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When Judas Iscariot agreed to deliver Jesus to the chief priests on Maundy Thursday some 2,000 years ago, he was betting that Jesus was not who He claimed to be – the son of God. Judas’ payoff was 30 pieces of silver. However, that betrayal cost Judas his life. History has shown this wager was against impossible odds.
Today, many are going against the odds and making that same wager.
Just what are the odds that Jesus was God’s son?
Although, we will not know with absolute certainty until we die and are confronted by our Maker, overwhelming statistical probability is considered proof by the scientific community. For example, DNA evidence is often the proof needed to get a crime conviction, even though the probability of a match may be 1 in a quintillion (1 with 18 zeros after it) or one in 10 to the 29th power if using a full profile.
Consider the proof in the Bible that Jesus was who He said He was.
The Hebrew Scriptures pointed the way to the promised Messiah and went into great detail about His birth, life and death through prophecy. These prophecies were made many years before Jesus’ birth and the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm that they remained unchanged.
Oxford scholar Alfred Edersheim compiled a list of 456 identifying characteristics of the Messiah from these prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus.
Dr. Peter Stoner, professor emeritus of science at Westmont College, calculated the probability of one man fulfilling just the major prophecies with the help of 12 different classes of 600 college students. Then, he took more conservative figures to the Committee of the American Scientific Affiliation and had them verified using the data supplied in the Bible.
Stoner looked at these eight prophecies:
- Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
- A messenger was sent to prepare the way (Malachi 3:1).
- Made a triumphant entry into Jerusalem as a king riding on a lowly donkey (Zechariah 9:9).
- Betrayed by a friend that resulted in wounds in the hands (Zechariah 13:6).
- Price of betrayal was 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12).
- The blood money was used to buy a potter’s field (Zechariah 11:13).
- Offered no defense at his trial (Isaiah 53:7).
- His hands and feet were pierced (Psalm 22:16).
The estimate of one man fulfilling all eight of these prophecies was a staggering 10 to the 17th power, a number with 17 zeroes after it.
In another calculation, he used 48 prophecies and came up with a probability of 10 to the 157th power, an impossible figure to achieve without Divine intervention.
Exactly what do these numbers mean?
Stoner gave us this example. Ten to the 17th power would be the number of silver dollars needed to cover the entire state of Texas, two feet deep.
To help us visualize 10 to the 157th power, Stoner chose one of the smallest known objects, the electron. An electron is so small that it would take 2.5 x 1,000,000,000,000,000 of them laid side by side to make a line, single file, one inch long.
Space, according to some estimates, extends in all directions to a distance of 6 million light-years. Dr. Stoner asked us to imagine a solid ball of electrons the size of space. Now fit that space-size ball of electrons, into a ball of electrons 10 to the 157th power. How big of a dent would our space-size ball make? It would make a hole so small that it would not be noticeable.
Remember, that number 10 to the 157th power represents the probability of one man fulfilling just 48 of these prophesies and there were 456 that Dr. Stoner and his mathematicians could have used.
Let us go back to the odds that one man could have fulfilled just those first eight prophecies. Imagine that one of the silver dollars covering the state of Texas, two feet thick, was marked in red fingernail polish. You are given the task of walking throughout Texas, reaching down and selecting the right one on the first try. Suppose your very life was on the line. Could you do it?
Would you bet your life on that?
Of course you would not, but that is, in effect, what you are doing when you, like Judas, decide to reject the tremendous amount of evidence that Jesus Christ was the son of God and the only way to the Father.
Christ willingly laid down His life to pay the price for our sins in order to give us the gift of eternal life. It is a free gift – yours to accept or reject.