Who is Jesus?
Who is Jesus?
The good news. You might have heard a Christian or a church telling you the ‘gospel’ or the good news. This makes the church different to other religions that mostly focus first and foremost on alternative ways to live. What is the good news? The good news resolves around a person, that is Jesus. The person of Jesus lies on the centre of our beliefs, even of our existence.
Jesus’s life and death. Jesus was born around 2,000 years ago in a small town called Bethlehem in what is now the Palestinian region. Throughout his several years of ministry on earth, he performed signs and miracles, and by his words and teachings he proclaimed that he was God. He was later crucified in Jerusalem during the rule of Pontius Pilate and died to free humanity from the curse of sin and death.
Jesus’s resurrection. What makes Jesus the centre of our existence, though, is his resurrection on the third day after his death. He showed himself to hundreds of people, who stood as witnesses in the first years of Christianity, before he ascended back into heaven to sit in power as the King who has defeated the power of sin and death, which are the enemies of all humans.
Why is the Good News important?
The good news that we proclaim is this: that Jesus has won the victory against the biggest enemies (evil and death) of all people in all places and all ages by being resurrected back to life to live for eternity. We believe that everyone on earth wants life. Some just want to survive (basic life). Some who have survived want a longer, better, happier life (improved life). Everyone works really hard to get life. Jesus’s resurrection changed the course of history precisely because he proved that he is the only one who can provide all these. He is the only one who has defeated death and evil. And he provides this eternal life as a gift (what we call grace) because we all have failed to obtain this eternal life by our own works.
This eternal life will be given in perfection when Jesus comes again to renew the whole creation and completely release it from evil, sadness, and death. But for now, he has given his Spirit to those who trust themselves to him, so that we can live out the reality of the future eternal life in the present through the way we provide a ‘better’ life to those around us; secondarily by doing such things as serving the poor, building hospitals, building schools, and primarily through more proclamation of the good news so that more people can enjoy this eternal life that is available in Jesus.
What to do now?
Do you want to surrender yourself to Jesus? Join us every Sunday at 4pm at Church on the Corner (58 Cooloongatta Road, Camberwell). Let us show you what this eternal life looks and sounds like.
How do I know if Jesus truly existed and did all these things?
Most of the time, non-Christians disregard the Bible’s witness because they see it as a religious book that is only designated for a certain group of people (i.e. Christians). But, if we see the Bible from a different perspective, that is as ancient documents, then the existence of Jesus and the account of his deeds should not be doubted. Having said that, the documents in the Bible are not the only written witnesses of Jesus. There are extra-biblical (outside of the Bible) documents that talk about Jesus.
The Roman historian Suetonius, for example, wrote early in the second century, ‘Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [the Roman emperor Claudius] expelled them from Rome.’ Most scholars infer that Claudius had probably misheard the name Christus (Latin for Christ). There is also evidence that Christians were at the time derogatorily called Chrestiani.
Another Roman historian and senator called Cornelius Tacitus also wrote regarding an event that happened in 64 AD: ‘Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.’
The Roman governor Pliny the Younger also stated in 111-112 AD, ‘…They [Christians] were wont, on a stated day, to meet together before it was light, and to sing a hymn to Christ, as to a god.’
A first century Roman-Jewish historian called Josephus wrote multiple accounts on Jesus and Christians. In the Antiquities of the Jews Book 20 Chapter 9, 1, Josephus writes on the stoning of ‘James the brother of Jesus’. If we read the Antiquities closely, there are also references regarding Jesus’s wondrous deeds, his claim as the Messiah, his crucifixion during the reign of Pontius Pilate, and his disciples’ claim that they saw Jesus alive after his burial.
If we think about it, it is rather amazing that we have these historical writings at all, written by non-Christians, about a carpenter who was born in a small rural town called Bethlehem and grew up in a small fisherman town called Nazareth. Of course, at the end of the day, none of this evidence is first-hand evidence. The only first-hand evidence is, again, the writings of the eyewitnesses in the New Testament of the Bible. If you are truly curious about the witnesses concerning Jesus, we suggest you read the four Gospels (written by Matthew, Mark, Luke,
How do I know if Jesus truly rose again from the dead?
The most striking claim of Christianity is, of course, that Jesus rose from the dead. This enables us to proclaim the good news of following Jesus, the giver of eternal life. Below are the reasons why we truly believe that Jesus rose from the dead.
Hundreds of people claimed that they saw Jesus alive after his burial, and as mentioned above, this is not only recorded in the Bible but also in the writings of non-Christian historians like Josephus. Hundreds of people could not have hallucinated at the same time and seen the same thing.
The first witnesses recorded in the Bible were female (e.g. Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8; John 20:1-18). In early Judaism, though, female witnesses had no value. If the writers of the Gospels had made up these resurrection accounts, then it would have made no sense for them to write that women were the
Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem, and the first disciples of Jesus spread the news firstly in Jerusalem. If the tomb had not been empty, the Jewish and Roman authorities (both of whom antagonized Christianity) could have produced the body of Jesus and shown it to the public.
Followers of Jesus were dispersed during the crucifixion and were in hiding after his death. They quickly became extremely brave, however, in proclaiming that they saw Jesus’s being alive, to the point where they would bravely face persecutions by the polytheistic Roman Empire and the strict monotheistic Jews. This change of behaviors is difficult to explain if they had made up the story.
The strongest evidence, at least for us, is the existence of Christianity itself as a movement started and continued by early followers of Jesus. Christian faith is laid on the foundation that is the person of Jesus. If Jesus had been dead and not risen again, then the followers of Jesus would have been dispersed.
Of course, none of these points definitely proves that Jesus rose from the dead. But, using abductive logical reasoning (by accumulating them together), we know that the best explanation for all these points is Jesus really did rise from the dead.
If you want first-hand evidence, however, you can come to the church and witness how Jesus has changed us Christians. And then with the help of God, we will help you to pray for Jesus to come and reveal himself to you personally.