How Did a Humble Jewish Carpenter Become the World’s Most Recognized Leader?

The intention of this article is to offer support for Jesus’ divinity. I will offer common questions that critics or skeptics present, along with answers to those questions.

Was Jesus Merely a Great Teacher or Prophet? No.

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” – CS Lewis

Jesus performed many miracles, made strong claims about His divinity, and forgave people. He resurrected from the dead after three days and we have timely extra-biblical and Biblical support for His life, crucifixion, resurrection, and the testimonies of early Christian martyrs who said they saw the risen Jesus. Click here for further details: https://christian-apologist.com/2017/04/16/an-extra-biblical-case-for-christianity/

Did Jesus Say He is Lord? Yes.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:61-62).

Did Jesus Perform Miracles that Mortals Could Not Repeat? Yes.

  1. Jesus turns water into wine (John 2:1-12)
  2. Jesus heals an official’s son without going to see the boy (John 4:46-54).
  3. Jesus heals a crippled man on the Sabbath (John 5:1-17).
  4. Jesus feeds 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:19-21; Mark 6:30-34; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14).
  5. Jesus walks on water (Matthew 14:22-32; Mark 6:47-52; John 6:16-21).
  6. Jesus heals a man born blind (John 9:1-41).
  7. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44).
  8. Jesus heals a bleeding woman (Matthew 9:2-7; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48).
  9. Jesus calms a storm (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:37-41; Luke 8:22-25).
  10. Jesus heals a paralyzed man (Matthew 9:2-7; Mark 2:3-12; Luke 5:18-26).
  11. Jesus resurrected from the dead (Matthew 28:5-6; Mark 16:6; Luke 24; John 20).

Do We Have Any Extra-Biblical Support for Jesus’ Miracles or Followers’ Beliefs? Yes.

Extra-biblical ancient secular sources hostile to Christianity further support Jesus’ miracles. Celsus said He claimed to be God and He had “miraculous powers,” while the Talmud reported that He was a “sorcerer.” Lucian and Pliny the Younger stated that He was worshipped as God by His followers. Josephus reported that Jesus’ disciples reported that He had appeared to them alive three days after His crucifixion.

Did Jesus Fulfill Any Old Testament Prophecies? Yes.

Among the 330 Old Testament prophecies, which Jesus fulfilled, are the following passages*:

The Messiah would be: Tanach Reference Fulfillment
from the seed of a woman Genesis 3:15 Romans 16:20; Galatians 4:4; Rev. 12:9; Rev. 12:7
a willing sacrifice Genesis 12:3 Acts 3:24-26
a Passover lamb Exodus 12: 1-51 John 1:29; 1:36; 19:33; 1 Corinth. 5:7-8; 1 Peter 1:19
the suffering servant Isaiah 52-53 Matt 8:16-17; Mark 10:45; Luke 22:20; Acts 8:32-35
lifted up Numbers 21:6-9 John 3:14-18
called God’s Son Psalms 2:1-12 Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22; Acts 4:25-28
Resurrected Psalms 16: 8-11 Acts 2:22-32; Acts 13:35-37
forsaken and pierced, but vindicated Psalms 22:1-31 Matthew 27:39; 46; Mark 15:34; John 2:17
a righteous sufferer Psalms 69 Acts 1:20; John 2:17; John 15:25; Romans 15:1-3
greater than David Psalms 110:1-4 Matthew 22:42-45; Luke 20:41-44; Acts 2:34-36
the rejected cornerstone Psalms 118: 22-24 Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10-11; Luke 20:17-18
Acclaimed Psalms 118: 25-29 Luke 13:35; Mark 11:9-10; John 12:13; Matt. 21:9
born of a virgin Isaiah 7:14 Matt 1:22-23; Luke 1:31-35
a wonderful counselor; Mighty God; everlasting Father and Prince of Peace Isaiah 9:6-7 Luke 1:32-33; 79; Acts 10:36; John 14:27; John 6:51
perform signs of healing Isaiah 35:5-6 Matt 3:1-3; Mark 1:1-3; Luke 1:76; John 1:22-23

* Source: https://jewsforjesus.org/answers/top-40-most-helpful-messianic-prophecies/

The Bible Is One Book, So Fulfilling Prophecies is a Scam, Right? No.

Critics often suggest Jesus’ followers crafted His story, calling upon Bible passages of which they were well aware. They claim the Bible can’t be used to prove the Bible. Yet the Bible is not a single book, so claims of circular references are without merit. The Bible is a book written by forty authors over 1,500 years in three continents and three languages.  Around 700 B.C., Isaiah 53 described Jesus as the suffering servant who was “pierced for our transgressions.” Daniel 9 succinctly identified the timing of Jesus’ arrival and crucifixion in 33 A.D. Daniel also stated that the Messiah would appear prior to the fall of the second temple, which occurred in 70 A.D. These predictions were only possible with a divine source whose knowledge is unbounded in time. Click here for further information: https://jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/issues-v13-n02/four-startling-facts-about-the-identity-of-the-messiah/.

Did Jesus’ Disciples Ever Doubt His Divinity? Yes.

When Jesus was crucified, His apostles fled into hiding, afraid that they would meet the same gory fate. But then something happened that changed all of them. Peter, who had thrice denied Jesus began to preach boldly for decades, braving beatings, imprisonments, and an eventual upside down crucifixion. Jesus’ ½ brother James was also skeptical, yet like Peter, he also suddenly transformed into a brave witness who was eventually martyred for his faith. Paul, who once persecuted and actively hunted Christians said he witnessed the risen Jesus on his way to Damascus. He became one of Christianity’s strongest advocates, braving stoning, beatings, imprisonments, and an eventual beheading by Nero.

What happened?

They saw the risen Jesus and were filled with the Holy Spirit.

They were emboldened, risking death to share the Good News with the world. In the New Testament, numerous reports by authors such as Luke and Paul document early Christian persecution. Acts 7: 54-60 documents the stoning of Stephen, while Acts 12:2 documents the way Herod Agrippa put James, the brother of John, to death by the sword. Paul was also stoned, beaten, jailed, which he documented in his New Testament books. His beheading by Nero was documented by Origen, Tertullian, and Dionysius of Corinth (Habermas & Licona, 2004). The martyrdom of Jesus’ half- brother James was documented by Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement of Alexandria (Habermas & Licona, 2004). Peter was crucified upside down, as confirmed by Eusebius, the first church historian, in his book “Ecclesiastical History” and also by Dionysius of Corinth, Tertullian, and Origen.

How Did a Humble Jewish Carpenter Become the Greatest Leader Who Ever Lived?

Furthermore, how did a humble group that included fishermen, a tent maker, and a tax collector transform the early Christian community? In the book of Acts, a Pharisee of Gamaliel provided us with that answer. When other Pharisees were ready to kill Peter and the other apostles from having escaped prison and having stated that they saw the risen Jesus, Gamaliel cautioned them. He reminded them of Theudas and Judas the Galilean who claimed to be somebody, yet after they were killed their followers dispersed. He said, “Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” By 313, when Christianity was finally legalized by Constantine, Christians numbered between five and six million (Wawro, 2008).

Conclusion

Taken together, the best explanation for all of the evidence we have about Jesus is as follows:  Jesus is Lord.

Thank you for your time.

References

Habermas, G.R. & Licona, M.R. (2004). The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

Wawro, G. (2008). Historical Atlas: A Comprehensive History of the World. Elanora Heights, Australia: Millennium House.

 

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