Exploring A Question: Did Jesus Really Exist? – Part I

I have been wanting to pick up a certain book. That book: The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel. It is one that explores the question of Jesus’ existence. In fact, it was one written originally with the intention of disproving Christ’s existence as Lord and Savior.  In some browsing around trying to see about online or hard back copies, I came across this video. As I watched, I found myself doing some serious reflecting as well as personal examination of my walk with Christ.

In it, I found questions as well as answers that perhaps I had not cared to give much thought before.  After watching it, I know for a fact, that I am going to read this book. For it amazes me, the way God can take a person who cannot begin to fathom His great love…and transforms him.

As a baby Christian who has walked away from God before, I discover myself reflecting a bit on some things…and I wonder, perhaps if you have done this too. Maybe even entertained some of these questions as well?

Have you ever questioned:

  • How a man could possibly exist without sin?
  • How it was possible for any living person to walk on water, turn water into wine, or bring the dead back to life?
  • How any one individual could have the power to forgive sin, let alone wash other’s sins away?

You are not alone. I have been there too.

One question that needed to be answered perhaps in order for us to determine that what the Bible says is true and likely the greatest miracle of them all that is also the most unbelievable in an unbelieving world is:

DID JESUS COME BACK FROM THE DEAD?

Jesus’ death on Calvary’s cross as well as His victory over death is the kind of thing we read in science fiction. It, when you really think about it, is something that is too good to be true. Can  you imagine what it would feel like…or what you would think if someone told you that a man named Jesus bled and died for you, then rose from the grave three days later so you might be with Him in paradise? Sounds crazy huh?

Let us examine some evidence, shall we?

Our evidence is in:

1. The Exection – There is no arguing that in order for one to be revived or resurrected, that death must first occur. This is not only recorded in the New Testament. It is documented in five ancient sources as well, and possibly various others.

http://www.bethinking.org/jesus/ancient-evidence-for-jesus-from-non-christian-sources

http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/is-there-any-evidence-for-jesus-outside-the-bible/

“Jesus’ death as a consequence of crucifixion is indisputable.” 

~Atheist Scholar, Gerd Ludermann~

2. Early – There are numerous early accounts and reports Jesus rose from the dead. One of the earliest accounts still lives today in a creed. Paul preserved this creed.

1 Corinthians 15:1-11New International Version (NIV)

The Resurrection of Christ

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. 

This was the starting point, the birth, of the sacred tradition of ministry. The creed is something we all are familiar with today, albeit not in its original scriptural form, which was written not more than 25 years after Jesus’ death and Resurrection.  Perhaps you know it? Maybe you have seen it in this way:

and in Christ Jesus His only Son, our Lord,
Who was born from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
Who under Pontius Pilate was crucified and buried,
on the third day rose again from the dead,
ascended into heaven,
sits at the right hand of the Father,
whence he will come to judge the living and the dead;
and in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Church,
the remission of sins,
the resurrection of the flesh,
[life everlasting].

Sound familiar? It probably does. What you are looking at, is none other than the Apostle’s Creed! Its origins began in scripture, and like the tradition began in the days following Christ’s Resurrection, it has been passed down from one generation to the next as we have been called to do since Jesus’ original calling of the twelve.

https://blog.faithlife.com/blog/2015/04/the-apostles-creed-its-history-and-origins/

Amazing, no?

For of the twelve original apostles…all but Judas Iscariot died for the Gospel. Some of this may be disputable, but one thing that is for certain, is that a number of them died because of what they believed. If these accounts of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and most importantly Resurrection were not true…why the need to go to such lengths to silence those who spoke of Him?

http://amazingbibletimeline.com/bible_questions/q6_apostles_die/

http://magazine.biola.edu/article/13-fall/did-the-apostles-really-die-as-martyrs-for-their-f/

We all are called, as these men were called, to be “Fishers of Men.” It is a part of the Great comm

Matthew 28:16-20New International Version (NIV)

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

3. Empty – The Empty Tomb is another amazing sign of Jesus’ resurrection.

The Jerusalem Factor – The site of Jesus Tomb was known to believers and non-believers alike. If that tomb was not empty, it would have been nearly impossible for a movement founded on the Resurrection to explode into existence in the same area where Jesus was executed.

This spoke volumes to me. Some things we need to consider in terms of this time period are:

Roman guards were stationed outside the tomb. To fail in the protection of the body, to let the tomb be robbed could result in their immediate death. The Bible speaks of a stone being rolled away. This stone would likely have to be large enough to require more than one person to move it. The moving of such a stone should and would have alerted the same guards who were appointed to stand outside of it. Also, the disciples were no warriors. They were fishers, merchants, tax collectors, perhaps even thieves. None of them were seasoned for battle and even had they removed the stone from the tomb, it would have likely been after a great amount of blood had been shed. Lives would have been lost in the effort. Yet there is no record of this.

What there is record of though, my friends, is an empty tomb. For even those who opposed Christ, inadvertently admitted to the tomb’s being empty.

Matthew 28:11-15New International Version (NIV)

The Guards’ Report

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

This is also followed by documentation of Jesus’ appearance to the remaining 11 of the original 12. So, this debunks any theory of bloodshed.

4. Eyewitnesses – There are multiple eyewitness accounts that are recorded in scripture alone, and perhaps even outside of it that indicate Jesus died and came back to life.

We see them in:

  • Women’s (Mary and Martha’s?) Discovery of the Empty Tomb – John 20:1
  • Two Travelers on the Road – Mark 16.12,13 and  Luke 24.13-34
  • Ten Disciples Behind Closed Doors – Mark 16.14; Luke 24.35-43; and John 20.19-25
  • The Remaining Eleven (Instance With Doubting Thomas?) – John 20.26-31

Among at least up to eight more encounters.

http://www3.telus.net/trbrooks/12groups.htm

The proof is in the pudding folks….and I got to say, I am wanting to see it. There is no better way for us to see it, than in the written testimony of God Himself, the Bible.

So the next time  you pick up the scriptures, take a moment, and realize…these are love letters from God folks. God is everywhere. We may not always see, hear, or feel him…but folks..there is evidence of His existence and His truth, in Christ Jesus around us every day.

May God Bless You This Day

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