What are your thoughts about Jesus of Nazareth, the claimed Christian Christ and Messiah?
In my experience people tend to like Jesus, and when you examine his teachings it is easy to see why folks find him amicable. Jesus tells us to be kind to others1, to show forgiveness2, and to care for the poor and the weak3. The second half of his most important, and only, command is to love others4 (the first being of course to love God). Yet, despite the acceptance of Jesus’ wisdom recorded in the Bible, many find it hard to believe that he was anything more than a man trying to bring peace to a society in discord.
For those outside of the Christian religion, it seems that Jesus, the Son of Man, has been misconstrued at best (or manipulatively twisted at worse) into some kind of divine being—namely, the Son of God. Where did this notion that Jesus was anything more than a mere mortal come from? It could be argued that it came from Jesus himself, however non-Christians may object and claim that earlier accounts of history and the Gospels were interpolated or corrupted in order to turn Jesus into a deity. Is there another way we can evaluate the claim that Jesus, the son of a carpenter, is the Christ?
Perhaps the greatest testimony to the truth of Jesus being the Messiah is his resurrection. An early founder of the Christian church, Saint Paul the Apostle, even goes on to say that if the resurrection did not happen then Christians are to be the most pitied people in the world:
“17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”
1 Corinthians 15:17-19
Recently I have been intrigued by the degree to which the Christian faith hinges on the resurrection. I have also been surprised to discover that there are a number of facts readily agreed upon by historical and New Testament scholars that point to Jesus’ resurrection as being an event that truly happened. Here is a quick summation of the facts:
Minimal Facts on the Resurrection
(as presented by Gary Habermas5)
1) Jesus died by crucifixion;
2) Very soon afterwards, his followers had real experiences that they thought were actual appearances of the risen Jesus;
3) Their lives were transformed as a result, even to the point of being willing to die specifically for their faith in the resurrection message;
4) These things were taught very early, soon after the crucifixion;
5) James, Jesus’ unbelieving brother, became a Christian due to his own experience that he thought was the resurrected Christ;
6) The Christian persecutor Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) also became a believer after a similar experience.
What are we to make of these agreed upon facts? What are your thoughts and questions about these facts? This topic has been hanging on the edges of my mind for some time now. However, I discovered that it was impossible to put all of my thoughts into one succinct and comprehensive post. Instead, this is intended to be a quick, food for thought, introductory summary. In the coming weeks I plan to cover the nuances of the resurrection, objections to the evidence and the questions I still hold in future posts. But for now…
Share with me: What are we to make of these agreed upon facts? What are your thoughts and questions about these facts? Seriously, call me up, write me a note, send me a message or comment somewhere. I would love to hear your thoughts.