"There is no history written at the time of Jesus Christ is said to have lived that speaks of the existence of such a person, even such a man."
Thomas Paine, The Complete Works of Thomas Paine, Calvin Blanchard, ed, p 234
"Historically is it quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all, and if He did we know nothing about Him."
"I cannot myself feel that either in the matter of wisdom or in the matter of virtue Christ stands quite as high as some other people known in history. I think I should put Buddha and Socrates above Him in those respects."
Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian, The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell
15He said* to them, “But
who do you say that I am?” Jesus Christ,
Who Jesus is, is absolutely core to Christianity. If Jesus was not God, and was not resurrected then we might as well all go home. We will examine the truths and see what is true.
Four Modern Views of Christ.
Docetism teaches that Jesus was not a man. He was a spirit who only gave the illusion of flesh
What are the problems with this view.?
Matt. 1:18, 20;
Matt. 4:2 He hungered
Matt. 26:38 expressed sorrow
Who did Jesus claim to be?
i. Matt. 8:2 a leper worships Him
ii. Matt. 9:18 a ruler knelt before Him
iii. Matt. 14:33 after he stilled the storm he accepted the statement of the disciples "Truly you are the Son of God".
iv. Matt. 15:25 a group of Canaanite women worship Him
v. Matt. 20:20 The Mother of James and John.
What Did the Disciples Say About Him?
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish things that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would rather be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 55-56
What Evidences to Jesus Give to Support His Claims?
ii. Silence before His accusers. (Isa. 53:7; Matt. 27:12-19)
iii. Being mocked. (Ps. 22:7-8; Matt. 27:31)
hands and feet. (Ps. 22:16;
v. Crucified between two thieves. (Isa. 53:12; Matt. 27:38)_
Praying for His
persecutors. (Isa. 53:12;
side. (Zech. 12:10;
viii. Buried in a rich man’s tomb. (Isa. 53:9; Matt. 27:57-60)
Lots cast for
His garments. (Ps. 22:18;
All these prophecies were
written hundreds and even thousands of years before Christ yet all came true
unfailingly. What are the odds of this
being a pure random event? The
probability for sixteen prophecies coming true is
He would not
undergo decay Ps. 16:8-11,
iii. Messiah’s death Ps. 22; Isa. 53
enduring political reign from
ii. Matt. 12:40
v. I Corinthians 15:3-5 – This is probably the earliest N.T. creed.
Jesus was not
drugged to give the appearance of death.
He turned down the common painkiller given to crucifixion victims in
ii. “Volumetric Shock” from loss of blood would have put Jesus into critical condition upon the cross.
3. The Roman soldiers led Him away and had their mocking
fun. Maybe with a game of “hot hand”
further traumatizing his face and leading to more loss of blood. They also jammed a cross of thorns down on
4. He carried the heavy patabulum or cross member and
didn’t have the strength to even do that as the soldiers called another one,
Simon, to carry His cross.
5. The crucified Him with a nail through each wrist. The nails were 5” to 7” long and about 3/8” square. They pierced the wrist just below the palm severing the median nerve and Ulnar Artery. One 9” to 12” nail was hammered through both ankles as the feet were place together and turned on their side. This also severed major nerves and arteries.
6. This started what was called “The Dance of Death”. In the hanging position with the arms extended the victim could only inhale causing a CO2 buildup and asphyxiation feelings. To exhale they needed to force themselves up on the nail in the ankle. The circulatory shock would cause excruciating cramps in the major muscles and force the collapse. The victim would rise and fall again for days in this grim fight to breath.
8. This spear thrust pierced through the rib cage and into the lung and heart. The blood and water that came out was an indication of congestive heart failure with the pleural fluids being released, which looked like water and then the blood from the heart itself. If Jesus wasn’t dead yet this spear thrust would have insured it. Remember, these hardened Roman soldiers were experts at what they were doing and knew death when they saw it.
iii. Joseph of Arimanthea and Nicodemus took Jesus’ body. They put Him in Joseph’s tomb and put about 100 lbs of spices in the grave wrappings and rolled a stone in front that could have weighed 500 to 1000 lbs.
i. Alternate theories
1. Stolen body. Matt. 28:11-15
a. How did they know it was the disciples if they were asleep?
b. Discipline of Roman soldiers would preclude anybody such as a frightened and disillusioned disciple from stealing the body and building some incredible false religion upon such a hoax.
c. Dr. Hugh Shonfield, The Passover Plot. Joseph of Arimathea was instructed by Jesus to steal the body and start the ball rolling. All the sightings later were mistaken identity or hysteria. The disciples were hoaxed as were all people up to this day.
d. Psychology of disciples was such that there was no question they had seen the risen Lord. They went to their deaths, sometime under extreme torture, convinced they knew the risen One. Christianity since that time has been much more than in intellectual assent, but an inward working the Spirit that demolishes such weak theories.
2. The Authorities took the body.
a. Makes no sense. To quiet the disciples when they came back about 2 months later all they would have to do was produce the body.
3. Wrong Tomb theory or Never visited Tomb theory
a. Ditto the answer above.
4. I’ve never heard of any man being resurrected (or some such variant)
a. Wrong question. The question is not rather anyone else was resurrected but rather is Jesus was resurrected.
ii. 12 Resurrection Appearances.
1. To Mary Magdalene (John 20:11)
2. To the other women (Matt. 28:9-10)
3. To Peter (Luke 24:34)
4. To two disciples (Luke 24:13-32)
5. To ten apostles (Luke 24:33-49)
6. To Thomas and other apostles (John 20:26-30)
7. To seven apostles (John 21)
8. To all the apostles (Matt. 28:16-20)
9. To all the apostles (Acts 1:4-9)
10. To 500 brethren (I Cor. 15:6)
11. To James (I Cor. 15:7)
12. To Paul (I Cor. 15:8)
1. Jesus vs. Moses
i. Duet. 18:15-19 Moses prophesied the coming messiah.
ii. Gen. 3:15 Moses predicted a coming ruler.
ii. Rom. 3:20 states that the Law is unable to save us, but in vs. 24 it says salvation is through Jesus.
iii. Heb. 3:5-6 compares Jesus and Moses
iv. Moses miracles were inferior to Jesus
v. Jesus claimed to be God, Moses did not.
vi. Jesus was resurrected, Moses was not.
2. Jesus vs. Mohammad
i. The Koran agrees with the Bible up to Ishmael.
ii. Six doctrines of Islam
1. Allah is the one and true God.
2. Allah sent out Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad as prophets. Mohammad is the greatest prophet.
3. The Koran is the supreme religious book, taking precedent over the Law, the Prophets, the Psalms and the “Injil” or evangel of Jesus.
4. There are many intermediate beings (angels) between God and man, some of whom are good and some evil.
5. Each man’s deeds will be weighed on a balance to determine if he will go to heaven or hell.
a. Reciting the Sahadah several times a day. “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammad is His prophet.”
b. Prayer facing
c. A month of fasting at Ramadan each year.
e. And at least once in a life the Haij or pilgrimage to
6. Kismet or fate. A kind of fatalistic determinism.
i. Jesus offers a sure way of Salvation. I Peter 3:18
ii. Jesus offered a superior way of life. Mohammad’s last ten years of life were in warfare.
iii. Jesus offers superior miracles. Mohammad miracles do not compare in scope, nor compassion or goodness, nor power.
iv. Jesus claimed to be God. Not Mohammad.
v. Jesus was resurrected, not Mohammad.
3. Jesus vs. Hinduism
i. Cannot be generalized as there are many sects and differences of opinion.
ii. Gurus – Teachers essential to Hinduism cannot be read but must be taught by Gurus.
iii. Gurus are considered Holy and worship even after their death.
iv. Man is caught in an endless cycle of reincarnation (samsara), which is brought on my karma (the sum of all actions, words and deeds in this life and all past lives.)
v. Liberation (moksha) is when the self (atman) expands his being and becomes one with or the same as Brahman (the One absolute being or force from which all else proceeds.
vi. This moksha is only achieved by the following practices.
1. Jnana Yoga – Salvation by knowledge of the ancient writings (Upanishads) and inward meditation.
2. Bhakti Yoga – Salvation by devotion to one of the 8 million Hindu deities.
3. Karma Yoga – Salvation by works, such a ceremonies, sacrifices, fasting, and pilgrimages, which must be done without thought of any reward.
4. Raja Yoga – the practice of control over the body, breathing and thoughts.
– About 2000 B.C. the tribes living in the
i. Teaches a superior worldview. Theism is superior to pantheism / polytheism. Ultimate morality is superior to dualism. Grace is superior to Karma. Resurrection is superior to reincarnation.
Karma says let
suffering people suffer and thus fulfill their Karma. Jesus says love those in need and help them.
iii. Jesus is superior in spiritual enlightenment.
1. Gurus are necessary to understand the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita, but the Bible can be understood by anyone.
2. Christian meditation fills our mind with Christ. Hindu meditation tries to empty the mind.
3. The Hindu is lost in the karmic cycle of
reincarnation with none to help and no grace to intervene. Jesus promised Salvation through Him and
that we would know it is guaranteed.
Eph. 1:13-14; I
4. Jesus vs. Buddha
a. Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha is a title meaning ‘enlightened one”) was born around 560 B.C. He was born into a well off family and until his early 20’s didn’t realize everyone was not so privileged. Seeing the great suffering in the World and seeing the extremes of Hinduism didn’t answer his questions he started Buddhism.
i. Life is suffering.
ii. Suffering is caused by desired for pleasure and prosperity.
iii. Suffering can be overcome by eliminating desires.
iv. Desire can be eliminated by the eight-fold path.
1. Right Knowledge (Four noble truths above)
2. Right intentions
3. Right speech
4. Right conduct (no killing, no drinking, no stealing, lying or adultery.
5. Right mindfulness (denial of the finite self)
6. Right meditation (Raja Yoga)
7. Right effort
8. Right occupation (none of which causes suffering)
b. Jesus teaches hope in life not suffering. Buddhism teaches the eradication of
self. Jesus taught life is a gift from
God to be full and rich
c. Jesus teaches a better way of salvation. Buddhism teaches reincarnation and karma as a
way of salvation. However the self or
individuality of the soul is eradicated at the end of each life so it is not
even you who goes on into the next life.
You have no hope of attaining nirvana.
Jesus promised hope to the individual in
d. Jesus teaches His own deity. Gautama made no such claim.
5. Jesus vs. Socrates
a. Socrates teachings and life
i. Socrates didn’t leave any writings, but Plato his disciple left much about him.
ii. Plato presents Socrates as a man convinced God had appointed to the task of promoting truth and goodness by making men examine their words and deeds to see it they were true and good.
iii. Vice was looked as being merely ignorance.
iv. He is credited with being the first man to recognize the need to develop a systematic approach to discovering truth. Aristotle, Plato’s disciple finally formulated the system.
v. He was falsely accused by leaders threatened by his methods and could have been acquitted if he had not made the leaders examine their lives, which they were unwilling to do.
vi. He died contented that he had fulfilled his mission and that death was good whatever it was.
b. Jesus superior basis of truth.
i. Jesus also made men examine themselves, but his basis was rooted in the fact that He is the all-knowing God. As God He is also the standard by which all goodness is measured. Jesus was the very truth and goodness that Socrates wanted to examine.
c. Jesus gave a more certain knowledge of the truth.
i. While Socrates taught many true principles, he was left to speculate on important issues, such as what happens at death. Jesus has the answers about all things Socrates simple couldn’t arrive at with reason.
d. Jesus death was more noble.
i. Socrates died for a cause and did so with courage.
gave his life as a ransom for many. (
e. Jesus proof of His message is superior.
i. Rational proofs are good when there are good reasons for their conclusions. But Socrates cannot support his claim of being sent by God by anything even closely matching the miracles or resurrection of Jesus.
6. Jesus vs. Lao-Tzu (Taoism)
i. Modern Taoism is a threefold religion of witchcraft, superstition and polytheism. But it is being presented in the west today as a philosophy with its central idea being the Tao.
ii. The Tao is a world of conflicting opposites, the yin and yang, good and evil, man and woman, light and dark, yes and no and on and on. The world appears to be a conflict of the yin and yang, but the ultimate truth is that they are perfectly balanced.
iii. To understand the Tao is to understand that all opposites are one and that truth lies in contradiction, not in resolution.
iv. Man should enter a life of complete passiveness and reflection on such questions like “what is the sound of one hand clapping?” or “If a tree falls in the forest when no one is around does it make a sound?” One should be at peace with nature and practice no violence. There are many similarities to Zen Buddhism.
b. Christ is superior in the freedom He brings to man.
Jesus allows man
to be reasonable. It is impossible to
say, “Reason does not apply to reality” because the statement itself is a
reasonable statement. You would have to
use reason to prove reason invalid.
Truth is not only reasonable but it says “Love the Lord your God with
all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Matt.
22:37. In the O.T. God even says, “Come
let us reason together.”
ii. Jesus allows the freedom to choose. Taoism asks man to put his will on the shelf. Jesus says man has a choice and that that choice makes all the difference in the world. Man can believe or not believe (John 3:18) he can obey or disobey (15:14) they can change the world or be changed by the world. (Matt. 5:13-16)
iii. Taoism only offers a way to resign oneself to the way things are. Christ offers a way to change both who we are and what we are, so we might know the joys of life. We are more than conquerors, we are overcomers.