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Archive for the 'Investigating Jesus' Category

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 11
Jesus Selects His Disciples

 

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Matthew 4:18-22


There are three main lists of disciples (Matthew 10:1-4, Mark 3:13-19, Luke 6:12-16) who were chosen near the start of Jesus ministry. The Gospel of John offers no comprehensive list but does refer to them as “The Twelve” (John 6:67, John 6:70, and John 6:71). Here are “The Twelve”: the 12 main disciples of Jesus Christ:

  • Andrew: he was a fisherman from Bethsaida (Matthew 4:18). It was he who introduced his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus (John 1:40-42). He was also a disciple of John the Baptist.
  • Bartholomew: he was the son of Talemai and possibly was also called Nathaniel (John 1:45-51).
  • James: he was the son of Alphaeus. He is also known as James the Less (Mark 15:40). He would later play a leading role in the Jerusalem church (Acts 15).
  • James & John: the sons of Zebedee. Both were fisherman (Matthew 4:21; Luke 5:1-11) and Jesus called them the sons of Boanerges or sons of thunder (Mark 3:17). John is known as the “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, John 19:26).
  • Judas Iscariot: (Luke 6:13, 16): he was the son of Simon (John 6:71 & John 13:26). He was the disciple who betrayed Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11) and was replaced after the Resurrection by Matthias (Acts 1:26).
  • Matthew: he was a tax collector (Matthew 9:9) and the son of Alphaeus (Mark 2:14. He also authored the gospel by the same name (Matthew 1:1).
  • Philip: from Bethsaida (John 1:44; John 12:21). Notably, it was he who introduced Greeks to Jesus (John 12:20-22).
  • Simon: known also as Simon the Zealot (Matthew 10:4) and possibly from Jerusalem.
  • Simon: brother of Andrew and an uneducated fisherman from Bethsaida (Matthew 4:18; Acts 4:13). Later, he was renamed Peter by Jesus (John 1:42) and would go on be the leader of these twelve disciples (Acts 1:15-26). We know that Peter also wrote letters to churches and we have two of them in what is our New Testament, the books known as 1 Peter and 2 Peter.
  • Thaddeus: listed as a disciple in Mark 3:18 and known also as Lebbaeus (Matthew 10:3) and Judas brother of James (Luke 6:16).
  • Thomas also known as Thomas Didymus. He is best known however, as doubting Thomas for initially disbelieving the resurrection of Jesus before he saw the Lord and proclaimed Him as such (John 11:16, John 20:24, John 21:2).


How were they chosen?


It was usual practice for a disciple to take the initiative and choose his master and then voluntarily join that school. However, in reverse of this practice, Jesus Himself chose those who were to follow Him by issuing a simple command “Come, follow me.” This can be seen in several places in the Gospels, for example Matthew 4:18-22; Matthew 16:24; Matthew 19:21; Mark 1:17; Mark 8:34; Mark 10:21; Luke 9:23; Luke 18:22.

The reason that God gave them to Him as his disciples was so that they would produce fruit for God’s Kingdom (John 15:16). Jesus also placed some demands on those who wanted to follow Him. For some, these demands proved too much so they went away, like the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22). Others, who were initially attracted to Jesus, stopped following him and left saying: “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it? (John 6:60)

What was it about these people we know as the Twelve Disciples that made them want to follow Jesus? The answers to that next week.

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 10
Jesus' Mission Continues Away from home

(Luke 4:31-44)

 

Now Jesus walked through the rioting mob and went to Capernaum and here he engaged in public ministry. What does this public ministry look like and what was the reaction to Jesus and his ministry?

  • Preaching (Luke 4:31-32) – Here we see Jesus setting up his ministry headquarters in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13-16) and from there, he started teaching in the Synagogue. People were astonished that he taught with such authority.
  • Rebuking (Luke 4:33-37, 41) – Our Lord did not want the demons to bear witness to Himself and his identity (Luke 4:34, 41). Again, people were astonished at Jesus power and authority.
  • Healing (Luke 4:39-40) – People bought their sick and asked Jesus to help them.
  • Praying (Luke 4:42-44) – he was up early the next morning to pray (Mark 1:35). It was in prayer that he found his strength and power for service, and so must we.


All during this period, we can learn several things about Jesus and his ministry towards those he encountered and interacted with.

  • No new teaching – he has God’s authority to do what he is doing – preaching, healing and releasing.
  • God desires humility – Jesus is looking for people to acknowledge their spiritual blindness and poverty, so that he may liberate them.
  • God’s Word is important – In the previous verses, Jesus counters the devil by using God’s Word, and he continues to do this throughout his ministry. He teaches and preaches in the synagogues (Luke 4:32, 44); rebukes demons (Luke 4:35, 41), and heals diseases (Luke 4:39); all with the authority of his word.

Jesus today

As we read the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus, we see that Jesus reached out to all kinds of people, particularly people who society had rejected or were castaways. These included the sick, women, Gentiles (non-Jews), the religious elite – anybody. There was no barrier Jesus wasn’t prepared to break down so as to show God’s love for them. Jesus’ mission was to be the saviour of the world as God’s Son (John 3:16) and the Servant of the Lord. Jesus’ mission was to give a message of hope for the spiritually poor and spiritually oppressed people - people not only in his hometown, nor only in Israel, but rather for the whole world. People have two choices when faced with this fact: accept or reject. There is no other option. That is why as Christian Disciples we are to be actively engaged in evangelism, to tell people of this news about Jesus Christ.


Next week, we look at how Jesus selected his disciples...

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 9
Jesus' Mission - at home

14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
Luke 4:14-15


Jesus’ public ministry on earth has begun. These verses at the end of Luke 4 tell us that his mission is to preach God’s Kingdom. A reluctant John the Baptist had baptized Him and the crowds who witnessed this event. They had heard God the Father speaking to Jesus. He underwent temptations by the arch-seducer, satan, and emerged victorious from that ordeal. Now Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit, has returned home to Galilee (Luke 4:14). What did he do there and how did those who knew Him react as he grew through childhood?


Jesus at home (Luke 4:14-30)

Jesus is back in home territory and because of the power of his teaching, he is becoming known as a great teacher (Luke 4:15). Jesus spent some time in Galilee, became known and aroused the interest, curiosity and excitement of people.

Worshipping (Luke 4:14-18): It was Jesus’ habit to attend public worship wherever he was. But what did a typical synagogue service look like in the time of Jesus? Here is the outline of a typical synagogue service at the time of Jesus in the early first century AD:

  • Opened with a prayer for God’s blessing
  • Traditional Hebrew confession of faith (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21)
  • Prayer and readings from the Law and the Prophets
  • Brief sermon given by one of the men or a visiting rabbi (Acts 13:14-16)
  •  Benediction or prayer


Because of Jesus’ growing renown as a teacher, it is no surprise that he should be asked to read the Scripture and give a short teaching session regarding it. Here in Nazareth, Jesus declared that the day for demonstrating God’s salvation had arrived and the day the prophets looked forward to, was going to be fulfilled in Jesus Himself (Luke 4:20). Jesus was the Servant who Isaiah had talked about long ago (Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus’ ministry was divinely directed. It was a ministry of hope for all people and a ministry to free the spiritually oppressed (Luke 4:18).

Acceptable Year of the Lord (Luke 4:19): When Jesus said in Luke 4:19 “to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour”, Jesus was referring to the “Year of Jubilee” (Leviticus 25). This was when at every fiftieth year, there was the balancing of the economic system. Slaves were released, set free and returned to their families. Property that was sold, now returned to the original owners. All debts were cancelled and the land lay bare to rest and rejoice in the Lord. Upon hearing this announcement, the reaction by the local people was at first one of astonishment (Luke 4:22) and telling each other he was the son of Joseph. But we remember and know, that Jesus was not the son of Joseph. Rather, Jesus was the Son of God, as announced by angels before he was born. Jesus Christ is the new Adam and the founder of a new humanity. All this, Jesus goes on to explain.

Rejected (Luke 4:20-30): The local people of Nazareth, saw Jesus as the son of Joseph. Admiration turned to anger, because Jesus began to remind them of God’s goodness to the Gentiles. He did this by reminding them about some of the Jewish heroes of the past. People such as the great prophet Elijah who bypassed all the Jewish widows to go and help a Gentile widow in Sidon (1 Kings 17:8-16). Jesus also reminded them that another Jewish hero, Elisha, had healed a Gentile leper from Syria (2 Kings 5:1-15).


Whilst those people in Nazareth could only see Jesus in their local setting, he told them his mission was for all Israel. And if Israel rejected this message of Good News, then the Gentiles would be blessed by it (Luke 4:25-27). Upon hearing this, the astonished admiration turned to furious anger (Luke 4:28-30). Salvation is no longer restricted to Israel but for every child of Adam – every human. Jesus’ mission was not only to be Israel’s saviour but the world’s saviour. When Jesus quoted the proverb “no prophet is accepted in his hometown” (Luke 4:24), he revealed his knowledge of Old Testament history. He knew that God’s messengers often were rejected, and even as God’s Son, he was rejected as well. Next week we look at Jesus away from home.

We investigate that in the next podcast of this series.

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 8
Witnesses to Jesus

In our last episode, we looked at the witness of John the Baptist, as to the true identity of Jesus Christ. Today we continue by looking at 2 more witnesses: God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

 

Witness 2 & 3

Jesus presents Himself John for baptism. John at first refuses to do it (Matthew 3:13-15). Why so? Because John knew that Jesus was the perfect Son of God, and as such had no need to repent of sin. Through his baptism, he identified with all sinners that he came to save. We have seen already that it is the start of his public ministry (Acts 1:21-22, 10:37-38). But why did Jesus get baptized?

In replying to John’s initial refusal to baptize him, Jesus said: “…it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). This looks forward Jesus’ death on the cross, because it is only through the baptism of suffering that Jesus endured on the cross, that God can fulfil all righteousness. The “us” referred to means Father, Son and Spirit. When Jesus came up from the water, God the Father spoke from heaven and identified Him as the beloved Son of God, and the Spirit visibly came upon Jesus in the form of a dove.Witnesses as to who Jesus was from God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. So, who was this Jesus? What was so special about him, that he would go on to be the person we are studying today, some 2000 years after his death? As Christians, we think that Jesus was not only fully human but is also fully God – the God-man.


Jesus - Son of God


"the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God." (Luke 3:38).

The first man, Adam, had come into the world bearing the true image of a son of God, but, when Adam actively disobeyed God, that image was marred and scarred due to sin entering the world. All of humanity that is, except for Jesus Christ.

The voice from God the Father ratified Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus was not a son of God as some may claim, but the one and only Son of God. This genealogy recorded by Luke, points to the unbroken relationship between Jesus and God Himself. Jesus is, as Adam was, before Adam’s disobedience against his maker & creator, God.


Jesus - Son of Man (Matthew 3:23-38)


The genealogy here reminds us that the Son of God was also the Son of Man, born into the world, identifying with the needs and problems of mankind. Through the genealogy, we see down through the generations Jesus’ link to Adam and ultimately God.

The phrase “the son of” generally means any remotely connected descendant or ancestor. It is a reminder that Jesus, being Joseph’s legal son was part of a human family, tribe, race and nation. Jesus’ line goes back through the Old Testament from Joseph to King David to Judah, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham, to Methuselah to Noah and Adam. The genealogy, with its link to David, shows Jesus’ right to ascend to David’s throne (Luke 1:32-33).

The genealogy also shows Jesus’ total human-ness, and because he is linked to Adam, identifies with all humanity and not just the ancient nation of Israel. But there is one difference between Jesus and all other humans. In that Luke, doesn’t stop the genealogy at Adam, as he would have for all other humans, Luke ultimately leads and links Jesus to being God’s Son. We investigate that in the next podcast of this series.

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 7
Witnesses to Jesus

 

21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
23 Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.  Luke 3:21-23

Jesus’ baptism, is the commencement of Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus is now about 30 years old. John the Baptist precedes all Gospel accounts of the start of Jesus’ ministry, and this is because repentance before God is the key to starting a new life in God’s Kingdom.


Witness 1- John the Baptist

When John came (Luke 3:1-2) – When John the Baptist appeared on the scene, no prophetic voice had been heard within Israel for almost 400 years. His coming was part of God’s perfect timing, for everything that relates to God’s Son is always on time (John 2:4; John 13:1; Galatians 4:4).


How John came (Luke 3:3) – Dressed and acting like the Old Testament prophet Elijah, John came to the area near the River Jordan, preaching and baptizing. He announced the arrival of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 3:3) and urged all people to repent of their sins against God and to repent quickly and fervently. John’s baptism looked forward to the coming of the long waited for Messiah, as promised throughout the Old Testament.


Why John came (Luke 3:4-20) – John the Baptist was a voice crying out in the wilderness. This is a reference back to the ancient prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40:1-5) and recorded for us by both Luke (Luke 3:4) and the Apostle John.
19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was.
20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Messiah.’
21 They asked him, ‘Then who are you? Are you Elijah?’
He said, ‘I am not.’
‘Are you the Prophet?’
He answered, ‘No.’
22 Finally they said, ‘Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us.
What do you say about yourself?’
23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Make straight the way for the Lord.”’
(John 1:19-23)

Spiritually speaking, the nation of Israel was living in a state of unbelief and twisted spiritual reality. The people desperately needed to hear a voice from God, and John was that faithful voice. It was John’s work to prepare the nation for the Messiah and then present the Messiah to them. John is compared to an axe man cutting down trees that down bear fruit (Luke 3:9) or a farmer who burns useless chaff (Luke 3:17). Many Jews of the time thought they were destined for heaven simply because they were descended from Abraham. A belief that was a misreading of their Scriptures.


John the Baptist spoke boldly and straight forward. We see this clearly throughout the Gospel record. In Luke 3:7, John depicts the crowds as snakes. John the Baptist also was a teacher. He taught people to live their new faith (Luke 3:10-14). Additionally, he told them not to be selfish, but to share their blessings with other people. Tax collectors were told by John to do their work honestly. Soldiers were to stop using their jobs for personal gain. John clearly stated that Jesus was “the Lord” (Luke 3:4) and the Son of God (John 1:34).

But as we shall see next week, John was not alone in being an eyewitness of the man we know as Jesus Christ. Who were these other witnesses? We investigate that in the next of this series.

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 6
Who is Jesus?

 

Jesus is the most talked about person in history. Almost everyone has an opinion about Him. He was born to confirm God's promises, to reveal God as a Father, and to be our representative before Him. He gave us an example of how to live life to the full. He was not merely a man who received some special power. He was not some strange creation that was half man and half God, with his human nature somehow absorbed into the divine. He was much more than those ideas as we will discover as we continue in through our studies about Him in this book.

God’s salvation plan for humans involved triumphant victory over sin, death and the grave. However, no person could be found that was eligible or capable to do this. Therefore, God stepped into human history, so that this victory could be achieved. This God-man would be fully human, so that he would be able to live every feature of humanity, including suffering and death. This God-man would also need to remain fully God, so that he would be able to defeat sin, death and the grave. God’s mission of salvation to earth is clearly seen in these words of his good friend and disciple, John:

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:16-17).


Jesus, being sinless, was this God-man, consisting as he did of two complete natures, the God nature and the human nature. That is why Jesus being simultaneously fully God and fully human is essential. If Jesus Christ was not fully God and fully human, if he lacked in either way, he could not be the long-awaited Messiah. That Jesus is both God and human is what makes Christianity unique. It is why Jesus’ claims to be the only way to God are true and it is why millions of people today worship Him and acknowledge Him as their God. We investigate more about that next time. With that said, from what little we know of his childhood and early life, we know that Jesus grew in stature and wisdom amongst his peers and community (Luke 2:52)

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 5
Jesus' Birth

 

The writer of the Gospel of Luke, tells us this about the birth of Jesus Christ


In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields near by, keeping watch over their flocks at night. (Luke 2:1-8)


That Jesus was a human male is not really disputed. The birth of Jesus is extraordinary at every level. The primary documents about him, found in the Bible, states that he was born of a woman, which tells us that at least in a prenatal state, Jesus was nurtured and formed as any other male baby is.

On the physical level, Jesus was born as any person is, but about his conception, he was conceived like no other person – conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). This was so that Jesus would not be given the sinful nature past that all humans have. Jesus was fully human and fully divine. Other documents, outside of the Bible from that period of time, also attest to Jesus and his existence.

Throughout the Old Testament, there is a witness to the birth of the Messiah, the Saviour. From the time of the first sin done by Adam, through the creation of Israel, the life of the Patriarchs and Kings and the oracles of the Prophets – all looking forward to the Messiah coming. The Covenants that God made with people all looked forward to when this Messiah, this Savour, this King would come and rescue Israel. This King was to be their hope, their Saviour.

Christians believe this Messiah King was Jesus Christ. Jesus’ genealogy takes his physical line back to Abraham via David. Abraham was the father of Israel and David the first King. He grew into maturity as any young Jewish boy did. Anything further than this, we have no historical record, although there are several unverified apocryphal stories circulating.

When Jesus was born, his name imbued the very reason he was born. His conception and birth were extraordinary at every level. So, important is our understanding of the birth of Jesus that no fewer than 4 angels come to give us a full picture of the event. Do you think that his parents, Joseph & Mary, or God, ever gazed upon him, and thought “How misnamed he is?” They did not, because they knew the very purpose for which he was born. The name Jesus means ‘one who saves’, or ‘a rescuer’. The entirety of his birth, life and death were centred on this very role - to save or rescue all those who would follow Him.

More about the events surrounding Jesus' birth next week

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus

Part 4
Jesus in the Four Gospels

 

In the New Testament, we have four accounts of the life of Jesus Christ which are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These are called Gospels. But what is a Gospel, how are the four accounts different or similar and what were the main points each writer sought to communicate?

Firstly, they are called Gospels, because they gave substance to the Gospel or Good News about Jesus Christ as described by one of his early followers, the man we know as the Apostle Paul (Romans 1:16) We know that during his time on earth Jesus Christ wrote nothing formally. Yet after his ascension, the stories about Him were preserved and passed on by his disciples and other Christian teachers and evangelists. For the first thirty years or so, these stories were possibly collated and stored together. That would explain the similarity in the four accounts of Jesus’ life. They are not an exhaustive biographical detail of all that Jesus did.

Similarly, the Gospels are also not diaries reflecting a daily account of Jesus’ life. Rather they are selective accounts of his life, and were probably factual illustrations used by his disciples when preaching about Him. Therefore, they would represent the theology of the disciples, as each story about is Jesus is told. That is why they are trustworthy accounts as well as rooting Jesus’ life in first century Judaism and the Greco-Roman world

The first three of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke are what are called the synoptic Gospels. This is based on their great similarity and possibly use of a common source. Mark was probably the first Gospel written as it is shorter in length than either account written by Matthew or Luke. Mark writes as if Matthew and Luke used the Gospel written by Mark as a guide and elaborated where required. We see this in that Mark wrote none of the great discourses of Matthew (Mark 13 being the exception), such as the Sermon on the Mount. Nor does Mark show the great parables that Luke recorded. Surely if Mark had used either the accounts of Matthew or Luke, he would have used those two examples. Matthew is closer in similarity to Mark than Luke. Luke does share large portions of Mark and quite often verbatim, and with a greater use of the Greek language.

The Gospel of John on the other hand, while still telling about Jesus’ ministry, has vastly different story content. Whereas in the synoptic Gospels Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God frequently, in the Gospel of John, Jesus talks about Himself much more often, as in the seven I AM statements which we will look at in Chapters 9 and 10. For this reason, the Gospel of John was probably written much later than Matthew, Mark and Luke.

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus

Part 3

 

Welcome back to this series “Investigating Jesus Christ”. Together we are exploring the life of the most amazing person who ever lived - Jesus Christ of Nazareth. We will investigate together who this man was and why he matters.

Today we continue looking at some of the evidences outside of the Bible for the existence of the man we know as Jesus Christ.

Josephus (37-101AD) Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3

“Now around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, (but) those who had first loved him did not cease (doing so). To this day the tribe of Christians named after him has not disappeared.”

Jewish Talmud (400-700AD) (b. Sanhedrin 43a)

“Jesus practiced magic and led Israel astray”

“It was taught: On the day before the Passover they hanged Jesus. A herald went before him for forty days (proclaiming), “He will be stoned, because he practiced magic and enticed Israel to go astray. Let anyone who knows anything in his favour come forward and plead for him.” But nothing was found in his favour, and they hanged him on the day before the Passover."

 

As we have hopefully seen clearly, there is much evidence for the man we know as Jesus Christ from writings outside of the Bible. These are only a handful of sources which give good evidence for His existence. You may like to do your own investigation into the evidences: whether you are not a Christian, been a Christian for a long time or just begun being a Christian. Go for it! Discover extra WOW factors about this Jesus for yourself! We continue next week, looking at the evidence in the Bible. 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 2

Welcome back to this series “Investigating Jesus Christ”. Together we are exploring the life of the most amazing person who ever lived - Jesus Christ of Nazareth. We will investigate together who this man was and why he matters.

Today we continue looking at some of the evidences outside of the Bible for the existence of the man we know as Jesus Christ.

Mara Bar-Serapion (70AD) from “Letter to his son”)

“What benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as judgment for their crime. Or, the people of Samos for burning Pythagoras? In one moment their country was covered with sand. Or the Jews by murdering their wise king? After that their kingdom was abolished. God rightly avenged these men…The wise king…Lived on in the teachings he enacted.”

Pliny the Younger (61-113AD) from “Book 10, Letter 96”

“The Christians) were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food—but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.

Phlegon (80-140AD)

Here the darkness surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is described, in an effort to explain it: “Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth to the ninth hour.” (“Chronography”, 18:1)

“Now Phlegon, in the thirteenth or fourteenth book, I think, of his Chronicles, not only ascribed to Jesus a knowledge of future events . . . but also testified that the result corresponded to His predictions.” (“Origen Against Celsus”, Book 2, Chapter 14)

“And with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took place …” (“Origen Against Celsus”, Book 2, Chapter 33)

“Jesus, while alive, was of no assistance to himself, but that he arose after death, and exhibited the marks of his punishment, and showed how his hands had been pierced by nails.” (“Origen Against Celsus”, Book 2, Chapter 59)

Suetonius (69-140AD)

“Because the Jews at Rome caused constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (Christ), he (Claudius) expelled them from the city (Rome).” “Life of Claudius”, 25:4

“Nero inflicted punishment on the Christians, a sect given to a new and mischievous religious belief.” “Lives of the Caesars”, 26.2

Lucian of Samosata: (115-200 AD) from “The Death of Peregrine”. 11-13)

“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account…. You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.”

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 1

 

G’day! Welcome to this series “Investigating Jesus Christ”. Together we will explore the life of the most amazing person who ever lived - Jesus Christ of Nazareth. We will investigate together who this man was and why he matters.

When the human we know as Jesus Christ was born, his name imbued the very reason he was born. His conception and birth were extraordinary at every level. Jesus very name, means “one who saves” and the entirety of his birth, life and death were centred on this very role. His role was to save all those who would follow Him.

Jesus is the most talked about person in history. Almost everyone has an opinion about Him. Jesus was born to confirm God's promises, to reveal God as a Father, and to be our representative before Him. He gave us an example of how to live a holy life to the full. Jesus was not merely a man who received some special power, nor was he some strange creation that was half man and half God. He was much more than those ideas. That Jesus is both human and divine is what makes Christianity unique amongst the world’s religions. It is why Jesus’ claims to be the only way to God are true and make sense, and it is why millions of people today worship Him and acknowledge Him as their Lord and their God. The studies are divided into four parts. Are you ready to go? Come and join into this adventure of investigating the most talked about person in history – Jesus Christ.

We start by looking at some of the evidences outside of the Bible for the very existence of the man we know as Jesus Christ. There is much evidence for the existence of the man we know as Jesus Christ, dating from the 1st century to the 5th century. Some claim that there is more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ than there is for Julius Caesar.

3rd Century Julius Africanus quoting Thallus from the 1st century
“On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.” (“Chronography”, 18:1)

Tacitus (56-120AD)
“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 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 Judea, 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.”

("The Annals", 15.44)

 

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