In the April and May numbers of the GN, we published a two-part series about the unique man from space — Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Favorable response was overwhelming! And along with all the propitious letters came many thoughtful biblical questions on the articles. As a little bit of a break from our usual format, I am going to answer some of these questions in the space normally devoted to my monthly article.
QUESTION: "In your article 'When a Man From Space Visited Earth,' you stated that the best kept secret was that Jesus Christ did not know His Father would turn His back on Him when He was crucified. How could this be, since Jesus inspired King David to write in Psalms 22:1 that He would be forsaken? These are the same words He spoke while on the stake. Surely as a human Jesus read •this passage. So would you please explain how He still did not know He would be forsaken."
ANSWER: Be glad to. Take a closer look at Psalms 22. It consists of a prayer of David when he was in the midst of some type of horrible affliction. Notice the context of this scripture (one of the most important rules of Bible study): " My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent .... But I am a worm, and no man ; a reproach of men, and despised of the people" (verses 1-2, 6).
The total time that Jesus' spent on the stake was no more than about six hours (compare Mark 15:25 with Matt. 27:45-46, Mark 15:33 and Luke 23:44). He actually cried out the words of David only a very short time before His death (see Matt. 27:45-50). The realization that the Father had left Him utterly alone came only moments before He died.
Yet in David's psalm — which, as you correctly pointed out, Christ had read before — the time factor of "being forsaken" was at the very least a twenty-four-hour period. David said he had cried out in vain both day and night (Ps. 22:2). So it was not always readily apparent, from the context of Psalms 22:1, that this scripture was to be fulfilled just prior to Christ's death..
Jesus Christ directly and personally fulfilled a whole host of Old Testament prophetic scriptures, but not all under the same circumstances. Some Jesus Himself, in relatively calm circumstances, made absolutely sure were fulfilled, as the account in Luke 22:36-37: "... He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me [and then follows a quotation from. Isaiah 53], And he was reckoned among the transgressors.... "
Other Old Testament fulfillments were only apparent after the events occurred. Days after Judas Iscariot was already dead, the apostle Peter was inspired to say: " Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas.... For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take" (Acts 1:16, 20). Amazingly, Peter paraphrased "let his habitation be desolate" from, Psalms 69:25 and "his bishoprick [office] let another take" from Psalms 109:8, two separate psalms, both of which King David wrote under inspiration. But looking at it logically, there is no way in the world you would ever figure out that those two verses were referring to Judas Iscariot. This knowledge came to Peter only through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Notice John 12:16. In this connection: "These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him...." Matthew 27:46 is in this category. During His last moments on the stake, Jesus Christ of Nazareth was in greater pain and agony than David ever was at any time in his life. It was only natural that He should think the thoughts of David when He came to the realization that He had to bear our sins utterly alone and without the Father. But by no stretch of the imagination, while Jesus Christ was in terrible agony, did He calmly and deliberately, as a preset duty, parrot the words of David in Psalms 22:1.
Q: "I must say that the lead article was just a bit beyond me — or perhaps I was reading in a hyperanalytic frame of mind. I started reading about a man from 'space and was immediately face to face with dinosaurs. By now I am pretty well confused, and when you then tell me that He (God) entered Mary's womb to create Christ, I am about 'licked.'"
Amityville, New York
A: First of all, the article itself was primarily intended not as a doctrinal dissertation, but to at least momentarily lift the minds of our readers off this mundane earth with all its global, national and private problems, on up to a different level or viewpoint of thinking. It was a telescopic history of the activities of Christ from the Genesis 1 creation until now. It was written to acquaint the reader with that extra dimension of the spirit world which we naturally devote little thought to if we are not somehow made cognizant of its real existence.
After an introduction summarizing the article's overall intent, the reader was ushered in on the scene just prior to the seven-day recreation of the earth which occurred long after the events of Genesis 1:1. (Man was created about six thousand years ago. However, the geologic record substantiates the fact that the earth itself was brought into being perhaps several billions of years ago. (Read our free booklet Did God Create a Devil? for a detailed explanation.) At some point after the original creation of Genesis 1:1, angelic sin caused the universal destruction of the earth's surface. It was this destruction that was depicted in the beginning paragraphs of my article. I did not specifically mention the angelic role because of space limitations.
As to your second question, I did not say that God entered the womb of Mary. I did write in the article: "'And the Word was made flesh' (John 1:14). Our Creator [Christ] actually became a tiny germ of life in the womb of the virgin Mary. When the Holy Spirit, by a divine miracle from God the Father, united with a female ovum in the body of Mary, another tiny human being [Jesus Christ] was on its way to parturition [birth]."
God the Father begat His Son, Jesus Christ, in the womb of Mary through the agency of the Holy Spirit.
Q: "In your article, you said that 'Jesus took a bigger step when He went right through a solid rock tomb' — indicating that Jesus was resurrected before the angel came and rolled the stone away. I would like to know where you find this stated or revealed in the Bible?"
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
A: After Jesus Christ of Nazareth was resurrected to immortal spirit life (remember, God is a Spirit — John 4:24), He appeared and disappeared at will on various occasions to gatherings of His disciples behind locked doors. He did not enter or leave through the door, but went right through solid walls as if they weren't even there (see John 20:19, 26). Several times He suddenly appeared right out of nowhere and then disappeared in the same manner (see Matt. 28:9; Mark 16:14; Luke 24:31).
In addition, prior to His final ascension (Acts 1), He took at least one space flight to the third heaven where God's throne is (see John 20:17-19). No physical human being, even with apparent paranormal powers, can do these things. Jesus, as the "firstborn of many [spirit composed] brethren," was able to bodily accomplish many extraordinary feats that are reserved to the realm of spirit beings.
A spirit being is not confined. by the laws of matter, time and space. Jesus had no need of any angelic escorts. There is no biblical statement or prophecy indicating that any angel played a role in His escape from the tomb.
The account in the book of Matthew (28:1-6) shows that when an earthquake occurred and the angel rolled back the large rock covering the entrance of Christ's tomb, He was not there (verse 6). This means that He had already passed through solid stone to leave the tomb. Reading this account very carefully, it is apparent that Christ had already risen and left the scene by the time the great earthquake had occurred in verse 2.
Q: "What you say about Jesus being a spirit the instant He awoke from being dead is not true according to Luke 24:36-40. Jesus' disciples 'supposed that they saw a spirit.' But Jesus said: 'See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.'"
A: Many of the same scriptures I referred to in the previous answer prove that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was resurrected into another dimension of spirit life. The description of Christ in Revelation 1:13-16 is simply not that of a human being. The Bible does not contradict itself (see John 10:35); any vague biblical scripture must be understood in the light of all the plain, clear scriptures on the same subject.
In the verses you quoted in your question, the disciples were terribly frightened when Christ suddenly appeared out of nowhere. He was simply calming them down and allaying their fears by pointing out that He was not a demon spirit or some type of ghost-like apparition: "... They were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit" (Luke 24:37).
Spirit beings are normally invisible, but Jesus Christ of Nazareth was able to manifest Himself as a normal physical human (with flesh and bones) for the purpose of proving to His disciples that it was indeed He, the real Jesus — the very same individual whom they had, for 3 1/2 years, worked and traveled together with — who had been resurrected to eternal life.
Q: "The article contains what I believe are two errors. The statement was made that Christ 'was terribly dehydrated from fasting forty days and forty nights without a drop of water or a morsel of food passing His lips.' Nowhere in the Gospels is there any statement or implication that Jesus went without water, only without food. Had it been otherwise, Christ would have had to shed His human mantle and avail Himself of His divine powers. Human beings can go without food for forty days and nights, but not without water.... Also you said: 'Three days and three nights later Jesus stepped through a solid rock tomb.' This hardly accords with the widely accepted view that Jesus was crucified on a Friday following a Passover supper the night before, that He was entombed that Friday evening, as well as all day on the Sabbath, to come forth 'as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week:..' (Matt. 28:1). It would seem that Christ was in the tomb two nights, not three."
A: The Old Testament records three other such fasts of forty-days' length. Moses was on Mount Sinai "forty days and forty nights," during which time he '"neither ate bread nor drank water" (Deut. 9:9). A little later, Moses repeated this forty-day fast a second time (Ex. 34:28). Elijah also fasted for the same length of time. Notice it in I Kings 19:8:" And he [Elijah] arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights...." Total abstinence from any liquids, including water, is certainly implied in this. account. The Ninevites fasted without either bread or water as a direct result of Jonah's prophecy of national disaster (see Jonah 3:7).
There is no example in either the Old or the New Testament where it specifically says or even implies that someone drank water while fasting.
Though the accounts of Jesus' forty-day fast do not specify water per se, the weight of Scripture certainly indicates that Jesus fasted without water as well as food. Physically speaking, Jesus, as a young man of thirty, was at the very least as healthy as the eighty-year-old Moses, who we are specifically told did fast without water for that period of time.
On the second question, I will simply refer you to Matthew 12:39-40, which says that Jesus would be in His grave three days and three nights even as the prophet Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights. Our free booklet The Resurrection Was Not On Sunday explains it all in great detail.
Q: "The article said Jesus felt a sharp metal spear jamming into His side and then He died. But I read in John 19:33-34 that Jesus was already dead when the spear was thrust into Him."
A: Just as a part of one verse that appears in the Authorized Version was inserted into the Greek manuscripts as a spurious addition after the invention of printing, a portion of another was unfortunately left out. Notice Matthew 27:49 in the Revised Standard Version: "But the others said, 'Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.'" After the word "him" there appears a little "n" directing the reader to a footnote at the bottom of the page. It reads: "Other ancient authorities insert And another took a spear and pierced his side, and out came water and. blood." Now read the very next verse (50): "And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit [died]."
This "missing verse" appears in the main text of both the Moffatt and Fenton translations. It is footnoted in many modern versions and Robertson's Harmony of the Gospels. Additionally, this verse appeared in many of the early Greek manuscripts, including the ancient Codex Vatican us, the Sinaiticus and other early manuscripts designated only by letters and numbers.
The importance of this verse lies in the fact that it tells us that Christ was speared before He died. John seems to reverse the events, but in all likelihood his account of the piercing (John 19:34) is a parenthetical thought explaining the events that occurred beforehand.
Back up to verses 32, and 33: "Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs. "If they didn't break Jesus' legs when they saw He was already dead, it certainly wouldn't make any sense for them to then jam a spear into His side.
Then follows the parenthetical thought: "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water" (verse 34). The Greek aorist tense of the word "pierced" does not tell us, by itself, when the spearing occurred — whether they then speared Him or whether He had already been speared! The Greek, at this point, could be understood either way. We can know the time only by logically putting John 19:34 with the rest of. the scriptures.
When Joseph of Arimathaea came to claim the body of Jesus for burial, Pilate was simply amazed that He was dead already (Mark 15:43-45). Why? Because it usually takes a much longer period than several hours for a healthy person like Jesus to die by crucifixion. What happened was that one of the soldiers had brutally ended Jesus' life "prematurely" by jamming a spear into His side.
This relatively short explanation only hits the tip of the iceberg. For a complete exegesis of the texts involved, please read our free article "Did Jesus Die of a Broken Heart?"