The Crucifixion of Christ from Internal and External Sources

Truth will always be able to stand the test of scrutiny, since the first century the death, burial and crucifixion of Christ has been attacked countless of times by the Gnostics and others. But truth can never be refuted, the Lord Jesus said that He is the Truth, this is why He will always be above all.

Internal Evidence (Biblical)

The Lord Jesus Christ said about His own crucifixion:

Matthew 20:17-19 And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify [him]: and the third day he shall rise again.

Mark 10:33-34 [Saying], Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Luke 18:31-33 Then he took [unto him] the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge [him], and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.

Matthew, Mark and Luke informs us that Christ was not secretive about His death, He (Jesus) plainly mentioned to His disciples that He would be “condemn to death” by being delivered “to the Gentiles”. As we know Pontius Pilate was the Roman (Gentile) governer in Judea at the time, the Jewish leaders persuaded Pilate to crucify the Lord Jesus.

The Jews crying out crucify Him in the Gospel of John:

John 19:6, 15-16 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify [him], crucify [him]. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify [him]: for I find no fault in him. … But they cried out, Away with [him], away with [him], crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led [him] away.

The apostle John fills in some information we see Pilate replied “Shall I crucify your King?” the Jews answering Pilate said “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15). The Jews rejected Christ as their Messiah (King) the didn’t recognise the time of their visitation from the Lord.

All four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) record the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. We have the words of Christ Himself and the testimony of the Jews and Pontius Pilate. All the verses are explicit that the Lord Jesus would be crucified. In the epistles we are given more scriptures concerning Christ crucifixion.

The apostle Peter:

Acts 2:22-24 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

We have another apostle (Peter) of the inner circle also mentioning the crucifixion of Christ. How wicked men laid hold on Christ, crucified and slain Him. And how God raised up Christ from death, as it was not possible for death to keep the Lord Jesus from rising from the dead.

The apostle Paul:

1 Corinthians 2:7-8 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, [even] the hidden [wisdom], which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known [it], they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Paul the apostle to the Gentiles tells us they (the Jews) wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of Glory if they would have known beforehand who He was. It was ordained by God that Christ should taste death for every man (Hebrews 2:9). Moving backwards into the Old Testament the Prophets also spoke about the One to come who would suffer.

The prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 53:4-10 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither [was any] deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put [him] to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see [his] seed, he shall prolong [his] days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

The prophet Isaiah mentions he was (speaking in the singular tense) bruised for our iniquities, he also mentions this individual having stripes and with them we are healed. This gives a picture of the flogging the Lord Jesus endured. Isaiah goes unto say the LORD laid on this individual the iniquities of us all. As we know Christ bore our sins in His body (1 Peter 2:24). How he was cut off out of the land of the living, he never done violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth; This is speaking of Christ.

The prophet Zechariah:

Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for [his] only [son], and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for [his] firstborn.

Here we see the LORD is speaking and says they (those who crucified Christ) shall look upon the LORD who they pierced. The Jews don’t deny that Christ was crucified, they just don’t accept Him as their Messiah.

The Psalmist king David speaking by the Spirit of God says:

Psalm 22:15-18 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look [and] stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

We can see a common theme running through the pages of scripture which speak of the One who would come, He would be “pierced” the Lord Jesus had His hands and feet pierced, in addition the Roman soldiers had cast lots for His (Christ) garments (Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:23,24).

External Evidence (Non- Christian)

The next 2 sources have no sympathy for Christianity yet both agree that Christ indeed was crucified, which further proves what the Bible says.

The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus:

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews

Note that Josephus speaks of Jesus Christ as being “a wise man”, “a doer of wonderful works” etc. We know that in our Bible Christ spoke with the Jews in the temple as a child and they were amazed at His wisdom (Luke 2:46-47). Josephus continues saying Christ drew both Jews and Gentiles to Himself, these would be recognised as believers. Flavius even mentions He was called The Christ which means “the anointed One”. Pilate is also mentioned as the one who condemned Him to the cross because of “the principal men”, he even speaks of Christ resurrection saying “for He appeared to them alive again the third day”. And lastly followers of Christ are called Christians which he also mentions.

Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus, The Annals

But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.

Cornelius Tacitus, The Annals

Also Cornelius Tacitus speaks of those who were called Christians, and he used the Roman name for Jesus “Christus”saying He suffered the extreme penalty. Once again Pontius Pilatus is mentioned as the one who carried this penalty through. As we’ve seen that outside sources also testify of the crucifixion of Christ.

The death, burial and resurrection of Christ cannot be denied, and its wonderful when we see the truth stand high above all the lies. The Lord Jesus is risen and He conquered death and hell.

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