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The Missing 18 years of Jesus' Life #4

Ministry and Death #2



THE MISSING 18 YEARS OF JESUS' LIFE #4

by Steven Collins

Continued from previous page:


synagogues of the day (Luke 4:15), and was a popular figure with
the general Jewish population. Luke 5:15 records that the fame of
Jesus became such that "great multitudes came together to hear,
and to be healed by him." Josephus agreed with Luke that Jesus
was very popular in Judea by stating that Jesus "drew over to him
many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles." 60
     The Pharisees were surely familiar with prophecies that the
Messiah would set up a kingdom of his own. Therefore, it was
clear to the Pharisees that if Jesus was the Messiah and was
destined to set up a kingdom, he would oust them from their
authority. Obsessed by their desire to cling to their temporal
power, they determined to slay Jesus to prevent the loss of their
power ... even if it meant killing the Messiah! In arranging the
execution of Jesus, they actually fulfilled the prophecies
pertaining to the Messiah's betrayal and death. Matthew 26:15
fulfilled Zechariah 11:12's prophecy about "thirty pieces of
silver," and Jesus' death to redeem mankind fulfilled the
prophecy of Daniel 9:26 that the Messiah would be "cut off, but
not for himself."
     This first possible explanation suggests that the Jewish
leaders did not actually believe the Bible or fear God: that they
viewed religion as a means of perpetuating their power over the
nation. Matthew 27:1 states that "the chief priests and elders
took counsel against Jesus to put him to death." It does not say
the whole Jewish nation wanted to slay Jesus. Their
middle-of-the-night trial and condemnation of Jesus was designed
to thwart any opposition to their plan. from the masses who held
Jesus in high esteem.
     There is also a second possible answer to the question of
why the Pharisees arranged the death of Jesus. Consider the life
of the Jews under the Roman yoke. They hated the loss of their
independence, and keenly resented being ruled by gentile Romans.
Many Jews could recall the relative freedom they had enjoyed a
few decades previously when the Parthians had briefly freed them
from Roman rule. Having had a taste of freedom, they hungered for
more of it! The Bible stresses the hatred the Jews felt for the
"publicans," the collectors of the Roman taxes, and Luke 13:1
refers to a violent confrontation in which the Romans executed a
number of Jews. Josephus confirms that this was a time of
tremendous discontent on the part of the Jews with their Roman
rulers, leading to both verbal and violent confrontations. 61
The Jewish leaders were expecting a Messiah who would free them
from Roman tyranny. No doubt many were familiar with such
Messianic prophecies as Zechariah 14 which promised that the
tribes of Israel would be exalted over the gentiles and that
Jerusalem would become a world capital. The Jews must have
thirsted for these prophecies to be fulfilled in their day and
for the Messiah to lead them in a great war against Rome.
As Jesus fulfilled many Messianic prophecies and confirmed his
Messiahship by manifesting divine powers, it is logical that the
Jews would expect Jesus to start using his divine power against
the hated Romans! This expectation must have grown like wildfire,
and Jesus' own disciples shared this expectation!
     After all, Jesus had promised his twelve closest disciples
that they would each rule over one of the tribes of Israel when
he (Jesus) would "sit in the throne of his glory" (Matthew
19:28). Jesus consistently spoke of the coming "kingdom of
heaven" in many comments and parables. It was common knowledge
that Jesus was a direct descendant of King David and the ancient
Jewish kings (Luke 2:4). There are many instances cited in the
Gospel accounts of the common people addressing Jesus as the "son
of David." Also, in Matthew 10:34 Jesus proclaimed that he had
come "to bring a sword, not peace." The disciples even quarreled
about who would be the greatest in the kingdom which Jesus would
rule (Matthew 18:1, Mark 9:33-37). Small wonder there was a
widespread expectation that Jesus was about to establish the
"Messianic kingdom" in their day.
     Little did the people know that the "deliverance" which the
prophesied Messiah would bring in their day would be a spiritual
deliverance from their sins, not a physical deliverance from
Rome. When Jesus had quoted Isaiah 61:1-2 in his rebuke to his
home synagogue, he omitted verses 3-11 (the prophecies about the
"conquering Messiah") when he told them "this day is this
scripture fulfilled in your ears." This deliberate omission
implied that Jesus would not fulfill those millennial prophecies
during his human ministry.
     It is possible that some Jewish leaders of the day, not
realizing that Christ's first coming was to bring spiritual
salvation instead of physical salvation from Rome, felt they had
to "assist" or "push" Jesus into confronting Rome in order to
fulfill all the Messianic prophecies at that time. After all, did
not Ezekiel 37:15-28 prophecy that the House of Israel and House
of Judah would be united under "David" their King? Since Jesus
was a direct descendant of David, and was a relative of the
Parthian kings, and had already been worshipped by some of the
Parthian nobility that picked Parthian kings, the Jews could
easily assume that Jesus was poised to fulfill this prophecy by
uniting Parthia (the House of Israel) and the Jews (the House of
Judah) in a war against Rome! Those expecting (and wanting) such
a war must have been very frustrated and disgusted at what they
perceived to be a "cozy" relationship between Jesus and the
Romans.

     Rome was a despotic empire which tightly controlled its
subjects. Yet the entire life of Jesus exhibited a lack of Roman
control over his activities. He could travel where he wanted,
when he wanted and with whom he wanted without the supervision or
permission of Roman authorities. This freedom was permitted by
the Romans in spite of the fact that Jesus was drawing huge
crowds and talking about a new "kingdom," a message that Rome
could easily have seen as encouraging a Jewish revolt. Why did
the Romans allow freedoms to Jesus that they regularly denied to
others? There are at least four reasons for Rome's permissive
attitude toward Jesus.
     To begin with, it was discussed earlier in this chapter that
Jesus was related to the rulers of the Parthian Empire at a time
when Caesar wanted "detente" with the Parthians. The Roman rulers
of Judea risked Caesar's wrath if they provoked the Parthians
into a war Caesar didn't want! They were likely aware that Jesus
Christ was a relative of Parthia's emperor (an Arsacid) because
of the widespread knowledge that Jesus was of the royal seed of
David. The Romans may even have been aware of Jesus' special
relationship with the Parthian Magi, who elected Parthian
emperors from the male Arsacids. Rome had great interest in
matters which could affect the political relationships between
Rome and Parthia, so Rome's actions regarding Jesus could affect
Roman-Parthian relations.
     Coupling Jesus' "special relationship" with the Parthians
with Caesar's decree that good relations with Parthia should not
be disturbed, Roman officials in Judea had to be very careful not
to antagonize the Parthians by mistreating Jesus Christ! There is
an historical legend that supports the contention that Parthia's
ruling class was closely watching the affairs of Jesus while he
was in Palestine (confirming Rome's need to handle matters
involving Jesus Christ with great caution).
     This legend relates that a Parthian provincial ruler, King
Abgar of Edessa (a city of Northern Mesopotamia) carried on a
correspondence with Jesus during his ministry in Palestine.
William Steuart McBirnie relates the legend as follows:
'[the] legend has come down to us from Eusebius...This legend
tells of a correspondence between Jesus and Abgar, King of Edessa
(in what is now southern Russia) ...Eusebius claims to have seen
this correspondence in the archives of Edessa and to have
translated it himself from the Syriac language." 62
     McBirnie misidentifies "Edessa" as a city in "southern
Russia" (apparently confusing it with "Odessa," a Russian city on
the Black Sea). King Abgar's "Edessa" was a city in the northern
Mesopotamian region of Parthia's Empire. It was located near the
Euphrates River, almost on the border where the Parthian and
Roman Empires met. Edessa was ruled by a series of kings named
"Abgar," who were vassals of the Parthian Emperor.
     Eusebius was a famous Christian historian who lived from 260
A.D. until 340 A.D. The Encyclopaedia Britannica writes
concerning him:

"Eusebius was one of the most learned men of his age, and stood
high in favour with the emperor Constantine... Eusebius'
greatness rests upon his vast erudition and his sound judgement.
He is best known by his History of the Christian Church completed
in 324 or early in 325 A.D." 63

     Eusebius was not a man given to wild claims. Let us examine
his own words about the exchange between King Abgar of Edessa and
Jesus Christ. Eusebius begins:

when King Abgar, the brilliantly successful monarch of the
peoples of Mesopotamia, who was dying from a terrible physical
disorder which no human power could heal, heard continual mention
of the name of Jesus and unanimous tribute to His miracles, he
sent a humble request to Him by a letter-carrier, begging relief
from his disease." 64

     This record that news of Jesus' miracles was commonly heard
in Parthia's western provinces confirms that the trade routes
must have been full of news about Jesus' exploits. The following
excerpt from King Abgar's letter to Jesus is taken from Eusebius'
account:

"Abgar ... to Jesus, who has appeared as a gracious saviour in
the region of Jerusalem--greeting.
"I have heard about you and about the cures you perform...If the
report is true, you make the blind see again and the lame walk
about; you cleanse lepers ... and raise the dead ...I concluded
that ... either you are God and came down from heaven to do these
things, or you are God's Son doing them. Accordingly I am writing
you to beg you to come to me, whatever the inconvenience, and
cure the disorder from which I suffer. I may add that I
understand the Jews are treating you with contempt and desire to
injure you: my city is very small, but highly esteemed, adequate
for both of us." 65

     The reports heard by Abgar closely parallel the narratives
in the Gospel accounts about the miracles of Jesus. King Abgar
professes his faith in Jesus, is desperate for Jesus to come, and
offers him refuge in Edessa from the risks faced by Jesus in
Jerusalem. It is remarkable that Eusebius preserved for us a
record that Jesus was given an official offer of sanctuary in
Parthian territory from the dangers he faced in Jerusalem.
According to Eusebius, the following reply was sent by Jesus
Christ himself to King Abgar by a courier named Ananias.

"happy are you who believed in me without having seen me! For it
is written of me that those who have seen me will not believe in
me, and those who have not seen me will believe and live. As to
your request that I should come to you, I must complete all that
I was sent to do here, and on completing it must at once be taken
up to the One who sent me. When I have been taken, up I will send
you one of my disciples to cure your disorder and bring life to
you and those with you." 66

     This letter attributed to Jesus would have been about three
hundred years old when Eusebius read it in the Royal Records of
Edessa, and it reflects a doctrine and attitude entirely
compatible with that expressed by Jesus in the Gospel accounts.
Jesus' words give the impression that his crucifixion may have
been imminent. Significantly, while Jesus was reluctant to
perform a healing for a non-Israelite in Palestine (Matthew
15:21-28), he readily agreed to send someone to heal King Abgar.
This argues that King Abgar and his Parthian subjects were
Israelites from one of the ten tribes of Israel. If Jesus had
travelled in Parthia's empire during his missing eighteen years,
he would have known this to be true from personal experience and,
therefore, he exhibited no reluctance to heal King Abgar.
     There is more to the story. According to Eusebius, the
archives of Edessa recorded that after Jesus' death and
resurrection, Thaddaeus (mentioned in Mark 3:18) was sent by the
Apostle Thomas to Edessa. Once there, he not only healed many of
King Abgar's subjects, but also laid hands on King Abgar himself
and healed the king. King Abgar ordered his subjects to assemble
and hear the preaching of Thaddaeus, and offered him silver and
gold (which Thaddaeus refused). King Abgar is quoted as stating
to Thaddaeus:

"I believed in Him (Jesus) so strongly that I wanted to take. an
army and destroy the Jews who crucified Him, if I had not been
prevented by the imperial power of Rome from doing so." 67

     Remarkable! Here is a record of a Parthian vassal king
wishing to mount a military campaign to punish those responsible
for crucifying Jesus Christ! However, Abgar acknowledges that he
alone did not have the power to challenge the Roman army in Judea
(the Parthian Emperor would have to mass the armies of many of
his feudal kings, like Abgar, to fight the Romans). This account
confirms that Jesus had strong supporters within the Parthian
Empire, justifying Rome's reluctance to interfere with his life.
The second reason for amicable relations between Jesus and the
Romans is that Jesus was likely well-known to Roman officials who
had met him through contacts with Joseph of Arimathea's company.
If Joseph was a Roman "Decurio," a Roman mining official, who
travelled between Judea and Briton, people affiliated with
Joseph's company came in contact with Roman officials on a
constant basis. This would have occurred in Briton, the
Mediterranean region, and wherever the goods of Joseph's company
were shipped and transported within the Roman Empire. It is
likely that Jesus assisted in Joseph's business as he travelled
under Joseph's tutelage. At any rate, it would have been
well-known that Joseph was the mentor of Jesus. During those
years Jesus must have developed a personal rapport with a number
of Roman officials. Indeed, while most of the Jewish community
recoiled from personal contacts with Romans as "unclean
gentiles," Jesus had no reluctance in dealing with Romans. The
example of Jesus' willingness to use miraculous power to heal the
servant of a Roman centurion (Matthew 8) is such an example.
While this surely won for Jesus goodwill with the Romans, it must
have infuriated the Jewish leaders who wanted their Messiah to
fight the Romans, not heal them!
     If Joseph of Arimathea was a Roman Decurio, he certainly
possessed Roman citizenship. Since Jesus was a blood relative and
youthful protege of Joseph of Arimathea, it is also very possible
that Jesus Christ obtained Roman citizenship during his "lost"
eighteen years! If Joseph of Arimathea and Jesus Christ possessed
Roman citizenship, it further explains why (A) Joseph was given
quick access to Pilate, the Roman governor, after Jesus was
crucified; and (B) why Jesus came and went as he pleased! If
Jesus was a Roman citizen, he had the right to travel as he
wished within the Roman Empire! It was not unusual for Jews of
that period to be Roman citizens. The apostle Paul (first named
Saul) was also a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37-38, 22:22-29).
     A third reason that enabled Jesus to go wherever he wished
and do whatever he pleased was the fact that Jesus was wealthy!
The Parthian Magi had given Jesus costly gifts of "gold, myrrh,
and frankincense." We are not told how much gold and costly
spices were given to Jesus, but it was no doubt a substantial
amount. The Parthians regarded Jesus as royalty, and it was the
ancient custom to give a royal personage a truly worthy gift when
coming into his presence. Since the Parthian Magi were directed
to Jesus by an angel of God, their sense of awe likely resulted
in unusually large gifts being given to Jesus. This gold was
likely held in trust for him until he was older (first by his
physical father, and then by Joseph of Arimathea after his
father's death). When he reached legal adulthood, Jesus
controlled it. Also, since Jesus' mentor, Joseph of Arimathea,
was also wealthy, one can be sure Jesus shared in that wealth. In
all cultures and times, wealth can open a lot of doors.
     Jesus' financial resources were confirmed by the fact that
he and his band of disciples travelled for years without any
visible means of support! In spite of their itinerant lifestyles
Jesus' band had monetary resources. (John 13:29 shows Judas
Iscariot was their treasurer in charge of disbursements.) John
12:3-6 reveals that people around Jesus could afford expensive
purchases and that Judas, the treasurer, was an embezzler. Judas
was, therefore, handling sums of money large enough for him to
think his embezzling would not be noticed. Judas' comment in John
12:5 also indicates that Jesus' group was in the habit of making
donations to the poor. The fact that Jesus and his group never
had to ask for donations from "the multitudes," but rather gave
money to the poor confirms that Jesus travelled with plenty of
financial resources to take care of his followers.
     The fourth reason why Rome allowed Jesus to travel and speak
as he did is that Rome had reason to believe that part of his
message actually served Roman interests. The Roman rulers,
knowing about Jesus' connection to Parthian royalty and seeing
his divine powers, were likely quite relieved to hear Jesus
preaching a message which did not include inflammatory remarks
toward Rome.
     For example, Matthew 22:15-22 records one attempt by Jewish
leaders to push Jesus into a confrontation with Rome. The
Pharisees wanted to entangle Jesus on the subject of the hated
Roman taxes, and they made sure the "Herodians" (Roman
sympathizers) were there to listen. They asked Jesus whether it
was lawful for the Jews to pay Roman taxes? They apparently
expected Jesus to answer "no," and wanted the Roman sympathizers
to hear his answer, hoping to bring Jesus and Rome into conflict.
However, Jesus declined the role of "tax protester," and said
"render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the
things that are God's." Hearing Jesus response, the Herodians
(and Romans) had to be pleased with his answer. The
non-confrontational relationship of Jesus and the Romans
continued to the chagrin of the Jewish leaders.
Indeed, when the Jewish leaders urged Pilate to crucify Jesus,
some of them may have seen it as a final attempt to make Jesus
use his divine powers against Rome to save himself. Since similar
desires for war existed among the disciples of Jesus, an alliance
between the Sanhedrin and one of Jesus' disciples (Judas) to
bring about this confrontation is understandable. They may have
assumed that if Jesus' own life were put at risk, he would use
his miraculous powers to save his life and fight the Romans.
Support for this possibility is found in the actions of Judas
after Jesus Christ allowed himself to be crucified. Judas was so
shocked at Jesus' death that he hanged himself (Matthew 27:3-5).
Clearly, Judas had not expected that the outcome of his actions
would be the death of Jesus. Perhaps Judas also assumed that
Jesus would, when pushed to the point of death, finally oppose
the Romans with his divine powers. If so, this hope was a result
of wishful thinking and flawed prophetic understanding. Daniel
9:26 had prophesied that the Messiah would be killed, and Jesus
had tried to prepare his followers for this event, telling them
he would be buried for three days and three nights (Matthew
12:40). Also, the angel who had announced the birth of Jesus to
Joseph in Matthew 1:21 had said only that "he shall save his
people from their sins" (the angel did not say "he shall save his
people from the Romans.") However, most Jews weren't interested
in being saved from their sins; they wanted a Messiah who would
save them from Rome!

     Let us examine the political pressures on the participants
who were involved in the trial and execution of Jesus to learn
more about what really was happening.
     Jesus was not only aware of his prophesied death, but also
seemed to realize the manner in which it would occur. He told his
listeners that his death would involve "a lifting up from the
earth" (John 12:32-33), which occurred when he was lifted up on a
cross. The Pharisees, not realizing (or not accepting) that the
Messiah had to die, became the instruments of fulfilling Daniel's
prophecy that the Messiah would be "cut off." It never occurred
to the Pharisees that the "conquering Messiah" prophecies would
have to wait for a second coming of the Messiah.
     It should be pointed out that the Jewish race, as a whole,
is not collectively responsible for the death of Christ. As noted
earlier, Josephus confirmed that it was the Jewish leaders (not
the whole nation) who caused his death at the hands of the
Romans. Those Jews who cried out to Pilate "crucify him," and
"let his blood be upon us, and on our children" (Matthew
27:22-25) were an infinitesimally small fraction of the Jewish
race at the time. The Jews crying for the blood of Jesus to be
spilled and placed on their progeny were suborned agents of the
Sanhedrin in a plot to engineer the death of Christ. Even if God
placed a curse on the offspring of those who participated in this
"kangaroo court" (which is possible!), it excuses the 99.9+% of
the Jewish race who did not participate in the murder of Jesus
and did not even know about it until it was over. The vast
majority of the Jews living in Judea were not aware of Jesus'
crucifixion until well after the event. The many Jews living in
Parthian provinces were also oblivious to the crucifixion as it
occurred. One can hardly blame these multitudes of Jews (or their
descendants) for causing the death of Jesus Christ.
     Consider now the extremely delicate position in which this
conspiracy against Jesus placed the Roman rulers of Palestine.
The first priority for Pontius Pilate and the Romans was to carry
out the will of Caesar. What pleased the native population was
secondary. Remember that the life of Christ occurred during a
period of stability between the empires of Rome and Parthia, a
stability which Caesar wanted to maintain. Therefore, it was a
top priority for Pilate to avoid incidents which could bring
about a confrontation with the Parthian Empire. Pilate also knew
that when Rome had provoked Parthia several decades prior to that
time, Parthia had driven the Romans out of Palestine and
controlled it for three years.
     Rome likely had good intelligence about matters involving
the political activities of people in their provinces, and was
aware that Jesus Christ was a special favorite of high Parthian
officials. Rome was also likely aware that communications took
place between Jesus Christ and Parthian officials, including at
least one Parthian vassal (King Abgar). Rome surely knew that
Jesus Christ was a distant relative of the Parthian emperor (an
"Arsacid" via the "Phares" bloodline of King David), and had to
tread lightly where Jesus was concerned. Rome also favored the
non-revolutionary message of Jesus, and had no desire to execute
him. Since Jesus espoused the payment of Roman taxes, fomented no
revolts, and was popular with the masses, the Romans viewed him
as a counterweight to the revolutionary zealots among the Jews.
Jesus was also very likely a personal friend of some Roman
officials as a result of Jesus' relationship with Romans during
his association with Joseph of Arimathea's international
business. Additionally, Roman spies had undoubtedly witnessed
some of the miracles of Jesus and had reported these events to
Roman leaders. Since Jesus was close to the ruling elites of
Parthia and was likely seen as a stabilizing influence for Roman
interests in Palestine, Rome was disinclined to harm Jesus. In
view of his miraculous powers, the polytheistic Romans were
likely also averse to harming someone who was so "close to the
gods."
     When the Jewish religious leaders demanded that Jesus be
crucified, Pilate was in a terrible quandary. He had compelling
political reasons for not harming Jesus, yet he also wanted to
handle the situation in a manner that did not precipitate a
Jewish rebellion. Another factor which must have concerned him
was whether he was being "set up" by the Jewish leaders to do
something which would precipitate a war not only with the Jews
but with Parthia. After all, there were many Parthians who served
the same God of the Jews, and they were present in large numbers
in Jerusalem during the annual Holy Days (Acts 2:9). Since Jesus
was crucified during the Passover season, Parthians were surely
present in Jerusalem at that time. Pilate could have wondered
whether the Jews were plotting with the Parthians to provoke an
incident (i.e. crucifying an Arsacid) which could precipitate a
Parthian-Jewish war versus Rome. This would anger Caesar, so
Pilate had to avoid that possibility at all costs.
     Matthew 27:18 and Mark 15:10 record that Pilate knew the
Jewish leaders had "framed" Jesus. Pilate's behavior showed that
he did not want to crucify Jesus Christ, and he freely offered
Jesus an opportunity to defend himself (Matthew 27:11-14). Pilate
"marveled greatly" when Jesus took no action to avail himself of
Pilate's offer (ordinarily, anyone would do anything to avoid the
hideous fate of crucifixion!) The implication is that if Jesus
had made any effort whatsoever to defend himself, Pilate would
have released Jesus. Knowing this and knowing that his central
mission was to sacrifice himself for mankind, Jesus' silence
actually thwarted Pilate's effort to free him.
     Pilate grew exasperated with Jesus' refusal to defend
himself, and said privately to Jesus: "You will not speak to me?
Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to
crucify you?" (John 19:10). In modern words, Pilate was saying to
Jesus: "C'mon, get with it Jesus, play ball with me, and I'll set
you free."
     Even though Jesus refused to defend himself, Pilate was
still determined to keep Jesus alive. He next offered to free
Jesus as part of a Passover tradition, giving the public a choice
between Jesus and a prisoner named Barabbas (Matthew 27:15-23).
Pilate was likely again taken aback when the crowd requested
freedom for Barabbas instead of Jesus. Pilate did not realize
that the Sanhedrin had "stacked the deck" against Jesus by having
only their followers in the crowd (verse 20). Pilate's own wife
then pressured him not to harm Jesus, saying she was having
nightmares about the situation, and adding her view that Jesus
was a "just man" (Matthew 27:19).
     Pilate tried a third ploy to keep Jesus alive by an outright
declaration of his innocence. Luke 23:4 quotes Pilate as telling
the Jewish leaders and their mob "I find no fault in this man."
When the mob called for the crucifixion of Jesus, Pilate publicly
defended Jesus, saying "Why, what evil has he done?" (Matthew
27:23). Pilate was relieved to hear that Jesus was a Galilean
because it gave him a fourth option for keeping Jesus alive: a
delaying tactic by giving the whole mess to Herod (who had
jurisdiction over Galilee). Herod, however, gave this "hot
potato" right back to Pilate (Luke 23:5-11).
     Most people have failed to appreciate that Pilate, the Roman
governor, tried repeatedly to keep Jesus alive! When Romans
wanted to execute someone, they didn't worry about "due process,"
yet here we see Pilate pursuing several options to prevent or
stall the crucifixion of Jesus in spite of considerable pressure
to the contrary. Luke 23:20 openly declares that Pilate was
"willing to release Jesus."
     Finally, Pilate realized he was out of options. As Matthew
27:24 puts it: "Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but
rather that a tumult was made..." The mob scene was ready to turn
into a riot. The Passover celebration was one of the biggest of
the year, and a violent riot at that time could develop into a
revolution. So, even though he knew Jesus was innocent, he
finally agreed to crucify Jesus to forestall the most immediate
threat to Roman interests. Even in condemning Jesus, Pilate
engaged in political posturing to keep this event from turning
into a confrontation with Parthia. Washing his hands before the
multitude, he proclaimed himself "innocent of the blood of this
just person (Matthew 27:24). In doing this, Pilate was
disassociating Rome from the killing of a celebrity who was
popular with powerful Parthians. Pilate wanted it publicly
obvious that the responsibility for this crucifixion lay with the
Jewish hierarchy, not with Rome.
     In John 18:33-37, Pilate asked Jesus if he was really a king
(his asking about Jesus' royal status implies he knew about
Jesus' royal "Arsacid" bloodline). Jesus replied: "My kingdom is
not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants
would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews..."
Jesus added: "You say that I am a King, For this I was born, and
for this I have come into the world..." Jesus acknowledged that
he was born "a king," that his kingdom was "not of this world
(the first century A.D.)," but that he would become a king in the
future. Jesus also stated (verse 11): "You would have no power
over me unless it had been given you from above." Jesus meant
that unless Jesus' death was according to the will of God, no
temporal government could have had any power over him.
     This is affirmed by a comment of Jesus Christ in Matthew
26:52-54. When one of his disciples tried to resist the taking of
Jesus by attempting to kill a would-be captor, Jesus told him not
to resist with the words:

"Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at
once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then
should the scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?"

     His comment reveals that he was voluntarily refusing to use
divine power to save himself in order to fulfill scriptures (such
as Daniel 9:26). However, it is very sobering to realize that
Jesus affirmed that if he were but to ask, the Father would "at
once" send twelve legions of angels to rescue him. This statement
shows that while it was the Father's will to save mankind, the
final decision to "go through with it" belonged to Jesus, that if
he chose not to "go through with it," the Father would have
honored that choice and sent thousands of angels to slay all who
threatened him! If Jesus had made that choice, mankind would have
had no sacrifice, and the doorway of salvation would have been
closed. Jesus knew the stakes, and put mankind's long-term good
ahead of his short-term safety. Indeed, if Jesus had refused to
"go through with it," the whole plan of salvation (which required
a sinless, sacrificed savior for mankind's sins) would have been
cancelled. This brings up a sobering possibility.
     If Jesus had "opted out" of being a sacrifice (terminating
the plan of salvation), the legions of angels might have
destroyed not just Jesus' tormentors but all mankind since the
very existence of mankind would have become moot. If there were
no savior to ransom mankind, there would have been no purpose in
a continued existence for mankind itself. Jesus may well have
seen legions of death angels poised in the spirit world to
terminate mankind if Jesus chose not to implement the plan of
salvation for mankind. If so, Jesus had a very stark choice set
before him that no human being could see. If Jesus called on the
Father to rescue him and stop the crucifixion, mankind would die,
but if Jesus chose to sacrifice himself, mankind would live. It
was up to Jesus.
     Jesus knew that if he asked for angelic rescue, none of his
human friends could ever be saved. So he gave up his life, and
made salvation available for not only his beloved friends, but
all humanity. If the people at the crucifixion scene had realized
the awesome choice before Jesus, they would have all, fallen
trembling at his feet. Jesus chose to let mankind live even as it
tortured, mocked and reviled him (Matthew 27:39-44).
When Jesus died, many supernatural events occurred to confirm
that Jesus was the divine son of a very real God (the "Most
High") who had watched the entire episode from heaven. Matthew
27:51-54 records that:

"the veil of the temple was torn in two, from top to the bottom;
and the earth did quake, and the rocks were broken apart; And the
graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept
[were dead] arose, And came out of the graves ... and went into
the holy city and appeared to many."

     The tearing of the curtain in the temple, which had sealed
off the Holy of Holies, signified that the death of Jesus Christ
meant that there were no longer any limitations on human access
to God, and the concurrent resurrections of many people both
testified that Jesus had triumphed over death and foreshadowed
that there would be a future resurrection as a result of Jesus
death.
     The key question concerning the death of Jesus Christ is
"Did he really rise from the dead?" He foretold that he would
rise again after a period of three days (Matthew 12:40), and many
eyewitness accounts are included in the Bible that he fulfilled
his promise. Whether the reader believes his resurrection to be a
fact depends on: (A) the faith the reader places in the
eye-witness accounts in the Bible, (B) the credibility of the
Bible (based on fulfilled prophecies, the unity of the Bible with
the record of ancient history, etc.), and (C) the evidence of
answered prayer (offered in the name of Jesus) in the personal
experience of the reader. However, we also have the contemporary
affirmation of Josephus, a Jewish historian who lived shortly
after the time of Christ, that "he [Jesus] appeared to them alive
again the third day." 68

     This chapter has provided information which permits the life
of Jesus Christ to be viewed in a much broader perspective than
was previously possible. It is clear from the evidence presented
in this chapter that Jesus Christ was not only a real historical
figure, but also a prominent personality of his time whose fame
extended far beyond the borders of Judea. The evidence is very
strong that he was the Son of God, and prophecies declare that
his second coming will see him crowned king over all nations
(Acts 1:9-11, Revelation 19:11-20:6).
     Revelation 19:16 prophesies that when Jesus Christ returns,
he will bear the title "King of Kings." Modern society has lost
track of the real significance of this phrase. George Rawlinson,
in his epic history of Parthia entitled The Sixth Oriental
Monarchy, observed that Parthia's empire was organized as a
feudal system with many vassal kings owing their allegiance to
the overall Parthian emperor. In view of Parthia's feudal system,
he added:

"Parthian monarchs took the title of 'King of Kings,' so frequent
upon their coins... " 69

     Rawlinson also recorded an incident that confirms this title
was used by Parthia's emperors during the time of Christ.
Discussing events which led to the Parthian-Roman "Summit
Conference" in 1 A.D., a few years after Jesus' birth, he
records:

"Phraataces [Parthia's emperor] .. responded to Augustus,
despatching to him a letter wherein he took to himself the
favourite Parthian title of 'king of kings,' and addressed the
Roman Emperor simply as 'Caesar'" 70

     The book of Revelation's claim that Jesus will rule forever
as "King of Kings" now carries new meaning! Readers in the first
century A.D. could recognize that this prophecy predicted that
Jesus Christ would inherit the title of Parthia's Emperors at his
second coming. Jesus was routinely called the "son of David" in
his lifetime, and it was also prophesied before his birth that
Jesus would eventually inherit "the throne of his father David,
and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever" (Luke
1:32-33). Obviously, Jesus did not inherit such a throne in his
human lifetime, and no human throne could last "forever."
     However, Jesus can rule "forever" on the earth after his
second coming as "King of Kings." He also will inherit "the
throne of his father David" when he inherits the title (and
throne) of the Parthian Emperors. This prophecy not only confirms
that Parthia's emperors literally sat "in David's throne," but it
also verifies that Jesus Christ was himself an Arsacid, a blood
relative of Parthia's ruling dynasty!
     Also, the missions of the twelve apostles confirm that the
Scythians and Parthians were descendants of the ten tribes of
Israel. In Matthew 10:5-6, Jesus gave the twelve apostles this
mission:
"These twelve Jesus sent forth ... saying, Go not into the way of
the Gentiles ... But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of
Israel. " (Emphasis added.)
The ten tribes of Israel (the "house of Israel") were
spiritually, (not physically) "lost" at that time. The apostles
stayed with Jesus during his ministry, but they obeyed this
commandment of Jesus to go to the ten tribes of Israel after
Jesus died. Just before he rose into heaven, Jesus told his
apostles in Acts 1:8:
'You shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all
Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the
earth." (Emphasis added.)
Since Jesus had earlier sent them to the ten tribes of Israel,
and later said they would go "to the uttermost parts of the
earth," it is clear that at -that time at least some of the
descendants of the ten
314
The Life of Jesus Christ - The Untold Story
tribes of Israel lived "in the uttermost parts of the earth" (in
other words: "a very great distance from Judea").
The book of Acts names only a few of the apostles as being
present in Judea for very long after Jesus' ascension, indicating
many of them soon departed Judea to evangelize the ten tribes of
Israel. Many legends exist about the nations of the earth visited
by the apostles. We have already seen the account that Thaddaeus
was sent to northern Mesopotamia to heal the Parthian vassal
king, Abgar, and evangelize his people. Eusebius also recorded:
"Meanwhile, the holy apostles ... were scattered over the whole
world. Thomas, tradition tells us, was chosen for Parthia, Andrew
for Scythia, John for Asia ... 71

     The Encyclopaedia Britannica writes concerning Thomas:

"According to the tradition, St. Thomas founded the Christian
churches in Malabar [India], and then crossed to Mylapur, now a
suburb of Madras, where the shrine of his martyrdom ... still
stands on Mt. St. Thomas, where a cross is shown with a Pahlavi
[Parthian] inscription." 72

     Chapter eight documented that portions of the ten tribes
established "Saka" kingdoms in India (to the east of Parthia), so
Thomas' presence in India is consistent with Christ's charge that
they go to the ten tribes of Israel.
     Peter wrote the epistle of I Peter while in Babylon (I Peter
5:13), which was then within the Parthian Empire. Some have
asserted that Peter's use of "Babylon" symbolized "Rome" but
there is nothing in the text to support that view. Peter
understood the difference between the cities of Babylon and Rome,
and he was a simple fisherman not given to literary or scholarly
devices. When Peter said "Babylon," he meant the city of Babylon.
Various legends state that the apostles Thaddeus, Matthias,
Andrew, Bartholomew, and Simon the Canaanite (or "Zealot") all
evangelized (or passed through) Armenia. 73 Armenia was settled
by portions of the ten tribes after the fall of Samaria (as noted
in chapter four), and was frequently a province of the Parthian
Empire (though often disputed with Rome). Armenia was a gateway
to Scythia via the Caucasus Mountains, so it is likely that other
apostles besides Andrew passed through Armenia on their way to
Scythia.
     In the Commentary on the Whole Bible by Jamieson, Fausset
and Brown, the following observations are made in the
Introduction to I John:


"Augustine...says this epistle [I John] was written to the
Parthians. Bede...says that Athanasius attests the same. By the
Parthians may be meant the Christians living beyond the Euphrates
in the Parthian territory ... in John's prolonged life, we cannot
dogmatically assert that he did not visit the Parthian
Christians." 74

     This commentary confirms how deeply Christianity had taken
hold in Parthia, indicating several apostles must have been
there. Also note that this commentary uses the same phrase as
Josephus (i.e. "beyond the Euphrates") in referring to Parthian
territory.
     One account places Jude in northern Persia (within Parthia's
Empire). 75 Simon the Zealot is recorded as taking a missionary
journey through North Africa (including the old Punic cities near
Carthage), continuing on to the British Isles 76 where he
reportedly perished. Earlier, we examined the legend of
Viracocha, who "performed miracles and preached repentance" in
ancient America. Was "Viracocha" one of the apostles of Jesus
Christ who really did travel to the "uttermost parts of the
earth?"
     There are many more legends about the lands visited by the
twelve apostles, but the above will suffice for this chapter. All
the regions and nations discussed earlier in this book as being
places inhabited by the ten tribes of Israel are also cited as
regions and nations visited by one or more of the twelve
apostles. Since Jesus had sent his apostles to the ten tribes of
Israel, these legends further confirm that "the lost sheep" of
the ten tribes of Israel were located in Parthia, Scythia,
Armenia, the North African Punic regions, the British Isles, the
Saka kingdoms of India and perhaps even the ancient Americas.
This chapter has illustrated how the life of Jesus Christ
involved relationships between the empires of Rome and Parthia.
To return to the theme of this book (the history of the ten
tribes of Israel), the next chapter will resume the narrative
where chapter eight concluded, examining the migrations of the
ten tribes of Israel after the Parthian Empire fell in the third
century A.D.


ENDNOTES: CHAPTER NINE

1. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII, 111, 3
2. Wilken, The Christians as the Romans Saw Them, p.98 
3. Ibid, 99-100
4. Ibid, p.49
5. Rawlinson, The Sixth Oriental Monarchy, pp.178-181 
6. Josephus, Antiquities, XV, I, 2
7. Rawlinson, The Sixth Oriental Monarchy, pp.199-205 
8. Rawlinson, The Sixth Oriental Monarchy, p.216
9. Ibid, p.210 
10. Ibid, p.85
11. Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible, see word "Wise,"
    subhead 8, p.1060 
12. Josephus, Antiquities, XVIII, IX, 1
13. Harper's Bible Dictionary, , "Herod," p.385
14. Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Asia," Vol. 2, p.512
15. Rawlinson, The Sixth Oriental Monarchy, pp.117-118 
16. Ibid, pp.195-198
17. Ibid, pp.218-219 
18. Ibid, pp.213-215 
19. Capt, The Traditions of Glastonbury, p.19 
20. Capt, Ibid, p 22
21. Capt, Ibid, p.22 
22. Ibid, p.20
23. Ibid, p.10
24. McBirnie, The Search for the Twelve Apostles, p.230 
25. Capt, pp.39-41
26. Ibid, p.41 
27. Ibid, p.9
28. Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible, see "Lord,"     
    subhead 3, pp.616-617 
29. Capt, p.9
30. Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible, Hebrew Lexicon, 
    word "Yeshuah," p.55 
31. Capt, The Traditions of Glastonbury, p.7
32. Frye, The Heritage of Persia, pp.200-201 
33. Rawlinson, The Sixth Monarchy, p.425
34. Davies, Voyagers to the New World, pp.125-126 
35. Ibid, p.131
36. Ibid, pp.126-127 
37. Ibid, p.136
38. Boland, They All Discovered America, p.303
39. Encyclopedia Americana, Vol. 26, "Toltec," p 829
40. Athy, "Foreign influences on the Priesthood and Nobility of  
    Pre-Columbian America," Epigraphic Society Occasional        
    Publications, Vol. 17, 1988, p.114
41. Ibid, p.114
42. Ibid, p.115 (Athy cites Book of the Gods and Rites and the   
    Ancient Calendar by Fray Diego Duran)
43. Ibid, p.115
44. Morris, Walter, Living Maya (as cited in Epigraphic Society  
    Occasional Publications, Vol. 17, 1988, p.196
45. Stender, "The Cross of the Inca," Epigraphic Society         
    Occasional Publications, Vol. 17, 1988, pp.179-181
46. Ibid, pp.181-183
47. Epigraphic Society Occasional Publications, Vol. 17, 1988,   
    pp.255-266 
48. Ibid, p.261
49. Boland, pp.277-280
50. Casson, The Ancient Mariners, pp.174,215,235-236 
51. Ibid, p.236
52. Boland, pp.54-78
53. Fell, Saga America, p.31-35, 124-132, 153
54. Ibid, p.168
55. Ibid, p.168
56. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII, III, 3 
57. Ibid, XVIII, III, 3
58. McBirnie, The Search for the Twelve Apostles, p.36
59. Josephus, Antiquities, XVIII, III, 3
60. Ibid, XVIII, III, 3 
61. Ibid, XVIII,111, 1-2 
62. McBirnie, p.203
63. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. 8, "Eusebius of Caesarea," 
    p.892 
64. Eusebius, The History of the Church, I, 13
65. Ibid, I, 13 
66. Ibid, I, 13 
67. Ibid, I, 13 
68. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII, III, 3 
69. Rawlinson, The Sixth Oriental Monarachy, p.88 
70. Ibid, p.218
71. Eusesbius, The History of the Church, III, 1
72. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. 22, "Thomas,St.", p.143
73. McBirnie, The Search for the Twelve Apostles, pp.199-202, 243
74. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible,  
    "Introduction to I John," p. 1495 
75. Ibid, p.206
76. Ibid, pp.207-211

                         ........................                


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