By: Pastor Mark Wood – Seed Of Hope Church
At the core of our belief is that the Son of God took on human form, died for our sins and then rose from the dead to give us eternal life.
To believe in those facts, you pretty much have to believe that Jesus did indeed exist and that the Bible can be trusted.
So let’s investigate those facts:
Fact 1 – Was Jesus Real
Someone may ask ‘Well, how do you know that Jesus existed?’. The fact is, we have far more sources for Jesus than we do for many historical figures in the first century. We have at least 18 ancient manuscripts that specifically mention Jesus and the resurrection. Twelve of those are non-Christian sources.
Non-Christian non-disputed sources:
- Josephus – Roman Jewish Historian
- Tacitus – Roman Historian
- Mara bar Sarapion – Stoic Philosopher
- Suetonius – Roman Historian
- The Talmud – Babylonian Writing
- Pliny the Younger – Lawyer & Magistrate in Rome (13)
- Thallus – Greek Historian
- Phlegon of Tralle – Greek Writer
- Philo – Hellenistic Jewish Philosopher
- Celsus – Greek Philosopher
- The Dead Sea Scrolls – Jewish Writings
- Lucian of Samosata – Greek Satirist
Then there are 4 other references that the world disputes
- Emperor Trajan – Roman
- Epictetus – Stoic Philosopher
- Numenius – Greek Philosopher
- Claudius Galenus – Roman Physician
There’s more evidence Jesus existed than Julius Caesar. In fact there are more ancient pages or fragments of the Bible that have survived by far than any other book from antiquity.
There are over 5,800 Greek manuscripts, and over 8,000 Latin manuscripts that have survived over the years that talk about Jesus.
Now let’s put that in perspective, any other ancient books that have survived have only 12 ancient manuscripts at best to back them up.
So we have fully established that Jesus was real and so is the Bible based on the facts.
I should mention at this point that the Roman Emperor Trajan sent Pliny the Younger to follow Jesus and report back to him because he was afraid of what Jesus would become in the eyes of the Romans.
Fact 2 – Did Jesus Die On The Cross
Some theorize that Jesus didn’t die on the cross but just went into a death-like state that fooled everyone who checked His body. Then under this theory, He awoke in the tomb, got up and walked out. Proponents say that explains His many appearances after His supposed death.
What this doesn’t explain is how in a near-death state and with exceedingly crippling wounds, He could work His way out of tightly-wrapped, glued-on burial garments and then roll away the massively heavy stone sealed onto the tomb by the Romans. And it doesn’t explain why He’d suddenly disappear after several weeks among His disciples, never to be seen again. Nor does it explain how so many people saw Him ascending up into the heavens.
Oh did I mention that in his letter to the Emperor, Pliny the Younger specifically mentions the crucifixion of Jesus. Let’s remember that this is a non-Christian source and that this means he was there.
Fact 3 – Did Jesus Raise From The Dead
Some suggest the female disciples who first found the empty tomb might have just had the wrong one, and the other disciples took advantage of that, concocting a Resurrection myth to explain the empty tomb. But surely the Jewish leaders who’d had Roman guards placed by Jesus’ burial place, and Joseph of Arimathea who owned the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid, would have quickly displayed the body and corrected the mistake if indeed the women had gone to the wrong tomb.
Notice also that Jesus first revealed himself to woman, who’s word would have not been taken seriously by the men. Why is that. Well it would not been smart of them to lie as they would have been stoned and it was only a short walk by anyone to confirm this fact. So Jesus was using the least likely people to first reveal himself to in order to prove it really happened.
Now let’s look at the Roman Guards at the tomb.
Matthew 28 points out the Jewish leaders bribed the tomb’s guards to say they’d fallen asleep and the disciples then stole Jesus’ body. But if these guards were asleep, how would they know it was the disciples and why were the Jewish leaders trying to bribe them? And how could they have slept through the disciples rolling away the huge stone that covered the entrance to the tomb, a stone some have suggested was so heavy, it may have taken more than a dozen men to push it away?
Now let’s look at the disciples and would they die for a lie?
If the disciples were making up Jesus’ Resurrection, would they have lived and died for Him and a fiction they themselves made up?
The earliest disciples would have known – not just believed, but would have known – that either Jesus was who He claimed to be and was actually raised from the dead or they were making this thing up. And yet history tells us that we have good reason to think they all went to their death with the exception of one for that core belief: that Jesus was raised from the dead. They didn’t recant that ever. Lies always break down over time.
And let’s not forget that Peter went from hiding away, fearful the Jewish leaders might have him killed as well, to boldly preaching salvation through Christ before a crowd of thousands.
They said after He was crucified and buried, He was raised from the dead and for 40 days, they lived with Him and walked with Him, with overwhelming proof that He’d been raised from the dead.”
So let’s look at the 500 witnesses
Saying the disciples lied about Jesus’ resurrection doesn’t explain Jesus’ post-Resurrection appearance before 500 people. The Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 15 suggested doubters go talk to them.
So, it’s not as though these things could have been invented and no one would have challenged it. You’ve got this idea that ‘there are witnesses; go investigate them.'”
In I John 1, John said , ‘What our eyes have seen, what our eyes have heard, what our hands have handled is what we’re declaring unto you.’
In other words, ‘We were eyewitnesses. We were there.’
Some doubters try to do away with all the post-Resurrection appearances by saying those who thought they were seeing, talking to and touching Jesus were all hallucinating, even the 500 Paul discussed in I Corinthians.
Think about that for a minute. It actually takes more faith to believe that than it does to accept the fact that Jesus really did raise from the dead.
“Here’s the key: what is a hallucination? A hallucination is an internal experience, not triggered by anything externally. This is why no two people ever have the same hallucination. Because it’s all internal; subjective. Well, to have 500 people have the same hallucination would be 500 miracles equal to the Resurrection.”
Oh, and did I forget to mentions this as well? In his letter to the Emperor, Pliny the Younger, makes mention of the resurrection and how it was going to hurt the roman empire and how they were going to have to figure out a way to control the Christians because of it.
So we have a lot of non-Christian references that talk about Jesus, his ministry, his crucifixion, and his resurrection.
These sources all correlate directly to what is said in the Bible.
So what I think we need to know is that there’s really good reason why we believe what we believe, and the evidence is only getting better.
Let’s not forget all of those atheist’s, in our lifetime, who have set out to disprove Jesus and the Bible only to convert and know how real Him and His story is.
Let’s not forget how our own government spent billions of dollars and directed NASA to figure out when the world began, thus disproving the Biblical account of it. In the end they could only prove time by plugin the different times that time stopped as written in the Bible thereby proving its validity.
So let me leave you with this:
My God is not Dead, He is surely Alive and His word is true.