Posted on / by Ben Jones

Jesus Christ: Evidence Overview

Did Jesus really live? Did Jesus claim to be God? Is Jesus really the son of God? Read this article in PDF format. Page References are from “The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict” by Josh McDowell ·      Paul tells us in 1 Cor 15:12-19 that all of Christianity depends on the facts about Jesus and His resurrection Historicity of Jesus’ Existence Start at beginning- That Jesus Christ is not a legend, but an actual person who existed in history.Historicity of Christ is the foundation for all we believe!Quote from pg. 120Use of Bible- (background on Bible- 25,000 manuscripts, accurately passed down through history, books included in the Bible because they lived up to scrutiny, etc. People don’t believe because of the supernatural)But those few who believe Jesus never existed will not let us use the Bible, or even writings of any followers of Jesus, so let me give you some history of people who were not followers of Jesus, in fact, were anti-Christian, but still recognized Jesus’ existence.Will be a bit of a history lesson, but the most important history lesson you’ll ever get. ◦  Cornelius Tacitus (55-120 AD) Roman Historian, lived through 7-8 emporersHighly respected, wrote “Annals” and “Histories”Refers to death of Christ and existence of Christians ◦  Lucian of Samosata (150 AD) Greek Satirist, spoke scornfully about Christ/followers, but never assumed or argued He was unreal (pg. 121) ◦  Suetonius (70 AD) Roman Historian, annalist of Imperial House under Emporer HadrianTalked about Christ in “Life of Claudius” and “Lives of the Caesars” ◦  Pliny the Younger (112 AD) Gov. of Bithynia in Asia MinorHe wrote Emporer Trajan- the problem was that he had been killing so men, women and children who proclaimed Christ, should he continue to kill all of them or only some ◦  Thallus (52 AD) In “3rd Book of Histories” makes reference to an odd darkness that enveloped the land during the late afternoon when Jesus died on the cross.Did not doubt Christ crucified or that a strange occurrence happened.He needed to find a reason. Said it was possibly an eclipse of the sun (but is not possible at full moon) ◦  Phlegon (2nd Century) Referred to darkness on the day of Christ’s death. (“Chronicles”) ◦  Mara Bar-Serapion Non-Christian polytheist, Syrian Philosopher who wrote soon after 70AD to his son from prison about Jesus, and compared him to philosophers such as Socrates and Pythagoras Only the beginning- Trajan (punishment of Christians), Macrobius (slaughter of babies in Bethlehem), Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Juvenal, Seneca, HieroclesChristian and Jewish writers with major references to the historicity of Jesus Christ:Flavius Josephus, Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Quadratus, Epistle of Barnabus, Aristides, Justin Martyr, HegesippusNot until 18th century did ANYONE try to dispute Jesus’ existence! Jesus’ Claim to Diety “Almost everyone who has heard of Jesus has developed an opinion on Him. That is to be expected, for He is not only the most famous person in human history, but also the most controversial” ·      Mark 14:61-64 John 10:24-33John 8:58-59John 5:23-24John 8:19John 14:6-9John 1:1, 14References to people worshipping Jesus. Angels deferred to Him, Disciples deferred to Him- but Christ commanded and accepted worshipSaid “I say to You”Other references to Christ as GodMatt. 1:23, Christ is called “Immanuel” → “God with Us”John 20:28, Thomas refers to Jesus as “my Lord and God”Col. 2:9- “For in Christ all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form” The Trilemma: Lord, Liar, or Lunatic Really lived, and his life radically altered human historyQuote from Jaroslav Pelikan: “Regardless of what anyone may personally believe about him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western Culture for twenty centuries. [….] It is from his birth that most of the human race dates its calendars, it is by his name that millions curse, and in his name that millions pray.”Quote from Kennedy- pg. 157So who was Jesus really? Some people believe Jesus is God because they believe the Bible is inspired by God. Since the Bible teaches it, it must be true. But you don’t need this to arrive at the conclusion that Jesus is God.So we know that:Through accuracy/reliability of Scripture and secular sources, that he lived. No legend.Gospel accounts record things He did, places He went, words He saidJesus definitely claimed to be God.So is His claim to Diety true or false?COPY CHART- PG. 158Jesus’ claims must be either true or false. If they are false, then there are two options: ◦  He Knew His Claims were False He Did Not Know His Claims were FalseHe Knew His Claims were FalseThis means that Jesus Christ was a liar.He was also a hypocrite- He told others to be honest, whatever the cost, while He was teaching and living a colossal lieHe was demonic- He deliberately told people to trust Him for their eternal destiny; if He couldn’t back it up and He knew the claims were false, He was unspeakably evil.He was also a fool- It was His claims to diety that led to his death by crucifixion (Mark 14 and John 19:7- “The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be God.’”How could He have left the most profound moral instruction and powerful moral example ever? Ridiculous. How many have heard this? The simple record of these three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and soften mankind than all the philosophers and moralist who ever lived.Schaff. “How, in the name of logic, common sense, and experience, could an imposter, a deceitful, selfish, and depraved man, have invented and consistently maintained from the beginning to end, the purest and noblest character known in history with the most perfect air of truth and reality? How could he have conceived and successfully carried out a plan of of unparalleled benficence, moral magnitude, and sublimity, and sacrificed his own life for it, in the face of the strongest prejudices of his people and ages?” ·      He Did Not Know His Claim were False You can be sincere and wrong.Think about it: This carpenter is telling a completely monotheistic (one God) culture that He is God and that all of your eternal destinies depends on belief in Him. This is no small flight of fantasy. He had to be a lunatic to the fullest extent.The extent of insanity (psychologists determine this based on the gap between what you think you are, and what you really are)If I said I was the best looking guy in America- “arrogant fool”If I said I was the first president of United States- “over the edge”If I said I was a butterfly, then we would all say I had completely embarked from the shores of sanity.But now, what if I said that I was the God of the entire universe- this is a whole new level insanity (infinite/finite)Lunatics- according to any psychology books and history, there are three main characteristics that are LACKING in someone who is crazy, insane, etc:1) Practical wisdom, ability to read human hearts2) Deep love, compassion (as opposed to self-loving), ability to attract people and make them feel at home3) Ability to astonish, creativity, unpredictability, calm authority“Is such an intellect as Jesus Christ, which was clear as the sky, sharp and penetrating as the sword, thoroughly healthy and vigorous, always ready, liable to a radical and most serious delusion concerning his own character and mission? No lunatic could be the source of such perceptive and effective psychological insight.The truth is, Jesus was not only sane, but He gave us the most accurate formula for peace of mind and heart!! ·      His Claims are True If He is not a liar or lunatic, then He is Lord! Other self-proclaimed god and saviors have come and gone, but Jesus stands head and shoulders above them all!C.S. Lewis Quote: “I am trying to here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic- on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Song of God: or else a mad man or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”You can’t put Jesus on the shelf as a great moral teacher. Not an option. You must decide. ◦  Two Options- Accept Him or Reject Him John 20:31- “But these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”The evidence is clearly in favor of Jesus as Lord. However, some will reject this clear evidence because of the moral implications involved. But is this a good reason to reject Truth? Because of consequences it may have on your life and how you live it?When people are presented with Truth, and evidence that backs up that Truth, you must accept it or deny it. So what will you do with Christ? And if you honestly believe He is Lord, then what will you do with it? What are the implications on your personal life? Now that we’ve seen evidence for who Jesus was, it’s time to show the evidence that died on the cross and was raised to life again three days later. The resurrection is the most important part of all of Christianity. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15 that if it didn’t happen, we are all fools for believing in Christianity, so we need good reasons to believe it.