Truth Matter Newsletters – April 2007 Vol. 12 Issue 4 – “Dem” Bones – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow
Discernment Ministries International
By Rev. Robert S. Liichow
Walking into Borders bookstore you cannot miss the prominent display of the book titled The Jesus Tomb co-written by Simcha Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino. This books claims to be possibly the greatest archeological find of all times. A documentary was filmed by James Cameron and shown on the Discovery channel entitled “The Lost Tomb of Jesus.” Although just recently coming out the story begins over twenty years earlier:
The story began in March 1980 when Yosef Gat, an archaeologist employed by the IAA, surveyed a burial chamber on the south-eastern approaches of Jerusalem. The area was being developed into the latest suburb of the city, East Talpiot, and bulldozers had uncovered an archaeological site. Mr. Gat found a standard-looking Jewish tomb dating from the era of King Herod, the Jewish king known for his ambitious building works and for his murder of infants at the time of the birth of Jesus. After crawling into the necropolis Mr. Gat found the main chamber had been silted up with soil and debris, with six “kokhim”, coffin shaped spaces leading off the main chamber where human remains were housed. According to Jewish rites, bodies would be left for a year or so to decompose in the “kokhim” before relatives came back to gather the bones and store them in ossuaries. Mr. Gat found 10 ossuaries bearing inscriptions. Some were in anicent Greek and some were in Hebrew. One inscription said “Jesus, son of Joseph”, another said “Mara” a common form of Mary, and another said “Yose”, a common form of Joseph. (1)
To those seeking reasons to reject the claims of Christianity this “discovery” was all they needed. Cameron and others took the attitude of “don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.” Even the head archeologist, who was Mr. Gat’s boss does not accept the rationale of Cameron and the other unbelievers:
Mr. Gat died several years ago. His boss, Prof Amos Kloner said that while the names together had “a certain power” they are standard. At least three other ossuaries have been found inscribed with the name Jesus and countless others with Joseph and Mary,” he said. The 10 ossuaries were taken initially to the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum outside the Old City of Jerusalem. Nine were catalogued and stored but the tenth was left outside in a courtyard. That ossuary had subsequently gone missing. The story went cold until two account of the discovery were published by Israeli academics in the mid 1990s. Pro Kloner wrote the second one in the IAA’s in-house magazine Atiquot in 1996. It sparked publicity, most notably a BBC program shown that Easter produced by Ray Bruce called The Body In Question . However, Prof Kloner said there was no way the tomb housed the Holy Family. “It is just not possible that a family who came from Galilee, as the New Testament tells us of Joseph and Mary, would be buried over several generations in Jerusalem”. (2)
As an aside I always wonder what new “discovery” the lovers of darkness will come up with around Christmas and Easter. It seems that every year or so something is produced to attempt to dissuade people from placing their trust in Jesus Christ. So I am not surprised with the recent attempt to discredit the biblical facts regarding the physical resurrection of our Lord. There are numerous archeologists (some of them not even Christians) who refute the claims made in the book and documentary on other than a biblical basis. Let me remind you that it was not too long ago when another ossuary was discovered that had written on it “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” Immediately the many evangelicals jumped on this find as proof the Jesus had brothers and sisters. Naturally, the Roman Catholic archeologists denounced this find due to their manmade doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary.
In my opinion the evangelicals were (are) just as wrong then as Cameron is now in pointing to some object apart from the Holy Bible in order to prove their case.
Brothers and sisters in both cases of “dem bones” or any other object outside the writings of Scriptures are not what we base our faith on. I don’t care if it is the Shroud of Turin, the Holy Grail or the spear of Longinus…our faith is to rest on what the Bible says.
I am not denying that there is massive evidence of an archeological, scientific and historical nature to augment the claims of Scripture but ultimately our faith must rest in the testimony of the Scriptures alone.
I want us to briefly consider the biblical evidence which demonstrates that these bones could in no way be those of Jesus of Nazareth.
The Testimony of Jesus—
To begin with if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then He was a liar, a false prophet and anything else He had to say should be discounted, which naturally, is the goal of those who are still at enmity with God. Jesus prophesied that He would rise from the dead:
“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” Matthew 20:18,19
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. John 2:19-22
Jesus spoke several times about the fact that He would physically sire from the dead. The Jewish leaders had no difficulty understanding what Jesus said to them, they did not believe Him, but they knew what He was talking about. After He did rise from the grave the disciples via the ministry of the Holy Spirit (see John 14:26) remembered that Jesus had told them He would rise from the dead. His claim to rise from the dead was validated by a myriad of witnesses.
The Testimony of the Angel of the Lord—
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is to here; he has risen, just as he said. Matthew 28:5,6
The Testimony of the Disciples—
There he said to Thomas, Put your finger here: see my hands. Reach out you hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe,” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” there Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing you ma have life in his name. John 20:27-31
Thomas and those around Him saw Jesus bearing the same marks in His body that He had received at the hands of the Roman soldiers.
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast,” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They know it was the Lord Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. John 21:12-14
Jesus appeared to Peter and others and made them breakfast. He ate with them, told them to handle Him: He said them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Luke 24:38-39
The first Easter morning Jesus appeared first of all to Mary Magdalene and the other women: So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Matthew 28:8-10
Jesus appeared to some of the disciples as they walked along the road to Emmaus: They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked alone with them; Luke 24:14-15
The Eyewitness Testimony of over 500 people—
After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, through some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 1 Cor. 15:6-7
Our Lord appeared not only to the apostles, the other disciples, but more than 500 other men, most of whom were still alive at the time Paul penned this letter and thus these people could be located and asked for their testimony.
The Birth of the Church Testifies to the Physical Resurrection—
Here is something to ponder. The celebration of Pentecost had been transpiring since it was inaugurated hundreds of years earlier, why was the event mentioned in Acts different? The fact that Christ Jesus rose from the dead was the ushering in of the ministry of the Holy Spirit just as Jesus had promised would happen in Acts 1:5
The Apostle Peter announced in his sermon that this unique manifestation of the Spirit was due to Jesus being raised from the dead:
“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. Acts 2:29-33.
Peter was speaking to a mixed multitude, but many of the people listening were from the surrounding area and they were convicted by his words because they were true. The Jewish leaders could easily have produced the corpse of Jesus proving He was dead, but they did not. Why? Simply because the tomb was empty and the best solution they could come up with was to bribe the soldiers guarding His tomb and have them to lie and say that the disciples had stolen His body (Matthew 28:11-14).
The Testimony of the Apostle Paul—
Keep in mind that Paul’s conversion was without a doubt dramatic. He, one of the most highly educated men of his (or any) day was an avid persecutor of the Church, yet suddenly he encounters the risen Christ and becomes the premier advocate and evangelist for the Gospel:
…and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 1 Cor. 15:8
Apart from the Apostle John all of the writers of the New Testament were martyred fro their faith. Why would God fearing Jews knowingly blaspheme their God, because if what they taught about Jesus was a lie, then they were surely blaspheming God. Facing certain death why didn’t they recant their testimonies and simply, (in some cases) bow their knee to the statue of Caesar and declare he was really “lord” and not Jesus? One would think that when faced with a rather unpleasant death one would reconsider and tell the truth in order to spare their lives. They did not. Why not? Because they knew they were telling the absolute truth and they were secure in the fact that their Redeemer lives because they had seen Him, talked with Him, sat under His ministry for another 40 days before He ascended back to the right hand of God the Father.
I know that Dr. Martin Luther said that the church stood or fell regarding the doctrine of justification by faith alone, but I would disagree. I believe the church stands or falls on the basis of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is why the world tires so hard to discount the reality that Jesus did in fact physically rise from the dead. Dan Brown and his book The Da Vinci Code (and the others books that followed), the “Jesus Seminar,” and most recently the alleged bones of Jesus all are just a few desperate attempts to dissuade and deceive people into believing that Jesus did not rise from the grave.
If Christ had not been raised from the dead it would be as the Apostle Paul said:
But if it is preached that Christ had been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is o resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ had not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile: Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
In fact, I have got some sobering news for Mr. Cameron and the other doubters and skeptics one day, maybe sooner than many expect this same Jesus who was physically raised from the dead will return and they will see Him and stand before Him. I know this because God’s Word tells me so:
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11
The risen Lord of glory is coming back and this time as the Judge of all flesh and He will separate the sheep from the goats (see Matthew 25:32). The sheep (believers) will be ushered into eternal bliss and the goats (nonbelievers) will be cast into outer darkness and eternally damned. Brothers and sisters, this Easter let us echo the ancient liturgical refrain “He is risen, He is risen indeed!” ♦
Copyright © Robert S. Liichow
1. Obtained from http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1790456/
Post on March 19, 2007.
1. Ibid. Underlining and bold type added for emphasis.