Soon after the Resurrection of Christ, many theories were put forward to explain the empty tomb. But we have not only the evidence of the Holy shroud of Turin to prove the death and Resurrection of Jesus, but some historical records and traditions. Thus we have the records of Josephus, a reliable Jewish historian, whom the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem had made commander-in-chief of Galilee when the Jewish revolt broke out in 66 A.D. He was captured by the Romans and was witness of the destruction of Jerusalem and Temple.
We have also some records of the disputes of St. Justin Martyr, for instance, who was converted to Christianity about 13 A.D. and had disputes with Tryphon, one of the most celebrated Israelite’s of the day. Rationalists like Harnack and others who had disputed that the Gospels were not the records by the contemporary writers, came to the conclusion, after many years of investigation of contemporary records and the internal evidence of the idioms of the language, that supports the Church traditions about the historical value of the Gospels.
Strauss maintained that nothing is more impossible to admit than the resurrection of a man. But Monsignor Le Camus showed that Strauss was sadly mistaken: for it is far more impossible to admit the religious and moral transformation of the world through a man crucified, if this man indeed did not rise from the dead according to his promise.
For the pious and well-versed Jesus there were many prophecies by which to identify, if any claimant, was the true, promised Messiah of the People of God. therefore, when the two disciples on the road to Emmaus expressed their disappointment to Jesus whom they had failed to recognize, Jesus showed them how all the prophecies beginning with Moses had been fulfilled and that the expected Messiah had to die on the Cross and rise again. Only at the meal when He blessed and broke the bread, the two disciples recognized that their companion was Jesus who they had crucified. (Luke 24, 13-33).
Similarly, Jesus proved to the eleven Apostles that the prophecies about the Messiah were fulfilled in Him, Whom they saw resurrected. As many Catholics are unacquainted with these prophecies, we reprint that here as compiled by Oliverius in this book, “God in a Mirror” (pp. 233-236), issued by don Bosco’s Salesians in Goa in 1958.
PROBABILITIES ABOUT PROPHECIES BEING REALIZED
With the kind permission of Our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ we are going to take Him as the subject of a little calculation of probabilities. He had been foretold by the prophets and many details of His life and passion had been minutely predicted. Now, that one predicted event should take place in a person is not extraordinary. That two predicted events should be fulfilled in the same person is a little less probable. And the more you increase the number of events to take place in one individual, the less probable it is that they will be fulfilled.
Suppose, for instance, I predict that a certain country will be subjugated by its enemies but that after so many centuries it will be freed. Afterwards I say that the liberator of that country will come from such-and-such a family and he will be born in such-and-such a time and start acting under such-and-such a ruler.” That greater the number of conditions, the smaller is the probability of their being fulfilled in one individual.
Now, suppose we say that the probability of my predictions being fulfilled is one in ten. For the fulfillment of two events taken altogether the chance will be 1 in 100. For three it will be 1,000 and for 20 it will be 1 n 100,000,000,000,000,000. You see that the chance is very unfavorable for a man in who here should be some 20 prophecies fulfilled.
PROPHECIES ABOUT JESUS CHRIST
Well, Our Lord Jesus Christ as the object of some 30 prophecies, made at widely different times, at intervals of hundreds of years, and all of them were marvelously fulfilled. Here you have some
1. He will be the Son (descendant) of Abraham (Genesis XII,23)
2. He will be a descendant of Jacob (Genesis XXVii, 17) and of David (2 King, CII, 12)
3. He will be born in Bethlehem (Mich. V,2).
4. He will enter the second temple (Ag. II, 8-10).
5. By the time He comes, the Jews will be deprived of the royal power (Gen. XLIX, 10).
6. From the rebilding of the walls of Jerusalem till His public life 69 weeks of years will pass; until His death 69 1/2 (Dan. X, 21)
7. He will be born from a virgin from the household of David (Is. VII, 15).
8. He will have a precursor who will be living in the desert leading an angelic life (Is. XL, 5).
9. A new star will announce His arrival (Mum. XXIV, 17).
10. Kings from neighboring countries will adore Him and offer Him presents (Ps. LXXI, 10).
11. Many children will be killed at His birth (Jer. XXXIV, 15).
12. He will flee to Egypt (Is. XIX, 1) and then come back (Os. XI, 11).
13. He will be the Son of God. (Ps. II).
14. He will be God and Man at the same time (Is. XXXV, 6).
15. He will work a number of miracles (Is. XXXV, 6).
16. He will be a Priest in the manner of Melchisedech (Ps. CIX, 4).
17. He will teach His people (Is. XLIX, 1-6)
18. He will be a King of a new Kingdom (Jer. XXIII, 5).
19. He will enter Jerusalem riding on ass-back (Zach. IX, 12).
20. He will be sold for 30 silver coins (Zach. XI, 12).
21. He will be betrayed by one who sits at his table (Ps. XL, 10)
22. In His Passion, His disciples will abandon Him (Zach. XIII, 7).
23. He will be insulted (Ps. XXI, 17), wounded and spat upon (Is. L. 6), scourged (Ps. LXXII, 14), crowned with thorns (Cant. III, 7) , given gall and vinegar to drink (Is. LXVII, 22).
24. They will cast lots for His garments (Is. XXI, 17).
25. His hands and feet will be pierced (Is. XXI, 17)
26. He will die among criminals (Is. LIII, 9).
27. He will bear sufferings as meekly as a Lamb. (Is. LIII, 15).
28. He will suffer voluntarily for the sake of our sins. (Is. LIII, 4-7).
29. He will be buried amongst the rich (Is. LIII, 9) and His sepulchre will be glorious (Is. XI, 10).
This is therefore the explanation of the objective for which we have been created: We come from God and to Him we should return. “When He ascended on high – He gave gifts to men … for the work of ministry, for building up the body (Church) of Christ, until we all attain to unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 3, 8-13).
30. His Body will not suffer corruption. (Is. XV, 10).
31. He will go back to Heaven (Is. LXVII, 34) and sit at the right hand of God (Is. LV. 1).
32. His doctrine will spread from Mount Sion to the whole earth (Is. II, 3).
33. The Jewish nation that crucified Him will be punished and scattered among the peoples of the eath. (Deut. XXVIII).
35. All over the world a clean sacrifice of wheat will be offered Him (Mal. I, 11).
36. He will one day judge all the men of the earth (Ps. CIX, 6).
Our modern mind is not so impressed by these prophesies as were the Jews, for whom the prophecies were chiefly intended. The true Hebrew mind, soaked in Scripture, used to its scrutiny, haunted by the expectation of a Messiah, always intent on finding more information on the One so eagerly expected, on the “One Who is to come,” could not but be overwhelmed by this wealth of prophetical detail fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This accounts for the numerous conversions of Jews immediately after the Resurrection of Our Lord. The chief converts, the priests, knew their Scripture and were on an average more eager in the expectation of the Messiah; when He actually arrived they could not fail to recognize Him.
Of course, for the “higher clergy” matters were slightly different; those of the the Saducean type who did not believe in eternal life were bound to be rather fond of the comforts of this temporal life. Would they care much for distant prophecies? Would they ardently desire the arrival of the One Whoiwas to clean His Temple? Not for forty, but even for forty thousand prophecies they would have certainly found forty thousand excuses to get rid of the unwelcome Messiah.