St Mary's church, Upton on Mersey

CONSIDER

Did Jesus really exist?

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Did Jesus really exist or was he just made up?

Evidence from history, archaeology, the Bible and today.

 

History.

Jesus lived in Roman occupied Palestine. Inspired by the teachings of the Old Testament Prophets, The Jewish nation was awaiting the arrival of a political saviour who would restore their Kingdom. There were many so called 'messiahs' at the time, most were executed under the regime of the Roman Army. As Jesus was just one amongst many, we might consider it unlikely that his presence would have been recorded.

 

However, a historian of the time (AD 49), Suetinius writes in his book, 'The life of Claudius',?

"... the emperor Claudius, expelled the Jews from Rome, on account of the riots in which they were constantly indulging at the instigation of Chrestus".

Suetinius wrote another book, 'The Life of Nero'. In it, he explained how,

?Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a body of people attracted to a novel and mischievous superstition.?

This of course only proves the existence of the existence of Christians, not of Christ himself.

 

Another writer Tacitus (AD 116), also writing about Nero explains,

?They got their name from Christ, who was executed by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius.?

More evidence comes from the ancient historian Josephus who writes about Jesus in 'The Antiquities of The Jews'.

"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonders, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew many after him. He was the Christ.? When Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive the third day, as the divine prophets foretold these are then thousands other wonderful things about him. , and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day (Antiquities 18:63-64).?

A letter in the British Museum (73 AD) contains some words of a father to his son, Sarapion. He wrote to encourage him to pursue wisdom. He points out that those who persecute the wise are overtaken by misfortune. He instances the persecutors of Socrates, Pythagoras and Christ. It is not only the life of Christ that attracted comment but also his death.

 

Archaeology

 

Christian symbols have been found in Pompeii on tombs buried under ash which erupted from Vesuvius in 79AD. Tombs in Jerusalem are inscribed with the words, 'Jesus help!" and 'Jesus, let him arise".

A Roman order has been discovered in Palestine that forbids the removal of bodies from tombs. The Romans were not too happy about something! Perhaps it is the suggestion that someone stole Jesus? body that provoked this edict. Is this evidence of an empty tomb? Christians believe that we never have or will ever find the body of Jesus. He rose from the tomb himself.

 

The Bible has accurately predicted archaeological sites. St.Peter?s house has been found in Capernaum. A pool with arches has been found in Jerusalem, when it was assumed it was only a made up setting for a Bible story. The indirect evidence for the existence is very convincing.?

 

Bible

 

A motley mixture of fishermen, tax collectors, revolutionaries and others joined in a common cause to spread the message of Christ over the known world. Within few years their mission was well on its way to the corners of the map and beyond. Inspired by the teaching of a man called Jesus, they took on the might of the Roman Empire in a radical way - through love. They believed that the Kingdom of God was being restored. People were 'finding' Christ one by one.

 

The death of Jesus seemed like the end. I have to ask myself the question; ?Why would they give their lives for a failed cause?? Read their stories and sermons in the Acts of the Apostles (New Testament book) and you find the reason. They believed that Jesus overcame death and changed the shape of the world in an instant. They believed that Jesus could be known as people put their trust in Him - the risen Lord.

 

Today

 

The message of the church today is the same as that of the early church, namely, Jesus can be known. Ask a Christian if they know Jesus and their answer should be ,?Yes?. He did exist and still does.

 

Graeme Skinner

 

The Start Course and Alpha Course are an both excellent ways to explore The Christian Faith.

The New Start Prayer invites you to take a step of faith.