Editor’s Note: I am currently blogging through my book Easter: Fact or Fiction, 20 Reasons to Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead. That book is available on Amazon by clicking the picture or link below. Please check it out! (Scroll down for links to the other parts to this post) (CLICK HERE FOR THE AMAZON LINK)
“Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”
But He answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at Jonah’s proclamation; and look—something greater than Jonah is here!”
– Matthew 12:38-41
“ While going up to Jerusalem, Jesus took the 12 disciples aside privately and said to them on the way: 18 “Listen! We are going up to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death. 19 Then they will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked, flogged, and crucified, and He will be resurrected on the third day.”
- Matthew 20:17-19
Babe Ruth, the baseball player, has been remarkably famous in the United States of America for almost 100 years. He is one of the greatest baseball players to have ever lived, so great, that when other sports stars do something amazing, their feat is sometimes described as “Ruthian.” Perhaps the most ‘Ruthian’ play ever made by the man himself came in the 1932 playoffs, Yankees vs Cubs. During that game, Babe Ruth pointed to the center-field stands while in the box waiting for Charlie Root’s next pitch. When that pitch was delivered, Ruth swung and drilled the ball over 400 feet into center field for a dramatic home run. This play is so famous that it even has its own 4200 word (14 page) Wikipedia page!
As impressive as that called shot is, the one that Jesus made in the years before His death and resurrection is even more impressive, and more detailed. Very few people in history have so precisely predicted the circumstances (time, place, perpetrators, mode, etc.) of their death with the precision accuracy that Jesus did. To my knowledge, NOBODY else in history has precisely predicted their death AND their resurrection AND actually had both of those predictions fully fulfilled, and yet Jesus did exactly that. In the Matthew 20 passage, quoted at the beginning of this chapter, Jesus makes either 6 or 7 (depending on how you count them) predictions about His demise and resurrection, and He hit every single prediction out of the park.
One might speculate that the early church simply edited the prediction of Jesus after the fact, so as to make Him look more accurate. I would propose a counter to that logic, however, and suggest that, if the writers of the gospels felt free to edit such things, they would likely make a few edits to make themselves look better, and to even make it appear that they were fully on board with Jesus’ prediction of His death, burial and resurrection, rather than completely oblivious to it. As it stands, there is no evidence of edits made either way in this situation, and it seems quite a bit more likely that Jesus predicted exactly what Matthew, Mark, Luke and John say that He predicted. And that prediction, repeated multiple times, does nothing but strengthen the case for the resurrection of Jesus.
“Do you know there’s a place where Jesus called himself a greater Jonah? He says, “A greater one than Jonah is here.” Do you know why? Do you remember when Jonah was in a sea storm and there was a flood, but it was a flood of divine justice? He said, “Throw me in,” and when he was thrown into the waters everyone else was saved. When Jesus calls himself the greater Jonah, this is what he’s doing. What he’s saying is, “As horrible as it is to go down into the deep water and, as you’re sinking down, you feel the enormous weight of the water pressing in on you and beginning to crush your bones, as horrible as that is, I experienced the reality to which that points. I experienced the reality to which Noah’s flood points, to which the Red Sea points, to which Jonah points.When I was on the cross and I cried out, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ I was experiencing the flood of God’s wrath. I was the true Moses. Moses just got the rebuke you deserve, but I got everything you deserve. If you put your faith in me, I will lead you out. You will cross over because I have taken what you deserve.”
Links to the other 20 posts in this series (20 Reasons To Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead)