Everyone I know has at some time said they would like to know the future. Some want to know so they can take advantage of the knowledge and gain stuff. Others want to know so they can make important, or maybe not-so-important, decisions about love and work and school and life. Others want to know so they can avoid pain. I wish I knew.
Our minds and imaginations manufacture what we want, not what will happen or what we don’t want, often elaborating on worse case scenarios until we cease to function rationally. Rarely will a dream come true. Maybe some part of it will happen but to convince ourselves this is the way, and only way, our dreams or desires can be filled lacks rational thought and emotional understanding. Those who think they can predict the future, or believe the future can be known, are wrong. When they are right it isn’t because they have some special insight or power or position. If this were true everything they said would come true one hundred percent of the time. One missed guess or prediction and their reputation ruptures draining integrity.
I am going to say Jesus is different. His resurrection from the dead, an impossible occurrence happening after an absolute death lends credence to all of his words and actions. He predicted his death in a specific way and he predicted he would come back to life. He based his predictions upon 1500 years of writing.
And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise. [Luke 18:31-33 ESV]
If he were like most of us, knowing what would happen in Jerusalem, he would not have gone. Something was driving him there. Either that or he was crazy, loony as any madman in the most secure psychiatric ward in any country at any time. Going somewhere knowing, or believing, you will be tortured is not the thinking of a rational person but the raving of a man so completely deluded nothing he said is trustworthy. Everything he said should be ignored, discarded as a rant. All of his history should be tossed in the trash bin and forgotten. No one in their right mind, in the wholeness of the thinking of their heart, will go somewhere and invite mockery and shame, flogging and crucifixion. Only mad men follow a madman.
Unless his appointment in Jerusalem carried a reason we know nothing about or refuse to see and acknowledge as truth. More importantly for now, he said he would die and be raised from the dead. All of the evidence says he died. He did not faint or swoon. No one else took his place while he hid and ran away seeking to foist upon history the most elaborate hoax possible. His body died as he said it would. He was raised as he said he would.
He didn’t just give his prediction to a random crowd or handful of unknown people. He spoke to those who had followed him for several years. Naturally, we think they believed him because they were so enamored by his teaching and irrationally dedicated to his mission they could do nothing else. Naturally, we would be wrong. They didn’t believe him. “But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said” [Luke 18:34 ESV].
One of his followers, Judas, would betray him for money, selling Jesus to those who wanted him dead, giving them the opportunity to capture him away from crowds during the darkest time of night. Others would scatter, leaving him to die alone. One, Peter, would stand before a group and deny knowing him three times even after declaring his intention to die for him in private. Only one would find himself at the foot of the cross, standing by helplessly as Jesus was executed. They didn’t believe his words until after he was raised. One of them, Thomas, refused to believe the others who said they saw Jesus alive after he had died, unless he could touch the man, put his fingers in the actual wounds.
These are not the actions of a group of irrational people following a madman. They acted the way they were supposed to act, with hatred and fear and anger and disbelief. They grieved at his death the way people really grieve. When they saw him alive they acted the way a person would act who witnessed the impossible.
Jesus predicted his death and how he would die. Jesus predicted his resurrection, that he would come back to life. All of the evidence says it happened the way he said it would.