The historicity of Jesus has never been in doubt. Except of course in the minds of those who stretch unbelief into incredulity. Such resort to employ of specious arguments to dispense with the factuality of the historic existence of Jesus. These arguments are geared more towards the creation of doubt rather than presentation of counterfactual evidence. The syllogisms upon which the edifice of these denials stand are mere cascades of dominoes. They’re easily pulled down.
One of the arguments is that Jesus never penned a document about himself. That all we know of him is borne of others. But if we assume that standard as proof of non-existence then 99.99% of the world’s population does not exist! The historicity of Jesus is reinforced by both biological citations and geographical appendages. That Nazareth is attached to his name in scriptures is not a resort to the bloating of divine text with periphrasis. It is the location of Jesus in a geographical neighbourhood – a local address with specificity on the civil map of history.
His historic existence is further reinforced by his biological appendix. Mary, the incubator of “divine seed” later had children through the natural order of nature. The Bible says Jesus had brothers – James, Joseph Jnr., Simon and Judas. He also had sisters! (Mark.6:3, Matthew. 27:56). In other words, Jesus grew up in a known family in a known town with younger brothers and sisters. The brothers and sisters are nodal expansions of circles of reference and recognition. Those who know them know Jesus. James would become the Pastor of the Jerusalem Church. Paul met him. He called him “the brother of our Lord” in his epistle to the church in Galatia. (Galatians 1:19). Therefore if James and Paul are historically real, Jesus is historically real. And if the Church in Galatia did exist and the facts in the Book of Galatians are historically true then Jesus existed. Unless of course there is a grand conspiracy by the family of Jesus, Paul and the people of Galatia. This James, the brother of our Lord was the one who wrote the Epistle of James.
We also have the ancestry of Jesus as proof of his historical existence. That was the purport of the opening chapter of the biography written by Matthew. (Matthew 1:1-17). Matthew traced his genealogy back to Abraham, though Luke outdid him and traced the genealogy back to Adam! (Luke 3:23-38). And to doubly affirm and reinforce his historical existence the two authors took different paths. Luke traced the genealogy of Jesus through Mary while Matthew traced his genealogy through Joseph.
Because Matthew traced his ancestry back to King David, Jesus was a prince in the natural order. He would take on the title of Prince of Peace in the mystical order, as well as Heir of All Creation. He was also called the son of Abraham as proof of his national identity, meaning he was a Jew. He belonged to a race. Some have labeled him Prophet, and some simply call him Rabbi (Teacher), like the ancient Jews.
To resolve his spiritual dimension some appellatively call him Guru after the manner of Eastern mysticism. But was he just a prophet? And was he just a teacher, or Guru as some say? How come he claimed deity in his utterances? Did the “Christ” descend on him at baptism in form of a dove as claimed by subscribers to Cerinthian heresy? Or did he have a dual nature – the hypostasis in Christology?
It is interesting to note that the brothers of Jesus didn’t accept his claims originally: “Even his brothers didn’t believe him”. (John 7:5). In a manner of speaking they regarded him “in the flesh”, just like many do today. They could not see past his humanity. Paul would allude to this when he wrote, “So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How different we know him now.” (2 Corinthians 5:16). In other words, the knowledge of the Christ is a progressive revelation, though radical in nature. It upturns our natural order of perception, defies conventionalism, or standard interpretation of reality. Just like the brothers of Jesus, many struggle with the revelation of the Christ.
Making jest of his ministry, his brothers are recorded as saying to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” (John 7:1-5). They were making sport of his Christological claims and the supposed miracles. (At this time Jesus was a target of an assassination plot by the Jews. He was already making claims to deity). But the perspective of James soon flipped and he would later refer to himself as a slave of that same Jesus. The opening of the Epistle of James reads: “This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…” What caused this revolutionary change in perspective? What did he “see”? What did he come to know?
The point of departure between Christianity and other faiths is the deity of Jesus. Jesus the Christ has become a rock of offence – a stumbling block for many according to prophecy. (1 Peter 2:8). That stumbling block has split families down history. Jesus himself predicted that he would split the world. “I have come to set the world on fire… Do you think I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favour of me, and two against – or two in favour and three against. Father will be divided against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:49-53 NLT). In other words, the personage of the Christ was going to ferment a revolution in the world and cause division. And so it happened, as Jesus predicted. It has set the world on fire as Jesus prophesied.
The split in the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam was foretold by Jesus. At the heart of the three religions is the concept of a Messiah – the anointed one. The Jewish Messiah is thought to be a human leader, physically descended from the paternal Davidic line. It’s why Matthew traced the ancestry of Jesus to David through Joseph. It’s to show Jesus is the Messiah. Islam identifies Jesus as Messiah of the Jews but rejects the concept of Messiah as Son of God. Islam believes he’s alive in heaven and will return to earth to defeat the false Messiah – Masih ad Dajjal. This false Messiah is the equivalence of the Antichrist in Christianity. And so the REAL difference between Christianity and Islam is the concept and personage of the Messiah.
Despite the efforts of the syncretists the two religions can never be united in concept. They fundamentally disagree. The concept of an atoning Messiah is at the heart of Christianity. That is THE message of salvation. We will continue with the series next week. Keep a date.
If you will like to give your life to Christ, please pray this prayer: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org