5.10 The ultimate test of Jesus:
Many verses of the Bible make reference to the "three day and three night" prophesy (Matthew 20:19...etc.). Christian scholars themselves make mention of several cases throughout the Bible where people have put words in Jesus' mouth (see chapter two). They also recognize many passages of the Bible as being of a questionable nature. However, let us simplify this matter a little in order to make it easier to recognize the tampering fingerprints of the unscrupulous. Let us start with the assumption that no human being ever added or removed a single word from the Bible and move on from there. Please try to stay with me on this and you will see how only a very small amount of logic will prove that Jesus (pbuh) never said these words:
You would be hard pressed to find a single Christian today who has not heard of the "three days and three nights" prophesy. Where do they get it from? They get it from "the Gospel of Matthew." What does it say? If we read Matthew 12 we will see how the Jews were giving Jesus (pbuh) no end of trouble. They were constantly doubting him and refusing to accept him. They had seen countless signs of his prophethood but insisted on disbelieving. Finally they ask him for a sign of his prophethood. How does Jesus (pbuh) allegedly respond to this request? Does he draw their attention to his healing of the lepers and the blind? No. Does he draw their attention to his casting out of devils? No. Does he point out his raising of the dead? No. Does he mention any of his other countless miracles? No. Well, what does he say? He says:
"But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth"
In effect, Jesus (pbuh) was claimed to have put all of his eggs in one basket. He was telling them that "NO" sign shall be given to them "BUT" the sign of Jonas. This ONE sign shall ALONE decide who is truthful, him or those who doubted him. This shall be the "be all end all" acid test of his truthfulness.
Now, what is "Good Friday"? "Good Friday" is the day Christians tell us Jesus (pbuh) was crucified. In Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (tenth edition), it is defined as "the Friday before Easter observed in churches as the anniversary of the crucifixion of Christ." This is also confirmed by the Bible:
"And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath"
So the Bible tells us that Jesus (pbuh) died on Friday, just before nightfall.
According to the Bible, the Jews had been carting Jesus (pbuh) back and forth on "Good Friday" between Pontius Pilate and Harod trying to get a conviction and official sanction to crucify him. After all of this carting back and forth, they finally get him to the cross and hang him up on it. However, no sooner have they gotten him up on the cross than they are in a hurry to get him back down again. Why is that? It is because they believed that if he remained on the cross all night then he would defile their land.
"And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance."
So the Jews begged Pilate to break Jesus' legs so that he would die quickly from suffocation:
"The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.."
About the sixth hour (twelve noon), Jesus is claimed to be in front of Pilate (John 19:14). According to the Bible (e.g. John 19:30), Jesus died around the ninth hour (three PM). During these three hours Jesus was dressed in purple with a crown of thorns and made fun of, spat on, abused and beaten, and then made to carry the cross to the location of his execution (John 19:17), the cross was planted in the ground, he was hung up on it, his title was written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin on the cross, lots were cast and his clothes distributed, he spoke to one of the two thieves and to an apostle, many people passed before him and rebuked him, he was given something to drink, and he died, all of which took place in these three hours, and his legs were never broken. After that there was thunder, an eclipse, and an earthquake, the veil of the temple was rent in twain, and the dead came out of their graves. Jesus (pbuh) was then let down and placed in the shroud and the tomb. Early Sunday morning (the first day of the week according to the Jews), while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene visits the tomb alone (Mark 16:9, John 20:1) and finds the stone moved and Jesus (pbuh) missing. Let us count:
Event Days Nights
"Good Friday" - one
Saturday (the Sabbath) one one
Sunday morning - -
Total one day two nights
As you can see, it is impossible to add up the days and nights so that they equal "three days and three nights." Assuming that Jesus (pbuh) waited until just before the arrival of Mary to leave the tomb, the Bible tells us that Jesus (pbuh) was in the ground for ONE day and TWO nights. Has the prophesy been fulfilled? Has the ONE "be all end all" sign to the Jews been established?
Further, it is important to remember that Jonah was swallowed alive by a whale and remained in its belly alive for three days. His miracle was not that the whale swallowed him, nor that it swallowed him whole, nor yet that he remained in its belly for three days (If I eat a piece of food and it remains in my stomach for three days, is this a "miracle"?). The miracle of Jonah was that HE DID NOT DIE. For Jesus to have properly fulfilled the prophecy, he would need to enter the tomb alive and come out alive just as Jonah entered the whale's belly ALIVE and came out of its belly ALIVE. Why should Jesus give this of all signs if he was to die and be resurrected? Where is the "miraculous" similarity with the miracle of Jonah?
A Christian gentleman from Canada once asked us: "Why do Muslims doubt that the scriptures always taught the death and resurrection of Jesus." Can we now see why Muslims recognize such claims to be later insertions and not the words of Allah's elect messenger Jesus (pbuh) nor his most honorable apostles? Have we made anything up? Have we not been quoting directly from the same Bible every Christian has at home? For more, please read Mr. Ahmed Deedat's book "Crucifixion or Cruci-fiction."
Indeed, Christian scholars are beginning to recognize that the text of Matthew 12:38-40 was in fact embroidered by the church in order to be able to claim that Jesus (pbuh) himself had prophesied the crucifixion. The original form of this verse can be seen in Mark 8:11-12, where we read:
"And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation."
... and that is all. There is no mention of "three days and three nights" nor "the sign of Jonah" nor anything else. These were all added on later (please read section 2.1 for more on this topic).
Paul alleged that the scriptures said that Jesus (pbuh) would be raised on the third day (1 Cor. 15:4). That is only his claim. Reality is quite different. One could search the OT scriptures until doom's day, and he would find nothing written about a Messiah who would rise from the dead on the third day. It just isn't there. For more on this topic, please read The Skeptical Review, 1991, Number Four: "Why Didn't They Know?"
As a side note regarding the renting of the veil of the temple and resurrection of the dead, Mr. Tom Harpur says
"The story of the saints' being resurrected from the tombs to the east of the city, just below the Mount of Olives, and going into Jerusalem is also the result of an attempt to give mythical form to the belief that Jesus was the "first fruits of them that slept," Surely an event of such stupendous dimensions, had it actually occurred, would have not only found its way into other Gospels (than Matthew) and letters in the New Testament, but would also have been recorded in some other Jewish or Roman historical source. Yet the record is silent."
For Christ's Sake, Tom Harpur, p. 102
It is also interesting to note that while those who were not apostles (such as Luke) give detailed descriptions of all of these most stupendous and earth-shaking events, in spite of that, the "Gospel of John," which was supposedly written by the apostle John the son of Zebedee, found it completely unnecessary to mention any "renting of the veil of the temple", or any "rising of the dead", or any earthquakes, or any eclipses of the sun, or any of these other most stupendous events. Did the apostle John feel all of these events to be inconsequential and undeserving of mention, or has the church been "embroidering" the events of the crucifixion? Did the apostle John "not notice" the earth shaking beneath his feet, or the sun being blotted out above his head? Did he "not notice" the dead coming out of their graves? It is interesting to further note that such "mourning of all of creation" for the death of an important figure was not restricted to Jesus (pbuh). Only seventy years earlier, Julius Caesar's death was documented to have been accompanied by similar stupendous acts of nature, as well as many members of the clergy after that. (Go back and read chapter three for more on this topic).
For more on the topic of these resurrected saints please read "The Skeptical Review," 1992, Number One: "What Happened to the Resurrected Saints?" and also "The Skeptical Review," 1992, Number Three: "More About the Resurrected Saints"
When prophet Muhammad's infant son Ibraheem died, his death happened to coincide with an eclipse of the sun. All of the Muslims came running to him exclaiming "It is a miracle, the sun itself is mourning the death of your only son." Upon hearing this, prophet Muhammad became very angry with them and said
'The sun and the moon do not eclipse because of the death of any among mankind. They are but two signs among the signs of Allah. When you see them stand up and pray.'
Narrated by AbuMas'ud in Sahih Al-Bukhari
The priest and scholar Anselm Turmeda, who later became a Muslim says:
"This description of the tragedy you have already read has been completely derived from an old book. This record was written by a Jewish historian when Titus conquered and destroyed Jerusalem. Now we see the same phrases in the book of Matthew. In other words, somebody has inserted these words into the Book of Matthew."
(for more on Anselm, please read section 6.3 of this book)
There is a problem when dealing with the various contradictory Biblical accounts of Jesus' arrest and trial as they relate to each other and Jewish practice of the day. Dont forget to check out The Problems of Jesus's Trial and Arrest