Religion of 2014-04-18

Historical evidence of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ

The world is once again, marking a very important event in Christianity - Easter - an event with momentous impact on humankind. Easter is a period of sadness and joy, a period characterised by brief suffering and endless victory, a period of sacrifice and offering. Christians and non-Christians alike are definitely aware of what Easter stands for – the unspeakably distressful suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross that culminated in a painful and shameful death, and which were finally followed by a victorious ascension from the death and the grave a seat at the Right Hand of God Almighty. The crucifixion ushered in salvation for humankind and the promise of eternal life with the Everlasting Father. All these are summed up in one extraordinary divine person- The Lord Jesus Christ. Easter thus reminds the world of the incredible pain that the Lord Jesus went through before He won salvation from damnation and condemnation for us. The majority of believers and non-believers alike have heard of the Lord Jesus Christ who died so that humankind would return to God and be united with Him in heaven. The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus has led to termination of our continuous separation from God and receipt of eternal salvation from our mounting sins. Thousands of years before the Lord’s death on the cross, the Bible foretold of His suffering, crucifixion, burial and resurrection that led to victory over evil. And the Gospels as well as the apostolic letters describe His crucifixion in detail. Unfortunately, some have cleverly tried to deny this historical fact, claiming there is no factual proof outside the Bible that the Lord Jesus actually died from painful nailing on the cross. This article brings you some, though not all, of the historical references to, and material evidence of, the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. These should let everyone know that the Bible tells the truth about what happened on Good Friday in Israel. One of the earliest historical references to the crucifixion is the Babylonian Talmud in which The Lord Jesus is referred to by his Jewish name ‘Yeshu’. The Talmud mentions the trial and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus as follows: “On the eve of Passover they hung Yeshu and the crier went forth for forty days beforehand declaring that "(Yeshu) is going to be stoned for practicing witchcraft, for enticing and leading Israel astray. Anyone who knows something to clear him should come forth and exonerate him." But no one had anything exonerating for him and they hung him on the eve of Passover. “ In addition to this, there is the letter dated between AD 73 and 3rd Century AD, written by Mara bar Sarapion, a stoic (of the Hellenistic philosophy) from Syria who was imprisoned by the Roman soldiers. In the letter, Sarapion refers to the murder of Jesus Christ who he describes as the Wise King by the Jews “For what benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death, seeing that they received as retribution for it famine and pestilence? Or the people of Samos by the burning of Pythagoras, seeing that in one hour the whole of their country was covered with sand? Or the Jews by the murder of their Wise King, seeing that from that very time their kingdom was driven away from them? For with justice did God grant a recompense to the wisdom of all three of them. For the Athenians died by famine; and the people of Samos were covered by the sea without remedy; and the Jews, brought to desolation and expelled from their kingdom, are driven away into every land” Mara bar Sarapion thus concluded that the Jews suffered from the Romans as a punishment for the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. Another historical evidence that provides certified us with confirmation of the Lord Jesus Christ’s crucifixion is the record prepared and submitted by Pontius Pilate to the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Pilate’s report on the Lord’s crucifixion was quoted by Justin Martyr in his paper titled “First Apology’ which he wrote to Antoninus Pius in AD 150. Tertullian and Euebius also made mention of Pilate’s official record on the crucifixion of the Lord, with Tertullian claiming that Emperor Tiberius went as far as hold a debate on Pilate’s report in the Roman Senate. A limestone block discovered in 1961 by a team of archaeologists led by Antonio Frova on which Pilate's tribute to Emperor Tiberius was written is undeniable evidence that Pilate indeed existed. The block is dated between Ad 26 and AD 37. There is also the statement by Julius Africanus which is dated AD 221 in which he states that the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ was associated with an earthquake and fearful darkness. Let me quote him ; “On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down” St. Matthew wrote that an earthquake occurred during the crucifixion of the Lord. He wrote this in The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 27, “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open”. Professor Jefferson Williams of Supersonic Geologicals and other professors from the German Research Center for Geosciences conducted an examination of earthquake activities in the Ein Gedi Spa adjacent to the Dead Sea, located 13 miles from Jerusalem. They studied the 4,000-year chronology of earthquake disturbances within the uppermost 19 feet of laminated sediment of the Dead Sea and used their findings in determination of the exact date of Jesus' crucifixion which they concluded the Lord Jesus was crucified on Friday April 3, 33 A.D. Their findings were published in the journal ‘International Geology Review’. Lucian a second century Romano-Syrian satirist and a pagan who lived during the second century also wrote in his book "Philopseudes", nn. 13, 16; "De Morte Pere that “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day — the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account… You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them…” Tacitus the Roman historian who lived between A.D. 54 and AD. 119 also wrote in his book ‘Annals XV, xliv’ that the Lord Jesus was put to death by Pontius Pilate. Suetonius, who was another Roman historian and lived from AD 75 to AD 160 similarly mentioned the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. Pliner the Younger (AD 61- AD 115) wrote a letter to the Roman Emperor Trajan in which he confirmed the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. Other pagan writers who acknowledged the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ are Numenius, Galerius, Phlegon and Celsus. These pagan writers did not believe in the sacrificial and redeeming death of the Lord Jesus on the cross. Indeed, some of them even laughed at this earth-shattering incident, but in writing and making fun of Christianity they have contributed to a preservation of historical records that provide ample testimony that our Lord was indeed crucified and died as stated clearly and described lucidly in the Holy Bible In addition to these writings there are other ancient materials whose discovery bear testimony of the painful crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. The most prominent of these is the Veil of Veronica which has been hanging in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome since the 13th century. The veil bears an exact image of the Lord Jesus Christ and shows clearly the extent of His suffering. The image was miraculously imprinted on the veil when Veronica, out of compassion for the suffering that the Lord Jesus was going through when he was being beaten while carrying the cross, boldly and bravely went forward and wiped off the mingled blood and sweat from the face of the Lord. The veil constitutes a most compelling proof of the extreme cruelty associated with Jesus’ torture and the suffering He had to undergo to save the world from its sins Another material proof of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ is a bloodied small piece of cloth that was wrapped around the head of the Lord Jesus after His death and which St John referred to in 20:7 of his Gospel. Known as the Sudarium of Oviedo, the cloth is being kept at the Camara Santa (also known as the Holy Chapel) in the Cathedral of San Salvador which is located in the northern part of Spain. The authorities there bring it out for public viewing only thrice a year - on Good Friday, then September 14 and 21st. The famous Shroud of Turin, a piece of linen cloth(as described by St John in his Gospel 19:40 and 20:5) that was used to bury the Lord Jesus Christ is an important proof of His crucifixion as the cloth has marks and blood stains arising from the crucifixion. It has clear images of a man subjected to a savage scourging before being crucified, with unusual head wounds that were made by the wearing of a crown of thorns as stated in the Biblical account of the agony and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, there were doubt as to its authenticity, especially following a radiocarbon dating that dated it to between 1260 and 1390 A.D. However, it was later revealed that the part of the cloth used in dating was rather a newer material that was used in piecing torn parts of the shroud together hence did not belong to the original cloth. Interestingly, another scientific examination conducted by the celebrated textile specialist Mechthild Flury-Lemberg rather revealed that the Shroud was woven with a three-to-one herringbone and a peculiar stitching pattern. Since both methods were found only on clothing materials in the tombs of the Jewish fortress of Masada that were dated between 40 BC and AD 73, they clearly indicated the Shroud also belonged to that period. Other scientific studies later confirmed the authenticity of the Shroud. These include a study by Professor Bollone on the blood stains on the Shroud, the analysis at Hercules Aerospace laboratory in Salt Lake, Utah, of travertine argonite, a rare type of calcite taken from the Shroud, and chemical analysis of pollen grains using the Polaoid Image Overly technique. Moreover, the fact that the blood stains, the calcite and as many as 70 types of pollen grains on the Shroud were also found on the Sudarium of Oviedo proved that both cloths belonged to the same geographical location and were also used to wrap the same person - the Lord Jesus Christ. As recent as a year ago, a 2,000-year-old ossuary, a stone chest used for secondary burial of bones that belonged to a daughter of the Caiaphas family of high priests was discovered. The front of the ossuary has an Aramaic inscription from the time of the Second Temple and its translation states “Miriam Daughter of Yeshua Son of Caiaphas, Priests of Ma’aziah from Beth Imri.” The high priest Yehosef Bar Caiaphas is a high priest whose involvement in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus was recorded in the New Testament. The Caiaphas family was related to the Ma’aziah priestly line and it is one of the 24 divisions of Kohens that took turns in ensuring the schedule of offerings at the Jerusalem Temple. The list of priestly courses formulated during King David’s reign is outlined in I Chronicles 24:18 of the Holy Bible. There are other historical records that testify that the Lord Jesus Christ was indeed crucified in Jerusalem as stated by the Bible and still available. Those who resemble St Thomas in terms of an ability to doubt the reality, disagree with those who bear witness and to question the validity of the unseen can comfortably take a trip to places where these materials are being kept and verify their authenticity. Thus any other religion, scientific papers, visions or whatever information peddled by others that attempt to deny this historical fact are lies, lies and damn lies which should be discarded. For us believers, these data provide us with a strengthened and unyielding conviction of the genuineness of Christ’ crucifixion and the wonderful gift of salvation from eternal damnation. Our already unyielding faith in the victorious and risen Lord, the triumphant Saviour and the prize winning Only Begotten Son of the Father Almighty is what makes us the children of God. We will continue to offer supplications, blissful praise-worship and joyous adoration during this Easter and the days beyond to the Wonderful and Invisible God. His merciful love for us is demonstrated through the agonizing crucifixion but conquering resurrection of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. The yearly celebration of Easter reminds humankind of the crucifixion of the Lord, this earth-shattering incident that occurred in Israel. Now is actually the best time for the world to reflect on what the Lord stood for, what He did, His message of love for one another, His ultimate sacrifice and His pleading with the ungodly, the atheist, the proud, the haughty, and unbeliever to repent and come to God to avoid judgment that would lead to eternal damnation. It is time for us to give acknowledgement to this wonderful act of salvation and the offer of eternal, blissful life in the kingdom of God Everlasting. It is time to accept this free proposition that remains on the table right now, given to us on a silver platter, paid for without any effort on our part. The only proviso associated with this offer is to repent and “sin no more”. The offer is so wonderful - remission of sins and union with Our Maker, the Holiest of Holies and King of Kings who reigns for ever and ever. Amen Author’s email is: kkopare@aol.comSource: By S. Kumi Opare
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