For Christians, Christ’s life did not end with his death. It is here that we realise that the Christian gospel stands or falls on the astonishing claim of his resurrection.
Christ did not only die according to the scriptures. It wasn’t to end there, but “that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures”. His burial and resurrection was itself prophesied by Jesus himself as he took an illustration from Jonah the prophet. (Matthew 12:40) “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Also this again was prophesied in Isaiah 53. “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death”.
The Hebrew Scriptures speak also of his resurrection. There are many scriptures that prophesy this. The best known is from Psalm 16:10 and Peter the Apostle quoted this as he spoke to the Jews on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down.
Someone commented to me once that the apostles and the evangelists who wrote the gospels were not, for the most part, prophets. Yes, God spoke to us through prophets all down the ages, but what is equally important are “WITNESSES”. The New Testament emphasises this all of the time.
The prophets have spoken, the prophesied events have taken place, and there were those who saw it, witnesses. For instance Jesus himself as he spoke to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:46-47) “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.”
Now, Hebrew Law demanded that everything must be established by two or three witnesses. That isn’t talking about forensic evidence or people who “think” they saw something, but those who were present at the time. We are told that not only two or three witnesses saw Christ alive, but over 500 at one time, which is what is important to Christians.
The Apostles everywhere are keen to show us that they were there and they saw these things, and different gospels exemplify this.
In recent years discoveries are being made in the archeological world that are confirming the accuracy of these scriptures. Among them of course is the discovery of the so called Dead Sea Scrolls. These were discovered in 1947, and are slowly being translated and pieced together. What is interesting is that before the Dead Sea Scrolls the earliest copies of the Hebrew Old Testament scriptures dated from around 900AD. These Dead Sea Scrolls contain all of the books of the Old Testament, either complete books or fragments. They have been dated to around 200 BC including a complete copy of the book of Isaiah dated between 335 – 107 BC.
When compared with modern copies they were found to be almost identical with one another with just a few grammatical variations and this was so with all the other scriptures found. Another interesting scroll was the book of Daniel. Most of it complete. Those critical of the book of Daniel thought because of its accuracy in prophesying events, it must have been written no more than 100 to 200 years before Christ. But this discovery means that at that time it was already established in the Jewish Canon of Scripture and this indicates that it was indeed written by Daniel the prophet as itself claims around 500 years before Christ.
The site of the Dead Sea Scrolls was thought to have been formed around 60 -70 years after Christ. So it is evident that when we read the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures that we have in our possession one of the most accurate documents known to Christians. Thus Christians have trusted grounds in believing that “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures”.