How did Jesus use the Old Testament to predict his death and resurrection? What brought Jesus into conflict with the scribes and Pharisees, the high priest, and the Sanhedrin?

The Death & Resurrection of Jesus Answer the following questions concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus: When did Jesus predict his death and resurrection in the Gospels? How did Jesus use the Old Testament to predict his death and resurrection? What brought Jesus into conflict with the scribes and Pharisees, the high priest, and the Sanhedrin? What significance did Jesus give to his death? What evidence is there for the historicity of Jesus’ eucharistic words and of the ransom saying of Mark 10:45? Identify various rationalistic explanations for the resurrection. What is the most widely held rationalistic explanation today? Note the five pieces of highly reliable evidence which together support the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. What was the significance of the resurrection of the dead in first-century Judaism? Why is the literal, bodily resurrection foundational to Christianity?


The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ stand as central tenets of Christianity, serving as the foundation upon which the faith is built. This paper examines various aspects of these pivotal events, shedding light on their historical and theological significance. It explores Jesus’ predictions, his use of the Old Testament, conflicts with religious authorities, the meaning he ascribed to his death, evidence for specific sayings, rationalistic explanations for the resurrection, and the broader context of resurrection beliefs in first-century Judaism. Additionally, it underscores why the literal, bodily resurrection is indispensable to the Christian faith.

Predictions of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection

In the Gospels, Jesus predicts his death and resurrection on multiple occasions, providing crucial insights into his understanding of his mission. To further understand the nuances of these predictions, it is essential to analyze the specific instances in which Jesus made these claims.

In Matthew 16:21, for example, Jesus boldly states, “From that time on, Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Here, Jesus not only foretells his death but also emphasizes the precise timeline of his resurrection—on the third day. This prediction carries profound theological significance, as it aligns with Old Testament typology, particularly the story of Jonah in the Hebrew Bible.

In Mark 8:31, a similar prediction is made, but this time Jesus adds, “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” This repetition underscores the importance Jesus placed on this message and its essential role in his mission.

Luke 9:22 provides yet another dimension to these predictions, with Jesus saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Each Gospel writer presents the predictions in a slightly different context, shedding light on the diverse theological emphases within the early Christian communities.

The Use of the Old Testament in Predictions

To gain a deeper understanding of how Jesus used the Old Testament to predict his death and resurrection, it is essential to explore the specific passages and themes he drew upon. In Isaiah 53, for instance, the suffering servant motif provides a rich backdrop for Jesus’ predictions. The servant’s description as one who would be “pierced for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5) finds a clear parallel in Jesus’ crucifixion, and this connection is likely what Jesus intended to invoke.

Moreover, the Passover narrative in Exodus, particularly the imagery of the Passover lamb whose blood saved the Israelites from death, holds significant importance in Jesus’ understanding of his impending sacrifice. This thematic connection between the Passover lamb and Jesus as the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29) is an essential aspect of his predictions.

Conflicts with Religious Authorities

The conflicts between Jesus and religious authorities, such as the scribes, Pharisees, high priest, and the Sanhedrin, are multifaceted and deeply rooted in theological and political tensions of the time. A more comprehensive examination of these conflicts reveals the intricate dynamics at play.

For instance, Jesus’ proclamation of his authority as the Son of God challenged the religious hierarchy’s traditional power structures. The episode of Jesus cleansing the temple (Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-19) is a notable example of how his actions directly challenged the religious establishment’s control over temple practices and finances.

Additionally, his claims to forgive sins (Mark 2:1-12) and his association with tax collectors and sinners (Mark 2:13-17) disrupted the Pharisaic understanding of righteousness and purity. These conflicts were not solely theological but also had significant social and political implications, as they challenged the status quo of the Jewish religious establishment.

The Significance of Jesus’ Death

To delve deeper into the significance that Jesus assigned to his death, we must explore the theological motifs he drew upon. Jesus often framed his impending death as a sacrificial act with salvific implications.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus’ role as the Good Shepherd (John 10:11) who lays down his life for his sheep is a powerful metaphor that underscores the sacrificial nature of his death. This metaphorical language is deeply rooted in the Old Testament imagery of God as the shepherd of Israel (Psalm 23; Ezekiel 34).

Moreover, the Last Supper accounts in the Gospels, where Jesus institutes the Eucharist, provide profound insight into the theological significance he ascribed to his impending sacrifice. The symbolism of his body and blood being broken and poured out for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20) has enduring theological implications for the Christian understanding of salvation through Christ’s atoning work on the cross.

Evidence for Historicity: Eucharistic Words and Ransom Saying

In examining the historicity of Jesus’ eucharistic words and the ransom saying in Mark 10:45, it is crucial to consider both textual and historical evidence. Scholars have debated the authenticity of these passages, and a comprehensive analysis can help assess their credibility.

Textual analysis involves evaluating manuscript evidence, linguistic characteristics, and textual variants. By examining early manuscript copies of the Gospels and comparing them, scholars can assess the likelihood of alterations or additions to the text over time. Additionally, linguistic and stylistic considerations can shed light on whether these passages align with the language and style of Jesus’ era.

Historical analysis involves examining the context and plausibility of these sayings within the broader historical narrative. For instance, the concept of a “ransom for many” in Mark 10:45 reflects themes present in the Hebrew Bible, particularly in prophetic literature (e.g., Isaiah 53). Evaluating the historical resonance of such language can contribute to the argument for authenticity.

Rationalistic Explanations for the Resurrection

In exploring rationalistic explanations for the resurrection, we must engage with a range of hypotheses that have been put forth by scholars and skeptics over the years. These hypotheses often seek to provide naturalistic explanations for the resurrection accounts found in the Gospels.

Swoon theories, which propose that Jesus did not actually die on the cross but merely appeared dead, are among the earliest rationalistic explanations. We will delve into the historical and medical aspects of these theories, considering their plausibility.

Hallucination theories suggest that the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus were the result of hallucinations experienced by his disciples. Evaluating the psychological and sociological aspects of such hypotheses can shed light on their feasibility.

The Most Widely Held Rationalistic Explanation Today

Among modern rationalistic explanations for the resurrection, the hallucination theory has gained considerable prominence. This theory posits that the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus were collective hallucinations experienced by his followers.

Proponents of this theory argue that grief, stress, and fervent belief in Jesus’ return could have contributed to hallucinatory experiences among the disciples. To assess the credibility of this theory, it is essential to examine the psychological and sociological factors at play and whether they align with the reported post-resurrection encounters.

Five Pieces of Highly Reliable Evidence for the Resurrection

The historical evidence supporting the resurrection of Jesus is multifaceted and includes several key elements that collectively affirm its historicity. These pieces of evidence can be categorized as follows:

Early Christian Creeds: The presence of early Christian creeds, such as the one found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, attests to the belief in Jesus’ resurrection from the earliest days of the Christian community. These creeds provide valuable historical testimony.

Empty Tomb: The discovery of the empty tomb by women, as recorded in the Gospels, constitutes a foundational element of the resurrection accounts. Analyzing the credibility of these accounts and their consistency across Gospel narratives is crucial.

Post-Resurrection Appearances: Numerous reports in the Gospels describe post-resurrection appearances of Jesus to various individuals and groups. Examining the diversity and coherence of these accounts contributes to their historical reliability.

Transformation of the Disciples: The drastic transformation of Jesus’ disciples, from a state of fear and disillusionment to bold proclamation and martyrdom, serves as powerful evidence for the reality of the resurrection. Psychological and sociological explanations for this transformation warrant consideration.

Pauline Writings: The writings of the Apostle Paul, particularly his letters, contain early Christian beliefs and teachings that affirm the resurrection. Evaluating the dating and authenticity of these texts enhances their historical significance.

By examining each of these pieces of evidence in detail, we can build a compelling case for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Significance of Resurrection in First-Century Judaism

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the significance of the resurrection of the dead in first-century Judaism, it is essential to delve into the theological and eschatological dimensions of this belief.

In first-century Jewish thought, resurrection was closely tied to the idea of God’s final judgment and the establishment of God’s kingdom. The Pharisees, for instance, held a robust belief in resurrection as part of their eschatological framework. Examining texts from this period, such as the Book of Daniel and the Dead Sea Scrolls, can provide insights into the diversity of beliefs about resurrection during this time.

Moreover, the relationship between resurrection and individual righteousness, as well as the hope of vindication for the righteous and judgment for the wicked, was central to first-century Jewish beliefs. Analyzing how these beliefs influenced the socio-religious landscape of the time can illuminate the context in which Jesus’ resurrection occurred.

The Foundational Role of Bodily Resurrection in Christianity

The literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ stands as a foundational tenet of Christianity. To grasp its significance within the faith, it is necessary to explore its doctrinal and theological implications.

One of the key theological implications is the affirmation of Jesus’ divinity. The resurrection serves as a vindication of Jesus’ claims and a demonstration of his authority over death and sin. This theological understanding has profound ramifications for the Christian view of salvation and the identity of Jesus as the Son of God.

Furthermore, the bodily resurrection underscores the Christian belief in the future resurrection of believers. The apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, expounds on the concept of the resurrection body, emphasizing its continuity with the present body while also highlighting its transformation. This doctrine plays a pivotal role in Christian eschatology and the hope of eternal life.


The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are central to the Christian faith, embodying both its theological core and historical foundation. By exploring the predictions, conflicts, significance, and evidence surrounding these events, this paper provides a comprehensive examination of their enduring significance. It reinforces the essential role of the resurrection in Christian theology and affirms its historical credibility, ultimately affirming the faith of countless believers for centuries.