[Editor’s note: This article is a reprint and was published online January 6, 2004]
On December 14th, a four-hour long documentary aired on The History Channel entitled “In The Footsteps of Jesus.” It was introduced with these words: “Two thousand years ago, an extraordinary man made a journey that changed the world forever.
“It’s a commemoration from his birth in Bethlehem to his death in Jerusalem. Now, researchers are tracking down the very path he traveled.”
Generations of archeologists continue to comb that area of the world for evidence that might link various sites to the gospel stories. Their findings appear continuously in journals and books, on TV and radio. Cover articles in national news magazines, such as Time, Newsweek and U.S News and World Report, are on Jesus, the so-called lost Gospels, Women of the Bible, and that America is rethinking Jesus.
This documentary, like so many, especially during the Christmas and Easter holidays, has its “experts” who disagree on almost everything pertaining to Jesus.
As an example, Shamon Gibson, an archeologist who appeared on this program, is among those who thinks he can pinpoint the exact location where Pontius Pilate interrogated Jesus.
He stated: “We’re here on the western side of the old city of Jerusalem and, as you can see, specifically here, on the North, behind the wall here was the palace of Herod the Great. And I like to imagine that this is a spot that perhaps Jesus was brought up in order to be at this trial in front of Pontius Pilate.
“There was another flight of steps over here leading up to the place where I think the tribunal would have been where Pontius Pilate would have climbed in order to think about what he was going to do with this rascal, or problematic person, named Jesus.” (Note: “imagine,” “perhaps” and “think.”)
This program’s narrator continues: “Every Friday afternoon, Christian pilgrims gather to take part in’the way of the cross or Via Dolorosa, which commemorates Jesus’ final journey from the traditional site of the Praetorian to Golgotha where he was crucified.
“In light of recent archeological discoveries, some are beginning to question the accuracy of this route.”
[A scholar]: ‘The present Via Dolorosa has absolutely no claim to be historical. It starts from the wrong point and, of course, a number of the episodes on the Via Dolorosa had no basis in the New Testament, like Veronica wiping his face, for example.
“These were the development of popular piety in which historical certitude has no place at all.”
The narrator: “Despite the scientific evidence against it, however, thousands of pilgrims continue to take part in the way of the cross every week.”
[Another scholar]: ‘But the end results of scholarship have no impact at all on the traditions of piety in Jerusalem. I mean the Via Dolorosa is established by faith, not by history.
‘But what I think would be wrong would be for academics to say, ‘This is the wrong place, therefore, you can’t go there.’ Because places, however tawdry, however fake, they have been venerated by people of great courage and great faith. They have a claim on our human sensitivity, even though they may be historically wrong. So, I would never discourage people from going to such places.”
Thus ended the third hour of this documentary.
Does God agree with this? If not, how ought such believers to be helped? With intelligence, empathy, skill and truth.
The narrator starts the fourth hour with:
“The final footsteps of Jesus are commemorated every Friday in Jerusalem in a medieval processional route known as the Via Dolorosa. Fourteen stations marked the events surrounding Jesus’ agonizing march to the cross, ending with the traditional sites of his crucifixion, burial and resurrection, which are housed inside the present day church of the Holy Sepulcher.”
[Still another scholar]: ‘We’re now in the Chapel of Golgotha. And underneath the glass here, one can see the exposed bedrock very well. The exact spot of the cross is underneath the altar.”
Narrator: “Beneath the rotunda of an adjacent chapel stands perhaps the holiest of all Christians’ sites, the tomb of Jesus. The rotunda has in the middle of it an edifice which marks the burial place and place of resurrection.”
There is a little more of this scholar’s statement, then the narrator continues: “Pilgrims have been venerating the traditional sites of Jesus’ death and burial for nearly 1,700 years. How do they know they are authentic?”
This question is followed with the conflicting views of the “experts.” They, as do many Christian scholars, theologians, differ on the exact location of Jesus’ tomb.
Near the end of the program the narrator concludes: “In the end, most experts admit that we may never conclusively prove where Jesus died and was buried, but perhaps that is how it should remain.” I intend to provide the final words of this program next article.
But what of the position of most Jews, that Jesus was not the Messiah; that the Messiah was yet to come?
The New Testament teaches that Jesus was yet to be revealed. It’s further written in 1 John 3:8 that the “Son of God” was made manifest that he may destroy the works of Satan. The world is much more wicked now than it was 2,000 years ago when Jesus walked the earth.
The real truth of Jesus has been revealed. He has returned, but not in the spooky way we’ve been taught. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught the irrefutable truth of Jesus and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has borne irrefutable testimony to this truth on “Jesus.”
In 1957, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote: “There certainly is a surprise in store for both worlds (Islam and Christianity) in the revealing of this last one. Many of the religious scientists are already wise to it.”
The revealing of Jesus raises the dead to life and brings on the judgment of this world. Remember this when we get to the core of Minister Farrakhan’s assignment.
Thoroughly relevant to the subject of Jesus is the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s answer to this question:
Jabril: Brother Minister, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad stated that he was given a list of 104 books by Master Fard Muhammad, as part of his course of study. After his Teacher’s departure, when he was in Washington, D.C., he said it occurred to him to call his wife to send it to him. He then began that part of his study. What did you hear him say concerning those books and its contents and what they were for?
Minister Farrakhan: “I heard the Honorable Elijah Muhammad say that Master Fard Muhammad gave him 104 books to study. He said the best of those books was the Holy Qur’an. The other books contained certain aspects of and incidents in the life of Prophet Muhammad. Those are his words to me.
“As I reflected on those words, I asked the question, why would Master Fard Muhammad give him the Holy Qur’an, which was the book that details the revelation that Allah gave to Muhammad, and 103 books (making the 104) dealing with specific aspects of the life of Prophet Muhammad, that gives the context or circumstances that surrounded that revelation and the instructions that Allah gave to him concerning his mission and this revelation?”
More of his answer next issue, and its relevance to Jesus, Allah willing.