Lesson from Fusion 1-28-2015

            In 2013, there was an event held in which two atheist scholars posited that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist within history and that the entire Christian religion was a ruse designed by the Roman government in order to control the Jewish people. While this is a stretch concerning what we know of the history between Rome and Judah[1], it is important for us to ask the question, “Did Christ exist?” If He did, how can we know that He was (is) the messiah? As we look to scripture, we are going to see the first-hand account of a Jew who met Jesus.

The two disciples heard him say this and followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and noticed them following Him, He asked them, “What are you looking for?”

They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are You staying?”

“Come and you’ll see,” He replied. So they went and saw where He was staying, and they stayed with Him that day. It was about 10 in the morning.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John and followed Him. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah!” (which means “Anointed One”), and he brought Simon to Jesus.

When Jesus saw him, He said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which means “Rock”).

The next day He decided to leave for Galilee. Jesus found Philip and told him, “Follow Me!”

Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law (and so did the prophets):Jesus the son of Joseph, from Nazareth!”

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael asked him.

“Come and see,” Philip answered.

Then Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him and said about him, “Here is a true Israelite; no deceit is in him.”

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

“Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you,” Jesus answered.

“Rabbi,” Nathanael replied, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Jesus responded to him, “Do you believe only because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” Then He said, “ I assure you: You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man[2]

What is this story about?

I am perturbed as some open scripture and use the text to learn about the disciples who followed Jesus. The text seems to reveal much more about Jesus than it does about the disciples and, indeed, the central character of the text is Jesus Himself. Here we witness John (who was a Jew) telling about the experiences of the twelve disciples (who were all Jews) concerning the fact that they were convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. These disciples, who directly investigated the testimony of John the Baptist (who was also a Jew), followed Jesus and investigated the claims made by John the Baptist.

The investigation

The first question has nothing to do with the claims that John the Baptist made concerning Jesus as the Christ. Instead, the disciples seem to have asked a probing question to open a more-or-less investigative discussion. Jesus responded by answering them, inviting them to go and see where He was staying. After spending the day with Him, the two disciples, including Andrew, were convinced that Jesus was the Jewish messiah that had been promised in the Hebrew scriptures.

I wonder why after such a short time these two disciples were convinced. They lived in an age of skepticism and of Greek philosophy. They lived in an era of Roman oppression and a time in which others were coming forward claiming to be the promised messiah, including: Simon of Perea and Athronges.[3] There must have been something different about Jesus. Though to speculate on exactly what it might have been may not benefit us as we consider the text. It can be said, though, that these Jewish men most likely would not have believed in a man claiming to be messiah without sufficient reason, especially in the matter of a day.

These disciples went and told others, who were also skeptical. All they said was, “Come and see.” After seeing Jesus, the other disciples also believed and followed Him. These were good Jews and familiar with the prophecies concerning the messiah. Their Bible was the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). They knew what had been recorded in the law and the history and prophets and the writings of Israel. They believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the messiah of whom the Hebrew Scriptures prophesied. Because they believed, Jesus is worth my investigation as well.

Conclusion

So what are we to think? Do we believe the testimony of these men? Is Christ the Messiah? If He is, and I do believe that He is, what is our response? Do we trust Him to save us and to return us to God? Do we believe that God has truly blessed all nations through Abraham’s descendants? Do we live as though we believe?

For the one who has trusted Christ, I hope that by these disciples’ testimony your faith is reinforced. For the one who does not, I hope that you choose to be a good steward of the testimony that has been handed down from those who walked with Jesus on this earth. At the least, it is deserving of our consideration.

Evidences briefly stated

Did Jesus Exist? Is He Messiah?

What is written in the Bible (Old Testament and New) has proven to be historically reliable on many occasions and has not been proven historically false on any occasions.[4]

Jesus, those who knew Jesus and the people of the early church were mentioned by a few ancient historians including: Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Julius Africanus (who quotes Phlegon’s record of an eclipse during Christ’s crucifixion), and Pliny the Younger (who recorded his dealings with early Christians).[5]

Some Hebrew Prophecies that Christ Fulfilled in His Earthly Life[6]

As the Son of God
Psalms 2:7
Fulfilled
Luke 1:32 Luke 1:35

As the seed of the woman
Genesis 3:15
Fulfilled
Galatians 4:4

As the seed of Abraham
Genesis 17:7 ; 22:18
Fulfilled
Galatians 3:16

As the seed of Isaac
Genesis 21:12
Fulfilled
Hebrews 11:17-19

As the seed of David
Psalms 132:11 ; Jeremiah 23:5
Fulfilled
Acts 13:23 ; Romans 1:3

His coming at a set time
Genesis 49:10 ; Daniel 9:24 Daniel 9:25
Fulfilled
Luke 2:1

His being born a virgin
Isaiah 7:14
Fulfilled
Matthew 1:22 Matthew 1:23 ; Luke 2:7

His being called Immanuel
Isaiah 7:14
Fulfilled
Matthew 1:22 Matthew 1:23

His being born in Bethlehem of Judea
Micah 5:2
Fulfilled
Matthew 2:1 ; Luke 2:4-6

Great persons coming to adore him
Psalms 72:10
Fulfilled
Matthew 2:1-11

The slaying of the children of Bethlehem
Jeremiah 31:15
Fulfilled
Matthew 2:16-18

His being called out of Egypt
Hosea 11:1
Fulfilled
Matthew 2:15

His being preceded by John the Baptist
Isaiah 40:3 ; Malachi 3:1
Fulfilled
Matthew 3:1 Matthew 3:3 ; Luke 1:17

His being anointed with the Spirit
Psalms 45:7 ; Isaiah 11:2 ; 61:1
Fulfilled
Matthew 3:16 ; John 3:34 ; Acts 10:38

His being a Prophet like to Moses
Deuteronomy 18:15-18
Fulfilled
Acts 3:20-22

His being a Priest after the order of Melchizedek
Psalms 110:4
Fulfilled
Hebrews 5:5 Hebrews 5:6

His entering on his public ministry
Isaiah 61:1 Isaiah 61:2
Fulfilled
Luke 4:16-21 Luke 4:43

His ministry commencing in Galilee
Isaiah 9:1 Isaiah 9:2
Fulfilled
Matthew 4:12-16 Matthew 4:23

His entering publicly into Jerusalem
Zechariah 9:9
Fulfilled
Matthew 21:1-5

His coming into the temple
Haggai 2:7 Haggai 2:9 ; Malachi 3:1
Fulfilled
Matthew 21:12 ; Luke 2:27-32 ; John 2:13-16

His poverty
Isaiah 53:2
Fulfilled
Mark 6:3 ; Luke 9:58
His meekness and want of ostentatious
Isaiah 42:2
Fulfilled
Matthew 12:15 Matthew 12:16 Matthew 12:19

His tenderness and compassion
Isaiah 40:11 ; 42:3
Fulfilled
Matthew 12:15 Matthew 12:20 ; Hebrews 4:15

His being without guile
Isaiah 53:9
Fulfilled
1 Peter 2:22

His zeal
Psalms 69:9
Fulfilled
John 2:17

His preaching by parables
Psalms 78:2
Fulfilled
Matthew 13:34 Matthew 13:35

His working miracles
Isaiah 35:5 Isaiah 35:6
Fulfilled
Matthew 11:4-6 ; John 11:47

His bearing reproach
Psalms 22:6 ; Psalms 69:7 Psalms 69:9 Psalms 69:20
Fulfilled
Romans 15:3

His being rejected by his brethren
Psalms 69:8 ; Isaiah 63:3
Fulfilled
John 1:11 ; 7:3

His being a stone of stumbling to the Jews
Isaiah 8:14
Fulfilled
Romans 9:32 ; 1 Peter 2:8

His being hated by the Jews
Psalms 69:4 ; Isaiah 49:7
Fulfilled
John 15:24 John 15:25
His being rejected by the Jewish rulers
Psalms 118:22
Fulfilled
Matthew 21:42 ; John 7:48

That the Jews and Gentiles should combine against Him
Psalms 2:1 Psalms 2:2
Fulfilled
Luke 23:12 ; Acts 4:27

His being betrayed by a friend
Psalms 41:9 ; 55:12-14
Fulfilled
John 13:18 John 13:21

His disciples forsaking him
Zechariah 13:7
Fulfilled
Matthew 26:31 Matthew 26:56

His being sold for thirty pieces silver
Zechariah 11:12
Fulfilled
Matthew 26:15

His price being given for the potters field
Zechariah 11:13
Fulfilled
Matthew 27:7

The intensity of his sufferings
Psalms 22:14 Psalms 22:15
Fulfilled
Luke 22:42 Luke 22:44

His sufferings being for others
Isaiah 53:4-6 Isaiah 53:12 ; Daniel 9:26
Fulfilled
Matthew 20:28

His patience and silence under suffering
Isaiah 53:7
Fulfilled
Matthew 26:63 ; 27:12-14

His being smitten on the cheek
Micah 5:1
Fulfilled
Matthew 27:30

His visage being marred
Isaiah 52:14 ; 53:3
Fulfilled
John 19:5

His being spit on and scourged
Isaiah 50:6
Fulfilled
Mark 14:65 ; John 19:1

His hands and feet being nailed to the cross
Psalms 22:16
Fulfilled
John 19:18 ; 20:25

His being forsaken by God
Psalms 22:1
Fulfilled
Matthew 27:46

His being mocked
Psalms 22:7 Psalms 22:8
Fulfilled
Matthew 27:39-44

Gall and vinegar being given him to drink
Psalms 69:21
Fulfilled
Matthew 27:34

His garments being parted, and lots cast for his vesture
Psalms 22:18
Fulfilled
Matthew 27:35

His being numbered with the transgressors
Isaiah 53:12
Fulfilled
Mark 15:28

His intercession for His murderers
Isaiah 53:12
Fulfilled
Luke 23:34

His Death
Isaiah 53:12
Fulfilled
Matthew 27:50

That a bone of him should not be broken
Exodus 12:46 ; Psalms 34:20
Fulfilled
John 19:33 John 19:36

His being pierced
Zechariah 12:10
Fulfilled
John 19:34 John 19:37

His being buried with the rich
Isaiah 53:9
Fulfilled
Matthew 27:57-60

His flesh not seeing corruption
Psalms 16:10
Fulfilled
Acts 2:31

His resurrection
Psalms 16:10 ; Isaiah 26:19
Fulfilled
Luke 24:6 Luke 24:31 Luke 24:34

His ascension
Psalms 68:18
Fulfilled
Luke 24:51 ; Acts 1:9

His sitting on the right hand of God
Psalms 110:1
Fulfilled
Hebrews 1:3

His exercising the priestly office in heaven
Zechariah 6:13
Fulfilled
Romans 8:34

His being the chief corner-stone of the Church
Isaiah 28:16
Fulfilled
1 Peter 2:6 1 Peter 2:7

His being King in Zion
Psalms 2:6
Fulfilled
Luke 1:32 ; John 18:33-37

The conversion of the Gentiles to him
Isaiah 11:10 ; 42:1
Fulfilled
Matthew 1:17 Matthew 1:21 ; John 10:16 ; Acts 10:45 Acts 10:47

His righteous government
Psalms 45:6 Psalms 45:7
Fulfilled
John 5:30 ; Revelation 19:11

His universal dominion
Psalms 72:8 ; Daniel 7:14
Fulfilled
Philippians 2:9 Philippians 2:11

The perpetuity of his kingdom
Isaiah 9:7 ; Daniel 7:14
Fulfilled
Luke 1:32 Luke 1:33

*It must be recognized that there are many prophecies that are not yet fulfilled. As Christians, we have claimed that these prophecies will be fulfilled in Christ’s second coming. This is one of the greatest criticisms of the Christian view of Jesus as the Messiah. Nevertheless, both Jews and Christians look for prophecies to be fulfilled that have not yet been fulfilled, and these prophecies do not reveal to us the mode of their revelation. These prophecies do not specify a time that they will be fulfilled by the Messiah, only that they will be fulfilled. Messiahship must be measured then on the prophesies that have been fulfilled and the testimony of history.

*It should also be known that the Israelites were chosen as God’s people (the people through whom God would bless all nations). Without Judaism, Christianity is unfounded. Without Christianity (belief in Christ as the Messiah who came from David’s line), Judaism is incomplete. For God is the God of all people and has now offered salvation to all people. This is why it is written that Christ came first for the Jews, and then for the Gentiles (Romans 1:16)

[1] First of all, it is important to note that Rome would not have made anyone other than the emperor a deity. Christ claimed to be one with God, the Messiah who came to deliver the Jews (John 5:18, 10:30). There seems to be more evidence supporting the fact that Rome did not support the ministry of Christ and that Christ caused more problems for Rome than He fixed.

[2] John 1:38-51 (HCSB)

[3] Josephus. “Josephus, Antiquities Book XVII.” Antiquities of the Jews: Book XVII.

[4] http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-evidence-for-jesus

[5] http://www.rationalchristianity.net/jesus_extrabib.html

[6] http://www.biblestudytools.com/concordances/torreys-topical-textbook/prophecies-respecting-christ.html

*originally at https://andrewcannon.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/is-jesus-the-messiah-john-138-51/

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