“Easter” is here. It’s the time we celebrate the ATONING DEATH and GLORIOUS RESURRECTION of Jesus. What a beautiful time of the year this is! It’s one of the two most loved Christian celebrations.
But not everyone celebrates! Sure, the liberal, left-leaning news media acknowledge these beautiful times on the Christian calendar, but what do they just have to do? They have to smear the Christian Faith somehow. Not only do they dishonor the faith, but they target our sweet Lord also.
They even doubt Jesus existed! Look at the heading above. I recently read it in the news. As we get closer to Easter, the news media shares things about Jesus. In 2012 they had a different story. In it, Jesus is suggested to have been married to Mary Magdalene. What blasphemy! What insensitive gibberish and brute disregard and disrespect towards the God of the Christians.
But this year they suggest Jesus didn’t even exist. Somebody needs to make up their mind – is their story that Jesus existed but was married to Mary Magdalene, or is it that Jesus didn’t even exist at all? The truth is that both of these suggestions are outright lies.
Why do they say Jesus didn’t exist? They give us three reasons:
(1) “There are parallels between some pagan stories and the story of Jesus.” To this I answer: Of course satan, the father of lies, would copy-cat and corrupt the truth;
(2) “The apostle Paul never referred to a historical Jesus.” To this I answer, What kind of weed are they smoking, and is it even legal in their state? What nonsense! And,
(3) “No credible sources outside the Bible say Jesus existed.” Oh my goodness, again – what nonsense. I am going to share with you several sources outside of the Bible that either implicitly or explicitly infer the existence of the historical person named Jesus.
Before I give you evidence of Jesus’ existence outside the Bible, let’s get back on track by saying the Bible evidence of Jesus is the most powerful proof of His existence. Even if we did not believe the Bible is the Word of God, WE MUST STILL ADMIT THAT IT IS ONE OF THE MOST ACCURATE AND WELL PRESERVED OF ALL LITERATURE OF ANTIQUITY!
But not only is the Bible one of the most amazing, well preserved, and most accurately transcribed volume of literature of the ancient times, but it is the Word of God.
Now, let’s move on – the liberal media is not talking about the record of Jesus’ existence in the Bible – they are saying that there is no reference to Jesus OUTSIDE THE BIBLE. Oh really? Actually, there are several references to Jesus outside the Bible – either implicitly or explicitly. And some even show us that the critics of the Christians observed that Jesus was worshiped as God!
1. Thallus (circa 51AD) is quoted by Julius Africanus as follows,
“On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.” Now, the name “Jesus” is not mentioned here, but all we have to do is compare the DARKNESS and the ROCKS RENT by an EARTHQUAKE (IN JUDEA) with Matthew 27:45-54.)
2. Tacitus (circa 56-120AD) writes,
“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.”
Tacitus does not write kindly about the “Christians,” and about their originator “Christus” (i.e. Christ.) But he does us a favor – His writings serve as a record that Jesus existed. And these records are outside the Bible! How can the liberals say that there is no credible evidence outside the Bible for the existence of Jesus?!
3. Mara Bar-Serapion wrote around 73AD, saying,
“What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise king? It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished.” Again, though here the Name of Jesus is not listed, there is a clear reference to Him. Only Jesus was executed (crucified) for being the “KING OF THE JEWS” (Matthew 27:37.) And in addition to that, it was SHORTLY AFTER JESUS CRUCIFIXION (circa 33AD) that Jerusalem was destroyed in 70AD.
4. Flavius Josephus (95AD):
Josephus was a Jewish historian who published his Antiquities of the Jews around 93AD. In it he details the history of the Jews, and then he writes about "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James…” Not only is the Biblical character James mentioned, but the Name of JESUS is explicitly mentioned!
5. Josephus also wrote elsewhere,
“About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.” (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, Ch. III, Sn. 3.)
Here we have an extra-Biblical account of the existence of Jesus. There are several viewpoints regarding this record by Josephus, which I will address in another article, but may I suggest the possibility that Josephus may had very well have become a believer in the Messiah himself!
6. In the Jewish Talmud it writes against Jesus, but nonetheless acknowledges His existence. It says,
“On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu and the herald went before him for forty days saying Yeshu is going forth to be stoned in that he hath practiced sorcery and beguiled and led astray Israel. Let everyone knowing ought in his defense come and plead for him. But they found naught in his defense and hanged him on the eve of Passover.”
Here we have it again. “Yeshu” (a derogatory term and obviously a play of words on Jesus’s Jewish Name, “Yeshua,” was “hung” (i.e. crucified) on the “eve before Passover,” which is Biblically correct. And though they blaspheme Jesus by saying He “practiced sorcery,” and “led astray Israel,” the Jewish Talmud does us a favor – it gives us evidence outside of the Bible that Jesus existed!
By the way, He did not “practice sorcery” – He did supernatural miracles because of His true miracle-working power!
And interestingly, the Talmud says that Jesus was hanged on the "eve of the Passover." Wonderful - the New Testament says "HE IS OUR PASSOVER!" (1 Corinthians 5:7.)
And that’s just in the FIRST CENTURY. In the SECOND CENTURY, there are even more evidences outside of the Bible that attest to the existence of Jesus:
7. Pliny the Younger (circa 112AD), writing in the early second century wrote about Christians as follows:
“… Christians … were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verse a hymn to Christ as to a god.”
Wow, that’s glorious! Not only does an extra-Biblical historian record the existence of Jesus, but he states that Jesus was worshiped as a “god.” Actually Mr. Pliny, He is “GOD” with a CAPITAL “G!” But thank you for recording His existence…
8. Lucian of Samosata (circa 175AD) wrote of Christ that He was
“…a man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world… Furthermore, their first lawgiver persuaded them that they were all brothers of one another after they have transgressed once for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshiping that crucified sophist himself and living under his laws.”
Again, here we have someone who mocks Jesus and does not believe in Jesus, but does us a favor by mentioning His real existence! Not only that He existed, but that early believers WORSHIPED HIM!
9. Celsus (175AD) wrote,
“Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. … he acquired certain (magical) powers … and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god.”
Okay Celsus, you didn’t believe in Jesus, but thank you for the favor: You gave us evidence of Jesus’ existence outside the Bible. And evidence of Jesus’ mother Mary’s existence too.
And, Mr. Celsus, Jesus’ power was not magic – it was the supernatural power of GOD!
And, Mr. Celsus, thank you for saying that Jesus, “gave himself out to be a god.” This proves to us that this was the Early Christian view of Jesus – that He was “a god,” but actually Mr. Celsus, Jesus was not “a god,” He was GOD HIMSELF! He was GOD IN THE FLESH!
In conclusion, in this article we have only examined references to Jesus from sources outside the Bible, since the attack on Jesus is that "there is no references to Jesus from credible sources outside of the Bible." But why appeal to secondhand, inferior sources of literature of antiquity to start with?! The Bible itself is the most superior, most reliable and most preserved source of events that happened in Bible days. There is no comparison. In a future article we will look at this more closely.
Purchase Joel's book One Almighty Mediator - JESUS on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/One-Almighty-Mediator-Jesus-between/dp/1544044259
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