Maybe you’ve been basing your spiritual outlook on the evidence of Jesus’ existence on what you’ve observed around you or gleaned long ago from books, college professors, family members, Sunday school, or friends. But is your conclusion really the best explanation for the evidence?
If you were to dig deeper to confront your preconceptions and seek out proof, what would you find?. This is what this article is about. Journey with me as we explore these pieces of evidence together. Be objective, open-minded, and draw your conclusions based on the facts I bring your way.
Let’s start with the first evidence, which is the impact Jesus had on World’s history, how? By impact I mean the dating system, that is A.D ( which means Anno Domini a Latin phrase which means in the year if our Lord) and B.C (Before Christ). The B.C/A.D system was invented by a Roman monk named “Dionysus Exiguus,” who was trying to establish Christian chronology.
Before this invention, ancient civilizations like Egypt and Mesopotamia based their calendar on the reign of Kings or the cycle of the season set by gods. Although, this dating system was implemented centuries after Jesus’ death, which is still relevant up till today.
Moving to the other evidence: it has been discovered that archaeologists have found over 5,000 ancient sources that point to the existence of Jesus, which includes both Christian and non-christian sources.
We can obviously refer to the Bible as the Christian source and in it contains the four(4) synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and the writings of the Apostles like Paul, which vividly explains the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. One of the non-christian sources we could refer to is “The Antiquities,” written by a Jewish historian named Josephus Flavius, who was born in A.D 37.
According to history: it contains the history of the Jewish people from creation up to his time. Joseph Flavius was disliked by his fellow Jews because he took sides with the Romans during the Jewish-Roman war, which took place between A.D 66-74.
Nevertheless, Josephus became very popular among Christians because, in The Antiquities, a lengthier section refers to James the brother of Jesus and Jesus himself, his condemnation, and crucifixion at the hands of the Romans.
What makes a Jew Jewish is a result of his/her strict observance of the law of Moses. But as for Christians, they believe in Jesus Christ, the Messiah of the whole world. One of the laws of Moses in Exodus 29:36 says, “And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement…” All this is no longer necessary for anyone who believes in Christ. Believing in Christ is what makes you a Christian or as they’re called “Believers.”
Another ancient source we can refer to is “Annals,” written by a Roman historian named Tacitus. In Annals, he referred to Christ, his execution by Pontius Pilate, and the existence of early Christians. Some scholars like Robert Van Voorst (a retired professor of New Testament studies) have found Tacitus’ reference to the execution of Christ by Pontius Pilate to be both authentic and of historical value.
Prof. Robert also said, “of all Roman writers, Tacitus gives us the most precise information about Christ.” Other scholars have also confirmed this. Interestingly, Tacitus was a member of the “Quindecimviri Sacris Faciundis” (this were the 15 (quindecim) members of a college); a council of priests whose duty it was to supervise foreign religious cults in Rome; which as Robert Voorst points out, makes it reasonable to suppose that he would have acquired knowledge of Christian origins through his work with that body which could have given him first-hand information on the Christian faith. These are just a few sources, amongst many others.
In examining the third evidence, we’ll be looking at the circumstantial evidence of Jesus’ existence. I read an interview with Dr. J.P Moreland by Lee Strobel in his book “The Case for Christ,” and Dr. Moreland was able to highlight some of the circumstantial evidence.
First are the changes in the lives of the Apostles and their willingness to die for their conviction that Jesus did exist. They had been taught earlier that the Messiah wouldn’t suffer death. However, shortly after Jesus’ death and resurrection, we saw them abandoning their occupations, they were regathering and committing themselves to spread a specific message that Jesus was the Messiah.
Another is the conversion of hardened skeptics who didn’t believe in Jesus before his crucifixion, and we’re to some degree against Christianity. They later turned and adopted the Christian faith; among them was Saul of Tarsus, who later became Paul and James, the brother of Jesus, who later was stoned to death because he believed in his brother.
In conclusion, I personally don’t know what you’ve drawn from the pieces of evidence that I’ve presented to you. But when does evidence become enough evidence to reach a conclusion for you?. I love what Gary Lutheran once said: “Jesus did exist whether we like it or not.” Lee Strobel rephrased by saying, “Denying the existence of Jesus doesn’t make him go away. It just means that no amount of evidence will convince you”. I will allow the evidence presented here to lead you to the truth.