With Easter soon upon us, I thought I would post a collaboration of some materials I have collected through the years concerning the evidence that Jesus is the Messiah. There, undoubtedly, will be many television specials that tend to undermine the deity and Messiahship of the Lord Jesus Christ, so below is some information to aid you this Holy Week in your Lenten journey towards Easter.
1. Did Jesus actually walk the earth?
One argument of skeptics is to desperately try to convince themselves or others that Jesus Christ did not exist and never came in the flesh. This is very difficult to achieve because many nations recorded Christ’s deeds, and countless eyewitnesses and historians bore witness to his works. All the books of the New Testament bear eyewitness accounts to Jesus Christ. For example, Flavius Josephus was an Israelite general in the war against the Romans in 70 AD. After the war, Josephus wrote several volumes detailing Israelite history. Josephus lived at the time of Christ and gave his own eyewitness testimony concerning Jesus of Nazareth. The following examples are just the tip of the iceberg compared to the mountains of archeological and historical evidence proving the existence of Jesus Christ:
Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it were lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, -a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was The Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divined prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day. -Flavius Josephus, (Antiquities of the Jews, XViii, iii, page 373).
For all men, the just as well as the unjust, shall be brought before God the Word; for to him hath the Father committed all judgment; and he, in order to fulfill the will of His Father, shall come as judge, whom we call Christ… -Flavius Josephus (Discourse to the Greeks Concerning Hades, I:VI, Page 638).
Julius Africanus (c. A.D. 221) quoted Thallus (A.D. 52), a Samaritan-born historian:
Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness [at the time of the crucifixion] as an eclipse of the sun-unreasonably, as it seems to me.
Mara Bar Serapion (after A.D. 73) wrote a letter to his son, which is now being kept in the British Museum. In it he compares the deaths of Socrates, Pythagoras, and Jesus, saying:
“What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished…. But Socrates did not die for good; he lived on in the teaching of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise King die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given.”
Lucian (second century; On the Death of Peregrine), a Greek writer, who did not like Christians, wrote:
“The man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world… Furthermore, their first lawgiver persuaded them that they were all brothers one of another after they have transgressed once for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshipping that crucified sophist himself and living under his laws.”
Cornelius Tacitus (c. AD 55 ) a Roman Historian, wrote concerning Nero’s attempt to relieve himself of guilt for burning Rome:
“Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their normities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also” (Annals XV.44).
Pliny the Younger (c. AD 112), governor of Bithynia; writing to the emperor about how he had massacred Christian men, women, and children.
“All who denied that they were or had been Christians I consider should be discharged, because they called upon the gods at my dictation and did reverence, with incense and wine, your [emperor’s] image … they curse Christ, which a genuine Christian cannot be induced to do” “…[Christians} were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verse of a hymn to Christ as to a god, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to do any wicked deeds, and never to deny a truth when they should be called upon to deliver it up.” (Epistles, X.96).
2. The Roman Record of the Death Sentence of Jesus Christ:
The following is a copy of the most memorable judicial sentence which has ever been pronounced in the annals of the world — namely, that of death against the Savior, the knowledge of which must be interesting in the highest degree to every Christian. The Volume Library Archives Comments: “The sentence is engraved on a plate of brass in the Hebrew language, and on its sides are the following words: ‘A similar plate has been sent to each tribe.’ It was discovered in the year 1280 in the city of Aquill (Aquilla.) in the kingdom of Naples, by a search made for the discovery of Roman antiquities, and remained there until it was found by the Commissaries of Art in the French army of Italy. Up to the time of the campaign in Southern Italy it was preserved in the sacristy of the Carthusians near Naples where it was kept in a box of ebony. Since then the relic has been kept in the Chapel of Caserta.”
The sentence is word for word as follows:
- SENTENCE PRONOUNCED BY PONTIUS PILATE, INTENDENT OF THE PROVINCE OF LOWER GALILEE, THAT JESUS OF NAZARETH SHALL SUFFER DEATH BY THE CROSS. IN THE SEVENTEENTH YEAR OF THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR TIBERIUS AND ON THE 25TH OF THE MONTH OF MARCH, IN THE MOST HOLY CITY OF JERUSALEM, DURING THE PONTIFICATE OF ANNAS AND CAIAPHAS, PONTIUS PILATE, INTENDANT OF THE PROVINCE OF LOWER GALILEE, SITTING IN JUDGMENT IN THE PRESIDENTIAL SEAT OF THE PRAETORS, SENTENCES JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH TO DEATH ON A CROSS BETWEEN TWO ROBBERS, AS THE NUMEROUS AND NOTORIOUS TESTIMONIALS OF THE PEOPLE PROVE: 1. JESUS IS A MISLEADER. 2. HE EXCITED THE PEOPLE TO SEDITION. 3. HE IS AN ENEMY TO THE LAWS. 4. HE CALLS HIMSELF THE SON OF GOD. 5. HE CALLS HIMSELF FALSELY THE KING OF ISRAEL. 6. HE WENT INTO THE TEMPLE FOLLOWED BY A MULTITUDE CARRYING PALMS IN THEIR HANDS. ORDERS: -THE FIRST CENTURION, QUINTUS CORNELIUS, TO BRING HIM TO THE PLACE OF EXECUTION, FORBIDS ALL PERSONS, RICH OR POOR, TO PREVENT THE EXECUTION OF JESUS. THE WITNESSES WHO HAVE SIGNED THE EXECUTION AGAINST JESUS ARE: (1). DANIEL ROBANI, PHARISEE; (2) JOHN ZOROBABEL; (3) RAPHAEL ROBANI; (4) CAPET. JESUS TO BE TAKEN OUT OF JERUSALEM THROUGH THE GATE OF TOURNEA.
3. The Old Testament has a lot to say about Jesus
- It was written by more than 20 people over a 1500-year period and was completed 450 years before Jesus was born.
- The prophecies made about Him were made in astonishing detail.
- More than 300 prophecies were made about the coming Messiah.
4. Jesus is the only One who has fulfilled each of these prophecies.
- The chances of one person fulfilling a mere 8 of these prophecies are 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000 (quadrillion).
- For one person to fulfill 48 of these prophecies, the number becomes staggering: 1 in 10 to the 157th power.
- Add to that the other 250 prophecies and it becomes impossible for any other person—except Jesus—to ever fit that particular sequence of time and events.
From the very beginning in the book of Genesis, Our Heavenly Father has promised us a redeemer, a deliverer, a sacrifice for our sins and a way for us to be reconciled to the Father.
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
According to the Scriptures, the Savior has a two-fold mission and was prophesied to come twice to the earth. The first time, the serpent shall bruise his heel. This refers to the death on the cross Jesus would incur as the atonement for our sins. The second prophecy concerns the Second Coming of the Messiah where Jesus would bruise the serpent’s head. A bruise to the head is much worse than a bruise on the heel. We see here that the bruise to the head is the fatal blow Satan will take when Christ comes again in glory to cast Satan into the Lake of Fire for all eternity (Rev. 19:20).
The second prophecy concerning the coming of the Messiah is found in the lineage. Here we see the beginning of prophecies that just could not be fulfilled by man’s will. No one can determine to whom they are born. We cannot choose who our parents are.
Descendant of Abraham
Now the Lord had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you;And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.
Descendant of Isaac
Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.
“the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor.”
Descendant of Jacob
“I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel.
Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begat Judah and his brothers.
From the Tribe of Judah
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
“…the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah…”
An heir of the throne of David.
Of the increase of His government and peace, There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice, From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Hopefully, this gives you enough information to see the Jesus came in the flesh and that he fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah.
Or as Dr. Luther explains in the Small Catechism:
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.
This is most certainly true.