The Case for Jesus as the Son of God Why do you believe the Bible? • • • • Because your parents told you to? Because your friend said so? Because some pastor said so? Because the Bible is true? What is the proper basis for your belief in the Bible ? What is the proper basis for ANY belief ? Evidence !!! Jury duty and Christian Faith • Deciding whether the claim that “the Bible is true” is very much like deciding if someone is guilty of a crime • A jury must hear all evidence and decide if the evidence are trustworthy or not Case: Is Jesus the Son of God ? • The sign that confirm Jesus is the Son of God is: – Jesus’ resurrection from the death – Nobody (not even prophets) has done this • Matt 16:4 “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. And there shall no sign be given to it, except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” • 1Co 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is worthless, and your faith is also worthless. Types of evidence in a trial • Eyewitness testimony – Is the eyewitness reliable ? Biased ? • Supporting testimony – Can you find a neutral party to confirm some part of the testimony ? • Material evidence – Any clues that say it really happen that way? Evidence for Jesus is God • The Eyewitness testimonies: – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – Are they reliable eyewitnesses ? • The Supporting testimonies: – Jewish and Roman historians confirm many details about events in the Bible • The Material evidence: – Archaeological evidence Eyewitness Testimonies to Jesus • The 4 Gospels: – – – – Matthew Mark Luke John • Why should you believe any of these gospels ? Why believe: accounts are reliable • Memories fade • People who witnessed the event die • The 4 gospels were written very early after Jesus’ death and resurrection: – – – – Mark: around 70 A.D. Matthew: around 80 A.D. Luke: around 80 A.D. John: around 90 A.D. An even earlier date for Luke • A case can be made to date the Gospel of Luke before 60 AD (30 yrs after Jesus’ death) • Gospel of Luke written AFTER Acts • Acts ENDS without telling us about Paul’s death in 66 AD • Act probably written BEFORE Paul’s death in 66 AD • Gospel of Luke would then be written around 60 AD ! Even earlier testimonies to Jesus • Gospels were all written after Paul's letters !!! • Paul's conversion occurred around 32-35 A.D • Paul's first meeting with the apostles in Jerusalem occurred around 35-38 A.D • Paul's ministry probably began in the late 40's AD • Paul's letter probably written in the 50's A.D. (20 yrs after Jesus’ death) The importance of Time of writing Jesus’ death and resurrection Mark’s gospel 30-33 A.D. 70 A.D. 40 years • There are still people ALIVE in 70 A.D. who were alive in 30-33 A.D. • If Mark was lying, he would be corrected for sure (compare to John Kerry’s Purple Heart fairy tale and the Speedboat Veterans’ objection) Writing Bible vs Julius Caesar’s bio Jesus died Tacitus Caesar died Mark 44 B.C. Earliest Surviving Copy Mark 30 A.D. 70 A.D. 60 A.D. 40 yrs 350 A.D. Earliest 950 AD Surviving Copy Tacitus 100 yrs Writing Bible vs Alexander’s bio Jesus died 323 BC Alex died Plutarch Mark Earliest Surviving Copy Mark 30 AD 70 AD 60 AD 40 yrs 400 yrs !!! 350 AD Earliest 950 AD Surviving Copy Plutarch Why believe the Bible: reliable • We have documented proof that the Bible is more reliable than historical documents on kings (Alexander, Julius Caesar): – Bible records what has happened after a shorter period time (memory fades) – Bible preserves the record for posterity better (that is important because if you lose the writing, the record will not get passed down) • In fact: The Bible is the most reliable ancient document that we have today !!! Why believe the Bible: authorship • Suppose… Just suppose you were to invent Christianity as a new religion…from your own fantasy… • Who would you want as writers of the Gospels? – Have the most prominent disciples of Jesus write the gospels – Peter, Thomas • Well…What do you see in reality ? Believing the Bible: authorship • Matthew: one of Jesus’ disciples who was a tax collector (a traitor to Jews !) • Mark: follower of Peter – he is not even a disciple of Jesus ! • Luke: follower of Paul – he is not even a Jew (Greek) !!! • John: one of Jesus’ disciples – the youngest (inexperienced) disciple of Jesus Believing the Bible: authorship • If you want to invent a fake religion, you might as well make it look very good by having prominent disciples (like Peter or Thomas) to write the gospels • Great news: there are gospels that are called: – Gospel of Thomas – Gospel of Peter • Bad news: these books have been removed from the Bible… “Gospel” of Thomas (150 AD) • • • • Note the late date of writing (less reliable) !!! Gospel of Thomas is loved by “gnostics” Gnostics emphasized the humanity of Jesus A verse from gospel of Thomas: – Simon Peter said to them, "Make Mary leave us, for females don't deserve life" Jesus said, "Look, I will guide her to make her male.... For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven" “Gospel” of Peter (120 AD) • Some verses from this “gospel” (concerning Jesus’ resurrection): – ...they saw three men come out of the tomb, two of them sustaining the other one, and a cross following after them – ... The head of the two they saw had heads that reached up to heaven, but the head of him that was led by them went beyond heaven • The resurrected Jesus was HUGE Why believe the Bible: content • Suppose… Just suppose you were to invent Christianity as a new religion…from your own fantasy… • How would you portrait Jesus’ disciples – the founders of the new Christian faith ? – As: pure, brave, friendly… like Saints !!!… – All the usual good qualities ofcourse – who would want to follow bad examples in life ? • What do you see in reality ? Why believe the Bible: content • How are the disciples described in the Bible… • Bickering and backstabbing – Mat 20:21 And He said to her, What do you desire? She said to Him, Grant that these my two sons may sit in Your kingdom, the one on Your right hand and the other on the left. • Cowards – Everyone ran away when Jesus was arrested – Peter denied Jesus 3 times • Unbelieving: Thomas ! Why believe the Bible: content • Why are the disciples described in the Bible in such a bad light ???… • Because it was the truth • (The naked truth is not always pretty and clean !!!) Why believe ? THE Evidence !! EMPTY Tomb Why believe: The Empty Tomb • We have historical writing from nonChristians in the Jewish Talmud confirming Jesus’ death by crucifixion on Passover: – It is taught: On the eve of Passover they hung Yeshu (Jesus)… in “Talmud Sanhedrin 43a” • We have historical writings (many: Paul’s letters, gospels, etc) confirming the apostle’s teaching of Jesus’ resurrection – What can we conclude ? Why believe: The Empty Tomb • Fact: “Jesus did die” (from non-Bible source) • Jesus’ disciples were preaching He has resurrected • So what’s the best way to make the apostles shut up on their preaching of Jesus’ resurrection ? – Show them the dead body of Jesus !!! • What did the Jewish Leaders did instead: – Matt 28:12-13 …they gave enough silver to the soldiers (who were guarding the tomb), saying, “Say that His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we slept”. • WHY couldn’t they do it ? The Tomb was EMPTY !!! Why believe the Bible: Testimonies • “Put your money where you mouth is”: – Talk is cheap (preaching the gospel is cheap) – Are you willing to back up your message with “money” ? • Some men are willing to give up their life for a false religion that they believe is true • NO (sane) man is willing to give up his life for a religion that he KNOWS is false !!! • If Christian faith is a lie, WHO would know ? Why believe the Bible: Testimonies • If the Christian faith is a lie, then those who started the Christian religion who know: – Jesus’ 11 apostles (Peter, Matthew, John..) – Saul of Tarsus (Paul) – James (brother of Jesus) who was the head of the Church in Jerusalem • So if any one who knows whether the Christian religion is a lie, it would be these people !!! • Did they “put their money where their mouth (faith) was” ??? Why believe the Bible: Testimonies • No sane person will die for a religion that they know is a lie: – Peter was crucified (head down) in Rome. – Paul was decapitated in Rome around 66 A.D. – James (the brother of Jesus) was stoned to death in Jerusalem • What is even more amazing: – Paul had once persecuted Christians (his own letters) – Before Jesus’ resurrection, James did not believe (John 7:5) (Try imagine if you were Jesus’ brother) Why believe the Bible: Testimonies • All the disciples, Paul and James needed to do to escape death was to deny Jesus !!! – Those who denied that they were or had been Christians…these I thought should be discharged – (A letter by Pliny – a Roman governor) • Why didn’t they do it ? – Matthew 10:33 “But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in Heaven.” – If Jesus has not resurrected, they would know ! – Do you think they believed that Jesus was still dead ? Evidence from Neutral Parties Supporting Evidence from Non-Christians • A testimony in a trial is strongest when the witness has nothing to gain from the outcome • Gospels are testimonies of Christians • Luckily, we find plenty of supporting evidence from non-Christian historians • Note: these historians did not intend to write about Jesus. They wrote about Jesus because of the Christian movement spawn by Jesus’ resurrection Some famous ancient historians • Josephus: (37-100 AD), Jewish historian – Antiquities: on the Jewish history – War: on the Jewish-Roman war • Tacitus: (~110 AD), Roman historian – Annals: History of Rome from begin till 66 AD • Suetonius: (~60 AD), Roman historian – Lives of the Caesars: on Roman emperors • Pliny: (~70-100 AD), Roman governor – Wrote letters to his Emperor and friend • BTW: we learn Roman history from writings by Tacitus, Suetonius and Plutarch Josephus on Jesus • Jewish Historian Josephus (100 AD) on Jesus: – Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man…He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles…. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross… • A neutral party confirms: – Jesus lived (as historical as George Washington !) – Pilate lived – Jesus was crucified Josephus on James and Jesus • Antiquities, Book 20, Chapter 9 – Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned... • Historical facts (confirms Bible): – Jesus lived and had a brother named James – Jesus was called “Christ” (Messiah) by His followers Josephus confirms Pilate • Antiquities, Book 18 , Chapter 3 – But now Pilate, the procurator of Judea, removed the army from Cesarea to Jerusalem, to take their winter quarters there, in order to abolish the Jewish laws. • Jewish Historian agrees with the Bible: – Mat 27:2 And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Tacitus wrote about Jesus • Annals, Book XV – Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name (Christians) had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Tacitus on Christians • Annals, Book XV – Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Method of taking census confirmed • Luke’s description on the census was criticized as inaccurate in the past: – Luk 2:1 And it happened in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. – Luk 2:3 And all went to be registered, each to his own city. • Critics said the way the census was taken was absurd and therefore wrong Method of taking census confirmed • Archaeology proves Luke right ! • A papyrus dated around 104 A.D. by C.Vibius Maximus, Prefect of Egypt: – The enrollment by household being at hand, it is necessary to notify all who for any cause soever are outside their nomes (administrative divisions of Egypt) to return to their domestic hearths, that they may also accomplish the customary dispensation of enrollment and continue steadfastly in the husbandry that belongs to them.” Extreme accuracy of Luke • Luke mentioned minor details that was not important in the story; which checks out: – Acts 18:2--- There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had been expelled from Italy as a result of Claudius Caesar's order to deport all Jews from Rome. • Luke did not even care to tell us WHY they were expelled from Rome… (clearly because it was not important because everyone KNEW why !!!) Suetonius corroborates Luke • In “Life of Claudius” Suetonius wrote: – As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome. • Even this small detail CHECKS OUT !!! • If Luke was accurate in minor details, how accurate do you think he is with the main story? – Luke 1:3 “Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning..” Testimony of a former atheist • William Ramsay in his book “St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen”: – I began with a mind unfavorable to it [Acts] – More recently, I found myself often brought into contact with the Book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities, and society of Asia Minor. – It was gradually borne in upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth Biblical facts confirmed by Archeology Biblical People found by Archaeology Luke 3:1 And in the fifteenth year of the government of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch… TIBERIEUM (PON)TIUS PILATUS (PRAEF)ECTUS IUDA(EAE) Biblical People found by Archaeology Act 13:6-7 And when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain conjurer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Barjesus; who was with the proconsul of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man. In 1877, an inscription was found near Paphos, bearing Sergius Paulus's name and title of proconsul. Stones confirming Biblical events • That crucifixion was used by Romans in Jesus’ time to execute criminals Closing Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 1Peter 3:15 be ready always to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason of the hope in you, with meekness and fear God did not ask us to have BLIND faith You have just seen the overwhelming evidence to know the Bible is factual !!! For more information • Good book: – “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel – Church library has a copy of the audio book • My website: – http://www.ichthus.info – Contains the Powerpoint of this presentation
"The Case for Jesus as the Son of God"