The Case for Christmas 6 – conclusion

Continuing with Strobel’s book ‘The Case for Christmas

Chapter 4 – The fingerprint evidence: Did Jesus – and Jesus alone – match the identity of the Messiah?

Strobel interviews Pastor Louis Lapides, a Jewish pastor from Newark, New Jersey. Lapides earned a bachelor’s degree in theology from Dallas Baptist University and a master of Divinity and master of Theology degree in Old Testament and Semitics from Talbot Theological Seminary. He is the former president of a national network of fifteen Messianic congregations. (Messianic Jews are those who have come to the believe the Jesus in the long promised Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament)

Lapides explains that in the Jewish scriptures, which is called by Christians the Old Testament, there are many prophecies about the Messiah. These predictions formed a figurative fingerprint that only one person would be able to match. This way the Israelites could rule out any impostors and validate the credentials of the authentic Messiah or Christ.

Strobel questions: Was the baby in the manger really the Christ? Did he fulfill the predictions that were written hundreds of years before he was born? How do we know he was the only individual throughout history who fit the prophetic fingerprint?
Lapides explains: There are more than four dozen predictions in all. Isaiah revealed the manner of the Messiah’s birth (of a virgin); Micah pinpointed his birthplace (Bethlehem); Genesis and Jeremiah specified his ancestry (a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, from the tribe of Judah and the house of David); the Psalms foretold his betrayal, his accusation by false witnesses, his manner of death (crucifixion hadn’t been invented yet) and his resurrection.

Is it possible that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies by accident? Not a chance, the odds are so astronomical that they rule that out. The probability of just eight of the prophecies being fulfilled in one chance in one hundred million billion.

Mathmeticion Peter W. Stoner estimated that the probability of fulfilling forty-eight prophecies was one chance in a trillion x 12.

Isn’t it possible that the gospel writers fabricated details to make it appear that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies? When the gospels were being circulated there were people living who had lived through the events written about, and would have objected if they found any lies. Also why would the writers of the gospels suffer torture and death for following Jesus if they knew what they had written was lies. The Jewish community would be looking for an opportunity to discredit the Gospels by pointing out any falsehoods. The Jewish Talmud never claimed that there was any untruth in the gospels.

Couldn’t Jesus arrange his life in order to fulfill the prophecies? For a few of the prophesies yes, but there are many others that would be impossible.

What about the Virgin Birth? Hundreds of years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem Isaiah foretold that he would be born of a virgin. Critics however have said this is a mistranslation. They claim the Hebrew word used in this prophecy almah merely means young woman and that bethulah would have been used if the idea of virginity were intended. Researcher Glenn Miller told Strobel that the latest and most detailed linguistic studies show bethulah could refer to a widow or divorced woman who was not a virgin whereas almah is never used of a non-virgin. Miller claims that almah was the best and only word to use.

When was Jesus born? The exact date is not given but spring is most likely because shepherds would not have been in the fields in winter. Around AD 200 theologians concluded Jesus was born in May, others argue for April or March. For the early Christians this was not a major issue. In AD 385 a Pope declared December 25 as the day for celebrating Christ’s birth. He chose that date partly to challenge the pagan celebration of Saturnalia which was characterized by immorality and disorder.

Conclusion and the verdict of history:

Strobel writes “So while the eyewitness evidence gave me confidence in the reliability of the Gospels, the scientific evidence corroborated their trustworthiness, the profile evidence showed that Jesus fulfilled the attributes of God, and the fingerprint evidence established that he’s the Messiah, but what about the claim of Easter or the return from the dead that authenticated that claim.

Dr.J.P. Moreland pointed out that the disciples were in a unique position to know whether the resurrection actually happened, and they were willing to go to their deaths proclaiming it was true.

Strobel spent two years investigating the identity of the Christmas child. He became convinced that if one takes the time to investigate the historical reality the facts were too strong to ignore.

Well that is it, I have summarized the book, it certainly bears consideration don’t you think? Wouldn’t it be terrible to find out that it is true and we had never bothered to find out how it might affect us.

The Case for Christmas 1

The Case for Christmas 2

The Case for Christmas 3

The Case for Christmas 4

The Case for Christmas 5

3 Responses

  1. You have inspired me to dig out my old copy of The Case For Christmas. Our church gave it away several years ago. I’ll let you know what I think.

  2. Great reviews Vic. I think you did a terrific job with this.

  3. I have finally taken the time to read all of your posts on this. When I read the title – Case for Christmas – I was looking to see an explanation of why Christmas is celebrated. This really didn’t go into that. It was more of a case for believing the gospels and believing that Jesus was the Messiah foretold in the scriptures. All of that I believe, and would believe anyway, but it’s nice to read some corroboration of it.

    That’s great, but why Christmas? Why ignore the days that God gave in the Bible but celebrate days with distinctly pagan origins? I’m sorry, but it really bothers me. An explanation of that would really be a ‘Case for Christmas’ I’m not saying I would agree, but it would be an interesting read. Not that this wasn’t. It was very interesting, and you didn’t title the book, after all.

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