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On Jesus' Death

Jesus' Death: Historical Context
Many people believe that Jesus’ death is one of the most significant events in human history. Jesus died over two thousand years ago and yet this event has remained a topic of interest and cultural conversation ever since. Let’s consider the historical context of Jesus’ death to bring its significance into perspective.

The story of Jesus’ death goes back hundreds of years before his birth. In the Torah, the Hebrew Bible, Prophets (people who claim to hear from God and foretell coming events) predicted the birth and death of a coming savior of the world several hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Most notably, the prophet Isaiah described in detail the execution of the coming savior around 700 B.C. in Isaiah chapter 53. When this reference is compared to the descriptions of Jesus’ death by crucifixion, the similarities are stunning. They report that Jesus died in precisely the same way that prophets predicted the coming savior (Messiah) would die hundreds of years earlier.

One of the most notable factors surrounding Jesus’ death is its reportedly gruesome nature. His biographers tell of a severe beating that brought him close to death. They suggest this was followed by him being nailed to a wooden cross until Jesus died in one of the cruelest forms of capital punishment in human history. The reigning government over the region in which Jesus died was Roman. His biographers suggest that they used this form of execution as a means of instilling fear and obedience in the territories they governed.

Despite the grueling nature of Jesus’ death, his biographers indicate that Jesus not only predicted his own death but foretold the means and manner of it too (see John 3:10-15, 8:21-27, 12:20-36). His biographers suggest that his use of the phrase “being lifted up” was common vernacular of the culture for the act of someone being lifted up on a cross and hung into the air until dead - crucifixion. As the time for Jesus’ death approached, he prayed this prayer, “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” (John 12:27) His biographers suggest that Jesus revealed the purpose for his death to be the salvation of the world; hence, the reason for his coming into the world. Despite his in trepidation of facing his approaching death and everything that entailed, he faced it head on.

Jesus suggested that his death was a necessary element in God’s plan for sending him into the world. He described the purpose for this life in this manner, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." (John 3:16-18)

So, according to his biographers, Jesus declared that he came into the world to offer up his life in payment for the mistakes made by every member of the human race. They suggest that he wasn’t just any man. Indeed, they indicate that he was the only Son of God born into this world for a very special purpose. According to his biographers, Jesus died willingly so that through his death, every person would be given the opportunity to be united with God in heaven in eternity (that reality that exists outside our universe of time and space).

Yet, his biographers suggest that Jesus’ death is not the end of the story. Historical documents indicate that 3 days following his death and burial, Jesus arose from the dead (was resurrected). They report that 3 days following his death and burial, his disciples found his tomb (burial place) empty. They suggest that he was seen by 500 people during one of several appearances in the 40 days that followed. His biographers suggest that Jesus had done what no other person had ever managed to do. After being dead and buried for 3 days, he conquered death and returned to life. After 40 days of appearances with his followers watching on, Jesus ascended into the clouds.

The historical documentation of many of witnesses to his resurrection gives weight to his claims of being God’s Son and the savior of the world. Had it not been for Jesus’ reported resurrection, it would be easier to conclude that he was nothing more than a hoaxer. Yet, Jesus’ documented resurrection puts him in a category all by himself. He claimed to be God in human flesh come to save the world through his life and death. Three days following his burial, documents suggest he did what no one else had ever done or has done since. They indicate that Jesus overcame the power of death, thus validating his claims for being the Son of God and the savior of the world.

Jesus Death: Personal Application
Death is something many people naturally fear. Yet, the writings of his biographers regarding Jesus’ death and resurrection give us profound hope, if we choose to believe them. If these historical documents are accurate, they suggest that Jesus came to give his life for us so that we can spend eternity in heaven with God. They report that God came into our world and lived a lifetime in our shoes. Their writings suggest that God is sympathetic to our plight and challenges – he can relate personally to our difficulties. If they are correct, it means that God loves us enough to give his life for ours. Indeed, if Jesus is who he claimed to be it means that God offers us eternal salvation to “Whoever believes in him.” (John 3:16).

So, it seems that much stands in the balance with the issue of Jesus’ death and resurrection. If our historical records are accurate and Jesus’ claims were legitimate, we stand to gain a great deal. This is the reason we’ve developed this site at JesusCentral.com. We provide information to help people like you find an answer that is meaningful to you. Besides the assortment of historical resources, we also bring together people who provide their unique perspectives and testimonies regarding the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Death: Key References to Explore

  1. Isaiah 53 – The prophet Isaiah predicts in detail the death of the coming savior
  2. John 3:10-15 – Jesus foretells of his pending death
  3. John 8:21-27 – Jesus describes his upcoming death
  4. John 12:20-36 – Jesus predicts his death
  5. John 3:16-18 – Jesus describes his mission and purpose

Jesus Death: Launching Points

  1. Jesus predicts his death
  2. Jesus again predicts his death
  3. Why did Jesus have to die on a cross
  4. Questions about Jesus’ sentencing
  5. Jesus claims about himself

  Related Topics

  • Jesus predicts his death
  • Jesus again predicts his death
  • Why did Jesus have to die on a cross
  • Questions about Jesus’ sentencing
  • Jesus claims about himself

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