For the past couple of weeks, we have been in a series looking at the question: Is Jesus God? In the last two segments, we addressed the Old and New Testament accounts of Jesus. This week, we’ll focus on what history has to say about the man from Nazareth. Then, next week, we’ll put all we have looked at together and answer the question considering the evidence.
So, was Jesus a historical man? My answer: yes, and it is actually difficult not to believe so. While there is no archeological evidence to prove Jesus’ existence, or, for that matter, any other person of his day of such a low economic level, there are plenty of historical accounts which do so.
One of these accounts, perhaps the best source we have to attest to the life of Jesus, is that of Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian. In his history of the Jewish people, Antiquities of the Jews, he mentions the name of Jesus twice in his writings, even connecting Jesus to a martyr named James, stating it was Jesus’ brother, which is later substantiated by several of the early church fathers.
Additionally, in the early decades of the second century, another credible account mentions the name of Jesus, and this one also comes from an unlikely source, a Roman historian named Tacitus. In his recounting of Nero, the 64 A.D. burning of Rome, and the Christians who were blamed, Tacitus identifies Jesus as the founder of the Christian religion, who was “put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius” (Annals of Imperial Rome). Not even a hundred years after the death of Jesus, his death and the details of his death are corroborated by a Roman historian. And there are others.
What must we make of these accounts, then? These men, both a Jew and a Roman, had no bias for Christianity. Frankly, their biases to Christianity were indifferent at best, at worst opposed. Yet, they both chronicled their accounts of Jesus believing they were recording uncontested historical fact. Thus, if these men, who lived mere decades removed from the life of Christ, considered Jesus a historical figure, why should we — two millennia removed — not?
Do you believe Jesus was real? Do you believe He walked the earth? Do you believe He will come again one day? I do. But when He does, it will be too late to be with Him. Turn to Him now.
Jesus came the first time to save. And, on a historical day, He was crucified for the forgiveness of sin, for all who will confess theirs to Him in faith. And, He was raised from death on a historical day, so that all who have faith in Him, may be raised on the last day of history. Faith in Jesus is the only way. Give your life to Him, let it be historical fact.
Let your salvation be a moment recorded in history. Make it today!
(Jeremy Breland is a farmer in Ruffin and a M.Div. student at Southern Seminary. He can be reached at email@example.com.)