Visit any part of the world today. Talk to people of any religion. No matter how committed they are to their particular religion, if they know anything about history, they will have to admit that there has never been a man like Jesus of Nazareth. He is the most unique personality of all time.
Jesus changed the direction of history. Even the date on your morning newspaper testifies to the fact that Jesus of Nazareth lived on earth nearly 2,000 years ago. B.C. means “before Christ”; A.D. Anno Domini, “the year of our Lord”.
His Coming Foretold
Hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, Scripture records the words of the prophets of Israel predicting His coming. The Old Testament, written by many people over a period of 1,500 years, contains more than 300 prophecies describing His coming. All of these details came true, including his miraculous birth, His sinless life, His many miracles, His death and His resurrection.
The life Jesus led, the miracles He did, the words He spoke, His death on the cross, His resurrection, His ascent to heaven – all point to the fact that He was not merely man, but more than man. Jesus claimed, “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30), “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), and “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6).
His Life and Message Cause Change
Look at the life and influence of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, throughout history and you will see that He and His message always produce great changes in the lives of men and of nations. Wherever His teachings and influence have gone, the holiness of marriage, women’s rights and voice in society have been acknowledged; schools and universities of higher learning have been established; laws to protect children have been made; slavery has been abolished; and a multitude of other changes have been made for the good of mankind. Individual lives are also dramatically changed. For example, Lew Wallace, a famous general and literary genius, was a known atheist. For two years, Mr. Wallace studied the leading libraries of Europe and America, seeking information that would forever destroy Christianity. While writing the second chapter of a book he planned to write, he suddenly found himself on his knees crying out to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.”
Because of solid indisputable evidence, he could no longer deny that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. Later, Lew Wallace wrote the book “Ben Hur”, one of the greatest English novels ever written concerning the time of Christ.
Similarly, the late C.S. Lewis, professor at Oxford University in England, was an agnostic who denied the deity of Christ for years. But he, too, in intellectual honesty, submitted to Jesus as his God and Savior after studying the overwhelming evidence for His deity.
Lord, Liar, or Lunatic?
In his famous book “Mere Christianity”, Lewis makes this statement, “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 the level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool 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.”
Who is Jesus of Nazareth to you? Your life on this earth and for all of eternity is affected by your answer to this simple question.
All other religions were founded by human beings and are based on man-made philosophies, rules and norms for behavior. Take the founders of these religions out of both their disciplines and practices of worship and little would change. But take Jesus Christ out of Christianity, and there would be nothing left. Biblical Christianity is not just a philosophy of life, nor an ethical standard or obedience to religious ritual. True Christianity is based on a vital, personal relationship with a risen, living Savior and Lord.
A Risen Creator
Jesus of Nazareth was crucified on a cross, buried in a borrowed grave, and three days later was raised from the dead; Christianity is unique in this regard. Any argument for the validity of Christianity depends on the proof of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
Throughout the centuries, most great scholars who have considered the proofs of the resurrection have believed, and still believe, that Jesus is alive. After examining the evidence for the resurrection given by the Gospel writers, the late Simon Greenleaf, an authority on legal issues at Harvard Law School, concluded; “It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.”
John Singleton Copley, recognized as one of the greatest legal minds in British history, commented: “I know pretty well what evidence is; and I tell you, such evidence as that for the resurrection has never broken down yet.”
Reasons for Belief
The resurrection is central to the faith of a Christian. There are several reasons why those who study the resurrection believe it is true:
- Foretold: First, Jesus Himself foretold His death and resurrection and His death and resurrection came about exactly as He had predicted (Luke 18:31-33)
- The Empty Grave: Second, the resurrection is the only plausible explanation for His empty grave. A careful reading of the biblical story shows that the grave where they laid the body of Jesus was closely guarded by Roman soldiers and sealed with an enormous boulder. If, as some have claimed, Jesus was not dead, but only weakened, the guards and the stone would have stopped his escape – or any rescue attempt by His followers. Jesus’ enemies would never have taken the body since His body missing from the grave would only serve to encourage belief in His resurrection.
- Personal Encounters: Third, the resurrection is the only explanation for the appearances of Jesus Christ to His disciples. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared at least ten times to those who had known Him and to as many as 500 people at one time. The Lord proved that these appearances were not hallucinations: He ate and talked with them and they touched Him. (1 John 1:1)
- Birth of the Church: Fourth, the resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for the beginning of the Christian church. The Christian church is by far the largest institution that exists or has ever existed in the history of the world. More than half of the first sermon ever preached had to do with the resurrection (Acts 2:14-36). Obviously, the early church knew that this was the basis of its message. The enemies of Jesus and His followers could have stopped them at any time by simply producing Jesus’ body.
- Transformed Lives: Fifth, the resurrection is the only logical explanation for the transformed lives of the disciples. They deserted Him before His resurrection; after His death they were discouraged and fearful. They did not expect Jesus to rise from the dead (Luke 24:1-11).Yet after His resurrection and their experience at Pentecost, these same discouraged, disappointed men and women were transformed by the mighty power of the risen Christ. In His name, they turned the world upside down. Many lost their lives for their faith; others were terribly persecuted. Their courageous behavior does not make sense apart from their conviction that Jesus Christ was truly raised from the dead – a fact worth dying for.
- A Living Lord: Because of Jesus’ resurrection, His true followers do not merely observe the ethical code of a dead founder, but rather have a vital, personal relationship with the living Lord. Jesus Christ lives today and faithfully blesses and enriches the lives of all those who trust and obey Him. Throughout the centuries, multitudes have acknowledged the worthiness of Jesus Christ, including many who have greatly influenced the world.French physicist and philosopher Blaise Pascal spoke of man’s need for Jesus when he said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man, which only God can fill through His Son Jesus Christ.”
Jesus is so eager to establish a personal, loving relationship with you that He has already made all the necessary arrangements. Would you like to know Jesus Christ personally as your living savior?
You can talk to him right now! As bold as it may sound, you can. Simply share the following prayer with God in your own words:
- Lord, I admit that I need you. (I have sinned.)
- I want forgiveness for my sins and freedom from eternal death. (I repent.)
- I believe Jesus died and rose from the grave to forgive my sins and to restore my relationship with you. (I believe in Jesus.)
- By faith, I invite Jesus Christ into my life. From this time on, I want to live in a loving relationship with Him. (I receive Christ as my Savior and Lord.)
“But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in his name.” ~John 1:12
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