The Bible says, ‘So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many …’ (Hebrews 9:28) and ‘…and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7) and ‘For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: 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.’ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Many other Bible verses and all the four Gospels confirm this but how do we know that Jesus Christ actually died.
GOD PROPHESIED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT THAT JESUS WOULD DIE
Some of the Old Testament prophecies are: “‘For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet.’” (Psalm 22:16)
Speaking of Christ we read, ‘But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. … He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked-But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.’ (Isaiah 53:5, 8b-9)
‘And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off …’ (Daniel 9:26).
JESUS ALSO PROPHESIED/PREDICTED HIS OWN CRUCIFIXION AND DEATH
Jesus prophesied His own death and resurrection a number of times and was not afraid to die. For example:
‘Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful.’ (Matthew 17:22-23)
‘Jesus said … “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.’” (Mark 10:42, 45) (Jesus v24)
‘Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.’” (Luke 18:31-33)
There are other references to Jesus’ resurrection which automatically show that His death had previously occurred.
‘Then Jesus said … “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.’” (John 10:7a, 11).
JESUS WILLINGLY DIED ON THE CROSS
‘And He (Jesus v30) said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’” (Mark 14:36)
‘Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. … Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.’” (John 10:7a, 17-18)
ALL THE FOUR GOSPELS DESCRIBE JESUS’ CRUCIFIXION AND DEATH
Matthew 27:32-50 ‘Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, …’ (v35) ‘And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.’” (v50).
Mark 15:22-37 ‘And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take.’ (v24). ‘And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.’ (v37)
Luke 23:32-46 ‘And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left’ (v33). ‘And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last.’ (v46)
John 19:17-30 ‘where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center’ (v18). ‘So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.’ (v30)
THE EVIDENCE THAT JESUS ACTUALLY DIED
- The centurion (a captain in the Roman army over 100 foot soldiers in a legion) in charge of the crucifixion, and those soldiers that were with him: ‘And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. … So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!’”(Matthew 27:50, 54 See also Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47)
- Many women, and previously known women are named: ‘And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.’ (Matthew 27:55-56 See also Mark 15:40-41)
- People that stood by:‘Some of those who stood by, … Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, … And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.’ (Mark 15:35-37)
- The people that came together to that sight, Jesus’ acquaintance and the women that followed Jesus: ‘And the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned. But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.’ (Luke 23:48-49).
- Pilate the governor:/ ‘Pilate marvelled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.’ (Mark 15:44-45)
- Certain Jews: ‘Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.’ (John 19:31)
- The soldiers hastening the death of the victims by breaking their legs: ‘Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.’ (John 19:32-33)
- Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus buried Jesus in Joseph’s own tomb: ‘Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.’ (Mark 15:43-46 See also Luke 23:50-54; John 19:38-42). As Joseph and Nicodemus were followers of Jesus Christ they would not have buried Him if they had noticed that He was alive.
SUBSEQUENT EVIDENCE OF JESUS CHRIST’S DEATH
- Acts c2: In Jerusalem (Acts 2:5) the apostle Peter (2:14) was speaking to the crowds (2:5-11) fifty days (2:1 The feast of Pentecost was celebrated fifty days after the Passover) after the Lord Jesus had died and said: ‘“Him, being delivered … you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death’” (2:23). No one in the crowds contradicted the apostle Peter and said that he was not telling the truth.
- Acts c4: A few weeks after c2. ‘And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, (and high priests) … The Peter said “… Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, …’” (Acts 4:5-6, 8, 10). When Peter charged the counsel of being responsible for the death of Jesus Christ, no one in the counsel contradicted him.
- Acts c5: A few weeks after c4. ‘And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, … “And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” … But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.’” (Acts 5:27-30). Here the high priest admits to the death or blood of Jesus Christ. Again when Peter charged the counsel of being responsible for the death of Jesus Christ, no one in the counsel contradicted him.
- Acts c26: About AD 66 i.e. about 33 years after Christ died and rose again which was very much in the open. The apostle Paul said (v1) ‘“that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles. … For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; … since this thing was not done in a corner.’” (Acts 26:23, 26). No one in the audience contradicted the apostle Paul and said that he was not telling the truth.
So there is evidence for the death and resurrection of Christ from both the Old and New Testaments. As He died for your sins will you not trust Him for God’s total forgiveness of your sins and deliverance from coming judgment?