If Jesus was supposedly never crucified, or never died, or was never buried, we have to ask:
WHO WAS THE CRUCIFIED ONE?
The Crucifixion and the "chain-of-custody" principle
By Dawud Jabal
We received a question about the Crucifixion of Jesus, asking us to prove:
|(1)||that anyone saw Jesus dead, and|
|(2)||that anyone removed the dead body of Jesus from the cross, and|
|(3)||that anyone put His dead body in a tomb.|
These three questions involve the "chain-of-custody" of Jesus and his body. They seem to be best broken down into the following five parts:
|(A)||Proof of Jesus being arrested, tortured, and hung on cross.|
|(B)||Proof of Jesus remaining on the cross till death.|
|(C)||Proof of the death of Jesus on the cross.|
|(D)||Proof of the removal of the same dead body from the cross.|
|(E)||Proof of the placement of that same dead body in a tomb.|
This study is from the documentation provided in the Bible by Matthew Levi, the son of Alphaeus, a servant of God and a companion and disciple of Jesus.
The Roman government, the Jewish rulers and the disciples of Jesus were confirming witnesses of these events. If the Jewish people were deceived into thinking that they had killed Jesus, that would have still made it necessary also to deceive the Roman government and the very followers of Jesus; even his mother and closest friends and disciples. All of these would have had to believe a complete falsehood.
(A) Proof of Jesus being arrested, tortured, and hung on the cross
The "chain-of-custody" begins with the identification of Jesus by all twelve disciples (apostles) during the eating of the Last Supper at the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the night before the start of the full Passover commemoration. Afterwards, Judas left them (Mt 26:17-20).
Then the group proceeded under a full moon with plenty of moonlight (the 14th day of the lunar month of Nisan) (Exodus 12:18) from the place of the Last Supper going east across the Brook Kidron and to the Garden of Gethsemane at the Mount of Olives (Mt 26:30 & 36).
Judas Iscariot came and identified Jesus for the soldiers. Jesus also identified himself. Jesus healed the ear of the servant of the High Priest (Mt 26:47-56). Later Judas confirmed that he had betrayed an innocent man (Mt 27:3-8). Also, the temple chief priests confirmed that the money given by them to Judas by them was "blood money" (Mt 27:6).
Jesus went in the custody of the temple soldiers, to the house of Caiaphas. Many leaders were present including the whole great Sanhedrin (the 70 ruling men in the Council). Jesus confirmed that he is the Messiah and the Son of the God. Because of this statement of his, they said Jesus had committed blasphemy and was deserving of death (Mt 26:57-68).
Jesus was transferred into the Roman custody of Governor Pontius Pilate in the morning (Mt 27:1-2).
The wife of Pilate stated that she had a dream in the previous night hours that Pilate should have nothing to do with that "righteous man" (Mt 27:19).
The Roman governor, Pilate, delivered Jesus into the custody of his own professional Roman soldiers (Mt 27:26).
The Roman soldiers beat Jesus and put a crown of thorns on his head. This distinctively marked his body and the top of his head (Mt 27:27-30). These wounds, caused by the Roman soldiers, would help identify the body of Jesus all the way to the cross, on the cross, and in post-resurrection appearances.
Jesus remained in the custody of Roman soldiers and was taken to the place of crucifixion (Mt 27:31-33).
Matthew, who was one of the twelve disciples, records that the Roman soldiers crucified Jesus, which means putting a live person on a cross (Mt 27:35).
(B) Proof of Jesus remaining on the cross till death
Jesus remained on the cross under guard by the Roman centurion (Mt 27:54) and soldiers. Some sat down to watch him die (Mt 27:36-37).
While hanging on the cross he was identified by:
- The Roman centurion (officer over about 100 men) (Mt 27:54).
- The Roman soldiers watching and who knew the wounds he had previously suffered (Mt 27:35-36).
- The passersby who had heard him preach (Mt 27:39-40).
- The chief priests (Mt 27:41).
- The scribes (Mt 27:41).
- The elders (Mt 27:41).
- The two robbers who were also being executed (Mt 27:44).
- The many women who had seen Jesus before (Mt 27:55-56).
- John, His disciple (John 19:26)
- Mary, his mother (John 19:26).
(C) Proof of the death of Jesus on the cross
Matthew, a disciple, records that Jesus gave up his spirit, died (Mt 27:50).
The Roman centurion (Mt 27:54) who was in charge of keeping guard over Jesus, refers to Jesus' life in the past tense after Jesus had died (Mt 27:54).
The dead body of Jesus was later ordered by the Roman governor to be given to Joseph of Arimathea who wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and who laid the body of Jesus in his own tomb (Mt 27:59-60).
The chief priests and Pharisees confirmed to the Roman governor that Jesus was dead (Mt 27:63-64).
Also the chief priests and Pharisees confirmed to the Roman governor that Jesus' body was actually in a grave (Mt 27:64).
Pilate, the Roman governor appointed a guard for the grave of Jesus’ dead body (Mt 27:65-66).
An angel of the Lord from Heaven confirmed that Jesus had been crucified, and had been dead (Mt 28:2-7). The women to whom this message was given told it to Matthew and the other disciples (Mt 28:7-10).
(D) Proof of the removal of the same dead body of Jesus from the cross
The Roman soldiers had custody of the dead body of Jesus (Mt 27:54).
Notice that not just anyone could remove the dead body Jesus, the executed prisoner, from the custody of the Romans. Permission had to be obtained from the proper authority who had ordered the execution. In this case, it was the Roman governor, Pilate (Mt 27:58).
A wealthy Jewish man, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple and who would recognize Jesus, asked the Roman governor, Pilate, that he, Joseph, be allowed to take custody the dead body of Jesus for the purpose of burial (Mt 27:57-58). More than 700 years before the time of Jesus, the holy Prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, wrote about this death and the burial in the grave of a rich man (Isaiah 53:9). At the time of Jesus, the holy Prophet John, the Baptizer, son of the Priest Zacharias, told that Jesus was the sacrificial "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29 and Isaiah 53).
Pilate gave the order that the dead body of Jesus be given to Joseph (Mt 27:58).
Joseph of Arimathea took away the dead body of Jesus which had been ordered to be given to him by the governor, Pilate, and which was identified to him as such by the soldiers who guarded the body and also from his own identification of Jesus, because he was a disciple of Jesus (Mt 27:57 & 59).
The chief priests, elders and the soldiers confirmed that the body in the tomb was that of Jesus. It was the same dead body of Jesus that the governor, Pilate, had ordered the soldiers to guard (Mt 28:11-15).
(E) Proof of the placement of that same dead body of Jesus in a tomb
Pilate gave the order that the body be given to Joseph (Mt 27:58). There is no evidence that any other body was given to Joseph.
Joseph took custody of Jesus’ dead body which had been ordered to be given to him by the governor Pilate and which was identified to him as such by the soldiers who guarded the dead body and which Joseph must have been able to identify himself, because he was a disciple of Jesus (Mt 27:59).
Joseph kept custody of the body of Jesus and wrapped the body of Jesus in a clean linen cloth for burial (Mt 27:59).
Joseph laid the wrapped dead body of Jesus in his own new tomb (Mt 27:60).
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary who had been at the crucifixion came to that very grave (Mt 27:56 and 28:1).
An angel of the Lord from Heaven confirmed that Jesus had been dead and buried at that very grave. The angel said, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was laying. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead ..." (Mt 28:5-7)
The body of Jesus was wounded and marked by the beating and the crown of thorns before the crucifixion and it was further marked by the wounds in the hands, the feet and the side while on the cross. Identifiable marks in his hands and side, made by the Roman soldiers, were still visible on Jesus’ body after his resurrection.
He appeared to the apostles "... to whom He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, being seen by them during forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the Kingdom of God." (Acts 1:3) The details of the miracles, teachings and prophecies made by Jesus are recorded in the Injil, the first four historical Gospels ("Good News" section) of the New Testament of the Holy Bible which are advisable to be diligently studied for great spiritual benefit.
Thus, it becomes clear that the "chain-of-custody" principle affirms the historical fact of Jesus’ crucifixion. Of course, what is most important in all of this is why it was necessary that Jesus the Messiah be crucified. A study of the Scriptures of the Prophets (the Bible) clearly reveals that the Messiah’s death and resurrection was, from the beginning, the center-piece of God’s plan of salvation. Listen to what Jesus told His disciples on the day He arose from the grave ...
"Then [Jesus] said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things!’" (Luke 24:44-48)
You are invited to contact the author for further questions.
Further Reading: The Cross of Christ: Fact and Meaning