In this message, it is my intention to point out the historical accuracy of the bible, it’s reliability, and through it, the truth of who Christ Jesus really is. Open your heart, and your mind with me now, as we explore the truth that is Christ Jesus.
The bible is a book with a collection of "smaller" books within it. It consists of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament consists of 39 books, while the New Testament consists of 27. Each of these books have been written over a period consisting of a thousand years and more, by different human authors in different locations and situations. Yet despite all of this, it remains, remarkably, in agreement as a whole. No one book contradicts the other, and they all contain the "flavor" of a single author instead of many, as well they should.
The bible today is thought of in many different respects. To the Christian, it is the infallible testimony of God’s influence and participation in human history, indeed in the history of the universe. To others, it is a piece of literature worthy of many praises, and yet to others, it is a masterful story. One thing is sure, historians all agree that it is a proven piece of literature. Out of all the ancient documents we have, the manuscripts of the bible are the most numerous, numbering in the hundreds. Other well known documents of Plato and Socrates, and even the Iliad only number in the very few. Even concerning Shakespeare, we have very few of his originals. Concerning accuracy to the original text, the modern bible we have today is the most reliable of any literature based on old manuscripts. Translators have access to literally hundreds of the fore mention copies, and with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the veracity of the Bible has been given yet another unneeded boost. Historians agree, that in comparison to the originals, the modern bible is no doubt the leader in truthfulness to the original texts. Of the few minor changes, they number only a half of a percent, and those changes in no way change the context and meaning, they only add a more modern definition of some words. This is all agreed upon.
In addition to it’s truthfulness to it’s predecessors, there are numerous archaeological finds to back up it’s claims. It seems that on a yearly basis, archaeologists find yet another piece of history that collaborates with the bible. No other religious book can make this claim. And more, for being a book being based almost entirely around the relationship between creator and creation, the claims it makes concerning what we would call natural science are astonishing. Long before any human discovered, the bible made mentions of canyons under the seas (this was something that scientists only discovered in this century). In addition, it’s comments concerning the sky are daily being proved by astronomers. Some critics mention that some terminology (such as the "ends of the earth") point out that the bible is not scientifically accurate. I disagree. It is using a type of descriptive language that we use every day. If you don’t believe me, turn on your local weather station and find out when the sun will rise and set.
The bible is a proven historical document, more reliable then any other copies of ancient documents that we have today. In addition, it has the most original manuscripts. This brings a certain scripture to mind that I believe gives the reason why this is so:
Mark 13:31 "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away."
As for the authority of scripture, simply look at 2 Timothy 3:16 which states,
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"
It is also the only reliable record that we have concerning the life of Christ.
Now that we have had a general look at the bible, and of it’s reliability, lets move on to the main point, the truth of who Jesus Christ really is. To do this, we will use the bible as our guide, and no scripture will be taken out of context.
Jesus - What did his disciples say concerning him?
In response to Christ’s question concerning what men said he was, and what his disciples thought he was,
"And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matthew 16:16 (see Mark 8:29)
At the Last Supper, Jesus made references to being abandoned. After asking his disciples if they would abandon him, Peter answered
"Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." John 6:69
John 20:28 "And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God."
The bible makes it pointedly clear that his disciples firmly believed that he was the Christ, the son of the living God. Thomas, who many have berated for doubting, when he saw the evidence of Christ’s resurrection, proclaimed the words that reside in every believers’ heart.
Jesus - What did the people say about him?
One of the thieves who hung on crosses next to Jesus stated,
"And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." Luke 23:42
When Philip brought Nathanael to Christ,
"Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel." John 1:49
A woman of Samaria who met Jesus at a well proclaimed unto the men of the city,
"Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is this not the Christ?" John 4:29
Mary, sister of Lazarus, spoke her convictions when
"She saith unto him, Yea Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." John 11:27
A man from Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority confessed this also,
"And Philip said, if thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Acts 8:37
But perhaps the most moving testimony came from a Roman centurion, who’s duty was to guard the cross where Jesus was put to death.
"Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God." Matthew 27:54
Jesus - What does the bible say about him?
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that commeth into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotton of the Father,) full of grace and truth." John 1:1-14
There are 42 prophecies listed in the Bible concerning the Christ Jesus. It has been calculated that for even a few of these prophecies to be completed by chance, it would be the equivalent of finding a needle in a hay stack the size of Texas. Yet Jesus fulfilled every single one of them.
Jesus - what did He say about Himself?
In the Old Testament, God identifies Himself to the Jews by a given name, "I am".
"And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, what is his name? What shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." Exodus 3:13-14
Jesus made many references to his claim of the name "I AM".
"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by." John 8:56-59
When Jesus was brought up to the Sanhedrin, the assembly of the high priests, Jesus again proclaimed who He is.
"But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again, the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witness? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death" Mark 14:61-64
In both cases, Jesus used the name of God, "I AM". Some cults attempt to make a point that he is really not claiming deity, but unity with God. They attempt to bend the scripture that states, "I and my Father are one"(John 10:30) to prove their point. But scripture makes it very clear about what Jesus is claiming, that He IS God. It was that claim that finally lead him to the cross. For in the mosaic law, it states that the penalty of blasphemy is death (Leviticus 24:16). It was the only way the Pharisees could put him to death, for there was no sin found in him. Their unbelief killed him.
We are left with three ultimate choices concerning Christ, considering that the bible firmly states that He believed himself to be the Christ. They are part of what is commonly called the "Tri-lema". Jesus is either a lunatic, a liar, or Lord.
Lunatic - This would be the case of Jesus believing Himself to be the Christ, when He actually was not. However, people with grand delusions live unstable lives, and are in need of care, lest they hurt themselves. In addition, their lack of sanity leaves no room for life changing wisdom. This was obviously not the case with Jesus. Many of His statements, with their fluid conjunction, and profound wisdom prove different.
Liar - This would be a case where Jesus knew himself not to be the Christ, but went out of His way to intentionally mislead people. This would be a most serious crime indeed, as this effects the destiny of every believer. It would also contain a case of lunacy, since He died for this lie. However, His life proves that this is not the case. Compulsive liars, and people who attempt to lead people in the wrong direction usually show signs of low morality, and again, would usually not die for that lie. Jesus was full of wisdom. No guile was found in his mouth, and he taught self sacrifice over self preservation, or greed. He died for this.
Lord - With the other two suggestions firmly out of the way, we are left with only one other choice, which is, Jesus really is who he said He is. It is now our responsibility to react to this, confess our sins, and accept Him as our savior and Lord. He is the only way to God, and our only way to salvation. For as He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man commeth unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6
This is all and well. Jesus is the Messiah, but as He was put to death, if He was not also raised from the dead, the Christian faith has nothing to hold on to. It is meaningless.
In Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, he addressed this issue and puts it to us in a most blunt statement:
"And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." 1 Corinthians 15:17-19
A Christian does not follow a "dead" god. We follow a risen savior.
"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." Revelation 1:18
After Christ was crucified, the Pharisees had a grave concern. They knew that Jesus claimed that He would rise from the dead on the third day.
"Now the next day, that followed the day of the perparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that the deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again." Matthew 27:62-63
They were worried that Jesus' disciples would steal his body, and falsely proclaim that He would rise.
"Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse then the first." Matthew 27:64
Pilate understood their reasoning and agreed to set Roman guards upon the tomb, continuously, until the time Jesus had prophesied would pass by.
"Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch." Matthew 27:65-66
Lets examine these last two verses. Pilate agreed to set a watch over the tomb. In addition, he encouraged the Pharisees to make the tomb as secure as possible, to their satisfaction. So we have recorded that they did indeed do this. They made sure that Jesus' body was still inside the tomb. They then rolled a huge stone to cover the tomb's entrance. Even the stone was not enough for them. They placed a seal upon the entrance, and if it was opened, the seal would be cracked, showing that it had been tampered with. Combining their preparations with a watch of Roman guards, it is impossible for any of Jesus' followers to sneak in and steal the body away. It was the duty of the Roman watch to keep a constant vigilance on the tomb. If a Roman soldier was ever found not obeying his orders, he was put to death. Therefore, these soldiers were not drunken, asleep or in any way lacking in their duty to guard the tomb of Jesus.
Yet on the third day after His death, something did happen! Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome went up to the tomb very early in the morning following the Sabbath. They had come to perform the custom of placing spices on the body, and to anoint it. This was done because as a body decomposes it begins to stink. The spices were meant as a counter to that stench. Mary Magdalene was going to anoint the body of Jesus, following the instructions that He had given her when she repented. The bible records that they came to the tomb at the rising of the sun. However, all was not as it should be.
"And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away; for it was very great." Mark 16:3-4
Ariving upon the tomb, worrying how they were to gain access to it because the stone covering it was great, they saw that it was rolled away already!
"And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted." Mark 16:5
Imagine if you were them. You expected to see a blocked tomb, and on even the vague hope of having the stone roll away, were prepared to places spices on the dead body of Jesus. Yet what they saw was beyond all explanation. The stone was rolled away, and instead of seeing the dead body of their Lord, they say a young man sitting where the body of Jesus had been laid. He was arrayed in white clothing, and this understandably caused great fear within them.
"And he say unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him." Mark 16:6
The tomb was empty!
"But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you." Mark 16:7
They were commanded to tell Jesus' disciples what they had found. They rushed out and fled from the tomb, and were so amazed that they were trembling! (Mark 16:8) On their way to His disciples they did not make any mention of this to anyone, because they were very afraid.
Mary Magdalene went unto His disciples, and the bible records that they were mourning and weeping. Yet they would not believe her. (Mark 16:11)
Jesus Himself then appeared later unto two of His disciples, and revealed Himself unto them. They went and told the rest of the disciples what happened, and still they would not believe that Jesus had risen! (Mark 16:12-13)
One of His disciples, Thomas, went so far as to state
"Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." (John 20:25)
After eight days, when all the disciples were gathered in a closed room, the bible reports that Jesus appeared in their midst.
"Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God." (John 20:27-28)
When Jesus appeared, he did not appear as a spirit. He was a literal risen savior, in a glorified body.
"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." (Luke 24:39)
He then asked his disciples if they had anything to eat.
"And they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them." (Luke 24:42-43).
Speaking of Christ and His apostles,
"To whom he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." (Acts 1:3)
The gospel of Mark records that after all these things were done, and after Jesus ascended to Heaven,
"And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen" (Mark 16:20)
Now please consider, these men, His apostles, were in hiding. They were in fear for their lives and in unbelief of what Jesus had said. Yet such a moving miracle had happen, that they were embolden to go out and preach Jesus to the world. What is it that would cause men to change from fearful souls into those who boldly proclaimed Jesus until their deaths?
Why didn't the Pharisees and religious leaders of the time boldly step forward and proclaim it all as a fraud, as a lie? Why could they not refute the evidence that Jesus had risen? Why didn't the Romans proclaim the resurrection as a lie? Why was there an immediate following and growth in believers?
"Then they gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41)
Why? Because Jesus Christ did indeed rise from the dead! Not as a spirit, or an apparition, but as the savior in His glorified body!
"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." (John 11:25-26)
Jesus is the resurrection and the life! He raised Himself, and He will raise us. He promises eternal life (which is eternal glory and fellowship with God the Father in Heaven) to all who believe in Him!
One more issue I would like to point out is that every single Apostle, except for one, died horrible deaths for what they believed to be the truth. The only one who died a natural death was the Apostle John, who was exiled to an island for the rest of his life. How many people do you know would die horrible deaths for a lie, or something they were not sure about?
In the light of this evidence above, and the evidence of the scripture, there can be no doubt that Jesus is the Christ, the only begotten Son of the Living God, and indeed God himself. Here is the true Jesus. All others are but counterfeit. On the outside, they look like Him, but in reality, are all worthless pretenders to your soul and heart.
By Philip Damon
* Note - Scroll to the bottom for the prophecies concerning Christ. Because of the formatting of this blog, it caused the table to be pushed way down to the bottom, and I don't know how to correct it.
be the "Seed of a Woman"
4:4 (Luke 2:7; Revelation 12:5)
Seed of Abraham
3:25 (Matthew 1:1; Luke 3:34)
Seed of Isaac
Seed of Jacob
3:34 (Matthew 1:2)
Descend from the Tribe of Judah
3:33 (Matthew 1:2-3)
9:7 (Isaiah 11:1-5; 2 Samuel 7:13)
Heir to the Throne of David
1:1 (Matthew 1:6)
2:1 (Luke 2:4-7)
of a Virgin
a Priest, like Melchizedek
Rejection by Jews
of His Characteristics
by a Friend
forThirty Pieces of Silver
to be Returned for a Potter's Field
Office to be Taken by Another
Witnesses Accuse Him
and Spat Upon
Hated Without a Cause
and Feet Pierced
Gall and Vinegar
Prophetic Words Repeated in Mockery
for His Enemies
Side to be Pierced
Cast Lots for His Coat
a Bone to be Broken
be Buried with the Rich