The week leading up to Easter Sunday is the week the Christian church considers “Holy Week” – or in Korea, “Passion Week.” It is the anniversary of the final week of Jesus’ life, beginning with Palm Sunday (April 1, 2012) when Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly on a donkey as crowds cheered and lay down palm leaves under the donkey’s feet; going on to the Last Supper, usually remembered on Thursday – though new evidence suggests it may have historically been Wednesday (and that would allow more time for Jesus’ multiple trials and beatings); extending through Good Friday – the anniversary of the crucifixion of Jesus; and finally culminating on Easter Sunday – the anniversary of Jesus’ bodily resurrection (he was no mere spirit when he returned – ahem, Jehovah’s Witnesses) – when after 3 days, dead (ahem, Muslims) in the tomb, he was literally re-born. His first birth was of Man (through his mother Mary – commemorated at Christmas), but his second “birth” in the form of resurrection was of God and solidified his authority as God’s Son.
Jesus (Prophet) Knew What End Was Coming
Given all that happened during that week, and Jesus’ close connection with the Father, it is probably safe to say that Jesus knew what was coming. In fact, the Last Supper seems to have been a very planned event, and not just a casual meal out with his disciples before he was arrested by force and surprise. Jesus even prophesied his own death – and means of death – two days before the Supper: “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified” (Matthew 26:2). Jesus also correctly prophesied his betrayer: “And while they were eating, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me’…Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ Jesus answered, ‘Yes, it is you’” (Matthew 26:21, 25). And Jesus correctly prophesied Peter’s own triple-denial of his Lord: “Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times’ (Matthew 26:33-34).
How’s that for prophetic accuracy? Here are three correct prophecies from Jesus just in the course of a few days – and two of them in the span of a single evening! I think it’s safe to say that Jesus knew what was coming.
Jesus (Son of Man) Knew His End Wasn’t His Ending
So, for a bit of fun, I thought it would be interesting to see just how well Jesus knew what was coming, how far in advance, and how many times he prophesied about it. But, rather than focusing on his death (that’s what Good Friday is for), I’ve decided to focus on his resurrection (that’s what Easter is for). So, armed with my trusty BibleGateway.com and the simple phrase “three days” here is what I’ve found for the number of different prophecies Jesus made about his own resurrection. Enjoy:
- Matthew 12:40: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
- Mark 8:31: “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.”
- Mark 9:31: “He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”
- Mark 10:33-34: “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”
- John 2:19: “Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
Safe to say he saw it coming? With five different prophecies about the same event, definitely. But, just for a second, imagine you were one of the disciples walking with Jesus when he made these statements. None of this would have made much sense. Nothing in history could clue them in as to what was about to happen (after all, no one else had ever died and risen again – let alone predicted it of themselves), and try as he might to spell it out for them, Jesus just couldn’t get them to understand what was coming.
It wasn’t until later that the disciples remembered these things and that Jesus’ prophecies had been fulfilled. And it wasn’t until AFTER the resurrection that they started worshiping him as God. Before that, they felt just like most non-Christians these days feel about Jesus – that he was a great teacher and role model. And had he stayed dead, that’s what he would have remained, a great DEAD teacher and role model – just like Mohammed, or Buddha, or Joseph Smith – all DEAD. But Jesus is NOT dead. He rose again in three days, just as he himself prophesied on five separate occasions.
So, what’s with the “Son of Man” distinction?
But wait. Let’s back up a minute. Jesus was a man, and even referred to himself as a “Son of Man” – obviously to emphasize his humanity. So, what separates him from other “sons of men” and religious leaders like Mohammed, Buddha, or Joseph Smith?
“Son of Man” was easily Jesus’ favorite title for himself throughout Scripture. He most often referred to himself as such. In part, this was to emphasize his humanity – he was literally born of Mankind (through his mother Mary). But, additionally (and likely the reason Jesus enjoyed the term so much) it was a sneaky way of proclaiming his divinity as well. “Son of Man” is a term first found in the book of Daniel, chapter 7. Daniel 7:13-14 describes the “Son of Man” fully:
13 In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
The “Son of Man” was the one prophesied about in Daniel 7 who would have authority to judge the earth and rule in heaven forever. But most listeners would completely miss that point. Only those whose ears were opened to Daniel 7 would be able to make the connection, and even then they might miss the point. But Jesus’ fully intended to communicate about himself in this manner. Not only does “Son of Man” distinguish his humanity, it also highlights his divinity (from Daniel 7). So, every time Jesus called himself “Son of Man” he really meant two things:
- 100% Human – Born of Mankind
- 100% God Incarnate – Judge of Earth and Ruler of heaven (Daniel 7)
No wonder Jesus used the term so often. He made no mistake choosing that title for himself. It accurately conveyed his dual nature and blended characteristics. It accurately (indirectly) described himself as God (so never let it be said that “Jesus never claimed to be God” – the proof is clearly concealed in his favorite term for himself). I’m sure he grinned every time he used it.
Jesus (Son of God) can’t be simply a “Great Prophet”
So here is a man the world considers a “great teacher” and other religions consider a “great prophet” – and he, through his self-prophesied resurrection, holds the keys to life and death. The funny thing about the resurrection is, without it, everyone who ever applied the label “great prophet” to Jesus would be absolutely wrong. If there is no resurrection, an event Jesus himself prophesied at least five times, then how can he be a “great prophet”? At best, he might be a mediocre prophet – “You win some, you lose some” – but most likely, he would just be ignored. No one remembers or considers “great” the prophets who failed in their prophesying. What would be the point? How could you trust anyone who made claims like Jesus did, or trust anything he said, if the claims turned out to be false?
But the resurrection is true, it did happen, and it does prove that Jesus is much MORE than a “great prophet” and a “great teacher.” It also proves that he IS the Son of God – in fact, God Incarnate, and he IS alive, and he IS in heaven, and he IS reigning, and he IS in control of even life and death.
Salvation Is Here!