"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." (John 3:16)


Religion

The answer to the question of if there was a historical Jesus is significant to many different groups of people in the world, such as historians, social scientists, atheists, and even politicians, as everyone has their own different motives and uses for such information. Most of all, however, this question is most important for Christians themselves. Christianity is centered on the belief that Christ really and truly walked among us, died, was buried, and was resurrected. If none of this ever happened, then all we are left with are some nice and spiritually inspiring stories, but nothing to really believe in.

 

The Bible is adamant that Christ lived among us, and that this is the only rhyme or reason for our faith. Consider the following Biblical quotes which encourage us to believe in Christ and in the fact that He lived and continues to live in heaven:

 

"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." (John 3:16)

 

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20)

 

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

 

So what does historical scholarship have to say on the issue? Christians will be happy to know that most historians do believe Jesus was a historical person, and that there is ample evidence to justify this belief.

 

The main sources we have for the existence of a historical Jesus are the four gospels. Some people criticize the idea of using the gospels as a source because they are used as religious texts, but there is no reason why they should be treated any differently than any other historical document merely because believers find spiritual encouragement and motivation in them. The gospels may be focused on spreading the Good News and making sure that people find salvation, but they also provide us with important historical information such as where Jesus was born, where He preached, and where and why He was crucified.

 

The existence of Jesus is further solidified by the fact that we have several non-Christian sources which refer to Him fairly shortly after His death. The Jewish historian Josephus references Jesus as "the so-called Christ" and provides some details about His crucifixion. Jesus is also talked about by three separate Roman writers: the Roman Governor Pliny the Younger, the historian and senator Tacitus, and the historian Suetonius. All three writers reference both Christ and the group of people who He inspired who called themselves Christians, and note the difficulties that the Roman Empire was having in dealing with these Christians.

 

What history knows about Jesus is that He was a Jew, that He was from an area known as Galilee, and that He embarked on His teaching career at roughly thirty years of age. He upset various Jewish and Roman powers of the day and was persecuted and sentenced to death. His followers continued to spread His message and eventually succeeded in reaching all of the corners of the world. What faith knows about Jesus is that His existence means that we have been reconciled with God and will one day be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven.