This Jesus Guy, Who Was He?
Who Was He?
This guy Jesus
About 2,000 years ago some guy came along and made his mark in the world. Well, maybe 2016 years ago- ok, I am not sure how long ago exactly, this calendar things are something else; for instance, it is still 2009 in Ethiopia- so I’ve heard. Anyways, at age 30, this guy Jesus walks in to the lives of Jews, says he is the son of god, preaches what most Christians today refer to as the "good news" does some miracles and is ultimately crucified- from here, according to believers; he is resurrected and goes back to heaven. Whatever one's belief, the fact is that he sure made an impact on the entire world.
Many historians today agree that a guy by the name Jesus did show up on earth some 2,000 years or so back. Evidence of the existence of Jesus outside the New Testament (from non- Christian sources) has been recorded by such ancient historians as Tacitus (a roman historian) Pliny the Younger (roman governor in 112 AD) as well as Josephus (first century Jewish historian) among several others. Most of their accounts have been confirmed by many current historians as reliable, and thus as evidence that Jesus did indeed exist.
Let's assume for a moment that Jesus was not the son of god- just for a minute (I am talking to Christians here :) many other people and other religions already accept this as fact). What would drive a man to accept torture, crucifixion and death? Think about it for a minute, a guy shows up, and is well able to attract the attention of so many people, and even has influence over them. In today's society, such an individual (if he was not from god) would take advantage of this "celebrity" status and make loads of cash from it. Maybe he would use this opportunity to get in to politics and enhance his influence on the people. Many of us have an idea or two of how we would use such an opportunity- wouldn't you agree? This was not Jesus. He was humble (except for that instance when he whooped some Jews at the temple) and would not allow his followers to be violent nor lead them to violence. Josephus describes Jesus as having been wise, while the Babylonian Talmud note that Jesus was "going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery". This can be used as evidence that Jesus did work some miracles during his time on earth and was indeed wise. There are a number of passages in the Old Testament where prophets had prophesized the coming of a messiah with some going in to detail about what would happen to him. For instance; Micah 5:2 reads that the messiah would be born in Bethlehem, genesis 49:10 reads that he would come from the tribe of Judah while psalm 69:8 and Isaiah 53:3 reads that he would be rejected by his people. These are just but a few of the passages that had prophesized the coming of a messiah. In the event that some of our good detectives were working this case back then, they would agree that Jesus did pretty much fit this profile. So, again, assuming that Jesus was not the son of god, why would he allow himself to be condemned to death so easily? Here we have a man who has done some miracles, fed the people, healed them and to some good extent managed to influence them (except for Jewish leaders at the time of course, they didn't like him one bit). So, again, why would such a guy with all this influence just accept such an embarrassing thing to happen to him? - Death by crucifixion at the time was embarrassing and not what most people would have admired (just saying :)).
Many Jews at the time expected a messiah that would come along and lead them against their oppressors. They expected that their messiah would be more of a military leader, who would lead them to victory against all those who oppressed them, including the Romans, and ultimately establish a strong Jewish kingdom- it is at this point that I am led to believe that this people did not really read their bibles (the old testament) I mean seriously, old prophets had already prophesized that he would come along, be hated by his own people and crucified- this, really, does not say he would lead them to any battle over their oppressors- but then again, I am yet to read the entire bible to confirm this :)
I would like to remind the reader that the ways of god (if you are a believer) are not the ways of man- just ask Jonah from the Old Testament. Although he was a prophet of god, this man appears to have had little understanding of the love of god. In his opinion, and from his understanding, the people of Nineveh were too evil to be forgiven. God had sent this man to tell the people of Nineveh to repent of their sins or perish, but Jonah had other plans- he would have rather seen them perish. The Jewish people also had the wrong idea of Jesus. He was not the messiah they wanted, and this was sufficient grounds for them to reject him. Again, the ways of god are not the ways of man. Had Jesus not been the son of god, then I would have expected him to conform to the expectations of the people at the time, influenced them against his own oppressors and to some extent, gotten away with it. He had already attracted their attention, so it follows that he would have had nothing to lose by conforming to their expectations of him- after all, this would have been to his advantage (somewhat). However, given that the ways of god are not those of man, Jesus had come to earth with one single objective- to be sacrificed for all people.
I have heard of many people- atheists and non-Christians give their own arguments about Jesus. While some argue that he never existed at all, some have argued that there was a conspiracy to make him appear to be the son of god when indeed he wasn't. Historians and non- Christian historians have shown that Jesus did exist. I hope that we can all at least agree with that part. Now to the conspiracy part- why on earth would so many people accept to put their lives at risk for the sake of a fake? It would have taken so many people to work on such a conspiracy if indeed there was one, I will give a number of examples here. John 19:36 reads "these things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled; not one of his bones will be broken". Again, in exodus 12:46 we read "he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken". Although the two thieves that were crucified on either side of Jesus had their bones broken (at the knee level I think) this did not happen to Jesus. It is for this reason that john notes "that the scriptures would be fulfilled". If indeed there was some sort of conspiracy, then the roman soldiers were definitely in it. This is very unlikely given that they really did a number on him.
I am sure that many who are familiar with the roman history know a thing or two about Nero- yeah, the roman emperor. This guy was worse than Hitler- like for real- just read about him- he not only brought the Roman Empire to ruin, but also committed other horrible atrocities like killing his aunt, his ex- wife, his mother and even an adoptive brother of his. This guy commanded that people be beheaded, stabbed, burnt or boiled alive. These are just some of the evil acts he is well remembered for. However, it was the Christians who had it worse. He starved them to death, unleashed dogs on them, fed them to lions, burnt them alive and crucified them. The man was thought to have been the anti-Christ at the time. This led some of the Christians to abandon their faith to avoid the suffering- but many were killed for holding on to it. I ask again, who in their right state of mind would die for a fake?
Think of Apostle Paul for instance. Before becoming an apostle, Paul (then Saul) made it his goal to persecute Christians. Acting as an instrument for the Romans, he was focused on seeking out Christians and dragging them out to be persecuted. This led to the imprisonment of many Christians and the murder of some. In acts 7:57 for instance, we see this man giving his approval for Stephen to be stoned to death. He was so determined an focused on this that he went door to door seeking out believers to be tried and executed for their faith, and this would only stop when he encountered Jesus while on his way to find many more Christians in hiding. Would anyone one in their right state of mind convert to Christianity knowing very well that what was happening to them would happen to him? He knew first hand that Christians were suffering, that they were being sought out and killed- after all, he was one of the persecutors. So why on earth would he convert to follow a fake? Would that make sense? It is important to note that the Romans began to seek him out to be tried following his conversion and he would later be executed under empower Nero.
One of the questions I have heard time and again with regards to all this is- why on earth would such a good and loving god allow the Christians to be killed in such horrible ways? When I hear of this question I am led to ask myself why on earth these people would hold on to Jesus even to their deaths. Look at Stephen for instance; it is said that he looked up to the heavens while they were still stoning him and appeared to be at peace. Again, the ways of god are not the ways of man- just ask job and his friends. You see, he had been a wealthy man and lost everything all over sudden. His wife was so damn pissed that she told him that it was only reasonable for him to curse god and die. Thank god he had friends who came to him to comfort him. They sat there with him for seven days, taking and crying with him. I will not go in to details, but the conversations they held were really interesting. "You must have done something for god to forsake you and leave you like this" this is what they said to him "or, maybe there is a sin you have not asked god to forgive you for" you know, those kinds of talk. God allows them to carry on their conversations, but ultimately comes down with some hard questions they cannot answer. Interesting that they remained speechless when god comes down and talks to them. God does not conform to the ways of man. I remember this one thing in all that interaction, that the devil could take everything, but could not touch his soul. The soul- this was important than any wealth. Christians who accepted death knew this very fact- it must have been the reason this man Stephen found peace while being stoned to death. This can never make sense to a non- Christian or an atheist.
Do You Know Him?
The Son of God
I remember this one instance Richard Dawkins was debating, or holding an interview with Alister McGrath. I recall him telling McGrath that he could not understand how and why such an intellect as himself could believe in all this god, Jesus and creation stuff. It does not make sense- it can never make sense to an atheist or a non-believer. He simply couldn't understand it. The personal relationship between us and god is a special one. His ways are above ours and his love, grace and mercies are un- ending. The prophet Jonah may not have understood this, which is why he was hesitant to go to Nineveh. In his own eyes, they were all guilty and deserved death. Aren’t you just glad that god's ways are better than ours? Honestly, if Jonah was god then none of us would be safe.
Man has been able to achieve so much in the last century to the extent that he feels he can call god out- that he can simply say god does not exist. Maybe scientists and atheists should learn a thing or who about the wise men- astrologers who followed the star to worship a baby that would be king. They were smart fellows, but still believed in this baby king.
There are so many things I had in mind, and wanted to talk about with regards to Jesus. Some slipped out of mind when I was writing this J maybe I will remember them and write another paper.
Just tell me what you think of Jesus for now. Was he the son of god? Did he even exist? Are we following blindly? Talk to me and let me know what you think.