An overwhelming majority of scholars and historians accept that Jesus was a historical figure. As well as the Bible, other sources make reference to Jesus; these include Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian, as well as Tacitus, a Roman senator and historian.
One solitary life
He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. Until he was thirty, he worked in a carpenter’s shop and then for three years he was an itinerant preacher. He wrote no books. He held no office. He never owned a home. He was never in a big city. He never travelled more than two hundred miles from the place he was born. He never did any of the things that usually accompany greatness.
The authorities condemned his teachings. His friends deserted him. One betrayed him to his enemies for a paltry sum. One denied him. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed on a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for the only piece of property he owned on earth: his coat. When he was dead he was taken down and placed in a borrowed grave.
Two thousand years have come and gone, yet today he is the crowning glory of the human race, the adored leader of hundreds of millions of the earth’s inhabitants. All the armies that ever marched and all the navies that were ever assembled and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the rulers that ever reigned - combined - have not affected the life of man upon this earth so profoundly as that One Solitary Life.
The kingdom of God – the long-awaited rule of God is breaking into the world, through Jesus. He called people to become part of it by turning from their sins back to God, however holy or unholy they might have been.
God is your Father – God looks on us all as his children, and though he is angered by injustice and immorality, he calls us to return to him and promises forgiveness. He loves and provides for his children.
Love each other – we ought to love each other as God loves us. We must forgive those who let us down and repay hatred with love. We must do good not only to friends and family, not only to fellow believers, but to those who wrong and hurt us.
A great moral teacher?
There are some who regard Jesus as a great moral teacher, but don’t accept his claim to be God.
CS Lewis, an atheist for many years before becoming a Christian, dismissed this argument.
“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 the level with the 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 Son of God, or else a madman 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 with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
The greatest evidence to Christ’s claims of deity is his resurrection from the dead. Five times, he predicted he would die. He also predicted how he would die and that three days later he would rise from the dead and appear to his disciples.
For evidence of his resurrection, you must turn to the historical record. There are ten different recorded sightings of the living Christ after his death by crucifixion. In one of his appearances, he was seen by a group of five hundred people.
The influence of Christ on the world is undeniable - and all based on the work of the disciples. What was it that changed a group of frightened, cowardly disciples into men of courage and conviction? What turned them into people who were willing to be tortured and killed because they believed Jesus was God? We believe that only the real bodily resurrection of Christ could have produced such a radical change.
Life after death
Because Jesus rose from the dead three days after his crucifixion, we have the assurance that if we accept him as our Lord and Saviour, then this new resurrection life awaits us. By being born as a human being, and then dying on the cross, Jesus forgave our sins and made this new ‘life after death’ possible for all.
What do you think?
Is this important? You bet your life it is. The claims made by Jesus are so profound that you owe it to yourself to at least consider them and decide for yourself based on the evidence. An ideal place to do this is on one of our “Christianity Explored” courses, where you can get to ask all the questions you have.