There are some people who believe that someone else died on the cross instead of Jesus Christ. Some say it was Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus. Others say it was Simon of Cyrene, the man ordered by the Romans to carry the cross for Jesus.
Based on a verse in the Qur’an (Sura 4:157), it is argued that Jesus would have been replaced by a look-alike. The most important question in that regard is, why would God replace Jesus with someone else?
The entire Bible points to the coming of a Savior. The gospels and the eyewitness reports of his disciples, clearly describe why Jesus came to earth: To die in our place for all our sins. So why would God put a substitute in His place? This is totally inconsistent with the message of the good news that there is salvation through Jesus Christ for the consequences of our sinful and rebellious behavior.
Another common argument is that the contents of the Bible would have been changed by the later followers of Jesus Christ. From the perspective of the trustworthiness of God, this is a highly questionable argument. After all, why would God allow the truth about Him to become corrupted? If you are interested in learning more about the reliability of the Bible, read this article.
Jesus predicted His death several times
Jesus’ death and His resurrection are the most central events in the Bible. On several occasions, Jesus Himself announced that He would die and be resurrected. Here are a few of these announcements:
From that time Jesus began telling his followers that he must go to Jerusalem. He explained that the older Jewish leaders, the leading priests, and the teachers of the law would make him suffer many things. And he told his followers that he must be killed. Then, on the third day, he would be raised from death. Matthew 16:21
Then Jesus said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things. He will be rejected by the older Jewish leaders, the leading priests, and teachers of the law. And he will be killed. But after three days he will be raised from death.” Luke 9:22
Why would God fool humanity so massively by allowing someone else to die? Could we still trust God if that was the case?
Everything in the Bible points to the fact that Jesus Himself died on the cross and endured the penalty of our sins. As a result, God can forgive us without compromising His trustworthiness and justice.
We will also look at some additional practical arguments showing that Jesus Christ died on the cross Himself;
Jesus’ opponents wanted Him dead
Many people came to watch the crucifixion. Jesus’ friends and enemies were also there during the crucifixion. So it was impossible to change persons secretly. The opponents of Jesus would have seen it right away when someone else was hanging on the cross. After all, they wanted Jesus dead and thus would not have allowed someone else to die in His place.
Recognizable as a tortured person
Before Jesus was crucified, He was first whipped by the Romans. This was done by using a whip with bone fragments attached to it. During such torture not only was the skin torn off, but the muscles were hit and often the intestines were exposed. Jesus was thus easily identifiable because of his injuries. After his whipping, he was taken by the Romans to the place where His cross was to be erected. Because of the whipping, Jesus was so weakened that on the way, the Romans pulled a spectator from the crowd to carry His cross. That bystander was named Simon of Cyrene. The procession was watched by a large crowd. So even on the way to the site where the cross was erected, a change of persons was impossible.
On the cross Jesus spoke several times. Even if His body could no longer be recognized, His voice still was. From the cross He also spoke to His mother. She must have noticed when someone else was speaking to her.
Words of forgiveness
On the cross Jesus pronounced forgiveness on those who had condemned Him. He also promised the thief hanging on the cross next to Him, that he would be with Him in Paradise that same day. These are not statements that someone without spiritual authority would make.
Stolen from the grave?
It is stated by some people that Jesus’ disciples would have stolen His body from the tomb. And that this would have created the myth that He had risen from the dead. But the tomb was heavily guarded by a group of Roman soldiers. These soldiers were placed there in order to prevent anyone from accessing the tomb. They had been placed there at the request of the Jewish leaders who were afraid that Jesus’ disciples would take Him out of the tomb and start spreading the news that Jesus was alive again. After all, Jesus had predicted His death and that He would rise again. A Roman soldier at that time risked the death penalty if he did not perform his duties properly. So the soldiers were sufficiently motivated to guard the tomb properly. (See also Matthew 27:62-66).
His disciples sacrificed their lives for the good news
Jesus remained on earth for 40 days after His resurrection and was seen by a large number of people. After this He went to Heaven. Soon after His disciples went out into the world to tell people about the good news of God’s plan of salvation. Most of His disciples were imprisoned, tortured and killed because of the message they were spreading. Who would want to sacrifice their life for a message that is based on lies?