When I was a kid, I was in the car with my dad when I saw a billboard on the side of a building with the picture of a guy with a plastic looking hairdo and a vacant stare that read “Jesus the Christ is Here!” (followed by a phone number and an address in Florida).
I turned to my father and yelled, “Look dad! Jesus has returned, and He looks just like our plumber!” He looked over at me, shook his head and sighed (a frequent occurrence during my childhood).
Of course Jose-Luis de Jesus Miranda isn’t the Redeemer (I’m not even sure he’s real). Yet he is not alone in claiming to be the Christ. Many characters throughout history have made messianic claims. And although most of them are easily dismissed, some have been taken seriously enough to have gained significant and devoted followings (as the Bible predicted). So it would seem that we have an identity crisis. Or rather, an identity Christ-sis (see what I did there?)
How do we know that Jesus was the Redeemer?
In the last post, I ended my review of the Redeemer’s mission and attributes with the conclusion that Jesus of Nazareth was the Redeemer. This is of course the belief of mainstream Christianity as well. But the fact alone that a belief is shared by a majority does not make it true (don’t tell this to “Climate Change” proponents).
As with any other supposition, it has to pass the test of contrastive thinking. Only by proving that no one else could be the Redeemer can we know conclusively that Jesus is Him. How do we do this? By again taking the specific Biblical predictions (prophesies) about the Redeemer and seeing if they match anyone else in history.
There are over 300 specific prophesies written about the Redeemer before His advent. But how likely is it that these events and attributes could have also been fulfilled by someone else? Let’s play the odds with a few of them and see. And just to keep things as contrastive as possible, I’m going to give myself some handicaps with the figures below.
*BEGIN MATH ALERT*
Let’s assume that in the history of the planet, there have been 100 billion people who have lived and died (that is a VERY generous estimate, but as I said, I’m intentionally giving myself handicaps). What are the odds that one of them (other than Jesus) could have fulfilled only NINE of the 300 prophesies of the Redeemer?
The Bible says that the Redeemer would be born in Bethlehem (Prophesied in Micah 5:2, fulfilled by Jesus in Luke 2:4-5, 7). Bethlehem is a tiny city that has historically had a population well below 5,000. But let’s double that for our handicap to 10,000. What are the chances that a random person in history would have been born in Bethlehem? We’ll take our total population of 100 billion and divide by the historic Bethlehem population of 10,000, and we get 100,000 (one hundred thousand). So for our purposes, these is a 1 in 100,000 chance of someone being born in Bethlehem (this means that if we selected 100,000 people at random from everyone who has ever lived, one of them would have been born in Bethlehem.) So far so good? (Probably not but I’ll be more casual with my estimates from now on).
The Redeemer was born of a virgin (Prophesied in Isaiah 7:14 Fulfilled by Jesus in Luke 1:26-27, 30-31). How many people in history experienced a virgin birth? I’d estimate zero, but let’s be kind and say 1 person in every million (1,000,000) was born of a virgin.
The Redeemer will receive gifts from Arabian kings – (Prophesied in Psalms 72:10, fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew 2: 1-11). Let’s say 1 in 1000 people have been given gifts from Arabian royalty at their birth (Middle-Eastern hospitality and all).
He was a miraculous healer of the blind, deaf, and lame – (Prophesied in Isaiah 35:5-6, fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew 11:3-5) I’m sure at least 1 in every 100,000 people have done that.
He was rejected by the people who had been waiting for him for almost a thousand years – (Prophesied in Isaiah 53:3 Fulfilled by Jesus in John 1:11, Luke 23:14-18). Happens all the time, right? 1 in 10,000 chance.
He was betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver (Prophesied in Psalms 55:12-13, Zechariah 11:12, fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew 26:14-15, 49-50). Who hasn’t had a friend like that? 1 in 10,000 chance.
He was Silent before His accusers even though He was innocent (Prophesied in Isaiah 53:7, fulfilled by Jesus in Mark 15:4-5). A common occurrence – 1 in 1,000
He would be executed by crucifixion (Prophesied in Psalms 22, fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew 27:35-36). We’ll estimates that it’s happened to 1 in 100,000 people (they probably deserved it).
He would be resurrected from the dead (Prophesied in Psalms 16:10, Psalms 30:3, Isaiah 26:19, fulfilled by Jesus in Mark 16:6-7). Not counting zombies, let’s say 1 in 100,000 people have come back from the dead.
Now remember, the Redeemer had to fulfill all of these prophesies, so we need the composite odds. We get that by adding up all the zeros (40) which gets us to 1040 (1 with 40 zeroes after it). Divided by our total historical population of 100 billion people (1011), gets us 1029
So the odds of any one person in history other than Jesus fulfilling these nine prophesies is one chance in 1029. That’s a REALLY big number (here’s what it looks like – 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).
How big is that?
Well, if the universe is 15 billion years old (and I’m not going to debate that right now), and we break that down into seconds, the universe is “only” 1017 seconds old!
If someone other than Jesus tried to randomly fulfill just nine of the 300 prophesies of the Redeemer once every second for the entire history of the universe (and then 1012 more seconds after that) they’d fail!
But wait, it gets worse!
Let’s say we triple the prophesies to get the odds of someone other than Jesus fulfilling just 27 of the prophesies (and lets also assume no decreases in likelihoods as an additional handicap), we’d have 1040 x 1040 x 1040 = 10120. Divide by our population of 1011, and we get 1 chance in 10109!
Now we have a bit of problem. This is a number so big, it’s virtually incomprehensible. How big a number is it?
Well, scientists estimate that in the entire universe, there are “only” 1082 atoms! So there is neither enough time in the universe nor enough matter in the universe to give anyone other than Jesus any chance to fulfill just 27 of the 300 prophesies of the Redeemer!
*END OF MATH ALERT. YOU MAY RETURN TO YOUR SEATS.
Math tricks aside, you can prove the historic identity of the Redeemer by looking at one spectacular and exacting prophesy found in the book of Daniel which gives the exact day that the Redeemer would present himself to Israel! :
“ Seventy weeks [of years]* are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks [of years] and sixty-two weeks [of years]…” – Daniel 9:24-25
According to this passage, when the order to rebuild Jerusalem was given (it had been destroyed by the Babylonians after Israel screwed up one too many times), the Messiah (Redeemer) would present Himself exactly 69 weeks of years [483 years** or 173,880 days] later.
How do we know Jesus fulfilled that prophesy?
It just so happens that the order to rebuild Jerusalem is a matter of historic record. On the 14th of Nisan [March/April of our current calendar] of the year 445 B.C. the Persian King Artaxerxes, commissioned the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-8). 173,880 days later is the 6th of Nisan, 32 A.D. This was the only day that the Messiah of Israel could present himself!
Jesus fulfilled that prophesy on the very day. This is the day Christians celebrate as Palm Sunday.
Jesus of Nazareth is the only one that was, is, or could be the Messiah of Israel and the Redeemer of humanity!
There is one final and very controversial aspect about Jesus that we will address to end this series. If He was both mortal and divine, how come someone be fully man AND fully God?
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*Ancient Jews divided their years into groups of 7 (called a week of years or a “heptad”) the same way we divide years into groups of 10, called decades.
**Jews used a 360 day calendar