BY LANCE LEFLER
LEAD PASTOR, ANCHOR CHURCH
Here is the best way to destroy Christianity: Show that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. Then all the claims about his being the Savior of the world and dying for our sins are false, and we get to stay home on Sunday morning.
But this brings up a prior question: Did Jesus even exist? Lots of people argue that he did not, that there is no archeological evidence for Jesus, no references to him outside the New Testament, etc.
But here are three quick ones…
Flavius Josephus, a Jewish Historian of the late first century, refers to Pilate’s condemning Jesus to the cross. He also makes reference to the resurrection of Christ. Josephus mentions “the tribe of Christians” being in existence still. Aspects of this passage are hotly disputed, to be sure, but the existence of Christ is not in question.
Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman Senator and historian, wrote around AD 115 about how Nero tried to blame Christians for the fire of Rome in AD 64. Tacitus also says, “Christus [Christ], from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hand of the Procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius.”
Lucian of Samosata, a satirist of the early second century, wrote scornfully of Christ, referring to him as, “…the man who was crucified in Palestine; because he introduced this new cult into the world…”
I was watching an interview on YouTube with agnostic/atheist Bart Ehrman. Ehrman is a New Testament scholar and historian—and a former Evangelical. Atheists love to interview him because he was once a believer.
At one point in the conversation, the host said, “Yeah, we don’t know whether Jesus even existed, let alone raised from the dead!”
Bart Ehrman, no friend to conservative Christianity, said emphatically that he doesn’t know a single reputable historian who doubts the existence of Jesus. The host was dumbfounded. Ehrman went on to say, “We have more evidence for Jesus than we do for almost anybody from his time period.”
As to archaeology, we don’t find archaeological evidence for most people from antiquity. Certainly not for some carpenter-turned-itinerant-rabbi from a backwater of the Roman Empire. But if Jesus did all these miracles and drew all these crowds, shouldn’t there be more evidence he existed?
What is often dismissed in this discussion are the New Testament documents. Here we have 27 books that testify to the existence of Jesus. But can they be trusted?
This is where the conversation turns to the question of the resurrection of Jesus. And we’ll discuss that next week, just in time for Easter!
Anchor Church meets at 11:00 AM on Sundays at 103 Ponferrada Way. We are hosting KiD Fest on April 8. For more info: www.anchorhsv.com
Lead Pastor, Anchor Church