Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 29, 1953
NUMBER 25, PAGE 6,10a

The Case For Christ -- No. 3

Ernest A. Finley, Wichita, Kansas

Was Jesus of Nazareth the Son of God? Was He the long-looked-for Messiah? What kind of case do the scriptures build up for the Lord? Our effort to prove the deity of Christ has centered around one point, that being that Jesus is clearly the fulfillment of many Messianic prophecies. We pointed out that He was introduced by a forerunner, in fulfillment of prophecy, that He was born of a virgin, born in the city of David, called out of Egypt, and in the lineage that God promised would bring a blessing to all nations — all distinctly fulfilled in prophecy. We likewise introduced various Old Testament scriptures which pointed to the vicarious suffering of Christ, which were vividly fulfilled. We continue a discussion of His crucifixion.

Not only did the scriptures prophesy His suffering, but other features of His death by crucifixion are foretold.

The Holy Spirit had foreseen that Christ would be crucified with malefactors. Notice how an Old Testament prophet pointed this out. "And they made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth .... Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors: yet he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." (Isa. 53:9,12) Isaiah uses figurative language by referring to Christ's death as "his grave." His death was to be with the wicked. He was to be numbered with the transgressors. The New Testament record of His death says, "Then are there crucified with him two robbers, one on the right hand and one on the left." (Matt. 27:38) Only prejudice can keep a person from seeing that this is the fulfillment of prophecy. Does not this show that a strong case is built up for Christ?

Even words that were spoken from the cross as Jesus suffered the agony of Calvary were previously recorded. As David wrote prophetically of Christ's suffering, he penned these words, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?" (Psa. 22:1) Now, notice Matthew's record of these events: "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken mef" (Matt. 27:46) Friend, I simply cannot reject such weighty evidence as this in support of the deity of Christ.

David further wrote concerning the blasphemy of the mockers as they jeered and ridiculed the Christ as He was suspended on the cross: "All they that see me laugh me to scorn: They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, Commit thyself unto Jehovah; let him deliver him: Let him rescue him, seeing he delighteth in him." (Psa. 22:7,8) Turn again to Matthew's account of this scene and notice: "In like manner also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. He is the King of Israel; let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe on him. He trusteth on God; let him deliver him now, if he desireth him: for he said, I am the Son of God." (Matt. 27:41-43)

When Jesus was suspended on Calvary's cross, the Roman soldiers pierced His hands and feet with the spikes that held Him to the cross. They also pierced His side. Thomas, who disbelieved that Jesus was resurrected, mentions these things. "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, I will not believe." (John 20:25) For a prophecy which deals with the piercing of the hands and feet of the Lord, notice again David's words, "For dogs have compassed me: A company of evil-doers have enclosed me; They pierced my hands and my feet." (Psa. 22:16) Though the Jews were responsible for the death of the Lord at the hands of the Roman soldiers, it was actually the Romans, who were Gentiles, dogs in the eyes of the Jews, who took His life. The verse just cited says, "For dogs have compassed me: A company of evil-doers have enclosed me." Observe that a number of minute details of His crucifixion are foretold long before they came to pass, David even dealt with the garments of Christ as he visualized the scene of His crucifixion. "They part my garments among them, And upon my vesture do they cast lots." (Psa. 22:18) John reports the fulfillment of David's prophecy thus: "The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also the coat; now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore one to another, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scriptures might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my garments among them, And upon my vesture did they cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did." (John 19:23-25)

It is understandable, from a physiological viewpoint, that Jesus would be exceedingly thirsty. He had prayed all night. He had been through a mock trial which must have brought its anxieties. He had labored under the weight of the cross as He sought to bear it to Golgotha. He had endured scourgings, beatings and every conceivable insult to His mind and body. Then His body was further shocked by the piercing of His hands and feet and the weight of His body evidently was supported by the spikes which tore His flesh. We do not marvel that He said, "I thirst." (John 19:28) But we do marvel that these things could have been written so many centuries earlier by David, "My strength is dried up like a potsherd; And my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; And thou hast brought me into the dust of death." (Psa. 22:15) To quench the thirst of the Lord, and perhaps to alleviate the pain of His crucifixion, wine or vinegar mingled with gall was given Him. At one time He refused this drink. But at another time He drank it. But even this action was written long before by the pen of David, "They gave me also gall for my food; And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." (Psa. 69:21) How can one deny that Jesus of Nazareth was truly God's Son?

The thieves who were crucified with Christ had their legs broken to hasten their death. Jesus was already dead when they came to break their legs, therefore they did not break His legs. This may have looked like mere coincidence at the time but this was the actual fulfillment of prophecy. David wrote, "He keepeth all his bones: Not one of them is broken." (Psa. 34:20) John records this portion of the Lord's crucifixion, "The soldiers therefore came, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him: but when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: howbeit one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side and straightway there came out blood and water." (John 19:32-34) The piercing of the Lord's side was likewise a matter which God's prophet Zechariah had mentioned, "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born." (Zech. 12:10) A consideration of all of the prophecies which pertain to the crucifixion of the Lord would give us a rather clear picture of His death even if the gospel narrative had not been recorded.

After the death of the Lord, Matthew records, "And when even was come, there came a rich man from Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: this man went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded it to be given up. 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 great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed." (Matt. 27:57-60) What of this man Joseph of Arimathaea Matthew and other gospel writers as well tell us that he requested the body of Jesus. The passage just cited tells us that he was a rich man. Is this significant? Turn to Isaiah 53:9 and see. "And they made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth." The distinctive feature of this prophecy which we stress for your consideration is Isaiah's word, "they made his grave . . . . with a rich man in his death." Does this not clearly show that there is a strong case for Jesus of Nazareth A consideration of the lives of practically all men of national or world prominence ends with his death. But this is not true of Jesus of Nazareth. Prophets tell us that He should live again. May we again call your attention to a portion of David's writing. "Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: My flesh also shall dwell in safety. For thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol; neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy: In thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." (Psa. 16:9-11) The first reading of this prophecy might make it appear that David was speaking of himself. But Peter tells us that it should be evident that he was not speaking of himself, because he died and his body did see corruption. (See Acts 2:29.) Peter suggests instead that David was speaking of Christ. "Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins he would set one upon his throne; he foreseeing this spake of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he left unto Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we all are witnesses." (Acts 2:30-32) Peter, in standing before the very men who were responsible for the death of Christ, assured them that David's prophecy had been

fulfilled and that Christ had been raised up. And how do we know that all of this came to pass? Peter says, "we all are witnesses." Certainly the resurrection of Christ is ample reason for accepting the deity of Christ. There is no logical reason for rejecting Peter's testimony and the testimony of the other apostles who stood up with him on that great day. How strong is the evidence? Jesus appeared personally to the very disciples and apostles with whom He had been in close association. They had been with the Lord at the Passover feast just four days before His resurrection. They had been with Him almost constantly for three years. Could they have been so thoroughly deceived? In all Jesus made ten appearances. In one of these appearances He stood before more than five hundred brethren. We think that the case is made even stronger by the fact that Thomas, one of His own apostles, doubted the testimony of the others and assured them that he would not believe until he had seen the Lord. When he saw, he believed. How could he longer doubt?

Is the case for the Lord a strong one? Yes, truly He was Jesus of Nazareth, the only begotten Son of God. The weight of evidence is inescapable. There is no court in our land today that would convict a man of a crime if there were as much evidence to prove his innocence as there is to prove the deity of Christ. Will you accept these truths and these proofs? Jesus is the Son of God. Some day we will stand before Him. Will you be ready? If not, you will be without excuse!