How Do We Know Jesus’ Words Are True?
So, how are we to know that Jesus’ words are true? There are two objective tests that confirm Jesus’ claims:
- Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies written as much as 1500 years before his birth.
- Jesus defeated death, something no other person, or religious leader had been able to do.
Let’s briefly examine these evidences.
Throughout the Old Testament, references to a coming Messiah tell us about a man who would someday bring peace to Israel—and the world. However, this Messiah would first need to die for our sins. Over 700 years before Jesus’ birth, Isaiah the prophet reveals that the Messiah will be:
- Despised and rejected
- Pierced for our rebellion
- Crushed for our sins
- Beaten and whipped
- Led like a lamb to the slaughter
- Buried in a rich man’s grave
- An offering for sin
Each of these prophecies about the Messiah was fulfilled by Jesus Christ over 700 years later. Isaiah further told us that the Messiah had special credentials.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…..and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
- Isaiah 9:6 : Isa. 25:1: 40:9-11: Matt. 28:18: Luke 2:11
- Isaiah tells us here that the Messiah is God himself—yet in some mysterious way, he will be born as a child. His credentials would be that of God himself.
Altogether, nearly 300 different prophecies, with sixty-one different details about the Messiah, were precisely fulfilled by Jesus hundreds of years after they were written by Isaiah and other prophets. And the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm that these prophecies were written well before the birth of Christ. (See “Was Jesus the Messiah?”)
The odds against one person fulfilling all of these prophecies are staggering. And there could have been no collusion, since they were written over a period of 500 years by men who didn’t know each other.
But what about Jesus’ resurrection? Is there evidence it really happened?
Several skeptics have tried to prove that Jesus’ resurrection was a legend, or a hoax plotted by his followers. Two brilliant skeptics even began writing books attempting to prove the story was fabricated. One was a brilliant journalist; the other, one of the founders of Harvard Law School. Neither of them thought the resurrection was an historical fact. However, both of these skeptics became persuaded by the evidence that Jesus actually did rise from the dead. (See “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?”)
Most scholars who examine the evidence are convinced that something happened shortly after Jesus’ death that changed his followers, and ultimately history. It was their conviction in the risen Christ that launched Christianity. Dr. E. M. Blaiklock, former Professor of Classics at Auckland University, concluded:
“I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history….”
English skeptic, Frank Morison wanted to write a book proving that Jesus’ resurrection was a myth.
Morison wondered if the disciples had conspired a plot to make it appear Jesus had risen. However, there are three main problems with that theory:
First, the tomb was secured by a large stone and a 24-hour trained Roman guard. It would have been impossible for the disciples to roll the stone away and remove Jesus’ body without notice.
Second, the resurrection plot would have died out as soon as someone discovered Jesus’ body, yet that never happened.
Third, the disciples changed from being cowards into men who were willing to be tortured and martyred for proclaiming the risen Jesus.
It was the dramatic transformation in the disciples’ behavior that finally convinced Morison the resurrection really happened. In his book, Who Moved the Stone, Morison explains why he went from a skeptic to a believer.
Dr. Simon Greenleaf, founder of the Harvard Law School argues,
“It would have been impossible for the disciples to persist with their conviction that Jesus had risen if they hadn’t actually seen the risen Christ.”[??]