Truth That Matters

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" - Jesus Christ

EVIDENCE # 6: JESUS OF NAZARETH

If you’re looking for evidence that God exists, and that God has come down to earth as a man, you need to consider Jesus Christ, because of his unique claims:-

  • He claimed to be God. This infuriated his Jewish contemporaries (John 10:31-32), who hadn’t bothered to notice such a claim had backing in their scriptures.
  • Jesus also claimed to be a savior who would redeem people through his death (Mark 8:31, Mark 10:45). Have you ever come across a person who predicts the place of his death, who will kill him, and also that he will rise again from the dead after three days (Matthew 20:18-19)?!
  • Jesus made exclusive statements about himself:- Aren't these claims arrogant?
    • "I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me" – John 14:6
    • "I am the good shepherd...I am the light of the world...I am the door...I am the bread of heaven...I am the bread of life...I am the resurrection and the life...I am the true vine (source of spiritual strength)" – John 10:14, John 8:12, etc
    • "He who believes in him [referring to himself] is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already" – John 3:18
    • "All that ever came before me [that is, other religious figures] are thieves and robbers" – John 10:8. 
  • Jesus' disciples made exclusive claims about him:-
    • "He who has the Son has life, and he who does not have the Son does not have life" – 1 John 5:12
    • "There is no name given under heaven [other than the name of Jesus]through which men may be saved" – Acts 4:12

It is the purpose of this page to show that Jesus’ claims are absolutely credible, and that he towers above any other person who may have claimed to have come from God, or to be the way to God. The main source of information we have about Jesus is the Bible. What makes Jesus unique?

His birth was unique

Look at the details surrounding his birth. Things of this nature did not accompany the births of the various religious leaders, let alone ordinary people.
  • His mother was a virgin. The fact that he would be born of a virgin was prophesied 700 years in advance by the Jewish prophet Isaiah. How reliable is this claim?
  • His birth was announced by angels (Luke 2:8-14)
  • Wise men from the East noticed a star in the sky, which implied to them that Jesus was born, and they came looking for him (Matthew 2:1-2).
  • The location of his birth, that is, Bethlehem (see image), was announced centuries before by the prophet Micah (Micah 5:2)
  • Herod (the monarch of the area Jesus lived) was very troubled by his birth (Matthew 2:3).
More thoughts on the birth of Jesus

e demonstrated a spotless character.

Purity:
The Bible says Jesus was sinless. How reliable is this claim?

Love/Compassion:
Jesus had compassion on the people he saw (Matthew 14:14)

Jesus had a few close friends: Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, who lived in Bethany (shown in the image). When Lazarus died, Jesus came to their house and raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44). When Jesus approached the grave with the other mourners, he wept (John 11:35). Jesus knew he would bring Lazarus back to life. But he still groaned and wept. Why?! Because he empathized with the humans who were mourning a death! Jesus is the same God because of whose standards death was a consequence of sin. But here is this God, empathizing with sinners who are bearing the punishment that had arisen because of his own holiness. That’s the big deal – such empathy and concern is unparalleled. If you and I were there, we’d cry because we were missing Lazarus, but here Jesus is crying because he identifies with suffering people who do not know that in a few minutes, Lazarus will be hale and hearty.

Jesus' greatest demonstration of his love for you and me is his willingness to suffer and die a horrible death for us so that we could have the remission of sins.

Humility:
In the culture in which Jesus lived, it was customary for slaves to wash the feet of guests. Jesus and his disciples once had their Passover meal in a borrowed room, so there was no one to wash their feet, and they had their meal without washing their feet. What happens after the meal? Jesus washed their feet! (John 13:1-7)

For Jesus to bother about us and come to earth was remarkable. To be born in a stable and grow up in a sleepy little village in a country that was not independent was further humiliation. Now he washes the feet of his disciples, a slave’s job. You’ve never shown humility like this. This man is unique.

Grace:
There was an occasion when the Pharisees caught a woman in adultery and brought her to Jesus, when he was on Mt Olives (shown in the image):
They said to Him, Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the Law, commanded us that such should be stoned [to death]. But what do You say?” – John 8: 4, 5

It was a calculated ploy. If Jesus had said, “Go ahead, stone her”, they would have gone straight to the Roman authorities and accused Jesus, since the Jews had no authority to inflict capital punishment, and the Romans, if convinced about a criminal’s guilt would either behead or crucify the person, not stone him/her. If Jesus had said, “Do not stone her”, they would have publicized it to all the Jews: “This person is against the law that God gave us through Moses, and so CANNOT be the Messiah”

Jesus’ response was:

“He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her.” (verse 7)

What was the result?
Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her: Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? She said, No one, Lord. And Jesus said to her: Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” – verses 9, 10, 11
Dear reader, I don’t know about you, but I see God in human form here, full of grace, truth, compassion and wisdom.

He demonstrated wisdom in what he said

In Matthew 22:15 onwards, and elsewhere, Jesus' adversaries, the Pharisees and Sadducees, tried to trap him in his words. But he was able to silence them all. Matthew reports:
And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.” – Matthew 22:46
The morality that Jesus preached was beyond compare. Much of his ethical teachings are recorded in a Bible passage frequently referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. I once met a disciple of Jesus Christ (believer) from Turkey, who grew up as a Muslim. He was once given a Bible. When he came to the Sermon on the Mount, his reaction was: “If there is a God, it has to be this man”. The Sermon on the Mount can be found in Matthew 5:1 onwards.

He was prophesied about

Another unique feature of Jesus is that the details of his birth, life, death and resurrection were prophesied hundreds and even thousands of years before his birth. It is virtually impossible for these prophecies (called Messianic prophecies) to get fulfilled in somebody’s life by coincidence.

Not only did Jesus fulfill these prophecies, he was fully aware of them, as you’d expect of someone who knows what he’s doing. He also affirmed the validity of the prophecies and the scriptures in general. For instance, when he was being arrested, he told his disciples:

Do you think that I am not able now to pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?” – Matthew 26: 53

It was prophesied that one of his disciples would betray him. Jesus knew who it was, and this is how Jesus warned him:

The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he was never born.” – Matthew 26:24

Jesus is absolutely sure of what’s going to happen, because of prophecy. Again, speaking of what is written in the Old Testament, Jesus says:

For truly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Law till all is fulfilled.” – Matthew 5:18

Jesus made predictions of the future.

See the details here.

He demonstrated power

Some examples of the miracles that Jesus did are as follows:

He multiplied food:
In John 6:5-14, we read about Jesus multiplying five loaves and two fishes to feed five thousand men, plus women and children.

He calmed a storm:
On a trip across the Sea of Galilee (Modern Israelis call it Yom Kinneret, see the image), Jesus’ disciples ran into a storm. “But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing? And He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Be silent! Be muzzled! And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. And He said to them, Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” – Mark 4: 38-41

He raised Lazarus from the dead, as narrated above

He healed the sick:
In Matthew 9:2-7, the Lord Jesus healed a paralytic and pronounced his sins forgiven.

An important distinction: Many other Biblical figures performed miracles, but they did so by praying to God or invoking the name of Jesus. However, Jesus performed miracles merely by speaking on his own authority. Thus, Jesus' miracles prove his deity.

List of miracles that Jesus did

Tributes from non-believers

Even those who have not been followers of Jesus Christ acknowledged his uniqueness:-

"It is evidence of His [Jesus'] importance, of the effect that He has had upon history and presumably, of the baffling mystery of His being that no other life ever lived on this planet has evoked so huge a volume of literature among so many people and languages, and that, far from ebbing, the flood continues to mount." – Kenneth Scott Latourette in History of Christianity.

"This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon: without science and learning. He shed more light on things human and divine than all scholars and philosophers combined: without the eloquence of schools. He spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line. He set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times." – historian Philip Schaff

"I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him." – Napoleon Bonaparte, French emperor

"[The character of Jesus] has not only been the highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest incentive to its practice, and has exerted so deep an influence, that it may be truly said, that the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind, than all the disquisitions of philosophers and than all the exhortations of moralists…[Jesus] has exercised so deep an influence that it may be truly said that the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers and all the exhortations of moralists.  This has indeed been the wellspring of whatever is best and purest in the Christian life." – Skeptic W.E.H. Lecky, History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1903).

"If you were to take the sum total of all authoritative articles ever written by the most qualified of psychologists and psychiatrists on the subject of mental hygiene--if you were to combine them and refine them and cleave out the excess verbiage--if you were to take the whole of the meat and none of the parsley, and if you were to have these unadulterated bits of pure scientific knowledge concisely expressed by the most capable of living poets, you would have an awkward and incomplete summation of the Sermon on the Mount. And it would suffer immeasurably through comparison. For nearly two thousand years the Christian world has been holding in its hands the complete answer to its restless and fruitless yearnings. Here ... rests the blueprint for successful human life with optimum mental health and contentment." – J.T. Fisher and L.S. Hawley, A Few Buttons Missing

Feature # 8: Tributes from believers

Jesus Christ has been able to captivate the hearts of people worldwide. More songs have been written about Jesus Christ than about any other personality. Here are some of the things that people have written about him:-

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole, And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul, And to the weary, rest.

Dear Name, the Rock on which I build, My Shield and Hiding Place,
My never failing treasury, filled With boundless stores of grace!

Jesus! my Shepherd, Husband, Friend, O Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, Accept the praise I bring.

– John Newton. Newton credited Jesus for changing him from a ruthless, foul-mouthed slave dealer to church leader who worked to oppose slavery.

"Wonderful, wonderful, Jesus is to me!
Counselor, mighty God, Prince of Peace is he
Saving me, keeping me from all sin and shame
Wonderful is my Redeemer - praise his Name"

A young Hindu yogi, Rabindranath Maharaj, heard this song at a Christian gathering that he was invited to. This was his reaction: "I had never heard anyone say that a Hindu god was "wonderful" or a "counselor". Certainly no one would sing that about Shiva, about Kali, is blood-thirsty wife, or about their favorite son Ganesh, half-elephant and half-human". We can add that no Buddhist ever said such things about Buddha; no Muslim ever claims that Muhammad keeps him from shame. Nor will any atheist say such things about Frederich Engels. 

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he'll take and shield thee; thou wilt find a solace there.

- Joseph Scriven (shown in the image)

Why is it that people living centuries after Christ, thousands of miles away from his birth-place, write such touching things about him? Would you like to try and invent some hypothesis to explain it away? "Scriven was paid to write these words by rich people who wanted to control others using religion"? Joseph Scriven was a Irishman who went through a lot of tragedy (two cases of his wife-to-be dying shortly before the wedding, once by a horse-riding accident, the other by sickness, for example). In an effort to have a fresh start, Scriven migrated to Canada. After a few years, he learned that his mother was seriously sick in the UK. He wrote this poem to comfort her. Years later, Charles Converse set them to tune. It was orig­in­al­ly pub­lished anon­y­mous­ly, and Scriv­en did not re­ceive full cred­it for al­most 30 years.

You can browse more tributes to Jesus. These songs are just the tip of a gigantic iceberg (not to mention other languages!). The intensity and scale of the tributes offered to Jesus Christ show that he was not a fraud. He was who he claimed to be the son of God come down in human form as our savior.

He knew his life mission from an early age.

In Luke 2:41-52, we read of the visit that Jesus' parents made to the Temple in Jerusalem for the Passover feast. After the feast, Jesus got "lost"; that is, he lingered on in Jerusalem while his parents began their return journey. After a few days of worried searching, his parents found him at the Temple, discussing and debating with the Jewish religious scholars, astounding everyone with his understanding. When his mother gently reprimanded him for remaining, his reply to her was: "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I was about my Father's business?"

This is remarkable. Jesus' claim that he was the Son of God sent to earth with a mission is not something he invented when he was old, but he professed it even when he was just 12 years old. Contrast this with others:-

  • Muhammad – was just a typical Arab trader till he was about 40, when, without any advance notice, he started experiencing his visions
  • Buddha – lived a protected, ivory-tower life. When he stepped out of his palace at age 29, he was shocked to see the suffering in the real world (his own kingdom!). Troubled, he abandoned his family, and began his quest for answers.

Appropriation for every cause

Jesus Christ has the unique feature of people wanting to appropriate him for their respective ideology.

  • Homosexuals insist that Jesus was gay.
  • Environmentalists say that Jesus was an environmentalist.
  • Socialists and communists claim that Jesus advocated socialism.
  • Hindus claim that Jesus was one of the many avatars of the gods on earth and that Jesus' message is essentially the same as Hinduism.
  • Muslims say that Jesus was a prophet like Muhammad and that Jesus' original message was in agreement with Islam.
  • Self help experts like Robert Schuller and Norman Vincent Peale present Jesus as someone who will help you get what you want in life.
  • The Jesus Seminar (a group of liberal Christians) wrote a new Bible in which they claimed that of all Jesus' sayings and deeds recorded in the Bible, only those consistent with liberal theology are reliable.
  • In The Matrix, Jesus is portrayed as a computer programmer.

"So who was Jesus? Was he a wandering hasid, or holy man, as Geza Vermes and A. N. Wilson propose? Was he a "peasant Jewish cynic" as John Dominic Crossan alleges? Was he a magician who sought to lead Israel astray, as the Talmud holds? Was he a self-proclaimed prophet who died in disillusionment, as Albert Schweitzer maintained? Was he some first-century personage whose purported miracles and divinity were mere myths or fabrications by the early church as David F. Strauss, Ruldolf Bulltmann, and John Hick suggest? Or was He, as the Gospels assert, "Christ, the son of the living God"?" – Paul Copan, True for you but not for me, Bethany Minneapolis, 19998, 94.

"…the liberal searchers found a liberal Jesus…the deists found a deist, the Romantics a Romantic, the existentialists an existentialist, and the liberationists a Jesus of class struggle" – Charlotte Allen, The Human Christ, (Oxford, Lion, 1998), 5.

No other person in history has this distinction of being appropriated for every cause.

He rose from the dead!

He even predicted it in advance (Matthew 20:18-19). You can read about the resurrection from John 20:1 onwards. Did the resurrection really happen? 

He was preceded by people who resembled him

I'm not referring to people who looked like him, but certain heroes of Jewish history whose lives closely parallel that of Jesus. This cannot be a coincidence. Details

His death was portrayed by sacrifices

Thousands of years before Jesus died, the Bible records in detail God instituting various animal sacrifices. Various Bible passages scattered across the Bible, written by people who did not know each other show how Christ's death fulfilled all those animal sacrifices. Details

Impostors

Of all people of the world, Jesus has the largest number of people trying to steal his identity [in the link, see the Section: Christian Messiah claimants]. Why should so many people claim to be a Jewish teacher who lived centuries ago? It makes no sense if Jesus was merely a teacher, but it makes perfect sense in the light of who Jesus claimed to be! If Jesus was indeed the Son of God, anointed to be our savior and king, it is only to be expected that evil men, goaded on by evil angels, will be obsessed with him and try to steal his identity. The large number of impostors thus makes Jesus unique and substantiates his claims.

Summary

Let me close with an anecdote:-
 
General Lewis Wallace met the well known atheist Colonel Robert Ingersoll on a train. The two discussed the absurdity of Christianity. Suddenly, Ingersoll looked at Lewis Wallace and said: "You're intelligent and highly educated. Why don't you write a book showing that Christianity is absurd and that Jesus never lived?" General Wallace spent several years collecting material for the book. After writing 4 chapters, he realized that Jesus Christ was more than a real person. He received Jesus Christ as his personal lord and savior. Not wanting to waste his research, he changed his book into a novel: Ben Hur. A movie by the same name was also made based on the book. 
 
J. Warner Wallace, L. A. County homicide detective and former atheist, examines the evidence for Jesus Christ in his recent book Cold-Case Christianity.
 
I hope you’re convinced that Jesus is indeed special; in fact, he’s more than just special – he’s the incarnation of God, the only one who can be your savior. May God convince you in your heart, that the Lord Jesus, and the things written about him in the Bible are true. Learn what Jesus has done for you in The Main Message or learn more about his work.
 
Further Reading:
  • France, R. T. The Evidence for Jesus. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1986
  • Dunn, James. The Living Word. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988
  • Marshall, I. Howard. I believe in the historical Jesus. Grand Rapids. Eerdmans, 1977
  • Michael Eilkins and J.P. Moreland, Jesus under Fire. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995
  • Anderson, Sir Robert. The Lord From Heaven. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications
  • Smith, Wilbur M 1944. The Supernaturalness of Christ. Boston, MA: W. A Wilde Co.