The Crucifixion and the Chain-of-Custody Principle

 

This study is based upon the documentation provided in the Bible by Matthew Levi, the son of Alphaeus, a disciple of Jesus. Matthew was a witness to the arrest, torture, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. His account records that Jesus hung on a cross until he died and his body was removed from the cross and laid in a tomb.

Summary

The Roman government, the Jewish rulers and the disciples of Jesus were confirming witnesses of the events of the trial, torture, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus. If the Jewish leaders were deceived into thinking they had killed Jesus when they had not, we still have the written accounts from Roman historians who documented the fact that Jesus was crucified by the Roman government.

Contents

1. Jesus was arrested, tortured and crucified by the Roman government 1

2. Jesus remained on the cross until death. 2

3. Proof of the death of Jesus on the cross. 3

4. Proof of the removal of the dead body of Jesus from the cross. 3

5. Proof of the placement of that same dead body of Jesus in a tomb. 4

The "chain-of-custody" principle affirms the historical fact of Jesus’ crucifixion. 5

1. Jesus was arrested, tortured and crucified by the Roman government

The "chain-of-custody" begins with the identification of Jesus by all twelve disciples (apostles) during the eating of the Last Supper at the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the night before the start of the full Passover commemoration. Afterwards, Judas left them (Matthew 26:17-20).

Then the group proceeded under a full moon with plenty of moonlight (the 14th day of the lunar month of Nisan) (Exodus 12:18) from the place of the Last Supper going east across the Brook Kidron and to the Garden of Gethsemane at the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:30 & 36).

Judas Iscariot came and identified Jesus for the soldiers. Jesus also identified himself. Jesus healed the ear of the servant of the High Priest (Matthew 26:47-56). Later Judas confirmed that he had betrayed an innocent man (Matthew 27:3-8). Also, the temple chief priests confirmed that the money given by them to Judas by them was "blood money" (Matthew 27:6).

Jesus went in the custody of the temple soldiers, to the house of Caiaphas. Many leaders were present including the whole great Sanhedrin (the 70 ruling men in the Council). Jesus confirmed that he is the Messiah and the Son of the God. Because of this statement, they said Jesus had committed blasphemy and was deserving of death (Matthew 26:57-68).

Jesus was transferred into the Roman custody of Governor Pontius Pilate in the morning (Matthew 27:1-2).

The wife of Pilate stated that she had a dream in the previous night hours that Pilate should have nothing to do with that "righteous man" (Matthew 27:19).

The Roman governor, Pilate, delivered Jesus into the custody of his own professional Roman soldiers (Matthew 27:26).

The Roman soldiers beat Jesus, abused him, and put a crown of thorns on his head. This distinctively marked his body and the top of his head (Matthew 27:27-30). These wounds, caused by the Roman soldiers, would help identify the body of Jesus all the way to the cross, on the cross, and in post-resurrection appearances.

Jesus remained in the custody of Roman soldiers and was taken to the place of crucifixion (Matthew 27:31-33).

Matthew, who was one of the twelve disciples, records that the Roman soldiers crucified Jesus, which means putting a live person on a cross (Matthew 27:35).

2. Jesus remained on the cross until death

Jesus remained on the cross under guard by the Roman centurion (Matthew 27:54) and soldiers. Some sat down to watch him die (Matthew 27:36-37).

While hanging on the cross he was identified by:

The Roman centurion (officer over about 100 men) (Matthew 27:54)

The Roman soldiers watching and who knew the wounds he had previously suffered (Matthew 27:35-36)

The passersby who had heard him preach (Matthew 27:39-40)

The chief priests (Matthew 27:41)

The scribes (Matthew 27:41)

The elders (Matthew 27:41)

The two thieves who were also being executed (Matthew 27:44)

The many women who had seen Jesus before (Matthew 27:55-56)

John, His disciple (John 19:26)

Mary, his mother (John 19:26)

3. Proof of the death of Jesus on the cross

Matthew, a disciple, records that Jesus gave up his spirit, died (Matthew 27:50).

The Roman centurion (Matthew 27:54) who was in charge of keeping guard over Jesus, refers to Jesus' life in the past tense after Jesus had died (Matthew 27:54).

The dead body of Jesus was later ordered by the Roman governor to be given to Joseph of Arimathea who wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and who laid the body of Jesus in his own tomb (Matthew 27:59-60).

The chief priests and Pharisees confirmed to the Roman governor that Jesus was dead (Matthew 27:63-64).

Also the chief priests and Pharisees confirmed to the Roman governor that Jesus' body was actually in a grave (Matthew 27:64).

Pilate, the Roman governor appointed a guard for the grave of Jesus’ dead body (Matthew 27:65-66).

An angel of the Lord from Heaven confirmed that Jesus had been crucified, and had been dead (Matthew 28:2-7). The women to whom this message was given told it to Matthew and the other disciples (Matthew 28:7-10).

4. Proof of the removal of the dead body of Jesus from the cross

The Roman soldiers had custody of the dead body of Jesus (Matthew 27:54).

Notice that not just anyone could remove the dead body Jesus, the executed prisoner, from the custody of the Romans. Permission had to be obtained from the proper authority who had ordered the execution. In this case, the Roman governor, Pilate was the authority (Matthew 27:58).

A wealthy Jewish man, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple and who would recognize Jesus, asked the Roman governor, Pilate, that he, Joseph, be allowed to take custody the dead body of Jesus for the purpose of burial (Matthew 27:57-58). More than 700 years before the time of Jesus, the holy Prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, wrote about this death and the burial in the grave of a rich man (Isaiah 53:9). At the time of Jesus, the holy Prophet John, the Baptizer, son of the Priest Zacharias, told that Jesus was the sacrificial "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29 and Isaiah 53).

Pilate gave the order that the dead body of Jesus be given to Joseph (Matthew 27:58).

Joseph of Arimathea took away the dead body of Jesus which had been ordered to be given to him by the governor, Pilate, and which was identified to him as such by the soldiers who guarded the body and also from his own identification of Jesus, because he was a disciple of Jesus (Matthew 27:57 & 59).

The chief priests, elders and the soldiers confirmed that the body in the tomb was that of Jesus. It was the same dead body of Jesus that the governor, Pilate, had ordered the soldiers to guard (Matthew 28:11-15).

5. Proof of the placement of that same dead body of Jesus in a tomb

Pilate gave the order that the body be given to Joseph (Matthew 27:58). There is no evidence that any other body was given to Joseph.

Joseph took custody of Jesus’ dead body which had been ordered to be given to him by the governor Pilate and which was identified to him as such by the soldiers who guarded the dead body and which Joseph must have been able to identify himself, because he was a disciple of Jesus (Matthew 27:59).

Joseph kept custody of the body of Jesus and wrapped the body of Jesus in a clean linen cloth for burial (Matthew 27:59).

Joseph laid the wrapped dead body of Jesus in his own new tomb (Matthew 27:60).

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary who had been at the crucifixion came to that very grave (Matthew 27:56 and 28:1).

An angel of the Lord from Heaven confirmed that Jesus had been dead and buried at that very grave. The angel said,

"Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was laying. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead ..." (Matthew 28:5-7)

The body of Jesus was wounded and marked by the beating and the crown of thorns before the crucifixion and it was further marked by the wounds in the hands, the feet and the side while on the cross. Identifiable marks in his hands and side, made by the Roman soldiers, were still visible on Jesus’ body after his resurrection.

He appeared to the apostles

"... to whom He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, being seen by them during forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the Kingdom of God." (Acts 1:3)

The details of the miracles, teachings and prophecies made by Jesus are recorded in the Injil, the first four historical Gospels ("Good News") of the New Testament of the Holy Bible which are advisable to be diligently studied.

The "chain-of-custody" principle affirms the historical fact of Jesus’ crucifixion

The "chain-of-custody" principle affirms the historical fact of Jesus’ crucifixion, but the important question is why it was necessary for Jesus the Messiah to die at all.

A study of the Prophets in the Bible reveal that the death of the Messiah was foretold hundreds of years before Jesus was born. The prophecies explain that the Messiah’s death and resurrection was from the beginning the center-piece of God’s plan of salvation. Listen to what Jesus told His disciples on the day He arose from the grave:  

"Then [Jesus] said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things!’" (Luke 24:44-48)

Although the Qur’an tells us many things about Jesus the information is fragmentary and scattered throughout different Surah’s. The best way to understand Jesus is by reading the Gospels. Because the Koran validates the Torah and Gospels, Muslims are obliged to believe all the messengers of God and all God’s Holy Scriptures.

The Gospels were written by the men who walked with Jesus, watched his miracles and teaching daily. They knew him well, his face, his gestures, his words along with everything else about Jesus they knew like a friend knows another friend.

The Koran says that Jesus did not die on the cross but someone else was substituted for him. This contradicts what the Gospel records. The Gospel says that it was Jesus himself who suffered and died on the cross and all his disciples bore witness to that fact because they were there and saw their Lord on the cross. These men would have known if it was someone different crucified that day. They knew Jesus personally because they had spent every day with him for several years. They knew his voice, his mannerisms and words. If anyone else had been crucified these men would have known it and wouldn’t have been in fear that they too would be arrested and brought to trial. The disciples all hid themselves for fear of further persecution from the Jews after Jesus died. If someone other than their Lord had been crucified they would have had no reason to be afraid.

It being, therefore, evening, on the first day of the week, with the doors shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, `Peace to you;' and this having said, he showed them his hands and side; and the disciples rejoiced, having seen the Lord. (John 20:19-20)