Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | April 21, 2021

Crucifixion Miracle 5: Earthquake & Rocks Split

(3 Minute Read. 21Apr2021)

Crucifixion of Christ
by Michelangelo (~1540)

This Easter season I have been studying the Seven Crucifixion Miracles that occurred while Jesus hung on the cross.

Here are the Seven Crucifixion Miracles reported in the Gospels:
1. Thief on the cross saved.
2. Darkness covered the land for three hours from noon to three.
3. Jesus voluntarily gave up His spirit of His own accord.
4. Temple veil torn in two from top to bottom.
5. Earthquake and rocks split.
6. Tombs opened and dead raised to life.
7. Roman Centurion and his soldiers converted.
(Matthew 27:38-54; Luke 23:39-47;
Mark 15:33-39; John 19:28-30

The preceding articles,
Crucifixion Miracle 1: Thief Saved,
Crucifixion Miracle 2: Darkness Noon to Three,
Crucifixion Miracle 3: Jesus Gave Up His Spirit, and
Crucifixion Miracle 4: Temple Veil Torn in Two
covered the first four Crucifixion Miracles. This blog article covers the fifth Crucifixion Miracle from the above list.

Crucifixion Miracle 5: Earthquake and Rocks Split

The Apostle Matthew reports that at the moment Jesus died, a massive earthquake shook the land and rocks cracked open.

Imagine the cacophonous sounds of rocks and boulders fracturing and splitting apart as the ground quaked and buildings collapsed — certainly not a typical occurrence at a death. Imagine feeling the earth shake so that you could hardly stand and seeing rocks burst apart all around you. What would you think?

Creation was audibly crying out over the death of its Creator, the Son of God.

Jesus had hinted at this kind of noise several days earlier as He had ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey. Pharisees had urged Him to rebuke His followers for praising God so loudly. But Jesus replied, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”” (Luke 19:37-40)

The stones certainly cried out at the death of Jesus.

Even though Matthew was the only Gospel writer who reported the earthquake, several secular historians also did so.

The oldest known account outside the Bible of the Crucifixion Earthquake was recorded by the Greek historian Thallus around 50 AD. His three-volume history of the Mediterranean world included information about the Crucifixion.

Thallus’ volumes no longer exist, but we have quotations from them by other early historians. Julius Africanus (~160–~240), who co-founded Rome’s public library, wrote a five-volume History of the World in about A.D. 221 in which he referenced Thallus’ History about the Crucifixion:
“On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down.”
(From Extant Works (Julius Africanus), Fragment 18)

Phlegon of Tralles was a second-century Greek historian whose main work was the 16-volume Olympiads covering 776 BC to AD 137. Although these volumes are no longer extant, quotations from them by other historians still exist. At least seven ancient historians including Origen of Alexandria (182-254 AD), John Philoponus, Eusebius (~260–~339), and Julius Africanus (~160–~240) all quoted Phlegon’s account of events around the Crucifixion, and attested to its truth.

Phlegon wrote in his Olympiads, “In the fourth year of Olympiad 202, an eclipse of the sun happened, greater and more excellent than any that had happened before it; at the sixth hour, day turned into dark night, so that the stars were seen in the sky, and an earthquake in Bithynia toppled many buildings of the city of Nicaea.”
(From Phlegon of Tralles on the Passion)

Recently geological research has uncovered physical evidence of a widespread 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Israel around the time of the Crucifixion. The earthquake was dated to between 26 and 36 AD by counting annual sediment layers in a core sediment from En Gedi (located west of the Dead Sea, near Masada and the Qumran Caves) following a known quake of 31 BC. This could have been the Crucifixion Earthquake.
(Williams, Schwab, and Brauer. An early first-century earthquake in the Dead Sea. International Geology Review. July 2012. 54 (10): 1219–1228.)

Even the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information documents the Crucifixion Quake here.

Usually earthquakes are not miraculous. What makes this one a miracle is the timing, as it occurred right at the moment of Christ’s death.

I will discuss the remaining two Crucifixion Miracles in the ensuing blog articles. Watch for them.

Questions to Ponder

1. How would you feel in the midst of earthquakes, splitting rocks, and earth fissures?
2. Has an earthquake ever caused you to cry out to the Great Creator?
3. Have you claimed the atonement for your sin that Jesus offers?
   (John 3:16-18)

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

For Christ and His Kingdom. Soli Deo Gloria. Alere Flammam Veritatis.

Read the prequels:
Crucifixion Miracles
Crucifixion Miracle 1: Thief Saved
Crucifixion Miracle 2: Darkness Noon to Three
Crucifixion Miracle 3: Jesus Gave Up His Spirit
Crucifixion Miracle 4: Temple Veil Torn in Two

Read the sequel:
Crucifixion Miracle 6: Tombs Opened & Saints Raised

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday April 21, 2021 A.D.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. (Romans 6:3-5 ESV)

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