The Messiah is the most important human being. He alone is able to bring peace to all broken relationships – especially our most important relationship, the Creator-creature relationship. Because of Messiah, human beings can be reconciled to God. And we can be reconciled to one another. Because of the Messiah, nature will be completely restored one day and we will be at peace with nature. A time is coming when “shalom shalom” – perfect peace will characterize all relationships – with God, human beings, angels, nature – all because of the Messiah. It’s essential to know about the Messiah.
Christians and Messianic Jews claim that Yeshua is the Messiah. There are six kinds of evidence: Messianic Prophecies; Yeshua’s Prophecies; Yeshua’s Miracles; Other Evidences; Yeshua’s Impact On The World; Yeshua’s Resurrection From Death.
1. Messianic Prophecies
The amazing Messianic prophecies that are found in the Tenach and fulfilled in the New Testament Scriptures demonstrate that the Bible is a supernatural book inspired by God, and that Yeshua is the Messiah.
- Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem and yet originate from the days of eternity (Micah 5:1-2). Yeshua was born in Bethlehem. See Matthew 2:1-6, Luke 2:1-20.
- Messiah had to be a Jewish man, from the tribe of Judah, and from the family of King David (Isaiah 9:7, 11:1-9, Jeremiah 23:5-6). Yeshua was! See Matthew 1:1-17.
- Messiah was to come before 70 AD (Daniel 9:24-27). Yeshua did. See Luke 1:5, 2:1-7.
- Messiah was to enter Jerusalem triumphantly, yet humbly on a donkey, (Zechariah 9:9). Yeshua did. See Matthew 21:1-9, John 12:12-16.
- Messiah was to be initially rejected by the majority of Israel, especially the leaders (Isaiah 53:1-3, Psalm 118:22). Yeshua was. See John 1:11, 12:37-43, Acts 4:1-12. The fact that the majority of Jewish people don’t believe in Him is a strong point for the fact that He is the Messiah!
- Messiah was to be tried and condemned even though He was innocent (Isaiah 53:8). Yeshua was. See Matthew 27:1-2, Luke 23:1-25.
- Messiah was to be silent before His accusers (Isaiah 53:7). Yeshua was. See Matthew 27:12-14, Mark 15:3-4, Luke 23:8-10.
- Messiah was to be beaten and spit upon (Micah 5:1-2, Isaiah 50:6). Yeshua was. See Matthew 26:67, Mark 27:30, Mark 14:65.
- Messiah was to be mocked and taunted (Psalm 22:7-8). Yeshua was. See Matthew 27:39-43, Luke 23:11, 35-36.
- Lots would be cast for Messiah’s garments (Psalm 22:18). They were. See Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24.
- Messiah was to be pierced (Zechariah 12:10). Yeshua was. See John 19:18, 34-37.
- Messiah was to die by crucifixion (Psalm 22:14-17). Yeshua was. See Matthew 27:31, Mark 15:20, 25.
- Messiah was to wrongly suffer with transgressors yet pray for His enemies (Isaiah 53:12). Yeshua did. See Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27.
- Messiah was to die as an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:5-6, 8, 10-12, Daniel 9:24-27, Zechariah 9:9, 12:10, Psalm 16:10, 22). See John 1:29, 11:49-52, 1 Corinthians 15:53.
- Messiah was to be raised from the dead (Isaiah 53:12, Zechariah 12:10, Daniel 9:24-27, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 22, Psalm 118:22-23). Yeshua was! See Matthew 28:1-10, Acts 2:22-32.
- Messiah was to be God born into humanity (Isaiah 9:6-7, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Psalm 110:1, Proverbs 30:4). Yeshua was and is Immanuel – God With Us! See John 1:1, 20:28, Hebrews 1:8.
- The Messiah was going to have a world-wide impact on the Gentile nations (Isaiah 49:6). Yeshua has! “Jesus has become the most popular, the most studied, the most influential figure in the religious history of mankind… No sensible Jew can be indifferent to the fact that a Jew should have had such a tremendous part in the religious education and direction of the human race…. Who can compute all that Jesus has meant to humanity? The love he has inspired, the solace he has given, the good he has engendered, the hope and joy he has kindled – all that is unequaled in human history… Rabbi Hyman Enelow, past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
The probabilities that any one human being could fulfill all these prophecies are infinitesimally small. Yeshua fulfilled these, and many other prophecies, so He must be the Messiah that God promised to send into this world!
2. YESHUA’S PROPHECIES
- Yeshua predicted His own death, along with many of its details, and amazingly, His own resurrection (John 2:19, 3:14, Matthew 20:17-19).
- Yeshua predicted that the Second Temple would be destroyed to such an extent that not one stone would be left on top of another (Matthew 24:1-2). When the troops of Roman General Titus broke through the walls and destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Temple was sacked, and subsequently disassembled stone by stone. The inside of the Temple had been with overlaid with gold, and a fire in the Temple caused the gold to melt. The Romans took every stone apart to retrieve as much gold as possible. Thus Yeshua’s prophecy was fulfilled concerning the destruction of the Temple, even to the detail of every stone being taken down.
- Yeshua predicted due to our lack of belief that He was the Messiah, and our rejection of Him, Jerusalem would be destroyed, we would be exiled among the nations, but eventually, we would return to Israel (Luke 21:23-24). This prophecy began in 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed, and then again in 135 AD, when the Jewish people revolted a second time against the Roman empire. We were scattered to the nations, and lost control of Jerusalem. There were always some Jewish people who remained in the land of Israel over the past 2000 years, but starting in the 1880’s, this prophesied regathering of Jewish people to Israel picked up speed. Now there is a reborn nation of Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital, with more than 5.5 million Jewish people regathered from more than 70 countries, just as Yeshua predicted.
- Yeshua predicted that His words would endure forever, and that His movement would succeed despite all opposition (Matthew 16:18, 24:35).
3. YESHUA’S MIRACLES
Few prophets in Israel’s long history ever performed miracles – Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, and a few others, but Yeshua’s miracles exceeded them all. He turned water into wine, walked on water, healed the sick, cleansed lepers, brought sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, fed five thousand men from a few loaves of bread and some fish, stilled the winds and waves with just a word, and raised the dead. This lets us know that Yeshua is the Messiah sent by God.
4. OTHER EVIDENCES
- The New Testament records that at the moment of Yeshua’s death, the huge, thick veil in the Temple was torn from top to bottom. There was also an eclipse, and an earthquake (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:44-45).
- An evidence that Yeshua is the Messiah comes from the Talmud, in Yoma 39 A and B: “The Talmud records that four ominous events occurred approximately forty years before the destruction of the Temple. Those four events were to warn the rabbis of the Temple’s impending doom. According to Jewish tradition, all four of these signs came to pass. The four signs were:
1. The lot for the Lord’s goat did not come up in the right hand of the High Priest.
2. The scarlet cord tied to the door of the Temple on the Day of Atonement stopped turning white after the scapegoat had been cast over the precipice.
3. The westernmost light on the Temple candelabra would not burn.
4. The Temple doors would open by themselves. The rabbis saw this as an ominous fulfillment of Zechariah 11:1, ‘Open your doors, O Lebanon, that fire may devour your cedars.’ The opening of the doors to let in the consuming fire foretold the destruction of the Temple itself by fire.” (From pages 104-105 of The Fall Feasts of Israel, by Mitch and Zhava Glaser, Moody Press, 1987.
5. YESHUA’S IMPACT ON THE WORLD
The young rabbi from Nazareth never wrote a book, and yet the libraries in the world are full of books that have been written about Him. As far as we know, He never wrote a song, and yet more songs have been written about Him than anyone else. He never founded a college, yet all the schools put together can’t compare to the number of all His students. He never led an army, and yet no leader ever had more volunteers. He never studied psychology, and yet He has healed more broken hearts than all the psychiatrists and psychologists the world has ever produced. He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never had a family or owned a home. He never traveled more than two hundred miles from His birthplace. He never wrote a book, or held an office. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends deserted Him. He was betrayed to His enemies, and went through a mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had – His coat. When He was dead, His body was taken down and place in a borrowed grave. Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today Yeshua is the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever sailed, all the parliaments that have ever sat and all the kings that have ever reigned have not affected the lives of men as powerfully as this “One Solitary Life.”
Where Yeshua’s true disciples have been numerous, Yeshua’s influence has impacted their societies, especially in the areas of human rights and political freedom. Some examples are the anti-slavery and abolitionist movements in the United States, and social welfare movements, especially in England in the 18th century.
We are now in the year 2014, which means that 2,000 years have passed since Yeshua came to Earth and clothed Himself with humanity. Much of the world marks time because of Yeshua’s impact on the world!
6. EVIDENCES FOR YESHUA’S RESURRECTION
Taken from The Resurrection Factor by Josh McDowell
1. Yeshua’s Resurrection forms the basis for the Messianic Faith: The Resurrection of Yeshua is the central fact which validates the rest of the New Testament. There is no way to overemphasize its importance. Messianic Judaism and Christianity stand or fall with the Resurrection of Yeshua.
2. The Reliability of the New Testament: Scholarly evidence exists in abundance to document that the New Testament can survive the most severe scrutiny by modern archeology. There is better manuscript evidence for the accuracy of the New Testament than for any other ancient text. There are 24,000 New Testament manuscripts versus 700 manuscripts for the Iliad.
3. The Possibility of the Supernatural: Many have ruled out the Resurrection on the basis of presuppositions. They presume that miracles can’t happen, which is not good methodology.
4. The followers of Yeshua were neither ignorant nor naive: They were practical men raised in a tough environment and knew the difference between fact and fable. Israelis were schooled to believe in historical events like the Exodus. Greeks believed in myths.
5. The Scientific Method isn’t Applicable: It can’t be used in investigating the Resurrection because this method can only be used to validate phenomena which can be repeated in observable, testable fashion. The same criteria must be applied when investigating the Resurrection as are applied to any other event in history. By those standards the case for the Resurrection is extremely strong. We investigate the Resurrection by the criteria of history, not science.
6. The Testimony of History: Around 1842, Dr. Simon Greenleaf, Professor of Law at Harvard, wrote a book called A Treatise on the Laws of Evidence. He was one of the greatest authorities on evidences in law. That book is still considered to be an authoritative book on evidences in law. Dr. Greenleaf was a religious skeptic. He was challenged by a student to use his knowledge of evidences and apply it to the Resurrection of Yeshua. Dr. Greenleaf did so, and He concluded that the Resurrection of Yeshua is one of the best established facts of ancient history, and that there is more evidence for the historical fact of Yeshua’s resurrection than for almost any other event in human history. Dr. Greenleaf became a committed Christian.
The Evidence That Yeshua Was Dead And That His Body Was Secured From Theft And Tampering
1. Yeshua’s Trials: Yeshua underwent not one, not two, but six trials between His Last Supper and the Cross. Those involved in prosecuting Him at those trials had heavily vested interests in making sure that the execution was carried out successfully.
Trial 1, Before Annas, John 18:12-23
Trial 2, Before Caiphas, John 18:24-27, Matt 26:57
Trial 3, Before the Sanhedrin, Matthew 27:1-2, 26:59
Trial 4, Before Pilate, Matthew 27:1-2, 11-14
Trial 5, Before Herod, Luke 23:4-12
Trial 6, Before Pilate again, Luke 23:11-25
2. The Manner of Yeshua’s Death: He was so terribly beaten that He couldn’t carry His cross. It involved blows, whipping, crucifixion. His legs were not broken; it wasn’t necessary. He was pierced by a spear. Water and blood came out. Death certified by centurion, a man who knew about death (Mark 15:44-46).
3. He was entombed in a solid rock tomb: There were no panels, no way out.
4. First century Jewish Burial Ritual: The body was probably inspected to make sure the individual was dead. In Yeshua’s case, it was then wrapped in linen and 100 pounds of spices, probably forming a cocoon-like encasement.
5. The Stone at the Mouth of the Tomb: Burial stones weigh commonly around two tons. That will keep anyone in or out.
6. The Roman Security Guard: 4 to 16 trained soldiers. Four shifts, one on, three off (Matthew 28:11, “Some of guard”). The Tomb was guarded continuously.
7. The Roman Seal: Tomb sealed under official authority of Rome to open it or allow it to be opened was to defy Rome and resulted in automatic death penalty. Seal was a type of authentication that guaranteed the body inside was Yeshua.
The Evidence That Something Unprecedented Happened To The Body Of Yeshua
1. The broken Roman seal: The feared power of Rome was ignored by whoever broke open the seal to the tomb.
2. The large stone was moved: A two ton stone was somehow moved away from the mouth of the tomb under Roman guard.
3. The Roman guard went AWOL: A disciplined Roman guard fled their watch and had to be bribed by the authorities to lie about what happened – a lie so flimsy that they wouldn’t have concocted it themselves. They would have been killed for sleeping on duty and allowing the disciples to steal the body.
4. The graveclothes: They were undisturbed, but no longer contained a body.
5. The empty tomb: Both Jews and Romans admitted that the tomb was empty (Matthew 28:11-15). Any theory must deal with this fact.
6. The nature of His post-resurrection appearances: Yeshua appeared to a wide variety of witnesses, under widely varying conditions, in widely varying numbers, under circumstances which belie the accusation of mass hallucination. Miriam (John 20:11-18), to the other women (Matthew 28:8-10), to Simon Peter (Luke 24:34), to the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), to the Ten (Luke 24:36-43), to all Eleven 8 days later (John 20:24-29), to Seven by the Lake of the Galilee (John 21:1-23), to five hundred at once (1 Corinthians 15:6), to James (1 Corinthians 15:7), and finally to Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-16).
7. The fact that women saw Him first: due to the low view of women’s credibility (they weren’t allowed to be witnesses in Jewish courts of law) it makes no sense to believe that the account of women being the first to discover the empty tomb was a contrivance.
Five Theories Used Historically To Suggest The Tomb Wasn’t Empty
Any theory which seeks to explain the empty tomb must take into account all the known facts. The evidence must not be forced into conforming to some preconceived conclusion.
1. The Unknown Tomb: Yeshua’s body was cast into some unknown pit by executioners. The fact that the body’s whereabouts were unknown made room for the possibility of a resurrection cult. Objections: this disregards New Testament statements about Joseph’s tomb, the seal, and the guards. They knew where the right tomb was.
2. The Wrong Tomb: The disciples went to wrong tomb. Objections: the authorities would have later found the right tomb. Disciples found the right tomb with the grave clothes. Roman guards knew which tomb was the right one.
3. The Legend Theory: Stories of Yeshua’s resurrection didn’t crop up until years later. Objections: Unbiased scholars say that almost all of the New Testament was written by 64 AD, just a short time after the events took place, which was not enough time for myths or legends to develop. Luke mentions that he based his book on eyewitness testimony. 1 Corinthians was written by Paul around 56 AD, and mentions the Resurrection and the fact that most of the 500 eyewitnesses were still living.
4. Spiritual Resurrection: Yeshua’s resurrection was only spiritual – His body decayed in grave. Objections: He ate with them. There was nothing revolutionary about a spiritual resurrection. Still left with the fact of an empty tomb.
5. Hallucination theory: All of Messiah’s post resurrection appearances were hallucinatory hoaxes. Objections: Only certain kinds of people have hallucinations, usually a paranoid or a schizophrenic. Hallucinations very individualistic. But these were in public, not private, different numbers, circumstances, times, settings, personalities, to those not expecting a resurrection. Still doesn’t explain the empty tomb.
Five Theories Used To Explain An Empty Tomb Not Due To Resurrection
1. Yeshua’s Body was stolen by disciples: Objections: The tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers: The disciples would have to overcome these fighting forces. It’s not likely that the Roman soldiers would have been sleeping, since the death penalty was the punishment. The disciples were discouraged and in hiding. They were in no mood to start fighting Romans soldiers, defying Rome and Jerusalem. Why would grave robbers unwrap the burial clothes and neatly place them to the side? These men were not known as men of deception, lies and hoaxes. They were known instead for their sterling character, not as body snatchers and liars. What possible reward motivated this hoax? What did the disciples have to gain by stealing the body and preaching Yeshua’s resurrection? This wasn’t some elaborate swindle that made them all rich. All they got out of it was persecution, prison, and death. They had no earthly gain, and if they lied about Yeshua’s resurrection, they would have been advocating a false Messiah, and could look forward to God’s punishment on the Day of Judgment.
2. Yeshua’s Body was stolen by Roman or Jewish authorities: Objections: It doesn’t make sense to deny that Yeshua’s body was gone. If His body was still around, when the disciples started claiming that Yeshua was alive, the government officials and religious authorities, who were hostile to Yeshua and His disciples, would have produced the body to show that Yeshua was still dead. But Yeshua’s body had completely disappeared, and they were unable to produce His body.
3. The Swoon theory: After His beatings, whipping, crucifixion, being pierced by a spear, covered with grave clothes and spices. Yeshua was ‘revived” in a cool tomb, pushed away a two ton stone, slipped through a Roman guard, walked miles on bleeding, mangled feet to convince His disciples he had overcome death. That takes more faith than believing in the Resurrection!
4. The Passover Plot: Yeshua planned His fulfillment of a number of messianic prophecies, and was drugged by an accomplice on the cross. His plot went awry when stabbed by the Roman soldier. Somehow some of the women from His group and His disciples mistook another man for Him and no one ever set them straight.
5. The Koran suggests that someone else was crucified, and that Yeshua was taken up to Heaven without experiencing death or resurrection.
Note: All of these theories ignore the New Testament data that doesn’t support their thesis. They are theories built upon hypotheses rather than on the evidence. When all is said and done we are left with the fact of the empty tomb.
Circumstantial Evidence For The Resurrection
1. The existence of the Messianic Jewish Movement: If Yeshua wasn’t resurrected, the Messianic Movement never could have started in Jerusalem. All the hostile authorities would have had to do to crush the Messianic Movement would have been to produce Yeshua’s body. The movement would have died an early death in Jerusalem.
2. Transformed lives: Yeshua’s disciples were in no frame of mind to fabricate His resurrection. Why would they? An immediate resurrection wasn’t part of the thinking of first century Judaism. In fact they refused to believe it when they first heard about it! Only Yeshua’s resurrection could have transformed cowardly disciples and hostile family members from a dispirited group into a fearless band that were willing to give up their lives and transformed the world. Ya’akov (James), His brother who didn’t believe in Him, became the leader of the Jerusalem congregation. Peter who denied Him three times, shortly thereafter, became a fearless advocate. Saul of Tarsus, the worst opponent of the Messianic Jews, was transformed into the greatest missionary that the world has ever seen. There have been millions of people since that time that have claimed to encounter the risen Yeshua and have been transformed by Him. In 1 Corinthians 15:5-8, Paul mentions some of these encounters as a primary reason for believing the Resurrection: Yeshua appeared to Peter, then to the Twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep (died); then He appeared to Ya’akov – James, then to all the Messiah’s Representatives, and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. According to the biblical record, the risen Yeshua appeared on quite a number of occasions. And these weren’t just mysterious visions or apparitions. No, Yeshua actually spoke with His followers, and He ate bread and fish with them. He even allowed Thomas, the most skeptical of the disciples, to touch His scars. When Yeshua appeared to some women, they fell before Him and actually held on to His feet and worshiped Him. On some occasions, He even appeared to large groups of people, some 500 at one time, who all saw and heard Him at the same time. There was no way they could all be dreaming or hallucinating together. If you were part of a jury and you had the testimony of hundreds of reliable, level-headed people who all said they saw a certain person – and those people were even willing to die rather than change their story – wouldn’t you believe them? Sir Edward Clark, a British lawyer, wrote, “As a lawyer, I have made a prolonged study of the evidences for the events of the Messiah’s resurrection. To me the evidence is conclusive, and over and over again in the High Court I have secured the verdict on evidence not nearly so compelling.”
The Implications Of Yeshua’s Resurrection
Christians and Messianic Jews believe that God became a Man in the person of a Jewish carpenter from Nazareth. We believe that after this carpenter was tortured and executed and buried, His dead body was raised to life again by God’s power. We believe that certain women spoke with Him and even touched Him after His resurrection, and that the risen Messiah spoke with His disciples, and that He even ate bread and fish with them. We believe that at this very moment, Yeshua is physically present in Heaven in His resurrection body, and that He will return some day soon to Earth physically and visibly to raise and transform the bodies of all who have become loyal to Him. These are all definite and physical claims, and they all depend on whether or not His resurrection actually happened.
If the Resurrection didn’t happen; if Yeshua is dead and His body has decayed and He is not alive now, then the New Testament is a lie. If Messiah has not been raised, our faith is empty and ultimately worthless. But if the Resurrection is real, it proves that Yeshua is the Son of God, confirms that the Bible is true, and firmly establishes the foundations of Messianic Jewish and Christian belief. Yeshua’s resurrection validates Yeshua, His actions, His words and His message. It’s God’s seal of approval on everything that Yeshua did and taught. It declares that He is Lord and Messiah. It declares that He is God in the flesh, as He claimed. This makes Yeshua absolutely unique in the history of the world and puts him on a level far higher than any of the prophets of Israel or any other religion. It sets Messianic Judaism and Christianity apart from all the other major world religions.
Messiah’s resurrection guarantees our resurrection, if we join ourselves to Him by having faith in Him. Yeshua said to Martha, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26) Do you? When the resurrected Yeshua appeared to doubting Thomas, Yeshua said to Thomas, reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving but believing. Thomas answered and said to Yeshua, My Lord and my God. Yeshua said to him, because you have seen me you have believed? Blessed are they who did not see and yet believed. (John 20:27-29).
Do you believe? If not, why not? There’s plenty of evidences!