Last week we heard the announcement: The tomb of Jesus Christ has been discovered. The proclamation surrounds “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” a Discovery Channel television special written and directed by Emmy Award-winning journalist Simcha Jacobovici and produced by James Cameron, famed director of “Titanic” and “The Terminator.”

The TV special is being advertised this way: “It’s the one discovery that could change everything.”

The scenario: The tomb of Jesus has been discovered, discounting the resurrection. Further, he was married, with his remains alongside his “wife,” Mary Magdalene. And they had a son.

It seems the world has gone mad with attempts to denigrate and disprove the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This documentary follows “The Da Vinci Code” book and novel and many recent books that have attempted to discredit the life of Jesus Christ.

But, as the Book of Ecclesiastes tells us, there is nothing new under the sun. These types of attempts to invalidate the truth of Jesus Christ have been going on for centuries.

While this alleged tomb of Jesus was discovered 27 years ago, the hubbub over it is now at a peak because of the TV special.

Discounting the discounters

Yesterday, during a convocation service at Liberty University, Dr. Gary Habermas addressed a packed house in the Vines Center to respond to the claims of the documentary.

Dr. Habermas’ dialogue, which he titled “Has the Tomb of Jesus been Discovered?” cited ten reasons why the fanatical claims of Jesus’ bones being discovered are bogus.

Dr. Habermas is considered to be one of the pre-eminent scholars of apologetics living today. As a prolific author, lecturer and apologist, he has dedicated his entire professional life to the examination of the relevant historical, philosophical and theological issues surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Dr. Habermas, a distinguished research professor of apologetics and philosophy, and the chairman of the Department of Philosophy and Theology at Liberty University, has also authored 14 books on the resurrection. He is an expert on this historic event.

During his speech, Dr. Habermas noted that Christianity is based on data, not blind faith. Here are three key facts on Jesus’ life:

  • Jesus was both God and man (deity)

  • Jesus died on the cross

  • Jesus was bodily raised from the dead and appeared to hundreds

Dr. Habermas thoughtfully refuted the present allegations.

First, he noted that the ossuaries (bone boxes) at issue have the names of Joseph and Jesus, which were very popular names in the first century, with Joseph being the second-most popular name in first century Jewish history. And the name Jesus was also quite popular during this period. The fact is many Josephs of the time probably had sons named Jesus. In fact, he said that three or four earlier discovered ossuaries have been found and been identified with a father named Joseph and a son named Jesus.

Further, the name Mary was the most common female name of the era. “Every fourth person was a Mary” at the time, Dr. Habermas stated.

But what about the apparent DNA discoveries?

The argument is this: The DNA of the Jesus and Mary crypt discoveries weren’t related so they must have been married. Quite a supposition. The filmmakers discount the fact that the Mary in the tomb could have been an adopted daughter of the buried family (very common for the age), the wife of a brother or even a beloved slave buried with the family. There are any number of possibilities.

It’s a non sequitur argument, says Dr. Habermas. “There’s no argument here at all.”

Now what about Joseph? The crypt describes the dead Jesus as the son of Joseph, who is also buried there. However, as Dr. Habermas noted, Jesus was never identified by the disciples or his followers as the son of Joseph. He was the Son of God.

It is important to know that every source – even non-Christian sources – from the ancient world tells us that Jesus’ tomb was empty after three days, Dr. Habermas notes. There is no way for critics to discount this fact.

Since space prevents me from fully addressing the many rejoinders to “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” I would encourage readers to visit two websites to learn more. First, I would recommend Dr. Habermas’ website and Asbury Theological Seminary professor Ben Witherington’s website. I especially encourage pastors to visit these sites to discover excellent material for discounting the continuing effort to cast aspersions upon the life, ministry, death and (most importantly) resurrection of Jesus Christ.

He remains the only Risen Savior, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords … no matter who claims otherwise!

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