Why think that (2) … Jesus claimed to be something special

As discussed in the previous post, Jesus is mentioned here and there by some non-Christians, like the Jewish historian Josephus and the Roman historian Tacitus. But our main source of information is that provided by the early Christians themselves. This evidence comes in two main types. There are the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), which are conventionally dated from around 70 AD but may well be earlier. Then there are letters that early Christians sent to individuals or churches. There are a number of these in the Bible, many of which were probably written before the gospels. Taken together these provide us with a lot of information about Jesus and who he claimed to be.

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pi...

Gospel sources – First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak, a Medieval Armenian scribe and miniaturist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We should comment at this point about the way we’re using these sources. Though they come from the Bible, they are also historical sources and we’re going to treat them in that way. So at this point we’re not too bothered about whether every last detail of the gospels is correct or not. Nor need we be concerned about whether these documents also contain messages from God. We can leave such issues till later. For now we can just look these documents for what they are – ancient documents, which contain information about Jesus, written by people who were in a position to know. So what do these sources say about who Jesus claimed to be?

Well, the most obvious one is that Jesus was called “Christ” (or more properly, the Christ) – that’s where the name “Christians” come from. “Christ” is the Greek word meaning “anointed” , equivalent of the Hebrew word “Messiah”. The concept of being “anointed” refers to the ceremony by which someone was made king in ancient Israel. (There is a good example of this in the Old Testament when David is anointed as king – see 1 Samuel 16). By the time of Jesus the kingdom of Israel had long since been destroyed and the Jews were essentially living under Roman rule. But the Old Testament prophets had predicted that the royal line of the ancient kings of Israel would be restored and that there would be a king again. Many Jews living at the time of Jesus expected the Messiah to be someone who would lead them to overthrow the Romans so they could be an independent nation again. What is interesting about Jesus is that, though he claimed to be the Messiah – the promised king, he did not attempt to lead an armed rebellion against Rome. So whilst Jesus was claiming to be a king, he was not the king they were expecting.

The most common phrase Jesus used to describe himself as “Son of Man”. That may sound like an odd way to describe yourself, and it was even at the time. In the language of the day – Aramaic – the expression “son of man” was used to refer to humanity in general. But that’s not the way Jesus uses it. He doesn’t describe himself as a son of man but as the Son of Man. So what was he getting at? The Old Testament prophet Daniel presents a picture of human history, where nations are represented by vicious beasts (Daniel 7). But this succession of beast-nations does not last forever. At the end of the vision, a court is held with God seated as judge. Power and authority is taken away from the beasts and given to a new character who is described as “one like the son of man”. This character receives a kingdom from God that will last forever. So when Jesus describes himself as the Son of Man, he is claiming to be the future king, the one who will receive a kingdom from God. But not a kingdom like the human kingdoms that preceded it. Instead this is good kingdom that will last forever.

Jesus is often described as being the Son of God. And frequently Jesus presents himself as having a unique father-son relationship with God. He is not saying that he is a child of God in the sense that all God’s creatures are his children. He is claiming that he has a relationship with God that is entirely unique. The gospels include the stories about Jesus’ birth, whereby his mother, Mary, becomes pregnant despite being a virgin. According to the gospels Jesus had no biological father (though no doubt Joseph cared for Jesus as his own son). So in a very real sense God was Jesus’ father. But being the Son of God is not just about parentage. Jesus claimed to have a very special relationship with God. The gospel writers describe Jesus has having special power to perform miracles, special wisdom to teach people God’s ways and special authority to forgive sins. Jesus was not simply claiming to be a prophet or holy man, but God’s special representative on earth.

Lastly, Jesus took the remarkable step of claiming that he was going to die. And not in battle, or by murder, but that he was going to die to free people from sin. He says:

The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45)

Westvorhalle der Stiftsbasilika St. Vitus, Ell...

The King of the Jews (INRI) Nailed to death – Westvorhalle der Stiftsbasilika St. Vitus, Ellwangen (Jagst) Kreuzaltar, Hans und Matthäus Schamm (Ottobeuren) zugeschrieben, um 1610; detail: Christushaupt und INRI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And the early Christians reflecting on the death of Jesus also recognised it as a special death. A preacher named Paul wrote to a church explaining the things he had learnt from talking to those who knew Jesus. He writes:

What I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3)

Now Jesus did die. He was executed. He was nailed to a cross by Roman soldiers and died gasping for air. He died the death of a criminal. He should have been forgotten by history. But his followers understood his death differently. This was not the last disgrace of a failed prophet. This was the turning point of history. When God’s representative on earth made the ultimate sacrifice to so that people could be forgiven for the things they’d done wrong and start a new life.

So that’s what Jesus claimed about who he was and what he would achieve. But is it true? Was Jesus a future king? Was Jesus God’s representative on earth? And did Jesus’ death provide a way for us to change our relationship with God? Well there is one more thing that the early Christians claimed about Jesus: that he rose from the dead – that he stopped being dead and came alive again. And if that is true then we’re no longer dealing with the claims of a human man but with a moment when God intervened in history to change the world.

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 Preceding: Why think that (1) … Jesus existed?

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Related articles:

  1. Prophets making excuses
  2. Written to recognise the Promissed One
  3. Patriarch Abraham, Muslims, Christians and the son of God
  4. Story of Jesus’ birth begins long before the New Testament
  5. Jesus begotten Son of God #3 Messiah or Anointed one
  6. Nazarene Commentary Matthew 3:13-17 – Jesus Declared God’s Son at His Baptism
  7. Servant of his Father
  8. Slave for people and God
  9. People Seeking for God 5 Bread of life
  10. The Anointed One and the first day of No Fermentation
  11. Anointing of Christ as Prophetic Rehearsal of the Burial rites
  12. Atonement And Fellowship 5/8
  13. Atonement And Fellowship 6/8
  14. Entrance of a king to question our position #2 Who do we want to see and to be
  15. How is it that Christ pleased God so perfectly?
  16. Wishing to do the will of God
  17. For the Will of Him who is greater than Jesus
  18. Imprisonment and execution of Jesus Christ
  19. Marriage of Jesus 7 Impaled
  20. A Messiah to die
  21. Death of Christ on the day of preparation
  22. In the death of Christ, the son of God, is glorification
  23. 14 Nisan a day to remember #1 Inception
  24. Days of Nisan, Pesach, Pasach, Pascha and Easter
  25. After the Sabbath after Passover, the resurrection of Jesus Christ
  26. The Song of The Lamb #6 Revelation 14
  27. Jerusalem and a son’s kingdom
  28. Kingdom Visions of a Man, Throne and Great crowd
  29. Signs of the Last Days
  30. Getting out of the dark corners of this world
  31. The Immeasurable Grace bestowed on humanity
  32. Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26
  33. A Living Faith #6 Sacrifice
  34. Self inflicted misery #7 Good news to our suffering
  35. Miracles of revelation and of providence 1 Golden Thread and Revelation

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  • Sunday (August 24): “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (shechina.wordpress.com)
    At an opportune time Jesus tested his disciples with a crucial question: “Who do the people say that I am and who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13). Jesus was widely recognized in Israel as a mighty man of God, even being compared with the greatest of the prophets, John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah. Peter, always quick to respond, exclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.
  • Jesus is the Messiah (darnellbarkman.wordpress.com)
    ‘Christ’ in early Christianity was a title, and only gradually became an alternative proper name for Jesus. In practice ‘Messiah’ is mostly restricted to the notion, which took various forms in ancient Judaism, of the coming King who would be David’s true heir, through whom YAHWEH [The Creator God’s proper name] would rescue Israel from pagan enemies.
  • Christianity Fast Facts (wdsu.com)
    Followers of the Christian religion base their beliefs on the life, teachings, and death of Jesus Christ.Christians believe in one God that created heaven, earth, and the universe.
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    On the third day after his crucifixion, Jesus Christ arose from the dead.
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    The first Christians were Jews who came to believe Jesus was the Messiah. Gentiles (non-Jews) also made up a large majority of its followers, as is the case today.
  • Secular Israel vs Biblical Israel: Are they the Same? (endtimesprophecyreport.wordpress.com)
    With the Gaza War resuming in earnest, now seems to be the time for a few observations about the secular state of Israel, biblical Israel, Jews, the synagogue of Satan and the deliberate Corporate (and other) Media smokescreens which obscure these subjects.
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    Of course, the largest mistake–and there are quite a few in the linked piece, which is relatively short–is that one cannot separate the Jews as a people from the actions taken by the leadership of the secular state of Israel.  But we know that is a lie.
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    We’re commanded to warn about deception; that deception includes the secular, man-created state of Israel which is NOT biblical Israel. There are observant Jews in Israel.  They are often the victims of violence. God promises He will save His remnant–and He will.  However, make no mistake: secular Israel is not biblical Israel.  Those who confuse the two will reap the unfortunate harvest of deception.  The Christian ignores Jesus’ clear warnings in Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 at his own risk.
  • Matthew 1-7 (apologistmike.wordpress.com)
    The gospel of Matthew was written by an eyewitness to the ministry of Jesus. He was Jewish, which accounts for his emphasis on the Jewish scriptures in the work, and he was a tax collector for the Roman government. This would have enabled him to write effectively. Many early fathers such as Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian and Origen recognized Matthew as the author of the gospel.
  • FFOZ TV Review: Messiah (mymorningmeditations.com)
    The term Christ is one of the most important terms in all of Scripture and yet is seldom fully understood by followers of Jesus. In episode two we will explore the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures and learn about the Jewish people’s expectation of the coming messiah. We will study the Hebrew Scriptures and learn that they speak of a coming anointed one, a king who will come to redeem mankind, defeat Israel’s enemies, and set up his kingdom.
  • Simple Truth: Jesus is not the Messiah (leavingjesus.wordpress.com)
    “Christ” is the Greek word for “Messiah”
    “Messiah” is the transliteration of a Hebrew word that means “anointed”
  • “The Christ is the Son of David” (worryisuseless.wordpress.com)
    Why did Jesus question the Jews on the claim that their Messiah or Christ would be the son of David? After all the New Testament makes clear that Jesus himself is a direct descendant from the line of David’s throne (Romans 1:3, 2 Timothy 2:8, Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38). Jesus posed the question to make his hearers understand that the Messiah is more than the son of David. Jesus makes his point in dramatic fashion by quoting from one of David’s prophetic psalms, Psalm 110: The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I put your enemies under your feet. How can the son be the lord of his father?
  • Michele Bachmann Waiting to be Annointed Messiah (politicususa.com)
    What’s in a messiah, you ask? Like many terms it is problematic. Contrary to what many people may think, despite the origins of our word messianism is not unique to Judaism. In fact, in historical terms we can’t even speak of “Judaism” singular because there were in fact many Judaisms with different ways of life and different worldviews.[1] So not only is there not one Jewish idea (or Christian idea) of what a messiah is but not all ideas of messiahs are Jewish (or Christian).

 

Why think that (1) … Jesus existed?

Christianity is a historical faith. Christianity is founded on the figure of Jesus and so it really matters whether Jesus was a real person or not. If he did not exist then our seeking ends there. But if Jesus did exist then we can move on to the more interesting questions of what he did, who he claimed to be and in what ways he is special.

What is unusual about the question of Jesus’ existence is that it is a loaded question. The majority of historians recognize that Jesus existed and yet you will find plenty of skeptics who think that the existence of Jesus is still an open question. Of all known individuals from the first century AD very few feature in as many sources written within living memory as Jesus and yet of all known individuals from the first century AD it is Jesus whose existence is doubted. This disparity between what reliable historical methods indicate and what skeptics choose to doubt tells you something about the sort of question this is.

So let’s recap the evidence, starting with non-Christian sources. Perhaps the most well-known source is Josephus, who in one passage talks about “Jesus … a doer of wonderful works”, whom Pilate condemned to the cross (Antiquities 18.63-64). Many people think this text has been tampered with because it includes the line “he was the Christ” (and it’s unlikely that Josephus, a Jew, would have said that) so we cannot be sure what this passage originally wrote. But this is not the only time Josephus mentions Jesus. In another passage he talks about an early Christian elder, who was stoned to death; Josephus describes him as “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ” (Antiquities 20.9).

Mara bar ‘Serapion: Assyrian Stoic philosopher in the Roman province of Syria

Another Jewish writer, Mara Bar-Serapion, mentions a “wise king” whom the Jews put to death in a letter to his son. Many scholars believe this “wise king” was Jesus. The Talmud, the book of Jewish tradition, also contains stories about Jesus. Though greatly embellished and particularly anti-Christian, the Talmud refers explicitly to the death of Jesus “on the eve of the Passover” (Sanhedrin 43a).

Nuremberg chronicles f 111r 1.png

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus c. 69 AD Rome, Roman Empire

Jesus is also mentioned by two Roman historians. Tacitus records that “Christus … suffered the extreme penalty” under Pontius Pilate (Annals 15.44) and Suetonius mentions one “Chrestus”, whose followers were causing disruption in Rome (Life of Claudius 25). The Roman satirist Lucian writes about the founder of Christianity, who was crucified (The Death of Peregrine).

It is significant that early critics of Christianity, like the Platonist philosopher Celsus, did not dispute that Jesus existed – they only disputed the claims he made.

Of course, our main source of information about Jesus comes from texts written by Christians in the first century. These include texts from the late 40s or early 50s, like James and the Didache; texts from the mid-50s, like Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, Thessalonians and Romans; and, of course, the gospels, which probably date from the 60s or 70s. All easily within living memory of the events of Jesus’ life.

This is why historians do not doubt the existence of Jesus – you’d need to ignore all the evidence.

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Additional reading:

  1. Who was Jesus?
  2. Some christians do have problems with the Christian connection with Jews
  3. A Jewish Theocracy
  4. First Century of Christianity
  5. The Beginning of the life of Jesus Christ
  6. Jesus begotten Son of God #2 Christmas and pagan rites
  7. Jesus begotten Son of God #7 A matter of the Future
  8. Jesus begotten Son of God #8 Found Divinely Created not Incarnated
  9. Jesus begotten Son of God #9 Two millennia ago conceived or begotten
  10. Jesus begotten Son of God #10 Coming down spirit or flesh seed of Eve
  11. Jesus begotten Son of God #11 Existence and Genesis Raising up
  12. Jesus begotten Son of God #12 Son of God
  13. Jesus begotten Son of God #13 Pre-existence excluding virginal birth of the Only One Transposed
  14. Jesus begotten Son of God #14 Beloved Preminent Son and Mediator originating in Mary
  15. Jesus begotten Son of God #15 Son of God Originating in Mary
  16. Jesus begotten Son of God #17 Adam, Eve, Mary and Christianity’s central figure
  17. Jesus begotten Son of God #18 Believing in inhuman or human person
  18. Jesus begotten Son of God #19 Compromising fact
  19. Jesus begotten Son of God #20 Before and After
  20. Trusting, Faith, calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #1 Kings Faith
  21. The meek one riding on an ass
  22. Jesus spoke Hebrew and Aramaic
  23. Believing what Jesus says
  24. If Shroud of Turin was fake, how come no man on earth able to replicate it
  25. History of the acceptance of a three-in-one God
  26. Christianity is a love affair

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  • Evidence Of Jesus IS Meaningless (thebuybulljournal.wordpress.com)
    Sextus, who claimed this reference of Thalius, was a christian who’s life was dedicated to christianity full time (motive of lying and fabrication).
  • Book Review: Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus (Part IV) (diglotting.com)
    Pokorný’s application of the criterion of dissimilarity. He uses it in regards to the analysis of “the stylistic and rhetorical peculiarities of the early Jesus traditions”. He mentions that while the criterion of dissimilarity has been heavily criticized in recent times, it “does not mean that [it] should be abandoned” (338). But regarding the criterion of multiple attestation, Pokorný notes that its validity “is limited” and that he “would almost warn against it” (339).In an attempt to sketch an image of Jesus, Pokorný analyzes the Pauline evidence, the Synoptic traditions, and the Johannine traditions.
  • The Historicity of Jesus: Ancient Pagan Sources (3dchristianity.wordpress.com) + Josephus on Jesus: Evidence for Jesus’ Existence?Thankfully, there are non-Christian ancient documents that mentioned Jesus that we can turn to. There are, at least, seven ancient Classical or Greco-Roman authors who mentioned Jesus that scholars have attested as authentic. And there are various ancient Jewish writings as well, the most famous being the Jewish historian Flavious Josephus.
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    we have a historical corroboration of the New Testament that Jesus and James existed, they were brothers and that early Christians were in trouble with the religious authorities of Judaism, and persecuted.
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    look at pagan Greco-Roman authors as sources for the historical Jesus
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    We learn that about 80 years after Jesus was crucified, Christians have grown in such number that they were a threat to the Roman Empire and were being persecuted. We learn that early Christians met regularly on a determined day (perhaps Sunday) and sang hymns to Christ as if Christ is god. Also that early Christians were rather exemplary in their moral behaviour. And that early Christians would not worship or bow down to other gods/idols/images, and would not revile or curse Christ. The overall tone here suggests that Pliny assumed Christ was a real person whom the Christians worshiped.
  • “Is This Not the Carpenter?” – References to Jesus outside the Christian Sources (vridar.wordpress.com)
    Grabbe sugests that Tacitus more than likely had access to imperial archives and accordingly argues the likelihood that Tacitus did indeed pore through those official documents to acquire his material, including the fact of Christ’s crucifixion under Pilate.
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    I was particularly disappointed that Grabbe failed even to point out that in one of the key passages in Suetonius that the name appearing there, Chrestus, was a common slave name of the day. Readers are led to understand only one possibility: that Suetonius confused the name Christ for Chrestus:

    Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [the emperor Claudius] expelled them from Rome.

    Maybe this did originate as a confused account of Jewish Christians. Even if so, it tells us nothing about a Jesus in Galilee over a decade earlier. The passage appears to understand “Christ” (if this was originally meant) as a figure the troublesome Jews believed was in their midst in Rome.

  • Jesus’ Existence, Myth of Fact? (theperfectprescription2014.wordpress.com)
    Even without reference to Scripture the case for the existence of Jesus is as axiomatic as the case for any other historical figure such as Julius Caesar. Extra biblical material compiled by historians and archaeologists is replete with attestations that the Lord Jesus walked on earth in the flesh. Bible students interested in studying further about the testimonies of non-Christian historical sources can look up the following ….
  • Secular Historians Prove Jesus was a real Historical Person (nathanaelcoffman.wordpress.com)
    What we tend to overlook, as Christians, is that many seek to disprove Christianity by disproving the historical figure of Christ. One internet article writer said, “Christianity was the ultimate product of religious syncretism in the ancient world. Its emergence owed nothing to a holy carpenter. There were many Jesuses but the fable was a cultural construct” (“Welcome…”). There are many others who feel this way and even have well formulated arguments to support these claims. This paper shall seek to disprove the “Jesus the cultural concept,” by quoting ancient historians who mention Jesus. To further the argument that Jesus was a real historical man who lived and died (and resurrected) on this earth, one could use the work of secular historians. Through a chronological listing and study of these secular historians and their writings, one could prove both the legitimacy of the secular historians as well
  • Craig S. Keener: Jesus Existed (huffingtonpost.com)
    Contrary to some circles on the Internet, very few scholars doubt that Jesus existed, preached and led a movement. Scholars’ confidence has nothing to do with theology but much to do with historiographic common sense. What movement would make up a recent leader, executed by a Roman governor for treason, and then declare, “We’re his followers”? If they wanted to commit suicide, there were simpler ways to do it.One popular objection is that only Christians wrote anything about Jesus. This objection is neither entirely true nor does it reckon with the nature of ancient sources. It usually comes from people who have not worked much with ancient history. Only a small proportion of information from antiquity survives, yet it is often sufficient.
  • 6. Earl Doherty’s Response to Bart Ehrman’s Case Against Mythicism: Jewish Sources (vridar.wordpress.com)
  • Joe Atwill, Bill O’Reilly, and Josephus sitting in a tree… (unsettledchristianity.com)
    Atwill’s most intriguing discovery came to him while he was studying “Wars of the Jews” by Josephus [the only surviving first-person historical account of first-century Judea] alongside the New Testament.
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    I do believe Mark is writing against Rome (Vespasian) and even fellow Jews (Simon bar Giora) by using known stories he is doing so based on a historical figure and a pre-existing outline. This is the only way it would work and the only way Mark could appeal to /an/Christians.
  • Josephus on Jesus: Evidence for Jesus’ Existence? (3dchristianity.wordpress.com)
  • Proof of Jesus outside the Bible (thatfaith.wordpress.com)
  • The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth (religion.blogs.cnn.com)
  • Encouragement doesn’t “just happen” | Darkness Inverte
  • The Central Challenge of Discipleship: Recognizing Jesus
  • Letter to a friend on Jesus and the end of the age of decay
  • Jesus in the Talmud

Vier redenen vóór de opstanding

Aansluitend met onze artikelen over religie en wetenschap vallen de zienswijze op de vele wonderen die er zijn gebeurd in de Bijbel onder ogen te nemen. Eén van de vreemdste daarbij zijn de opstanding van Jezus, die dan nog een tijdje, na zijn dood door meerdere mensen kon gezien worden, maar na het opgaan in de hemel, gezien door zijn apostelen, heeft niemand hem dan nog gezien.

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Dat er geen bovennatuurlijke oorzaken zouden kunnen zijn kan alom tegen gesproken door de vele dingen die wij kunnen waarnemen in de natuur maar niet kunnen verklaren.

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Het verdwijnen van Jezus zijn lichaam kwam eigenlijk niemand ten goede. De soldaten bewaakten het graf, zodat het lichaam niet zou kunnen gestolen worden. Toen zij echter zelf konden vast stellen dat Jezus op een onwaarschijnlijke manier uit het graf verdwenen was gingen enkelen van die mannen naar de leidende priesters. Zij vertelden wat er was gebeurd en de Hoge Raad werd onmiddellijk bijeengeroepen. Ze besloten de bewakers om te kopen en te laten zeggen dat ze in slaap waren gevallen. Daardoor hadden de discipelen van Jezus zijn lichaam kunnen weghalen. De bewakers namen de steekpenningen aan en deden wat hun was opgedragen. Zo is dit verhaal onder de Joden ontstaan. En zij geloven het nu nog steeds.

Zelfs onder de apostelen was er twijfel en zij geloofden eerst niet dat Jezus lichaam weg was uit het graf, want zij waren er van overtuigd dat Jezus er in opgeborgen was en goed bewaakt werd. Zonder aarzeling lieten zij ook hun twijfel over het verdwijnen van Jezus weten. Verscheidene moesten er van overtuigd worden door Jezus dat hij het werkelijk was die aan hen verscheen.

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“11  Terwijl de vrouwen onderweg waren, gingen enkele van de bewakers naar de stad. Daar vertelden ze de hogepriesters alles wat er gebeurd was. 12 Die vergaderden met de oudsten en besloten de soldaten een flinke som geld te geven 13 en hun op te dragen: ‘Zeg maar: “Zijn leerlingen zijn ‘s nachts gekomen en hebben hem heimelijk weggehaald terwijl wij sliepen.” 14 En mocht dit de prefect ter ore komen, dan zullen wij hem wel bepraten en ervoor zorgen dat jullie buiten schot blijven.’ 15 Ze namen het geld aan en deden zoals hun was opgedragen. En tot op de dag van vandaag doet dit verhaal onder de Joden de ronde.” (Mattheüs 28:11-15 NBV)

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“16 De elf leerlingen gingen naar Galilea, naar de berg waar Jezus hen had onderricht, 17 en toen ze hem zagen bewezen ze hem eer, al twijfelden enkelen nog.” (Mattheüs 28:16-17 NBV)

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De volgelingen hadden gezien wat met hun meester was gedaan en waren bang ook zulk een dood tegemoet te gaan indien zij als volgeling zouden herkend worden. Bevend van schrik en helemaal overstuur waren de vrouwen, waaronder  Maria van Magdala, het graf uit gerend en durfden er met niemand over praten. Maar toen de Emmaus gangers er over vertelden waren de apostelen met verstomming en ongeloof geslagen.

“1  Toen de sabbat voorbij was, kochten Maria uit Magdala en Maria de moeder van Jakobus, en Salome geurige olie om hem te balsemen. 2 Op de eerste dag van de week gingen ze heel vroeg in de ochtend, vlak na zonsopgang, naar het graf. 3 Ze zeiden tegen elkaar: ‘Wie zal voor ons de steen voor de ingang van het graf wegrollen?’ 4 Maar toen ze opkeken, zagen ze dat de steen al was weggerold; het was een heel grote steen. 5 Toen ze het graf binnengingen, zagen ze rechts een in het wit geklede jongeman zitten. Ze schrokken vreselijk. 6 Maar hij zei tegen hen: ‘Wees niet bang. U zoekt Jezus, de man uit Nazaret die gekruisigd is. Hij is opgewekt uit de dood, hij is niet hier; kijk, dat is de plaats waar hij was neergelegd. 7 Ga terug en zeg tegen zijn leerlingen en tegen Petrus: “Hij gaat jullie voor naar Galilea, daar zullen jullie hem zien, zoals hij jullie heeft gezegd.”’ 8 Ze gingen naar buiten en vluchtten bij het graf vandaan, want ze waren bevangen door angst en schrik. Ze waren zo erg geschrokken dat ze tegen niemand iets zeiden.” (Markus 16:1-8 NBV)

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“13 Ze gingen terug en vertelden het aan de anderen; maar ook zij werden niet geloofd. 14 Ten slotte verscheen hij aan de elf terwijl ze aan het eten waren, en hij verweet hun hun ongeloof en halsstarrigheid, omdat ze geen geloof hadden geschonken aan degenen die hem hadden gezien nadat hij uit de dood was opgewekt.” (Markus 16:13-14 NBV)

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“3 Het belangrijkste dat ik u heb doorgegeven, heb ik op mijn beurt ook weer ontvangen: dat Christus voor onze zonden is gestorven, zoals in de Schriften staat, 4 dat hij is begraven en op de derde dag is opgewekt, zoals in de Schriften staat, 5 en dat hij is verschenen aan Kefas en vervolgens aan de twaalf leerlingen. 6 Daarna is hij verschenen aan meer dan vijfhonderd broeders en zusters tegelijk, van wie er enkelen gestorven zijn, maar de meesten nu nog leven.” (1 Corinthiërs 15:3-6 NBV)

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De broer van Jezus, Jakobus had ook eerst niet veel gevonden van zijn oudste broer en had ook eerst gespot met hem en zijn volgelingen. Maar na die bijzondere gebeurtenissen kon hij niet anders geloven dan in die wonderbaarlijke onverklaarbare gebeurtenissen.

“Ook zijn broers geloofden namelijk niet in hem.” (Johannes 7:5 NBV)

Jakobus kwam ook tot de overtuiging dat zijn broer de gezondene van God was, die de enige weg tot de Almachtige God was voor alle mensen. (Johannes 14:6) De geschiedschrijver Josephus noteerde in zijn boeken dat ook dit lid van de familie uit de stam van koning David de dood door mensen aangebracht moest ondergaan. Op bevel van Anais, de hogepriester werd hij gestenigd, omdat hij bleef verkondigen dat Jezus de zoon van God was die opgestaan was uit de dood. Indien dat niet de waarheid was, wie zou er dan voor willen sterven na lange martelingen? En er werden velen gemarteld en er werden velen er toe verleid om in te gaan op een afkoopsom om te vertellen dat het niet waar was maar dat de volgelingen van Jezus het lichaam weg hadden genomen.

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Jezus had een bijzonder voorbeeldig leven geleid en wenste dat zijn volgelingen dat ook deden. Hij wenste ook dat niemand leugens zou vertellen en altijd het goede met de anderen zouden voor hebben. Hoe zou dan zulk een leugen te rijmen geweest zijn met het hoge zedelijke peil dat Jezus van hen verwachtte?

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Michael Green merkt over de opstanding op:

“Dat was het geloof dat verslagen volgelingen van een gekruisigde rabbi veranderde in moedige getuigen en martelaren van de jonge kerk”

Zonder zulk een echt wonder kan men onder grote martelingen niet echt stand houden en zou de gemeenschap van volgelingen van die erg gehate rabbi, niet zo snel hebben kunnen uitgroeien. De vele getuigen waren spreekbuizen, die indien zulke dingen niet zouden gebeurd zijn makkelijk en snel zouden terug gefloten zijn.

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“40 en riepen de apostelen weer binnen. Ze lieten hen geselen, bevalen hun de naam van Jezus niet meer te gebruiken en lieten hen vrij. 41 De apostelen verlieten het Sanhedrin, verheugd dat ze waardig bevonden waren deze vernedering te ondergaan omwille van de naam van Jezus. 42 Ze bleven dagelijks onderricht geven in de tempel of bij iemand thuis en gingen door met het verkondigen van het goede nieuws dat Jezus de messias is.” (Handelingen 5:40-42 NBV)

Eerst enorme ‘broekschijters’ waren zij nu enorm moedige mannen geworden, standvastig tot de dood toe. Velen bezegelden hun getuigenis met bloed. Simon Greenleaf (destijds hoogleraar in de rechten aan Harvard University), die er jarenlang een college over gaf hoe men een getuigenis moet ontzenuwen en bepalen of een getuige liegt of niet, kwam tot deze conclusie:

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“In de geschiedenis van de militaire oorlogvoering is haast geen voorbeeld te vinden van een dergelijke heldhaftige standvastigheid, lijdzaamheid en onverschrokken moed. Ze hadden alle reden om de grondslagen van hun geloof nauwkeurig te heroverwegen, evenals de bewijzen van de feiten en waarheden die zij verkondigden.” (Simon Greenleaf, an Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice)

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Lees ook:

  1. Dagelijkse schoonheid
  2. Jezus moest sterven
  3. Jezus is verrezen
  4. Christus is waarlijk opgestaan uit de dood
  5. Hoe zullen de doden weer levend gemaakt worden?
  6. Alles zal worden opgeslorpt door de overwinning van het goede
  7. Wederopstanding, ook van huisdieren
  8. De hoop op leven
  9. Opdracht tot getuigenis

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