Crucifixion or cruci-fiction? Part 1/2, By Ahmad Deedat

Few Years back, an American historical researcher and mathematician, Michael Hart, published a book called ‘The 100, the Greatest Hundred in History’ In his book he gives the names of the 100 ‘Most Influential Men in History’ and his reasons for their positions in his list. Amazingly, he (most probably a Christian) puts Muhammad first in his hundred, and with good reasons too. And with equally good reasons he places Jesus Christ, the man accepted as ‘Lord’ and ‘Saviour’ by nearly all his fellow Americans, number three.

Prophet Muhammad is No.1, A Chapter by Michael H. Hart in his book Top 100 ‘Most Influential Men’ I have also placed the chapter on Jesus Christ along side it Real Founder of Christianity. Though there are at the moment 200 million more nominal Christians in the world than the 1000 million Muslims, Mr. Hart divides the credit for founding Christianity between Paul and Jesus, and he gives the greater portion to Paul. Hence the 3rd position for Jesus. Every knowledgeable Christian concedes that the real founder of Christianity is St. Paul and not Jesus Christ.

In any event, if there is any division between a Muslim and a Christian on the grounds of dogma, belief, ethics or morality, then the cause of such conflict could be traced to an utterance of Paul found in his books of Corinthians, Philippians, Galatians, Thessalonians, etc., in the Bible.

As against the teaching of the Master (Jesus) that salvation only comes through keeping of the commandments (Matthew 19:16-17), Paul nails the law and the commandments to the cross Paul nails the law and the commandments to the cross Colossians 2:14 (One of the multifarious letters/correspondence of Paul among the 27 Books of the New Testament) and claims that salvation can only be obtained through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ ‘If Christ be not risen from the dead, then our preaching is vain, and your faith is also vain.’ (1 Corinthians 15:14)

According to St. Paul, there is nothing that Christianity can offer mankind, other than the blood and gore of Jesus. If Jesus did Not die, and he was Not resurrected from the dead, then there can be NO salvation in Christianity! ‘For all your good deeds’, says the Christian dogmatist, ‘are like filthy rags’ – (Isaiah 64:6).

No cruci-fiction – No Christianity
‘The death of Jesus on the cross is the centre of all Christian theology… all Christian statements about God, about creation, about sin and death have their focal point in the crucified Christ. All Christian statements about history, about the church, about faith and sanctification, about the future and about hope stem from the crucified Christ’, says Professor Jurgen Moltmann in his ‘The Crucified God’.

(‘God’: The bulk of Christendom accept Jesus Christ as God incarnate – God in human flesh. According to the Christian dogma, Jesus must die as God, for a million human sacrifices cannot redeem mankind from their sin.)

In a nutshell. No Crucifixion – No Christianity! This is the experience of us Muslims, in this ocean of Christianity, which is South Africa. A thousand sects and denominations of Christianity are vying with one another to redeem the ‘heathen’ (as they say) from hell-fire. However, in this battle no Christian priest, parson or predikant, or hot-gospeller, local or imported, will ever endeavour to teach the Muslim something about hygiene; for we Muslims can claim to be the most hygienic people (I am talking about personal hygiene).

Nor do they endeavour to teach us about hospitality; for we are the most hospitable of people. Nor about ethics or morality; for we are the most moral people – (as a whole) i.e. we don’t drink, we don’t gamble, we don’t date, court or dance; we pray 5 times a day, we fast for one whole month during the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan; and we take pleasure in being a charitable people. Despite any of our shortcomings, we venture to suggest that there is not another group of people that can ‘show a candle’ to us in brotherhood, in piety or in sobriety.

Blood for salvation
‘Yes! Yes!’ says the Christian missionary, ‘but you do not have salvation.’ Because salvation comes ‘only through the blood of the lord Jesus’. ‘All your good works are like filthy rags’, he says. ‘If only you Muslims would accept the redeeming blood of Jesus, and take Jesus as your ‘Personal Saviour’, you Muslims, then would be like angels walking the earth.’

What are we Muslims to say to this Christian claim? Nothing better than Allah’s shattering reply to the Jewish boast!:

‘Full of Doubts! In a state of confusion. Without Knowledge! In ignorance. They only follow Conjecture!” (Quran 4:157)

Allah: is the name of God Almighty in the Semitic languages, i.e. in the language of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

Could anyone have been more explicit, more emphatic, more dogmatic, more uncompromising in rejecting the dogma of a faith than this? ‘impossible!’ is the answer. The only One Who could, would be the All-Knowing, the Omniscient, the Omnipotent Lord of the Universe – God Almighty Himself!

The Muslim believes this categorical Quranic statement to be from God. Hence he asks no questions and seeks for no proof. Had the Christians accepted the Quran as the Word of God, the problem of the crucifixion would never have arisen. They vehemently oppose the Quranic teaching and attack everything Islamic. In the words of Thomas Carlyle – ‘They (the Christians) have been trained to hate the man Mohamed and his religion.’

In trying to prove their dogmas (Dogma: ‘Principle, tenet, doctrinal system; arrogant declaration of opinion.’ – Oxford Dictionary), they invent shocking statements and posers – one of which has been used as the title of this book – ‘Christ crucified – Hoax or History?’ (Original title of this book) No doubt it sounds provocative; but it is a borrowed title – from the Christian’s own extravagances; from his own vocabulary.

Garner Ted Armstrong, the Executive Vice-President and Co-Publisher of the ‘Plain Truth’ (a Christian Magazine from America, which boasts a current, free, world- wide circulation of 6 million copies a month) (As claimed in their February 1984 issue), attempts to answer his own puzzle under the heading:

“Was the resurrection a Hoax?’ This is the typical American way of selling religion. He elucidates his poser -’Hoax?’ – with the words, ‘The resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth is either the supreme fact of history or a flagrant. Deliberate fabrication foisted off on the followers of Christianity.”

Another budding, young ‘Billy Graham’ from America, Josh McDowell effuses in his book ‘The resurrection factor’, saying, ‘I was forced to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked, heartless, vicious, hoaxes ever foisted upon the minds of men, or it is the most fantastic fact of history.’ Since it is not possible for an Oriental to match American superlatives and extravagant verbiage, I do not have to apologize for humbly borrowing their words for the title of my book: ‘Christ Crucified -Hoax or History?’. Now changed to – ‘Crucifixion or Cruci-fiction?’

Christian objection
To the Muslim belief that Jesus Christ was ‘neither killed nor crucified’, the Christian objects, ‘how can a man (Prophet Muhammad) a thousand miles away from the scene of a happening, and 600 years after an event, pronounce as to what had transpired?’ The Muslim says that the words Muhammad uttered were not his own, but that the Words were ‘put into his mouth’ by the All-Knowing, All-Seeing God. The Christian retorts that he is not prepared to accept the metaphysical aspect of Muhammad’s revelation; more so, in view of the written records by ‘eye-witnesses’(?) and ‘ear-witnesses’(?) as regards the happenings on that Easter week-end some two thousand years ago.

The Christian plea is valid. Their logic is good. To entertain their plea we will call up their witnesses and cross examine them to discover the truth or falsity of the matter from their own authorities. Admittedly, the key witnesses in the case are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – the alleged authors of the Canonical Gospels. But they have all died and are in their graves. ‘Yes, that is true, but we have in our possession their sworn affidavits!’ says the Christian.

When confronted by the extravagant and conflicting claims of the Jews and the Christians to their exclusive rights to salvation, Allah commands us to demand for proof. He says: “And they say: None shall enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian. Those are their (vain) desires. Say: Produce your proof if you are truthful.” (Quran 2:111)

And they have produced the only proof they have; in over fifteen hundred different languages! eleven different dialects of the Bible for the Arabs alone! Are we going to swallow their hook, line and sinker? No! It is presupposed that when Allah commands us to demand for proof, that we would be in a position to analyse the proof, once it is produced. Otherwise, it makes no sense to demand for proof; it would be nonsense! Glory be to Him!

Third party evidence – ‘according to’
The amazing thing about the Christians’ sworn affidavits (writings attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) is that not a single one of them is duly attested. Not a single one bears the signature, mark or thumb-print of its author in the so-called originals. They now boast of being in possession of over 5000 ‘originals’ of which no two ‘originals’ are identical. Amazing! Little-wonder the Christians themselves label their Gospels as – ‘The Gospel according to St. Matthew’, ‘The Gospel according to St. Mark’, ‘The Gospel according to St. Luke’ and ‘The Gospel according to St. John’.

When Christian scholars are asked why the words ‘according to’ are repeated at the beginning of every Gospel, the obvious implication is that they are not autographed. It is only assumed that they are authored by the names the Gospels carry today. The translators of the ‘New International Version’ have unceremoniously expunged the ‘According to’s’ from the four Gospels in their latest translation. Of the alleged Gospel writers, viz., Matthew, Mark, Luke and John it can be categorically stated that 50% were not even the elected twelve Disciples of Jesus.

Prima-facie case
I dare humbly claim that such unattested documents would be thrown out of hand, in any Court-of-Law, in any civilised country, in just two minutes. Furthermore, one of the alleged witnesses, St. Mark, tells us that at the most critical juncture in the life of Jesus – ‘All his disciples forsook him and fled’- (Mark 14:50).

Please ask your Christian friend, ‘Does ‘all’ mean all in your language, you Englishman?’ (This applies to the North American as well) And he will no doubt say – ‘Yes!’; ‘Does ‘almal’ mean almal in your language, you Afrikaner?’ And no doubt he will say – ‘ja!’ (pronounced Yaa); ‘And does ‘bonke’ mean bonke in your language, you Zulu?’ And he will say – ‘Ahe!’ This is true of every language. Why not memorise this verse from the Bible in your own dialect? Even in some additional languages?

So the so-called ‘eye-witnesses’ were not really eyewitnesses to the happenings, unless St. Mark is not telling us the whole truth, the ‘gospel truth’. Yet he is supposed to be speaking under oath! you will agree that a case based on such hearsay evidence would be thrown out of court, twice in two minutes, in any court of law, in any civilised country; that is twice in just 120 seconds flat! But a ghost (dogma) of two thousand years standing, upon which hangs the salvation of 1200 million Christians, should not be summarily dismissed. It deserves a little more circumspection. We will therefore entertain the alleged testimonies of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as if they were duly attested.

Where do we begin?
At the beginning of course! – Exactly as the Bible does (‘In the beginning’ Genesis 1:1) – just 24 hours before the cataclysmic events of ‘a thunderstorm; an eclipse of the sun; an earthquake; rocks being rent; the veil of the temple being torn from the top to bottom; graves being opened and sleeping corpses marching through the streets of Jerusalem…’ as narrated by the Christians’ Witnesses. What a scenario for a billion dollar, record breaking, film production!

We must not forget that the Jews are in the dock, alleged for the murder of Jesus Christ; and we as Muslims are constrained to defend them against the Christian charge, because justice must be done. Whatever their sins of commission and omission, Allah exonerates them from the charge of murder. He says: “That they said (in boast), ‘We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah’; but they killed him not, nor crucified him” (Quran 4:157)

The Christian world has been unjustly persecuting, and hounding and killing our Jewish cousins for nearly two thousand years for a murder they did not commit. Attempted murder? – may be! But murder? – no! By absolving the Jew of a crime he did not commit, we are also taking the wind out of the hot gospellers’ and the Bible thumpers’ sail. In the battle for the hearts and minds of mankind, ‘cruci-Fiction’ is the only card the Christian holds. Free him from his infatuation and you will have freed the Muslim world from missionary aggression and harassment.

On the eve of the Passover Feast, Jesus and his twelve disciples are seated around a huge Table with their host – the ‘beloved disciple’, whose name also happened to be John. Johns’ and Jesus’ (of the three candidates for the 3 crosses at Golgotha on the 1st Easter week-end, there were 2 Jesus’. The one released was Jesus Barabbas.) were names, common among the Jews in the year 30 A.C. as Toms, Dicks, Johns and Jimmys are with us in the twentieth century.

There were at least 14 men at the table (count them if you wish) and not the unlucky thirteen of Western superstition. A country as advance as South Africa, like an adjunct of the USA., has no Row 13 on any of its Aeroplanes!!

March into Jerusalem
Jesus made his triumphant royal entry into Jerusalem at the head of an excited and enthusiastic following, with high hopes of establishing the ‘Kingdom of God’ any minute; riding a donkey to fulfill prophecy, Zechariah 9:9 “Tell ye the daughter of Zion, behold, thy King cometh… sitting upon an ass… And a great multitude spread their garments… and branches in the way… and the multitude cried, saying, ‘Hosanna to the son of David…
Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:5-9)

Let Luke the beloved physician, add his strokes to clarify the picture “because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the Kingdom of God should Immediately appear” (Luke 19:11)

“But those mine enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, bring them hither, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:27)

“Blessed be the King who cometh in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38)

And John adds that the excited throng exclaimed “Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel, that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13)

“The Pharisees said… Behold, the world is gone (mad) after him (Jesus)” (John 12:21)

“Now is the judgement of this world; NOW shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31)

Who would withstand such heady-wine of impending glory? Little wonder that Jesus was tempted physically to oust those that bought and sold within the temple precincts. He overthrew the money-changer’s tables and drove them out with a ‘whip of cords’- (John 2:15)

The overthrow of the Temple Authority was imminent, and a forerunner to the expulsion of the Romans, heralding the ‘Kingdom of God.’ But alas his high hopes did not materialise. The whole performance fizzled out like a damp squib, despite all the ‘Hosannas’ and hoorays to the ‘Son of David’ and the ‘King of Israel.’ All this ballyhoo was only forty years premature. Jesus had failed to heed the warning of the Pharisees to curb the over exuberance of his disciples (Luke 19:39). He had miscalculated. Now he must pay the price of failure. His nation was not ready for any sacrifice, in spite of all their infantile clamour.

Jewish reasoning
The Jewish leaders reasoned that this one man had almost brought the nation to destruction. Therefore, “It is expedient for one man to die for the nation” (John 11:50)

But with all the mass hysteria surrounding him, it was also not expedient to apprehend Jesus in public. They waited for the opportunity of a clandestine arrest. As luck would have it they found in Judas, an elected disciple of Jesus, a traitor who would sell his Lord and Master for thirty miserable pieces of silver.

In the opinion of Christian divines it was the greed of gold which enticed Judas to do his dastardly deed. But he had more money-sense then the Christians gave him credit for. As a purser for the elect group of Jesus he had endless opportunities of pinching pennies permanently. Why jeopardise that for all times for 30 paltry pieces? There is more to that than meets the eye. Judas was disgruntled, after all those mass demonstrations on Jesus’ regal entry into Jerusalem – those hot outpourings of: ‘The Hour is come – and Now is – the prince of this world will be cast out – I should reign over them – bring them hither and slay them before me.’

Jesus had now developed cold-feet. If only Jesus could be provoked, he might react with miracles, and bring down fire and brimstones from Heaven upon his enemies; and, of course, the legions of angels (which he boasted were at his disposal), which would enable him and his disciples to rule the world.

From close contact with the Master, he had learned that Jesus was kind, tender and loving. But, he was not a mealy-mouthed man; he was no milk and water Messiah. But Judas could not understand the ‘hot and cold’ blowing of Jesus. Perhaps if Jesus was accosted, he would yet deliver the goods. To this end Judas schemed.

The traitor known
The furtive looks and the suspicious behaviour of Judas had revealed everything to Jesus. He did not need the Holy Ghost to interpret the misgivings in Judas’s mind. At the Table in the Upper-room where Jesus and his disciples were having that ‘Last Supper’, Jesus dismissed Judas with the words “What thou doest, do quickly” (John 13:27). And Judas took off to put the seal on the deal to the stab in the back.

Jesus will not be a sitting-duck for a clandestine arrest by the Jews. He prepares his disciples for the impending showdown. Discreetly, so as not to frighten his disciples, he introduces the subject of defence. Gently he begins: ‘When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything?’ And they said, ‘Nothing’ Then said he unto them, “But now, he that hath no purse, let him take it, and likewise his bag; and he that hath no Sword, let him sell his garment and buy one!” (Luke 22:35-36)

This is a preparation for a Holy War – Jews against Jews! Why! Why this somersault? Did he not advise them to ‘turn the other cheek’; ‘to forgive seventy times seven’ (70 x 7 = 490)? Did he not send his chosen twelve with the advice “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye, therefore, as wise as serpents,(?) and as harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16)

To arms! To arms!
The situation and the circumstance have changed and as with any wise and able general, the strategy must also change. The disciples were already armed. They had some foresight. They had not left Galilee with bare knuckles. They responded “Lord, behold, here are two Swords. And he said unto them, ‘It is enough’” (Luke 22:38)

The missionary, so as to retain the impression of the ‘meek and gentle Jesus’, ‘the Prince of peace’, pleads that the Swords were spiritual! If the Swords were spiritual, then the ‘garments’ must also be spiritual. If the disciples of Jesus were to sell their spiritual garments to buy spiritual Swords, in that case they would all become spiritually naked! Furthermore, one does not lop off people’s physical ears with spiritual Swords “And, behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his Sword, and struck a servant of the high priests, and cut off his ear” (Matthew 26:51)

The only purpose of Swords or guns is to maim and to kill. People did not carry Swords to pare apples and bananas in the time of Christ.

Why couple of swords enough?
If this was a preparation for war, then why should two Swords be ‘enough’? The reason is that Jesus was not contemplating a battle against the legions of Rome. Since his ‘friend’ Judas was in league with the Temple authorities, he was expecting a clandestine, underhand attempt by the Jewish oligarchy to seize him. It would be a question of Jews against Jews. In such a battle against the Jewish temple servants and the riff-raff of the town, he would prevail. Of that he was sure. He had with him Peter (the Rock) and John and James (the sons of Thunder) together with the other eight, each vying with one another to go to prison for him; to die for him. (‘Likewise also said all the disciples.’ Matthew 26:35)

These were all Galilians. They had a reputation of Zealotism, terrorism and repeated insurrections against the Romans. Armed with sticks and stones, and the Swords, and fortified with the spirit of self- sacrifice which they had avowed for their Master, he was sure to knock hells into any Jewish rabble that dare confront him.

He had proved himself a skilful strategist and planner, alert and resourceful. This was not the time to sit and twiddle thumbs; to be a sitting-duck, cooped up with his disciples in the upper-room! No, not for him. He leads his platoon, in the middle of the night, to Gethsemane-Gethsemane – an olive press – a courtyard built of stone walls some 5 miles out of town.

On the way, he unburdens to them the seriousness of the situation. The implications and the explosive nature of the coup that failed. Now he must bear the wrath of the powers that be. The price of failure!

You do not have to be a military genius to appreciate that, Jesus deploys his forces as a master tactician, in a manner that would bring credit to any Officer out of ‘Sandhurst’ (A leading military academy in England). He places eight of the eleven disciples at the entrance to the courtyard, commanding them “Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder” (Matthew 26:36)

The question that would bug any thinker is: ‘Why did they all go to Gethsemane?’ To pray? Could they not have prayed in the upper-room? Could they not have gone to the Temple of Solomon, a stone’s throw from where they were, if prayer is all that they wanted to do? No! They went to the Garden so that they might be in a better position to defend themselves!

Observe, Jesus does not take the eight with him to pray. He positions them strategically at the entrance to the courtyard; armed to the hilt, as the circumstances would allow “And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee… Then saith he unto them… tarry ye here and watch with me” (Matthew 26:37-38)

Where is he taking Peter and John and James now? Further into the Garden! To pray? No! To make an inner line of defence – he had put eight at the Gate, and, now these zealous Zealots (the fighting Irishmen of their day), armed with Swords, to ‘wait and watch ‘ – to keep guard! The picture is very vivid; Jesus leaves nothing to our imagination. And he (alone) prayed!

Jesus prays for rescue
“and began to be sorrowful and very depressed. Then saith he unto them, ‘my soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death”

“And he went a little further, and fell on his face (Exactly as the Muslim does in prayer), and prayed, saying, ‘O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26: 37- 39). This is the quality of a good Muslim who submits his will to the will of God.

“And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44)

Why all this bewailing and lamentation? Is he crying to save his skin? It would be highly cynical on his part to do that! Did he not advise others “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out… And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30)

We would be doing Jesus a grave injustice if we thought that he was crying like a woman to save his body from physical harm. He was crying for his people – the Jews. They held a queer logic, that if they succeeded in killing any would be Messiah (Christ), it would be a sure proof of his imposture. For God Almighty will never allow His truly ‘anointed one’ (Christ) to be killed – (Deuteronomy 18:20)

Hence the insistence of the Jews as a people, as a whole, in rejecting Jesus, the son of Mary, as their promised Messiah ‘The eternal rejection.’

Imaginative version
This harrowing sob-story, the blood-curdling cries and lamentations would evoke sympathy in the hardest of hearts. And the hot-gospeller and the Bible thumper is not averse to its effective exploitation. We are told that Jesus was destined to die for the sins of mankind. That he was ‘being prepared for this vicarious sacrifice before the foundation of the world’. That even before the material universe came into being, there was a contract between ‘Father and son,’ and that in the year 4000 A.A. (After Adam), God himself in the form of Jesus, as the second person from the enigmatic Trinity, was to get himself hanged to redeem mankind from the Original Sin and their actual sins.

– According to Christian calculations the world and everything in it is 6000 years old.

– ‘Trinity’ The closest approximation to the Christian dogma of the trinity as found in the Bible – ‘For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one’ – (1st Epistle of John 5:7) – has now been unceremoniously thrown out as fabrication in the R.S.V., the most up-to- date translation of the Bible.

From the ‘call to arms’ in the upper-room, and the masterful deployment of forces at Gethsemane, and the blood-sweating prayer to the God of Mercy for help, it appears that Jesus knew nothing about the contract for his crucifixion. It reminds one of the Biblical Abraham, leading his son to the slaughter with the bluff that the Lord will provide a ‘scape-goat.’

If this was God’s plan for a vicarious atonement to redeem mankind, then obviously He had chosen a wrong substitute. This candidate was most reluctant to die. Arming! Wailingi Sweating! Crying! Complaining! Contrast these responses with those of Lord Nelson, a war-hero, who gave up the ghost with these undying words ‘Thank god, I have done my duty!’. There are millions today, who would happily immolate themselves for King and country, with smiles on their faces, with shouts of ‘Amandhia!’ or ‘Allahu-akbar!’ or ‘God save the Queen!’ Jesus was an unwilling victim. If this was God’s scheme of salvation, then it was a heartless plot. It was murder in the first degree, and not redeeming self-sacrifice.

Major Yeats-Brown, in his ‘Life of a Bengal Lancer’, summarises the Christian Doctrine of the Atonement in just a single sentence: ‘No heathen tribe has conceived so grotesque an idea, involving as it does the assumption, that man was born with a hereditary stain upon him: And that this stain (for which he was not personally responsible) was to be atoned for: And that the creator of all things had to sacrifice his only begotten son to neutralise this mysterious curse.’

‘No heathen tribe!’ proclaims this Britisher. But the mighty nations of the West, live and die by this ‘Fiction’. If it is no longer fit for home consumption, then it is still good for export! More than 62,000 full-time missionaries (Modern-day Crusaders) are raising the dust throughout the world. Harassing the ‘heathen’ as they call them. Over 40% of these cultists are ‘born-again’ Americans!

Strange as it may sound, after every outpouring of prayer, Jesus Christ found his disciples lulled to sleep at their post. Again and again he bewailed “What could ye not watch with me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:40)

“And again he (Jesus) went away, and prayed, and spoke the same words. And when he returned, he found them sleep again” (Mark 14:39-40)

Poor St. Mark bemoans that the disciples could give no excuse for their lassitude, their somnambulism. He records “neither knew they what to answer him” (Mark 14:40)

However, the most lucid, the most coherent and systematic of all Gospel writers, St. Luke, hazards a guess for this anomaly. He says “And when he (Jesus) rose from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow” (Luke 22:45)

‘Born-Again:’ The latest cult among the Christians. Billy Graham claims that there are 70 million such cultists in America. Immaculate people, veritable angels! Yet in that nation over a quarter million ‘gays’ gathered in San Fransisco last June on a pilgrimage, led by 50 lesbians on motorbikes. In New York, there are only one million more women than men and of the ‘men’ it is said that one third are sodomites!

Overall there are 10 million ‘problem drinkers’ (meaning drunkards), in the USA. If all this is true with 70 million veritable angels (‘Born-Again’) in their midst, then it gives a lie to Paul’s “a little leaven leaveneth the whole” (1 Cor. 5:6). Here in the Christian West not even one third can ferment the loaf. Strange!

Unusual reasoning
St. Luke, though he was never one of the elected twelve disciples of Christ, holds numerous distinctions according to Christians. Among them, the ‘most historical’, the beloved ‘physician’, etc. As a Physician, his theory of men ‘Sleeping for Sorrow’ is unique. Cries and waitings, sobs and sorrows were in abundance from Jerusalem to Gethsemane on the lips of Jesus which would shock and alert to wakefulness any un-ebriated person. Why were the ‘lullabies’ of woe, lulling the disciples to slumber? Was their psychological make-up any different from that of twentieth century man? Professors of physiology opine that under shock, stress and fear the adrenal gland secretes a hormone into the bloodstream – nature’s own injection – which chases away all sleep. Is it not possible that the disciples of Jesus had eaten too much and drunk too much: remembering that food and drink was all ‘on the house,’ i.e. free!

Jesus had doubly miscalculated regarding the enthusiasm demonstrated by the disciples in that upper-room. Believing that he would only have to contend with the Jews in a clandestine arrest.

The Jews were more wily then he had thought. They brought with them Roman soldiers. The Christian scholars are no less wily in their translations and manipulations of the Bible. They have changed the words ‘Roman soldiers’ to simply ‘soldiers’ and from the word soldiers to now ‘band of men’ and ‘the guard’.

“Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh there with lanterns and torches and weapons” (John 18:3)

– ‘Band of men’ here and in verse 12 following, the words in the so-called original manuscripts are speira and chiliarchos respectively. Both Roman military terms, meaning ‘cohort’ and ‘tribune’. ‘That John is the first Evangelist to mention Roman soldiers among the party which went out to arrest our Lord…’ See Knox’s – ‘A New Testament Commentary’, page 260.

The disciples were caught as the Englishman would say with their ‘pants down’. Literally they were caught napping. The enemy trod over them roughshod. Only one of the soldiers of Christ had the presence of mind to ask “Master, shall we smite them with the sword?” (Luke 22:49)

But before Jesus could attempt a reply, the impetuous Peter struck out with his sword and cut off the right ear of one of the enemy. Jesus had not anticipated Roman soldiers. Realising that the tables were turned against his misconceived strategy, he advises his disciples “Put up again thy sword into its place; for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matthew 26:52)

– ‘Pants down’: A figure of speech, meaning caught in an unguarded moment; unawares.

Change of strategy
Did Jesus not know the truth of this statement when he ordered his disciples to sell their garments and buy Swords? He surely did! Then why the contradiction now? There is really no contradiction! The situation changes, so the strategy must also change. He had sense enough to realise that against trained and well-equipped Roman soldiers it would be suicidal for his sleepy warriors to offer even a pretence of resistance.

Why do not the Christian controversialists give their ‘Lord and Master’ credit for this simple common-sense? Because they have been programmed for a period of two thousand years that Jesus, the ‘lamb’, the ‘prince of peace’, couldn’t harm a fly. They overlook the other side of his nature which demanded blood and fire! They forget his instructions to his soldiers regarding those of his enemies who would not like him to rule over them, to bring them forth “and Slay them before me” (Luke 19:27)

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34)

“I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, NAY; but rather division” (Luke 12:49 & 51)

In view of these solemn pronouncements and his repeated vitriolic outbursts against the learned men of his time, if the sword of Peter had prevailed, we would have witnessed a massacre without compunction, equal to that of his ancestor Joshua (meaning Jehova – Saviour) who utterly destroyed all that was in Jericho “both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the Sword” (Joshua 6:21)

And the Gospel writers would not have been slow in putting words into the mouth of Jesus, word for word, as fulfilment of prophecies vaticinium ex eventu (prophecies after the event) as recorded3 of his ‘father’ David.

– His ‘father’s’ record: ‘The conquered Ammonites he treated with even greater ferocity, tearing and hewing some of them in pieces with harrows, axes, and saws; and roasting others in brick-kilns’. Maitlands comment on 2 Samuels Chs. 8 to 12 in ‘Jewish Literature and Modern Education’.

– Joshua: a type of Christ, says C.I. Scofield, D.D. in his Bible commentary.

Failure, and trial
The march on Jerusalem had fizzled out. The sabre-rattling in the Garden had proved abortive. As there is a reward for success, likewise there is a price for failure. The odds are heavy! Hence the trial, the tribulation, the turmoil and the sweat and blood.

With heavy hands, the Roman soldiers dragged Jesus from Gethsemane to Annas, and from Annas to Caiphas the High Priest, and on to the Sanhedrin as directed by the Jews, for trial and execution. Whilst Jesus was being manhandled and buffeted towards his doom, where were his heroes who were beating their breasts with the war-cry: ‘Master, we are prepared to die for you. Master, we are prepared to go to prison for you!’ St. Mark, the first of the Gospel writers, unashamedly and without any apology reveals “And they all forsook him, and fled” (Mark 14:50)

The authors of the 27 books of the New Testament could not find a similar dastardly desertion in the Jewish Bible (The Old Testament) to fulfill prophecy. If there was, they would have been quick to exploit it.

In a debate between Islam and Christianity, on SABC TV one of the participants, claiming to be ‘reborn’, gloated over the word desertion. He articulated the word with such relish DESERTION which must have left a taste of triumph in the mouth of the cultists, instead of the bitterness of shame and defeat. The Bible thumpers have developed a new sickness of glamorising despicably and ignominy. Everyone, male or female, of these cultists, will not fail to relate their peccadillos, their adulteries and bestialities, their drinking and drugging. It appears that one must have been part of the dregs of humanity to become a candidate for this ‘born again’ cult.

Trials of Jesus
In the history of the world, there is no parallel of such a contemptible betrayal. From the beginning to the end, Jesus received the most shabby response from his chosen ones. Professor Momerie succinctly sums up the ‘Disciples’ and their response to the Master: ‘His immediate disciples were always misunderstanding him and his works. Wanting him to declare himself king of the Jews, wanting him to call down fire from heaven, wanting to sit on his right hand and on his left hand in his kingdom; wanting him to show them the father, to make god visible to their bodily eyes; wanting him to do, and wanting to do themselves, anything and everything that was incompatible with his great plan. This was how they treated him until the end. And when that came, they all forsook him, and fled.’

a. If Muhammad was the ‘Most Influential Man in History’ (Michael M. Hart);
b. If Muhammad was the ‘Most Successful of all Religious Personalties’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th Ed);

c. If Muhammad was the ‘Greatest Leader of all Times’ (Jules Masserman in the ‘TIME’ Magazine);

d. If Muhammad was the ‘Greatest Man that ever Lived’ (Lamartine in his ‘History of the Turks’);

Then it can be claimed with justification that Jesus Christ was the ‘most unfortunate of all of God’s Messengers’.

The disciples of Jesus always misunderstood him. His nation, the Jews, always misrepresented his utterances, and his so-called followers are always misinterpreting his teachings, even to this day. If Jesus were a Japanese instead of being a Jew, he would most assuredly have committed honourable ‘hara-kiri’ (suicide) rather than endure the fickleness and infidelity of his followers.

Predetermined judgement
The fate of Jesus was already sealed. Caiphas the High Priest, at the head of the Sanhedrin (a Religious Board of Jewish Deputies), was a man who would have recused himself in any civilised Court-of-Law, because of his prejudice against the defendant. He had already condemned Jesus to death without any hearing. He had recommended to his Council, even before the case that “it is expedient for us that one man die for the people, and the whole nation perish not” (John 11:50).

Jesus had to be liquidated! There was no question of right or wrong; Justice or injustice; it was ‘expedient’! The trial was a farce. By hook or by crook they would have Jesus convicted and done away with. In the middle of the night, what we might call at 2 o’clock in the morning, the Jews had mustered up false witnesses to testify against Jesus. A trial, past midnight was against Jewish practice; but who cares? Despite sympathetic and encouraging prosecutors and jurors, the false witnesses could not tally in their evidences.

It was too much for Jesus. He could not hold his peace. He had to remonstrate. He made a telling plea in his own defence, saying “I speak openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, where the Jews always gather; and in secret have I said nothing” (John 18:20)

In essence, he said that he expounded no secret or esoteric doctrines. He did not teach anything in private which he would not be prepared to proclaim in public. In which case, the Jews would have been able to line up an army of witnesses to testify against him. But what a farce! The Jews could not get even two to agree in their allegations! “But neither did their witness agree together” (Mark 14:59)

His argument was so potent that an officer standing by was provoked to strike him in silence. Did that intimidate Jesus? No! Instead, he protested further “if I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil. But if well, why smitest thou me?” (John 18:23)

The victim was slipping out from between their fingers. It was now or never. Legally they could not incriminate him. Direct intervention was necessary. The High Priest interjects with a side thrust. Tell us then “Art thou the Christ, the son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am” (Mark 14:61-62)

– It reminds one of the 5000 (so-called original) Greek Manuscripts of the New Testament of which ‘No two are perfect duplicates’, say the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The ‘cultists’ are now claiming the discovery of a staggering 24 thousand Manuscripts; to which of course the same stricture will apply. read ‘Is the Bible God’s Word?’ for further information.

‘Son of god’ – No blasphemy
There was nothing blasphemous or treasonable in the simple avowal of Jesus. ‘Christ’ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word ‘Messiah,’ which meant the Anointed one or the Apointed one. Nowhere was the word Christ equated with God. We must divorce this notion from the paganised Christian doctrine of the incarnation, wherein God becomes man. The Jewish expectation of a Messiah, did not identify the Messiah with God.

Indeed, the nature of Jewish monotheism wholely excludes such pagan connotations. ‘Son of God’ is also another harmless expression in Jewish theology. God seems to have sons by the tons in the Jewish Bible. But if you are looking for trouble, you do not have to go far. you will find it round the corner. The High Priest was exultant. He felt that his rapier thrust had ripped open the defence of Jesus. To dramatise his contrived victory, he began renting his clothes.

“What need have we for any further witnesses? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death” (Mark 14:63-64)

– ‘Christ’: For further references, see ‘Christ in Islam’ in which you will get Biblical quotations of ‘priests’ and ‘pots’ and ‘pans’ and ‘pagans’ who are called Christs!

Guilty or not guilty – ‘Jesus must die!’
The Jews falsely charged that Jesus had blasphemed, which is like treason in the spiritual realm. The Christians are ‘One’ with the Jews regarding this ‘blasphemy’ of Jesus, but contend that he was not guilty, because as God, he was entitled to ‘blaspheme’ – it was no blasphemy. Between the two (Jews and Christians) they want poor Jesus to die. One for ‘Good riddance’ and the other for ‘good redemption’.

The verdict was quick and unanimous. It was cut and dried! But without the Roman consent, they could not hang him. In the morning they took their victim to Pontius Pilate, because, as they said “It is not lawful for us (Jews) to put any man to death” (John 18:31)

On discovering that Jesus was a Galilaean, the most troublesome of his subjects, Pilate felt it advisable to ‘pass the buck’ to Herod (Luke 23:7)

You remember, the oldest game in the world. It started in the Garden of Eden according to the Christian Scriptures. But it did not work. After a fruitless attempt to elicit co-operation from Jesus, Herod sends him back to Pilate.

The Jews had condemned Jesus for blasphemy. A man claiming to be God, they alleged. This would not hold water before Pilate. He had his man-Gods beyond counting. His Jupiter and Pluto, his Vulcan and Eros, his Mars and Neptune, his Appollo and Zeus, to name just a few out of his Pantheon. One more, or one less, would not make any difference to him. This the Jews very well knew. So they changed their charge from blasphemy to treason. They began accusing “we found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ, a King” (Luke 23:2)

Second false charge
The charge was absolutely false. Contrary to what they are alleging, he had said, on the subject of taxation “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God, the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21)

What is subversive about this? Like the Christians (The Christians equate the word ‘Christ’ to ‘A God!’), the Jews too, before them had invented a new meaning for the word ‘Christy,’ viz. ‘A King!’ So that he could be more easily presented as a challenge to their Roman overlords. Pilate got the message. But this poor man, meek and passive, seemed to be no threat. He did not look like a Zealot, a political agitator, a subversive person, a terrorist!

Incredulously he asks Jesus “art thou the King of the Jews?”… Jesus answered him, “my kingdom is not of this world, if my Kingdom was of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my Kingdom not from hence” (John 18:33-36)

A masterful defence! No Q.C. could have done a better job. As a man of God, he could not disavow his religious status. His was a spiritual Kingdom, a ruler to rescue his nation from sin and formalism. This was all nonsense to the Roman Governor. The man may be deluded, mad; but of no danger to the State. He was on no collision course with Rome. Pilate goes to the waiting Jews and delivers an unequivocal verdict “I find in him no fault at all!” (John 18:38)

Though Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are supposed to be writing independent records on the life of Jesus, it is astonishing that the Synoptists, the first three had never heard the words – ‘My Kingdom is not of this world’ – at all. If God dictated these words exclusively to John, or if he had been informed by some witness, then these words must have escaped the lips of Jesus. A most telling defence against the false allegation of the Jews. How did these words reach any ear, without Jesus opening his mouth?

– Q.C. Means Queen’s Counsellor, previously K.C. (King’s Counsellor) The highest legal representative in English Court-of-Law.

– Synoptists: meaning one-eyed; looking from one angle.

The hot gospellers are getting hoarse in the throat, singing and shouting, that Jesus was led “to the slaughter like a lamb, like a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7)

Poor deluded souls, they hymn songs “Hy het sy monde nie oop gemaak nie! Hy het sy monde nie oop gemaak nie!’ (And he opened not his mouth).

Now, an Attorney at Law, claiming to be ‘reborn’ has joined the chorus of Bible- thumpers with the same senseless repetition. Let me quote, word for word from his Book, to enable you to diagnose this new sickness of cultism to which even people having undergone a dicipline of Law are not immune. He says; ‘Isaiah predicts about Jesus Christ:’ He would not defend himself at his trial (Jesus did not): ‘He opened not his mouth’.

When you meet these cultists in the flesh, please ask them, ‘Did Jesus speak with his mouth closed?’ How did the following utterances which are attributed to Jesus, escape his lips without him opening his mouth:

A. Before Pontius Pilate “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36)

B. Before the Sanhedrin “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil, but if well, why smitest thou me?” (John 18:23)

C. Before God in the Garden “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away” (Matthew 26:39)

We Muslims believe in the many, many miracles of Jesus, but we would be reluctant to believe that he dabbled in ventriloquism. Again and again, whenever the need arose, during his trials and tribulations, Jesus opened his mouth with telling effect, ‘according to the Scriptures’. But for those who refuse to see or hear, we can only seek solace in the words of the Master “they seeing, see not; and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand” (Matthew 13:13)

– Ventriloquism: The art of speaking, or uttering sounds in such a manner that the voice appears to come from some other source than the speaker, like Charlie McCarthy and his doll.

The blackmail
In the case under discussion, Pilate finds Jesus – Not guilty! His implacable enemies, blackmail Pilate, saying “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend; whosoever maketh himself a King speaketh agaist Caesar” (John 19:12)

While the trial was under way, Pilate’s wife sends him a message “Have thou nothing to do with that just man (Jesus); for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him” (Matthew 27:19)

As reluctant as Pilate was to condemn an innocent and harmless subject, and despite the pleadings of his dear wife based on supernatural visions, he could not prevail against Jewish pressure. He was forced to give in to the Jewish clamour of “’Crucify him, crucify him!’ ‘Pilate took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man’” (Matthew 27:24)

You are culpable for this unjust crime. And he handed Jesus over to be crucified.

Origins of crucifixion
Crucifixion was the common mode of eliminating political prisoners, murderers and insurgents. Long before the birth of Jesus, the Phoenecians had experimented with various methods to get rid of their anti-social characters. They had tried hanging, impaling, stoning, drowning, etc. But all these were too quick in their effects; the culprits expired too soon for their liking. So they invented the crucifixion, a system which produced a slow Lingering death.

The Romans borrowed and perfected the system. They developed a crucifixion for fast death and disposal, and another for a slow death and disposal.

The Christian Masters (great artists like Michael Angelo, Rembrandt, Leonardo Da Vinci, etc) are confused in their paintings of the gruesome scene. They portray the two robbers (Mark 15:27 – ‘lestes’ in the original. Alternatively translated as ‘thieves’ or ‘brigandas’ is actually a derogatory term for ‘Zealot.’ These ‘crossmates’ of Jesus were not common thieves or crooks. They were the terrorists of their day, heroes of their nation) who were simultaneously crucified with Jesus, his ‘crossmates’, one on his right hand and the other on his left hand, as undergoing the fast method, whereas Jesus himself is painted as undergoing a SLOW process.

The Romans never combined these two different methods. They were never confused, as the Christian artists were, with the fast and the slow methods. The Old Masters have painted hybrid crosses (mixture) of the ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ methods in their drawings of Jesus’ bodily supports on the cross – i.e. with Sadile or without sadile either nails or leather thongs to bind the arms to the crossbar; and, either platforms to support the feet, or spikes.

– Sadile: Obviously a saddle, or ‘horn’ which was fitted in the middle of the upright piece of the cross, so that it projected between victim’s legs at the crotch to support his body-weight, but for aesthetic reasons the Christian fathers have eliminated the ‘horn’ from the cross.

The gospel untruth
Contrary to common belief, Jesus was not nailed to the cross, but bound, if at all, like the other two. In the light of the knowledge available, we must regard the ‘Doubting Thomas’ episode as a flagrant ‘gospel fabrication’, similar to the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery. Note that John chapter 8, begins with verse 12.

Can you imagine any chapter in any religious Book beginning with verse 12 as the first verse? Verses 1 to 11 are expunged as a fabrication by the 32 Christian Scholars of the highest eminence, backed by 50 co-operating denominations in their ‘Most up to date Version of the Bible’- the R.S.V.

– R.S.V. stands for Revised Standard Version, first published in 1952. The translators claimed to have had access to the ‘Most Ancient Manuscripts’ from which they learnt that the story about the adulteress was a fabrication. See ‘Is the Bible God’s Word?’ for further information on the R.S.V.

The Jews were in extreme haste to have Jesus done away with. Remember the midnight trial? Early in the morning, they dragged him to Pilate. From Pilate to Herod. From Herod back to Pilate. According to a boisterous American (another ‘born-again’) there were ‘six’ trials within twelve hours. At the busiest time in Jerusalem, around the Feast of the Passover, it appears from the Gospel narratives that people of worth had nothing else to do but twiddle their thumbs in great expectation of interviewing Jesus. Exactly as things happen on the ‘set’, for the shooting of films. Hurry! hurry! hurry!

According to the Gospel writers, the Jews and the Romans managed to have Jesus on the cross by the 6th hour, that is by 12 noon; and by the 9th hour (Matthew 27:46. 32), that is, by 3 o’clock he had given up the ghost – he had died (?). Strange people, these Jews! As much as they were in a hurry to mount Jesus on the cross, no sooner had they succeeded, they were once more agitated to bring him down. Can you imagine why?

Their religious scruples -the Sabbath! They were warned in the ‘fifth Book of Moses’ “His body (any crucified person) shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shah in any wise bury him that day, (for he that is hanged is accursed of God), that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance” (Deuteronomy 21:23)

To appease the religious scruples of the Jews (or for any other reason) if it became necessary to expedite death on the cross, the executioners resorted to the ‘cruri- fragium’, a club like horror with which the legs were broken. The victim expired by suffocation within the hour. This was the fast method.

This drawing is an attempt at a more accurate representation of the ‘execution’ of Jesus. To check his ideas the artist Charles Pickard, actually manoeuvred himself into this position.

God’s ways are not our ways
Was the prayer of Jesus being answered? He had cried (O the loving father in heaven for help, with strong crying and tears “And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44)

What can be expected from such heart-felt prayer and importuning? One of the four brothers. The Christians give brothers and sisters to Jesus, through a union of Mary with Joseph the Carpenter. (Matthew 13:55-56) of Jesus reminds us that “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16)

Such heartfelt prayers! Such blood-curdling cries! Such sorrow and sobs! A cynic remarked that it would even bring God down from His Throne. (God Almighty does not go up or down He is Omnipresent. All-Prevading. Present everywhere!)

God accepted Jesus’ prayers
Paul confirms that his supplications did not fall on deaf ears “Who, in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared” (Hebrews 5:7)

What does it mean ‘God heard’ his prayers! It means that God accepted his prayers. God Almighty is not deaf at any time. He is the All-Hearing God. He heard (accepted) the supplication of Jesus in the same way that He had heard (accepted) the prayer of father Abraham. Abraham, in his old-age had prayed for a son, and Ishmael was born. The words of Abraham had become flesh. Ishmael literally means ‘God heard’, in Hebrew. Zakariah also in his old-age prayed for a son, and God heard (accepted) his prayers, and John the Baptist was born. Now Jesus cried for help, and God heard (accepted) his prayers:

“And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him” (Luke 22:43)

Strengthening him in the faith, in the hope that God will save him. This is actually what he was beseeching God to do for him. When and how rests alone in the Hands of God. His ways are not our ways. Count the blessings so far:

a) An assurance from Heaven.
b) Pilate finds him, not guilty!
c) His wife shown a dream in which she is told that no harm should come to Jesus.

d) Legs not broken!
e) In a hurry to bring him down from the cross.

The fourth above: ‘and they brake not his legs’, we are told was in fulfilment of a prophecy “He keepeth all his bones, not one of them is broken” (Psalm 34:20)

If the bones of a victim were to be protected from harm, then they could only be of benefit if the person was alive! For a person, already dead, intact bones mean nothing. Whether they are sawed into pieces, or smashed into smithereens, it will not make any difference to the resurrected body, the spirit or the ghost. But for living persons on the cross (like the ‘crossmates’ of Jesus), the breaking of the legs made all the difference between life and death. The pagan Romans were not hell-bound to fulfil any prophecy. Their reason was that they “saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs” (John 19:33)

‘saw’ is a very simple word. We may yet ask, what did they see? Could it be the fulfilment of the words of Christ “seeing, ye shall see and shall not perceive” (Matthew 13:14)

When John says that the soldiers ‘saw’, he means that they surmised. For no modern-day stethoscope was used to verify death; nor did anyone touch his body or feel his pulse before concluding that ‘he was dead already’. I see in the word ‘saw’ another step in God’s plan of rescue.

Resurrections daily! Stranger than fiction
With all the advancements in the Medical field since Christ; with all the modern, scientific instruments at our disposal; hundreds of people are being certified ‘dead’, every day all over the world. Whilst busy writing this, my attention is being drawn to the near murder of a Mr. Barnabas who was being carried to the mortuary after being ‘declared clinically dead’. Not by inexperienced ancient Roman soldiers, but by highly-qualified Medical men.

The news item is reproduced on the side, as is, as a New Year ‘84 shock! This with another shocker from Ripley’s: ‘believe it or not!’ is also reproduced at the end of this book, with a suggestion that some young journalist keep his eyes open for people who have come back from the ‘dead’, and write an anthology, which might willingly become a best seller. Here is a list for a start – What would you say?

Resurrected or resuscitated?
1. Little girl who ‘died’ tells how she came back to life (after 4 days) – ‘Daily News’ 15/11/55

2. Man died for two hours: Still lives – ‘Miracle’ amazes doctors – ‘Sunday Tribune’ 27/3/60

3. He died for 4 minutes – Man’s heart stops but he lives on – ‘Sunday Express’ 23/7/61

4. He does not know that he died for 90 seconds – ‘Cape Argus’ 16/3/61

5. Dr. hitge returned from the dead – ‘cape argus’ 4/5/61

6. The coffin moved – Young man narrowly escaped being buried alive – ‘Sunday Tribune’ 13/5/62

7. Back from the dead – After being thought dead for 2 days – ‘Post’ 25/7/65

8. ‘Corpse’ winks at undertaker – Doctor wrote out a death certificate – ‘Daily News’ 25/3/75

9. ‘Clinically dead’ – Toddler alive after hour-long revival battle -’natal mercury’ 5/12/82

10. Was he dead or alive? – The dilemma facing transplant doctors – ‘Sunday Tribune’ 17/7/83

11. Shaken and stirred – Declared clinically dead ‘from too much Christmas liquor’ – ‘Daily News’ 3/1/84

This sombre list would be incomplete without the picture of an exclusive club, the only qualification of whose membership is – to have died and lived again! If everything happened to Jesus ‘according to the scriptures’, then, he could easily become its doyen (Senior member of a body).

Sympathy for Jesus
God works in a mysterious way. He inspires the soldiers to think that the victim is ‘dead already’ so as not to break his legs, but at the same time inspires another to lance him on the side (the ‘side’ of his body and not the front) with a spear, and… “forthwith came there out blood and watery” (John 19:34)

It is a Blessing of God that when the human body cannot endure further pain or agony, unconsciousness supervenes. But immobility, fatigue and the unnatural stance on the cross must have slowed down the blood-circulation. The lancing came to the rescue. By ‘blood-letting’, the circulation could regain its rhythm. We are assured in the Encyclopedia Biblica, under article ‘cross,’ column 960, that ‘Jesus was alive when the spear was thrust’. This also confirms the statement of John that the flow of ‘water and blood’ was instantaneous. In his own words he says: ‘forthwith’ – straight away, immediately, which was a sure sign that Jesus was alive!

But why the ‘Water and the Blood’? Dr. W.B. Primrose, a Senior Anaesthetist of the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, gave his expert opinion: In the ‘Thinkers Digest’, London, Winter 1949 issue, he said that ‘The water was a result of the nervous upset of the blood vessels locally due to the over-stimulating effect of the scourging by staves’. This may be an extreme case, but so was his sweating, like ‘great drops of blood, falling down to the ground’, when Jesus was in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Medical authorities also confirm the latter phenomenon.

Evangelists differ
The Gospel-writers are not unanimous regarding the time when Jesus was hoisted onto the cross. But John tells us that Jesus was still before Pilate in the praetorium at 12 noon “and about the sixth hour (Hebrew time), he saith unto the Jews, Behold, your King!” (John 19:14)

And after much wrangling he was handed over for crucifixion. Imagine the disorderly mob, the heavy cross which Jesus himself is supposed to have been loaded with. The long climb to Gol’gotha could never have been accomplished in minutes. And the saddling, the tying and the lifting must have taken some time. On TV shots, they can do it all in 30 seconds! But we know that in real life it does not happen that fast. The author of John’s Gospel failed to record the time when ‘Jesus gave up the ghost’ (John 19:30), but the synoptists seem to be agreed that it was around the ‘ninth hour’, meaning 3 p.m.

– Dean Farrar, in his ‘Life of Christ’, says on page 421, that ‘Jesus was on the cross for only three hours – when taken down’.

We are told in the Gospels, in varying terms, that between the ‘sixth’ and the ‘ninth’ hours, there was thunder, an eclipse and an earthquake! – Without purpose? No, to disperse the sadistic mob after their enjoyment of a Roman holiday. To enable the hands of mercy, his ‘secret’ and faithful disciples, to come to his succor.

Joseph of Arimathe’a together with a sympathetic Roman centurion who had declared “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39), went to Pilate to claim the body of Jesus, and “Pilate marvelled if he were already dead, and to him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead” (Mark 15:44)

What was the reason for Pilate’s amazement? Why did he marvel? He knew from experience that normally no man would die within 3 hours on the cross, unless the ‘crurifragium’ was resorted to, which was not done in the case of Jesus; unlike in that of his ‘crossmates’, who were given the treatment because they were still alive!

Reason for marvelling
It stands to reason, that if a man faces a firing squad, and shots are fired into his body, and he dies, there would be nothing to ‘marvel’ about. If a person is taken to the gallows and is hanged, and he dies, there is nothing to ‘marvel’ about. But should they survive, after our common knowledge expects them to die, then there is much to marvel about. Conversely, Pilate expects that Jesus should be alive on the cross, and not dead as he is being told, therefore his marvelling is only but natural. He had no special reason for verifying whether Jesus was dead or alive. If he was alive – so what?

Had he not found Jesus innocent of the charges levelled against him by the Jews? Did his wife not warn him against doing any harm to ‘that just man’? Was he not blackmailed into surrendering to Jewish clamour? So if Jesus was alive – Good Luck to him. Pilate grants permission for Joseph to have the body.

The so-called disciples of Jesus, whom he called ‘my mother and brethren!’ (Matthew 12:49, Mark 15:47) In preference to his own mother and his uterinal brothers and sisters, were nowhere in sight when he was most in need. His ‘secret’ disciples, Joseph of Arimathe’a and Nicodemus, would never have been heard of had it not been for Jesus’ ordeal. And they were the only persons to handle the body of Jesus, with Mary Magdalene and the other Mary(s) Mark 15:47. As the only spectators.

To satisfy the religious scruples of the Jews – the burial bath, the anointing and the shrouding – would well-nigh have taken more than two hours. If there were any signs of life in the limp body, no one was foolish enough to shout to the retreating curiosity mongers: ‘He is alive! He is alive! They knew that the Jews would then make doubly sure that that life was snuffed out.

Why the inverted commas ‘ ’?
Jews suspicious and uneasy. We must not suppose that Jesus was buried 6 feet underground. The sepulchre was a big, airy chamber and not a grave. Jim Bishop (a Christian authority of note), in his book ‘The Day Christ Died,’ gives the dimensions as 5 feet wide by 7 feet high by 15 feet deep, with a ledge or ledges inside, which any ‘pondokkie’ dweller in our slums would have been happy to own as his residence. The Jews were suspicious. It was all very ‘fishy.’

a) The tomb within easy reach.
b) Helping hands of his ‘secret’ disciples.
c) His ‘crossmates’ still alive.
d) His legs not broken, whereas those of his ‘crossmates’ were!
e) Quick and easy permission granted by Pilate to obtain the body of Jesus.

For these and many more reasons, the Jews were suspicious. They felt that they had been cheated. Jesus was alive! (?) So they ran to Pilate. But they had missed the bus again! They were 24 hours too late!

Jewish errors
“Now the next day… the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said… Command, therefore, that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest… the last error shall be worse than the first (error)” (Matthew 27:62-64)

The Jews are talking about ‘first’ and ‘last’, not realising that in all their nervous haste they had made another slip. They had gone to Pilate only the next day. They wanted to close the stable-door after the horse had bolted. Pilate was not interested in their childish plots. He had had enough of them. So he says to them “Ye have a watch; go your way, make it as sure as ye can” (Matthew 27:65)

He was not going to pander to their whim. He had more than enough reasons to hate them.

– From the word ‘watch’ in the King James Version of the Bible, and ‘guard’ of the Roman Catholic Version; the 32 Christian scholars of the R.SV. have now interpolated the words, ‘of soldiers’ after the word ‘guard’, reading ‘guard of soldiers’. There is no end to Christian theological ingenuity! As was discussed earlier; the revisers have now re-revised the R.S.V. and have re-inserted the spicy verses about the women ‘caught in the act’ once more into their 1971 Version.

What the Jews did or did not do after Pilate’s curt reply is immaterial. They had already lost a day! But the Christian cultists clutching at straws, transform the Jewish temple ‘guard’ to soldiers, and make these ‘soldiers’ into ‘Roman’ soldiers. Then fill pages expounding the efficiency of the Roman military machine; that it can never be caught napping or caught off-guard! And the dire consequences in store for any that slipped. Did all this make the Roman soldier impeccable, faultless (?). By the time the unwary and weary reader wades through the profuse irrelevant details, he is ready to swallow everything hook, line, and sinker uncritically. It is a deception they have developed as an art!

What was the FIRST ‘error’ that the Jews made in wanting to eliminate Jesus? The first was that they had permitted Jesus to be brought down from the cross without breaking his legs, under the false assumption that he had died. The last would be to allow the ‘secret’ disciples of Jesus to render help to the wounded man, by not sealing off the tomb. But in the meantime, they made another mistake by approaching Pilate the ‘next’ day which was too late! God works in a mysterious way. His Ways are not our ways. He says “And (the unbelievers) plotted and planned, and Allah too planned, and the best of planners is Allah” (Quran 3:54)

Sunday morning
It was Sunday morning, the first day of the week, according to Hebrew calculations, with Saturday the Sabbath as the seventh, when Mary Magdalene alone (Mark 16:9 and John 20:1) visited the tomb of Jesus.

Continue reading Crucifixion or cruci-fiction? part 2