Witnesses of these Things

After Jesus’ resurrection He appeared to two disciples who were on the road to Emmaus, a village about seven miles from Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the Eleven were discussing the appearance of Jesus to Peter while gathered in a locked room. The two disciples returned to Jerusalem and told the Eleven that they had recognized Jesus when He broke the bread. The story continues from there as Luke gives the account of Jesus appearing to the Eleven:

“While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, `Peace be with you.’

“They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, `Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bone, as you see I have.’

“When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, `Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.

“He said to them, `This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’

“Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, `This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’” (Luke 24: 36 – 49 NIV)

There has been violent backlash to this news. One way of viewing the words of Jesus regarding the fulfilling of the written word of the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms is that the Prophet Daniels words are fulfilled:

“Seventy `sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place [or the most holy One].” (Daniel 9: 24 NIV)

And

“He will confirm a covenant with many for one `seven.’ In the middle of the `seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him [or it].” (Daniel 9: 27 NIV)

Jesus ministered for 3 ½ years, or one-half of the `seven,’ and in the middle of the `seven’ was crucified. At the moment of his death the temple curtain was torn from top to bottom; thus ending the sacrifice and offering. The 490 year (70 `sevens’) period would have come to a conclusion 3 ½ years later. We do not have a specific time frame recorded for the event of Stephen’s speech before the Sanhedrin and the rejection of his message to them and his subsequent stoning; but the event fits precisely the circumstances of the Daniel prophecy of the ending of the 490 years.

Both John the Baptist and Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near.” Jesus’ 3 ½ year ministry was the call for Israel and Jerusalem to repent according to the prophecy of Daniel. The final call to repentance was given by Stephen to the Sanhedrin, the representative ruling body of the Jews. At that point the persecution of the followers of Jesus began, they fled Jerusalem, the message was spread throughout the known world, the temple and the city were destroyed shortly thereafter, and the gospel message began to be preached to the Gentiles.