Has Jesus Kept other Promises?
How do we answer scoffers such as Bertrand Russell who accused Jesus of breaking his promise to return?
First, we might ask how Jesus knew 2,000 years ago that the gospel would indeed be preached throughout the world. How could he have known that, unless he knew the future?
Second, we need to look at other promises Jesus made to see if they were kept. Let’s look at three other major things Jesus promised:
- He is the fulfillment of messianic prophecies.
- Jerusalem would be destroyed.
- He would die and rise again three days later.
Did Jesus Fulfill Ancient Prophecies?
Let’s look at whether or not Jesus fulfilled Old Testament messianic prophecies.
The Bible is the only holy book that contains a large body of specific prophecies relating to nations, Israel and the coming Messiah. Nearly 300 references were made in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah. They told of his lineage, his birthplace, his betrayal, his death, and his resurrection. These references were written 500 to 1,000 years before Jesus was born, and he fulfilled every one.
Evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls proves the prophecies were written at least 100 years before Christ, making it impossible for them to have been staged. The odds that one person could fulfill each of these prophecies without error are statistically impossible. Jesus’ fulfillment of so many specific prophecies is compelling evidence that he truly was the promised Messiah (see “Was Jesus the Messiah?” )
Was Jesus Right about Jerusalem?
Second, let’s examine Jesus’ prophecy of Jerusalem’s impending destruction, a prediction that seemed impossible at the time, and shocked those who heard it. Jesus warned the Jews that their rejection of him would result in a horrible ending for Jerusalem and for the destruction of its magnificent Temple.
Tragically, Jesus’ words came true. One million Jews were killed forty years later as Titus and the Roman army destroyed Jerusalem. The Jewish historian, Josephus, recorded these unusual signs during Jerusalem’s fall in 70 A.D.
- “A meteor, resembling a sword, hung over Jerusalem one whole year.”
- “A light equal to the brightness of the day, continued for half an hour.”
- “Chariots and armed men were seen in the air”
Josephus writes of other unusual things that occurred during the Roman siege as well. What did these signs mean? Some scholars believe Jesus’ return in the clouds was fulfilled figuratively by these signs in 70 A.D. However, the actual fulfillment of Jesus’ literal return to Jerusalem has not yet occurred.
Was Jesus Right about His Resurrection?
The third significant prediction Jesus made was that he would rise from the dead after being crucified. Of that claim, Bible scholar Wilbur Smith argues:
When he said that He himself would rise again from the dead, the third day after He was crucified, He said something that only a fool would dare say, if He expected longer the devotion of any disciples—unless He was sure He was going to rise. No founder of any world religion known to men ever dared say a thing like that.
Jesus’ prediction put everything else he said in jeopardy. If he didn’t rise from the dead as promised, why would anyone continue believing him? Yet his followers enthusiastically did. In a New York Times article, Peter Steinfels cites the startling events that occurred three days after Jesus’ death:
Shortly after Jesus was executed, his followers were suddenly galvanized from a baffled and cowering group into people whose message about a living Jesus and a coming kingdom, preached at the risk of their lives, eventually changed an empire. Something happened. … But exactly what?
So, what did happen that turned the first century world on its heels? Is there evidence that Jesus did rise from the dead? Skeptic Frank Morrison originally began writing a book to disprove the resurrection. After examining the evidence, he reversed himself and wrote a different book on why he believed it to be true.
Another skeptic, Dr. Simon Greenleaf, founder of Harvard Law School, scoffed at Jesus’ resurrection to some law students. When challenged to investigate, Greenleaf began applying his famous rules of evidence to the case. After a detailed evaluation of the evidence, he became convinced that the resurrection really happened, primarily because of the radical change in the disciples (see “Did Jesus rise from the dead?” )
So, if Jesus fulfilled numerous messianic prophecies written hundreds of years before his birth, correctly predicted the fall of Jerusalem, and kept his incredible promise to rise from the dead as the evidence suggests, would any reasonable person doubt his promise to return?