Saturday, November 07, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Was Jesus a Truly Historical Figure?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The question continues to be asked about Jesus: Was He a truly historical figure? Or was He an invention of some overzealous enthusiasts? Was He a simple Jewish rabbi whose students exaggerated Him out of proportion to become a divine person? There are scholars who trust only a tiny fraction of what the New Testament says about Him; they think that "Jesus" is a manufactured product of the Christian church.

But let's ask a few common-sense questions: His early disciples were all Jews whose greatest doctrine was that "God is One." How could the idea of Jesus being the Son of God have ever flourished as it did were it not for the reality that He was the Son of God? And why would disciples conjure up a story in which they all emerged seriously discredited?

The story they allegedly invented says they all forsook Him and fled. One betrayed Him, another denied Him with cursing and swearing, and they frequently deserved rebuke from their Master. They are represented as sometimes doing Satan's work. They all come through the story as being slow-witted and sometimes just plain fools. When in history has a group of men made up such a story about themselves and then been willing to die for its authenticity knowing it was false?

If the disciples wanted to raise a mere man to the level of the Son of God, why would they select one whose death was that of a common criminal executed in the way that unmistakably identified Him as being "cursed of God"? How can one account for this religion spreading like wildfire throughout the Roman Empire, if there was not solid truth underlying all its claims?

We face truths that are as ridiculed now as the claims of Jesus have been throughout history. It can encourage us to rethink the obstacles that the apostles had to meet as they fanned out across the Roman Empire preaching salvation in a crucified Man. We also face obstacles today. But the proclamation of the cross of Christ will vanquish hard-hearted unbelief, as it did over 2000 years ago.

In the solemn events of this cosmic Day of Atonement, the Holy Spirit is ready to bring home to the conscience the reality of the unparalleled love revealed at that cross. And Christ will be honored by the response from honest hearts the world around.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 5, 1999.

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