Jesus of Nazareth is a unique person. He lived in the first part of the first century
AD and was put to death around 30 AD. He founded no empires, led no revolutions and
fought no battles. He hardly travelled outside the confines of Rural Galilee and
Jerusalem. And yet in spite of this he has had a world-wide effect. Two thousand
years later almost every human being on the earth over the age of ten has some idea
of his work and importance.
The main accounts of Jesus appear in the Gospels, which tell the circumstances of
his birth and give a very detailed account of his words and actions during the period
of his main activity, a period known as his “Ministry”, and end with a description
of his crucifixion and resurrection. The purpose of Jesus, and some of the details
of his life and work, were predicted in the Old Testament, in books completed at
least four centuries before the start of his ministry, and the letters of the Apostles
also refer to him.
In addition to the references to Jesus in the Bible there are references in the writings
of various Roman historians and even in the Jewish Talmud. The picture of Jesus Christ
in the New Testament is as secure as it is possible for it to be.
The main issues concerning Jesus Christ are these:-
Jesus in history: Jesus carried out his ministry in what, to Roman eyes, was a remote
part of a minor province of their empire and a cultural backwater. There are correspondingly
few records of his life outside the Bible. However, there are enough references in
the works of Roman historians and philosophers for one to find the broad outline
of the life of Jesus without opening the Bible. Of course, the New Testament tells
us far more than these, and far more reliably.
What is Special about Jesus: Jesus was very special. He was unlike any of the figures
in the world of his day, either Greek, Roman or Jewish. While Jesus showed similarities
to other teachers in the ancient world, the differences are highly significant. These
important differences are enough to allow us to be certain that the person and teaching
of Jesus was not invented by anyone in the world of Jesus’ time.
The Claims of Jesus: Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, to be a spokesman for God
and to be the Messiah, the king who would come at the end of human government to
issue in the Kingdom of God. These claims need investigating. They seem to be impossible,
but in fact there is very strong evidence to support them.
The Resurrection of Jesus: It is well known that the disciples of Jesus turned
the ancient world upside down in their efforts to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus
Christ. In doing this they founded congregations throughout the Roman Empire, and
suffered extreme persecution. It was their belief in the resurrection which led them
to do this. The evidence for the resurrection is compelling and deserves to be seen.
The Accuracy of the Record: The acts and teaching of Jesus are presented in the
Gospels, and to a lesser extent throughout the letters and the Old Testament. The
historical credentials of these records has come into question but the evidence is
that they are extremely accurate descriptions of Jesus words and deeds.
Jesus is not merely an obscure teacher from long ago. He is the person who will judge
your life when you meet him. He is certainly worth investigating.