Copyright © By Dr. Adel Elsaie, Book Title: "History of Truth, The Truth about God and Religions"
7.4 The Crucifixion and the Resurrection
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The four Gospels do not agree on many details of the crucifixion and the resurrection. As was proved before, the contradictions in the New Testament are a fact of life. Thus attempting to produce a credible story on the many events in the New Testament is extremely difficult or even impossible. However this is an attempt to construct a reasonable story.
On the cross, Jesus asked God for help: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me." (Matthew 27:46). To believe that Jesus said that is to discredit his whole mission. Prophet Abraham, when God asked him to sacrifice his son, a request that is as painful as sacrificing himself, did not say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me." In Luke 22:42, Jesus said: "Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." (This cup is the cup of death). Most likely, Jesus’ prayer not to die on the cross was accepted by God, according to Luke, Hebrews, and James. Then how could he still die on the cross? "And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him," (Luke 22:43). This Angel assured him that God would not leave him helpless. In Hebrews 5:7, "Who in the days of his flesh, when he (Jesus) had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared." Jesus prayers were heard, which means answered in a positive way by God as in James 5:16 "...The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Jesus himself said, Matthew 7:7-10, "Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." After the alleged crucifixion, his legs were not broken by the Roman soldiers, (John 19:32-33) "Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs." Can we rely on the soldiers for pronouncing the death, or did they want to save Jesus as they found him innocent? Thus there is a strong probability that Jesus did not die on the cross.
When the Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign of his true mission, he answered: "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the son of man be there three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40). As was mentioned before, Luke has the same story, but Mark contradicts with Matthew and Luke with regards to the sign of Jonas.
God Almighty commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh, (the capital of Assyria, a city of a hundred thousand people) and to warn them to repent, and quit the evil things people were doing there, or the Lord will destroy them. Jonah felt desperate, fearing that the materialistic Ninevites will not listen to him. So, instead of going to Nineveh, he attempted to run away from the Lord. He went to Joppa at the Mediterranean Sea, and set sail for a faraway city. At sea there was a terrible storm and, according to superstition of the mariners, whosoever runs away from his master creates such turmoil at sea. An inquiry began and Jonah realized that he was the guilty party, that as a prophet of God he had to obey his Master. Jonah reasoned that it was better for him to be thrown overboard, and thus avert a disaster. Jonah said, "Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me." (Jonah 1:12). Therefore Jonah was thrown into the sea alive.
Now the storm subsides, and a fish came and swallowed Jonah. From the fish’s belly, he asked God, the Only One that can save him, for help. On the third day, the fish threw up him onto the seashore, and Jonah, was alive. Not surprisingly that Jesus chose the sign "miracle" of Jonah as his only miracle. When a man is expected to die, and he does not die, then it is a miracle. Jonah is expected to die, but he did not die. Jesus too, after the ordeal that he supposedly went through, ought to have died. If he died, it would not be the miracle of Jonah that Jesus had prophesized. But if he lived, as he had himself foretold in Matthew and Luke, then it would be a miracle. Jesus, like Jonah, had the same miracle during the story of crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus, like Jonah, prayed to God for help, and God accepted their prayers.
But Christianity is a big business. Preachers and TV evangelists are very well educated in the Bible, as well as public speaking, psychology and marketing. The first rule of business and marketing is: when you have a hot item, capitalize on it! The dramatization of the crucifixion and resurrection sell very well by Christian preachers. Also, it is not easy for the average Christians to agree that Jesus was alive after the crucifixion, because their salvation depends on it. When Christians are confronted with the above argument, they change the emphasis on the time factor of the three days and the three nights. They say that it was that time factor that Jesus was prophesying about, and not whether he would be dead or alive. The word "three" is repeated four times in Matthew 12:40.
Christians everywhere celebrate Good Friday. They say it is because Christ died for their sins on that day. All Christian sects and denominations are almost all in agreement that Jesus was supposed to have been in the tomb on the night of Friday. He was still supposed to be in the tomb on the day of Saturday. And he was still supposed to be in the tomb on the night of Saturday. But on Sunday morning, when Mary Magdalene visited the tomb, she found the tomb empty. None of the 27 Books of the New Testament record the time of his exit from the tomb. Not a single writer of the 27 Books was an eyewitness to this alleged resurrection. And the only one who could have told us about his resurrection was silent. It is possible that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemos, (John 18:38-39) had taken their Master soon after dark that very Friday evening to a friendly place for rest and recuperation. Could it be that these two apostles and the others were referring to some one that looked like Jesus. In II Cor. 11:14, Paul says: "And no marvel: for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light (messenger of God)."
Now if it was the time factor that Jesus was trying to emphasize in the prophecy, then this time does not add up to three nights and three days. The maximum that Jesus could have stayed in the tomb was two nights and one day. Therefore, the Christians have two problems arising from one prophecy:
The Christians allege that Jesus was unlike Jonah. Jonah was alive for three days and three nights, whereas Jesus was dead in the tomb.
Jesus said that he would be in the tomb for three days and three nights, whereas the Christians say that he was in the tomb for only one day and two nights.
Now, whom do we believe, Jesus or the Christians? To solve this dilemma, one Christian scholar suggested that it was actually Good Wednesday not Friday, by counting backwards from the time he was discovered on Sunday morning (the first day of the week). When this scholar was asked: Who deceived over a billion Christians for two thousand years by making them celebrate Good Friday? His answer was: "The devil!" If the devil can succeed in confusing the Christians for two thousand years in the most strong aspect of faith, how much easier it would be for the devil to mislead them in other aspects of faith?
After the alleged resurrection, Jesus himself stated that he did not die on the cross. Early Sunday morning Mary Magdalene went to the sepulcher, which was empty. Why did she go there? "To anoint him", Mark 16:1. Anoint means to rub, or to massage bodies with spices. Do Jews massage dead bodies after three days? The answer is "No." It would, however, make sense if she were looking for a live wounded person. Mary was about the only person besides Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who had given the final rites to the body of Jesus. She saw someone standing who looked like a gardener. She recognized him after conversation to be Jesus and wanted to touch him. Jesus said (John 20:17): "Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father." Why did Jesus not want her to touch him? Was it because his fresh wounds still hurt him? If he did not yet ascend to his Father, does this mean that he is still alive, not dead yet? This is the strongest proof admitted by the only reliable witness, by Jesus himself.
Jesus was not a sprit after resurrection. It was Jesus himself in flesh and blood. Jesus convinced the disciples by letting them touch his hands and feet, that he was the same person. As they could not believe him yet, he asked for meat to show them that he still ate like any living person: "And they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and of a honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them." (Luke 24:42-43)
To believe in his death on the cross is to totally discredit his prophethood. In Deuteronomy 13:5 "And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death." The Jews maintain their belief in having killed Jesus on the cross and consequently portrayed him to be a false prophet. Christians believe in the crucifixion necessary for their salvation and redemption of sin, and therefore have to accept the accursedness of Jesus, too. This Christian belief is against the sayings of Jesus (Matthew 9:13): "But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice..." Also in Matthew 12:7, he said: "...I will have mercy, and not sacrifice..."
It was Paul who taught the resurrection (Acts 17:18): "... And some (Jews) said, What will this babbler say? Other some, he (Paul) seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection." Paul, who never saw Jesus, also admitted that the resurrection was his gospel (II Timothy 2:8): "Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel." As for Mark (16:19), when he mentioned that Jesus rose up to heaven and sat on the right hand of God, it was already mentioned that Mark 16:9-20, were expunged from certain Bibles, and it was originally added to fill in the spaces.
The Holy Quran states that Jesus did not die on the cross:
Surah 4, Ayah 157: "That they (Jews) said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah"; - but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them"
The big business of Christian churches would never admit that there is a slight chance that Jesus never died on the cross. Preachers want people to attend churches, tell them that they are sinners, and Jesus died for their sins, and then get their donations. Bumper stickers are everywhere proclaiming that "Jesus loves me", "Jesus died for me," "Jesus blood saved me." It makes those people feel good and feel special that someone as great as Jesus died for them. The churches know the power of this concept, and they would not give it up.
Most of the Christian doctrines were initially very simple. But somehow, Christian scholars take a simple event or a simple verse and add mountains of complexity and confusion just to satisfy their intellectual curiosity.