April 5, 2010

Even His Enemies Didn't Deny His Power

Even Jesus' enemies didn't deny His power. They never disputed whether or not He did miracles...they only disputed where His power came from. That is powerful.

"Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me?" ~John 8:46

"Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But some of them said, "By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons." Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven. ~Luke 11:14-16

"Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. "What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." ~John 11:47-48

"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him." ~Acts 2:22-24

While Jesus was on earth there was much confusion about who He was. Some thought He was a wise man or a great prophet. But Jesus said,

"I and the Father are one" ~John 10:30

He claimed divinity and had the miracles and power from the Father to prove it and this is why they tried to stone Him.

"We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God." ~John 10:33

Inevitably they managed to get Him crucified (they even had trouble doing this). Most contemporaries did not dispute that Christ died or was resurrected.

"While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day." ~Matthew 28:11-15

There is no mention here that they doubt that he was raised. They were trying to pay the guards off at this point to keep their mouths shut.
Matthew wrote his gospel probably around A.D. 63. So thirty years later the theory that the disciples stole Christ's body was continuing to circulate among the Jewish people. The soldiers knew the truth. They had been at the tomb and experienced the phenomena of the resurrection to some degree, yet they were not believers. To the contrary they become preachers of an anti-gospel. And their lie still exists today.

The narrative regarding the lie concludes in Matthew 28:15. But if we stop there we will miss Matthew's reason for including it. The lie perpetrated by the Jewish leaders supplies convincing proof of the reality of the resurrection. It accomplishes the opposite of what it was intended to accomplish. Most importantly, it is evidence given not by Jesus' friends, but by His enemies... It was impossible for the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers to deny that Christ left the grave by supernatural means. They saw the evidence. If His body were still in the grave, they would have produced it and proven that the resurrection was a hoax. But the tomb was empty. The earthquake and the angel proved something supernatural had occurred. To deny the resurrection, they had no other choice but to claim that someone took Christ's body.

~John MacArthur-The Lie The Proves the Resurrection

Last but not least we have the Nazareth Inscription (edict of Caesar-Tiberius or of Claudius) which is basically historical comfirmation that something strange or out of the ordinary indeed happened in the area near Israel around the time of Jesus Christ or shortly thereafter. It was a slab of stone found in Nazareth in 1878, inscribed with a decree from the Emperor that no graves should be disturbed or bodies extracted or moved. With the offender being sentenced to Capital punishment on the charge of violation of a sepulcher.

It is my decision [concerning] graves and tombs --whoever has made them for the religious observances of parents, or children, or household members--that these remain undisturbed forever. But if anyone legally charges that another person has destroyed, or has in any manner extracted those who have been buried, or has moved with wicked intent those who have been buried to other places, committing a crime against them, or has moved sepulcher-sealing stones, against such a person I order that a judicial tribunal be created, just as [is done] concerning the gods in human religious observances, even more so will it be obligatory to treat with honor those who have been entombed. You are absolutely not to allow anyone to move [those who have been entombed]. But if [someone does], I wish that [violator] to suffer capital punishment under the title of tomb-breaker.

This edict is not talking about tomb or grave robbing which was common at the time but rather taking the actual entombed dead body from the grave! Needless to say this was not a very common practice even among criminals. The highly unusual imposition of the death penalty for removing dead bodies from tombs supports this interpretation and also strongly suggests that the Nazareth Inscription was issued to deal with what the emperor viewed as a major problem. I believe that this problem was the new sect of the Nazarenes, which taught that Jesus Christ was the King of the Jews and that He had resurrected from the dead.

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