Is the person and work of Jesus Christ documented and factual?
Is there historical evidence that the biblical Jesus really existed and that He actually did the things recorded in the Bible?
Non-Christian Historical Evidence for the Existence of Jesus
Did Jesus Claim to Be God? – J. Warner Wallace
The Historicity of Jesus – Josh McDowell
What Jesus Claimed – Josh McDowell
Prophetic Proof that Jesus is Indeed the Promised Messiah
The Old Testament contains over 300 passages referring to the promised Messiah.
48 of these are very specific descriptions concerning his life, death, and resurrection.
They include his birthplace, where he would minister, his flight into Egypt as a child, being born of a virgin, being betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, the money being used to buy a potter’s field, his floggings, his crucifixion beside thieves, the vinegar he would be offered on the cross, and gambling for his clothes.
The Prophecies and Time of Their Fulfillment
These predictions were made by different Jewish prophets who lived in widely separated communities over a period of 1,000 years. They were fulfilled more than 500 years after they were recorded.
Some people have said that these predictions were added into the Scriptures after they happened.
This is historically impossible because archaeology has given us copies of Scripture (such as the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran) dated before Christ which confirms every one of these predictions.
In addition to this, the entire Old Testament was translated into Greek around 250BC, known as the Septuagint.
Also, these prophecies were such an integral part of the Jewish culture that references to them are everywhere.
The Jewish people were anxiously awaiting the arrival of the promised Messiah who would redeem them from the tyranny of oppression under hostile cultures.
They knew he would be a from the line of David, that he would be born in Bethlehem, that another prophet would precede him with a message to repent and “make straight in the desert a highway” for him, and that he would save his people from their sins.
These were all well known traditions among the Jewish community long before Jesus was ever born.
What kind of predictions?
Here are the eight most dramatic prophecies about the promised Messiah:
1. He would be born in Bethlehem
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem. (Matthew 2:1)
The prophet Micah wrote this sometime around 700BC. He pointed out that even though the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, his origins would be from the beginning of the world. The word often translated “from ancient times” is the Hebrew noun “olam” which actually refers to a time older than the flood, associated with creation. When used in a future tense, it means “forever” or “eternity.”
2. He would be born of a virgin
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 1:18-25)
Isaiah was a contemporary of Micah, and wrote around the same time.
Moses wrote Genesis around 1400BC, so these two messages are consistent despite a 700-year time gap.
Both indicate that the Messiah’s birth would be from a woman with no human male involvement. In Genesis 3:15 the word “seed” is the Hebrew noun “zera” used in a singular sense. Note that the passage refers to the seed of a woman, not a man, indicating a virgin birth.
The story of Mary’s virginity was so well known during the ministry of Christ that the Babylonian Talmud scornfully referred to Jesus as “the bastard child of the adulteress.” The Jewish leaders refused to accept that Jesus was actually born of a virgin.
3. He would be declared king riding a young donkey
“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)
The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it. (John 12:12-14)
On April 6, AD32, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey while crowds of disciples waved palm branches and declared him “King of the Jews.” Some people correctly point out that Jesus arranged this, and use that as an argument that it cannot be used as a legitimate prophecy. While the objection is well taken, it does not invalidate the prophecy. How many other people in Jewish history have been declared king while riding the foal of a donkey?
4. He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver
“I told them, ‘If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.’ So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.” (Zechariah 11:12)
Then one of the Twelve, the one called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver.
Here we have a very precise figure of 30 pieces of silver paid for the betrayal of the Messiah. The New Testament records that Judas Iscariot was paid exactly 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus.
5. The betrayal money would be used to buy a potter’s field
“And the Lord said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’–the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord to the potter.” (Zechariah 11:13)
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.
The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. (Matthew 27:3,6,7)
Matthew 27:3-7 records that after Judas threw the money on the temple floor in a moment of guilt, the chief priests were unable to put the funds back into the treasury because it was blood money. So they used it to buy a potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners.
6. His hands, feet and side would be pierced
“Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.” (Psalm 22:16)
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” (Zechariah 12:10)
Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. (John 19:34)
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:27)
Both prophecies were written hundreds of years before crucifixion was invented by the Romans.
Archaeological evidence has confirmed that they would place the victim on a wooden cross, nailing each hand to the crossbeam and driving a nail into the side of each foot, just below the ankle bone.
Death would usually take many hours–even days–ultimately the result not of the wounds, but of suffocation when the victim could no longer push himself up to let out his breath. Often the legs were broken to speed the process.
Because Jesus died so suddenly (at the exact time of the afternoon sacrifice in the temple), a Roman soldier also slid a spear into his heart to make sure he was dead. A mixture of blood and water poured out, indicating that he had pierced the pericardium of the heart.
7. He would be given vinegar to drink
“They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” (Psalm 69:21)
They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. (Matthew 27:34)
This was written more than 900 years before Christ, yet it describes the scene at the cross where the soldiers soaked a sponge into a jar of wine vinegar, stuck it onto the tip of a long hyssop stalk and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.
8. They would gamble for his clothing
“They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” (Psalm 22:18)
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. 24 They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it… (John 19:23-24)
The Bible indicates that the Roman soldiers divided Jesus’ clothing and cast lots (gambled) to see what each would get.
There are many other prophecies, including his burial in the tomb of a rich man, the complete line of ancestors, his resurrection, and even his ascension into heaven.
PETER W. STONER, M.S.
Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena City College until 1953; Chairman of the science division, Westmont College, 1953-57; Professor Emeritus of Science, Westmont College; Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Astronomy, Pasadena City College.
Science of Probability
The science of probability attempts to determine the chance that a given event will occur. The value and accuracy of the science of probability has been well established beyond doubt – for example, insurance rates are fixed according to statistical probabilities.
Professor Peter Stoner, has calculated the probability of one man fulfilling the major prophecies made concerning the Messiah. The estimates were worked out by twelve different classes representing some 600 university students.
The students carefully weighed all the factors, discussed each prophecy at length, and examined the various circumstances which might indicate that men had conspired together to fulfill a particular prophecy. They made their estimates conservative enough so that there was finally unanimous agreement even among the most skeptical students.
However Professor Stoner then took their estimates, and made them even more conservative. He also encouraged other skeptics or scientists to make their own estimates to see if his conclusions were more than fair.
Finally, he submitted his figures for review to a committee of the American Scientific Affiliation. Upon examination, they verified that his calculations were dependable and accurate in regard to the scientific material presented (Peter Stoner, Science Speaks, Chicago: Moody Press, 1969, 4).
For example, concerning Micah 5:2, where it states the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah, Stoner and his students determined the average population of BETHLEHEM from the time of Micah to the present; then they divided it by the average population of the earth during the same period.
After examining only eight different prophecies (Idem, 106), they conservatively estimated that the chance of one man fulfilling all eight prophecies was one in 10^17 OR 10 to the 17th power OR 10 followed by 17 zeros.
To illustrate how large the number 10^17 IS Stoner gave this illustration :
If you mark one of ten tickets, and place all the tickets in a hat, and thoroughly stir them, and then ask a blindfolded man to draw one, his chance of getting the right ticket is one in ten.
Suppose that we take 10^17 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They’ll cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state.
Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one.
What chance would he have of getting the right one?
Just the same chance that the prophets would’ve had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote them in their own wisdom (Idem, 106-107).
In financial terms, is there anyone who would not invest in a financial venture if the chance of failure were only one in 10^17? This is the kind of sure investment we’re offered by God for faith in His Messiah.
From these figures, Professor Stoner, concludes the fulfillment of these eight prophecies alone proves that God inspired the writing of the prophecies (Idem, 107) – the likelihood of mere chance is only one in 10^17!
Another way of saying this is that any person who minimizes or ignores the significance of the biblical identifying signs concerning the Messiah would be foolish.
Furthermore, the possibility that only the 17 most dramatic of these could be fulfilled by any one person alone is one chance in 480 to the 30th power, or 480 followed by 30 zeros.
The chance that 48 could be fulfilled by any one person becomes a staggering one chance in 10 to the 157th power! This number is considerably larger than the total number of atoms in the entire universe.
In other words, for one man to fulfill 48 prophecies by chance – without him actually being the promised Messiah, the Son of God – is so infinitesimally small that it is as close to impossible as one can get.
Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled not just 48 but all 300 prophecies concerning the promised Messiah.
Is He the promised Messiah – The Savior of the World?
You be the judge.