Today we conclude our series looking at the evidence of Easter, and the last hours of Jesus’ life – a mock trial with false witnesses and a crowd ready for blood.
They were encouraged by the religious sect who intimidated the Roman ruler by threats of not being Caesar’s friend if he released Jesus. There can now be only one outcome for Jesus death on a cross.
So you say, what of it? After all, it was the way Romans killed guilty people. There were thousands who suffered that fate.
The significance of Jesus on the cross in the first century AD cannot be overstated for a person like me who believes that the whole sin of the world (yes, every human being’s failure) was nailed to a single cross in Jerusalem. I believe Jesus experienced execution by crucifixion.
Back to examining evidence of Easter, outside of the Bible…
In 1968 construction workers were working on a project north of Jerusalem. To their surprise, they accidentally uncovered a Jewish tomb. This was later dated to the first century and therefore brought the first-century form of crucifixion into our present-day lives.
What they found inside the tomb was a stone ossuary (bone box). Remember we talked about that during the week? The skeletal remains of a man in his twenties who had been crucified were identified. How did they know the young man had been crucified?
The man still had a nail driven through his right heel after all these years of lying in that box. The iron nail was measured and found to be 4.53 inches in length. The question you are asking is why was the nail still in his heel? They tell me it was because the end of the nail was bent. It looks like while the nail was being driven into the cross the nail hit a knot in the wood and bent. The people burying the man left the nail in place.
These bones found outside Jerusalem amazingly can be dated to a time very close to the time of Jesus.
So what is the significance of the discovery?
It proves that death by crucifixion was happening in the exact city and at the exact time mentioned in the New Testament. Also gives us more confidence towards the historical reliability of Jesus’ death on the cross.
The Bible tells us there were gardens around the place of the crucifixion. Archaeologists found proof of gardens in the area in the 1st century.
I believe the evidence is overwhelming.
As we end this week the final question asks why did Jesus come? Nicky Gumbel sums it up perfectly the reason for today, Good Friday:
Jesus is the only man who has ever chosen to be born, and he is one of the few who has chosen to die. He said that the entire reason for his coming was to die for us. He came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
I hope this week as we have taken a look at the evidence of Easter, you have discovered something new and something to strengthen your faith. Most of all, I hope I have made you think about the real Jesus that was born and died for you, that you will examine the evidence and come to the same conclusion as I have done. Jesus died to remove my sin and therefore because He invites me into a relationship with himself I came to Jesus. I hope you do too.
Enjoy your Easter and keep safe.