth-claims#.U86ErdLn8Vs


Footnote I
Most of the major religions of the world anticipate a physical manifestation of their god. For example,

     The Jews look for the coming of the Messiah.

     Buddhists speak of the Maitreya who, according to scriptures, will be a successor of the historic Sakyamuni Buddha. The prophecy of the arrival of Maitreya refers to a time when the Dharma (right way of living) will have been forgotten by most on earth.

     In Hinduism, Kalki is the final incarnation of Vishnu foretold to appear at the end of Kali Yuga, the current epoch. It is believed that the sword wielding Kalki astride a white horse, is the harbinger of the end time. He will usher in Satya Yuga (the era of truth, or the golden age).

     Some Muslims look to the coming of Imam Mahdi or the 12th Imam. According to the Shiite version of Islam the 12th descendant of Mohammed, known as the 12th Imam or the Mahdi, went into hiding in 941, some 1300 years ago. Shiites believe he will reappear when the world has become full of oppression and tyranny.

     Some even anticipate the return of the serpent god Quetzalcoatl.

     Perhaps most ominous of all is the fact that a large portion of the New Age movement believes the present phase of human existence is one of transition, and there is a new age dawning. However, the utopian age will only come about under the leadership and guidance of a world leader/teacher. They contend that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius, Jesus, and many others were "Christs" but one, greater than all of them... the "Lord of the World", also known as Sanat Kumara, will soon come to usher in a New Age. And his coming will be preceded by the Ascended "Masters" who will walk openly among men. 

Since the concept of a coming world teacher... a messiah, who sets up a golden age on earth can be found in many world religious systems, as well as in the literature of the occult It is easy to see how a charismatic leader who promises (and seems to deliver) utopia will be accepted nay, even welcomed, by much of the world.

However, although Jesus promised He would return to set up the father's kingdom here on earth, we have been warned that His return will be preceded by what the Bible calls the "anti-christ", who will lead thousands, if not millions of people astray. In fact, when asked what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age, Jesus' first words were to caution believers not to be misled by false Christs which, obviously, has to include the most dangerous one of all... the antichrist.

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you. "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many. (Matthew 24:3-5 NASB) [PLACE IN TEXT]


Footnote II
Jesus used the same word three years earlier while talking to Nicodemus, a Pharisee, member of the Jewish council, and highly respected teacher in Israel.

    And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up (Gk. hupsoō): That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:14-15).

It is obvious that the Lord was drawing a distinct parallel (or typological meaning) between His imminent crucifixion and the strange record of the brazen serpent impaled on a pole back in Moses' day.

"Fiery serpents" had slain many Israelites in the wilderness because of their sinful complaining against God and Moses. When they repented, any one who had been bitten could be healed by simply looking upon the impaled serpent (Numbers 21:4-9), thus showing saving faith in God's Word. The spiritual picture is one of the death penalty for sin being transferred from the repentant and believing sinner to the serpent which would otherwise have been the instrument of death.

Similarly, those who would look in faith on Christ lifted up on the cross would receive forgiveness and salvation from death. And much as we love to promote a one sided view of Jesus as ‘gentle and meek’, there is another side to Him. He is the one who will judge and condemn to death those who have refused, or ignored, His offer. [PLACE IN TEXT]

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