Did Jesus Really Die? (Mark 15:33-47)

            There are a few in today’s religious sectors who believe that Jesus did not actually die. They might agree that He actually existed, but state boldly that He did not die and did not need to die for humanity’s salvation. The truth of this matter should be clear to us. It is most reasonable to believe that Christ did die, and that He died at the hands of the Roman government by way of crucifixion. Here is the account we read in Mark’s Gospel:

 

“When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lemá sabachtháni?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ When some of those standing there heard this, they said, ‘Look, Hes calling for Elijah!’ Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, fixed it on a reed, offered Him a drink, and said, ‘Lets see if Elijah comes to take Him down!’ But Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed His last. Then the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing opposite Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, ‘This man really was God’s Son!’ There were also women looking on from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When He was in Galilee, they would follow Him and help Him. Many other women had come up with Him to Jerusalem. When it was already evening, because it was preparation day (that is, the day before the Sabbath), Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Sanhedrin who was himself looking forward to the kingdom of God, came and boldly went in to Pilate and asked for Jesus body. Pilate was surprised that He was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him whether He had already died. When he found out from the centurion, he gave the corpse to Joseph. After he bought some fine linen, he took Him down and wrapped Him in the linen. Then he placed Him in a tomb cut out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb. Now Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses were watching where He was placed.”[1]

 

Is this story accurate?

            Textual criticism, for our purposes, is the comparing of ancient manuscripts (the earlier the better) with each other in the language with which they was first written. Then, to draw modern translations from those manuscripts that bear the original language after they have been compared to one another. One of the reasons I believe what we have in the Bible is scripture and that it is correct, is that historians have and continue to critically analyze the text as it compares not only to ancient manuscripts that we have found, but also as it compares to historical events, peoples and cultures. The Bible[2] is the most historically confirmed collection of documents on the face of the planet. If someone is to believe that the stories in the Bible are illegitimate representations of actual historical events, then he must also claim that the history given to us in books about ancient history are false since there is more evidence confirming the Bible and since the Bible itself is an older document.

Modern day translations (including the KJV, NASB, ASV, ESV and HCSB) are translated directly from the text from the ancient manuscripts in the original languages (Greek and Hebrew). Even these modern day translations depict a story that represents the actual historical events well. No other set of ‘scriptures’[3] is supported by historical research like the Biblical Canon is.

 

Why did Jesus die?

Jesus died for one simple reason: in order that mankind could be reconciled with God. Mankinds betrayal in the Garden of Eden[4] separated him from God. Because mankind was separated from God, who is the source of life, he was sentenced to death. Christ came and took the punishment for the crimes of mankind so that mankind could be returned to God, who is the source of life. Jesus literally died so that we could know God and so that God may know us intimately.

Even in verse 38, we read that the veil of the Temple, which separated God’s people from His very presence, was split in two from top to bottom. At the moment Christ died, mankind could approach the very presence of God.

 

What this means for us

Because of what God has done, we now have the opportunity to approach God. We can speak to Him directly. We can ask for His forgiveness directly. We can bring our petitions before Him and we can share our concerns with Him. Because of what God has done, we can be with Him forever.

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[1] Mark 15:33-47

[2] When the Bible is referred to here, it does not refer to the Catholic canon (which includes extra documents known as the apocrypha) or to the translation used by Jehovah’s Witness (which contains clear discrepancies when compared to ancient manuscripts in the original languages.)

[3] Scriptures, here, refers to texts used by other religious sects as direct revelation from God. These other texts include the Koran, the Book of Mormon and the Shruti

[4] Genesis 3

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