Did Jesus Really Live?
This is a fair and important question for seekers and Christians alike. It is important to seekers because one believes in what is true and this truth has eternal consequences. It is important to Christians because they need to know with certainty to be able to talk confidently with seekers and have the knowledge to gain confidence in their own faith.
How would you respond to the following statement posed by Chris Hallquist, president of “Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics” at the University of Wisconsin who writes, “. . . in the eyes of almost all informed non-Christians, and many more liberal Christian biblical scholars, the Bible contains no eyewitness reporting on Jesus’ life. . . . The authors of the New Testament could easily have been just writing down legends about Jesus, and there’s good reason to think in many cases they were”?1
Such a statement is not unexpected from the atheist community and requires a response. The statement either on purpose or from lack of knowledge betrays a complete ignorance of eyewitness accounts and independent evidence from secular sources. The statement comes from a worldview 180 degrees opposite that of the Christian worldview. If you are a student with insufficient understanding to defend your faith you might be influenced because such people often speak from positions of influence. The influence often outweighs the knowledge of the speaker because few of them have taken the time to do adequate research.
What is the evidence that Jesus lived?
A) If Jesus never lived, how is it that his eyewitness followers would die for something that never was?
B) If Jesus never lived, how likely is it that First Century non-Christian historians like the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (AD 38-97), the Roman Governor Pliny the Younger (AD 61-113) and The Roman Historian Tacitus (AD 56-117), would record His existence in records that are preserved.?
C) If Jesus never lived why have there been billions of followers over the past 2000 years and the Christian faith coming to be the largest religion in the world?
D) If Jesus never lived there would there have been a New Testament to the Bible to provide a detailed account of His life?
Jesus did more than live. He died on the cross and He arose from the dead to overcome sin on our behalf and guaranteed eternal life for those who believe in Him (Jn. 3: 16), all in accordance with God’s plan (Eph. 1: 2-10) devised before the creation of the universe.
The evidence for His suffering, death and resurrection from the dead will be the subject of future posts.
1) Hallquist, Chris. Why atheists don’t think the Bible is historically reliable. Patheos, The Incredible HallQ, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/hallq/2012/07/why-atheists-dont-think-the-bibl-is-historically-reliable/,July 2012).
February 14, 2017. Revised March 6, 2018.