When I was 20, I’d sometimes meet Christians who’d talk to me about Jesus of Nazareth. I usually really enjoyed it. I felt I could always argue with them and usually make them feel stupid or embarrassed about their faith. Back then, I liked to do that.
So I know how nutty it can seem to some people when they hear about the idea of a person who died 2000 years ago “coming back” to our modern world.
I won’t tell you how I came to believe in God, that’s another story. But, if you’re not too sure about this whole thing and wonder how anyone could have such an eccentric idea, let me give you some information which you may not know. Maybe you’re a very rational person and like facts. Let’s look at some.
First, let me introduce you to something which you are perhaps not familiar: prophecy. Now, don’t run off. I said I wanted to share some facts with you. But the word “prophecy” may conjure up for you some crazed fellow in robes, running around shouting about the end of the world. Or maybe some strange mumbo-jumbo of predictions someone said was going to happened, when there was nothing really prophetic about it.
But what if there was a phenomenon of prophecy that consistently came true? What if there were people who really had a proven track record of foretelling future events and those events happened? Well, there is. And this is going to bring us back to our original subject, Jesus of Nazareth.
[By the way, one of the videos that I have produced is explaining the whole phenomenon of prophecy, against the backdrop of the history of ancient Israel. It’s called “An Introduction to Prophecy in History.” You can view it here.]
In the centuries before Jesus, the ancient nation of Israel from time to time would have Hebrew prophets. Maybe you have heard of David or Isaiah or Elijah or Daniel? One of the things these prophets told the people of Israel was that God was going to send them a very special king. This king would liberate them and he would be incomparable to anyone before. And these prophecies would get pretty specific. Let’s look at one of them. In 700 BC the prophet Micah wrote, “But you, Bethlehem, though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth He which is to rule my people Israel, whose going forth is from old, from everlasting.” 1
That’s one of those prophecies about the king (here it says “ruler”) that God said He would send to the world. It says that king would come from a small town south of Jerusalem, called Bethlehem.
Now you may be like me, I wasn’t brought up a Christian or hardly a believer in God. But even though I wasn’t a Christian, I still knew that Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem.
If you look closely, you’ll also see in that prophecy that it says the king to come was from old, “from everlasting”. That’s one of those places where the prophecies indicated that the king to come would not be like anyone before him.
Here’s one more. The prophet Isaiah wrote that the king to come would be born of a virgin. Isaiah said, “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bare a son, and you shall call his name Emmanuel, meaning God with us.” 2
Most likely you have heard (even if you find it hard to believe) that Jesus was born of Mary who was a virgin when she bore Jesus. And there are a lot more like this, very specific, all of which were fulfilled in the life of Jesus.
So that, briefly, is why it’s possible that some people think Jesus will come back. But for this to have any credence, you’d have to understand that Jesus was just not exactly the same as you and me. In one way he was. He got tired, took naps, it’s recorded that he wept in public a few times, he got hungry. In those physical things that we all experience, he was just like us. But he was different in that he was more than just a man. He was what the Bible calls, “the Son of God”.
Maybe you know all this already. Or maybe you never really had this kind of thing explained to you before. I know I didn’t. I got somewhat angry when I was 21 and had come to find that there really is a God and a spiritual world. I’d spent the last 17 years in pretty good schools and no one every told me about this. Why wasn’t this being taught in all the schools I went to? Because, if there is a God who has a plan for man and if there is a spiritual world that’s more real and important than the physical world, then what they teach you in school is not really as important as these other things. So I didn’t learn about prophecy in the schools I went to.
Perhaps this hasn’t answered you’re question about how anyone could think that someone who died can come back to this world. But maybe it’s given you some facts you didn’t know before. You didn’t know that there were a bunch of specific prophecies given hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, telling about so much of what he would later accomplish in his life. Maybe this will give you a slightly different perspective on who he was.
Next I’ll tell you about another really crazy thing that some folks talk about: rising from the dead. How can Jesus “come back” if his corpse has been rotting in a grave for the last 2000 years? The next article is going to be called “When you die, you die like a dog, right?”
Talk to you soon, Mark McMillion
1 (from the Old Testament) Micah chapter 5, verse 2
2 (from the Old Testament) Isaiah chapter 7, verse 14; (from the New Testament) Matthew chapter 1, verse 23