What we know about JesusHIS EXISTENCE: There are sources in addition to the Bible which verify the earthly life of Jesus, most notably the Jewish historianJosephus.The historian Josephus, born in AD37 writes: “Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, forhe was a doer of wonderful works - a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of theJews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principle men amongst us, hadcondemned him to the cross, those that loved him at first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, asthe divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians so namedafter him, are not extinct to this day.” (Ref: Josephus, Antiquities, XV111 63f.)HIS CHARACTER: ‘Here was a man who exemplified supreme unselfishness but never self-pity; humility but not weakness; joy butnever at another’s expense; kindness but not indulgence. He was a man in Whom even His enemies could find no fault andwhere friends who knew Him well said He was without sin.’ (Gumbel, Questions of Life )HIS HUMANITY: That He was a great human/religious teacher seems not to be questioned. According to the New Testament accountHe suffered physical hunger and tiredness (John 4:6), emotions of sadness (John 11:32-36), compassion and righteous anger (Mark11:15-17), underwent temptation (Mark 1:13), learnt as a child (Luke 2:46-52), was obedient as a child (Luke 2:51) and mastered thetrade of carpentry (Mark 6:3).But was he more than ‘just a man’?HIS DIVINITY:We need to consider His reported works, His own claims and the Old Testament prophesies concerning Him and His resurrectionfrom the dead. His works include many healings: sight to the blind, speech to the mute, healing of paralysis even the raising of thedead and the casting out of evil spirits. He claimed to be God (Matthew 10:40 and John 14:9) and to have the authority to forgive sins(Mark 2: 5).The Old Testament prophecies e.g. the place of His birth(Micah 5:2); His virgin birth, (Isaiah 7:14); the massacre ofinfants in an effort to kill Him, (Jeremiah 31:15);His riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9);the manner of His death (Isaiah 53);and even the casting of lots for His robe (Psalm 22:18). 12
What we know about Jesus ...Evidence for His Resurrection Jesus has been believed to be ‘God in human form’ down the ages. Thecreed which was written by early Church Fathers describes Him as ‘begotten from the Father before allages, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in essence with the Father; throughhim all things were made.’ (Nicene Creed 325AD)The Gospel account describes His absence from the tomb, the grave clothes were undisturbed (John 20:1-10) and there were many accounts of His presence with His followers. Also there were over 500witnesses to one of His post resurrection appearances (See 1 Corinthians 15:6). It is hard to believe that500 people could all be hallucinating. Also why would the Apostles allow themselves to suffer as they did forthe sake of a hoax? The majority were cruelly martyred.The Apostle Peter’s confession is an apt conclusion to this discussion. In answer to the question fromJesus, “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealedthis to you, but My Father Who is in heaven”. Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem
What we know about Jesus ...Our Decision:"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: Imready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I dont accept His claim to be God. That is the onething we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be agreat moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son ofGod: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and killHim as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with anypatronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did notintend to." – C. S. Lewis. Mere Christianity, pages 40-41.(C S Lewis began his academic career as an undergraduate student at Oxford, where he won a triple first,the highest honours in three areas of study. He then taught as a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, fornearly thirty years, from 1925 to 1954, and later was the first Professor of Medieval and RenaissanceEnglish at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge.)
Jesus taught:The Two Great CommandmentsThis is how Jesus summarised the whole of the Old Testament Law;“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) 6
Jesus taught: Jesus gave this sermon in about 30 AD besideThe Sermon on the Mount Lake Galilee to His disciples & a large crowd. The best-known written portions of the sermon are: THE BEATITUDES Matthew 5:3-12 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 7
What else did Jesus Teach?The instructions "resist not evil" &"turn the other cheek"(Matthew 5:39), as well as "judge not, lest yoube judged."The Sermon on the Mount is a form of commentary on theTen Commandments which portrays Jesus as the trueinterpreter of the Mosaic Law. The Lords Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) Pray then like this:“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.Your kingdom come, Your will be done,on earth as it is in heaven.Give us this day our daily bread,and forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors.And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." The Golden Rule“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do alsoto them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."(Matthew 7:12)"As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them." (Luke 6:31) 8
DID JESUS REALLY EXIST? There is more evidence that Jesus of Nazareth certainly lived than for most famous figures of theancient past. This evidence is of two kinds: internal and external, or, if you prefer, sacred and secular.In both cases, the total evidence is so strong that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus existence.The Internal EvidenceAside from the many Messianic predictions in the Old Testament, not one of the four Gospels or the 23other documents in the New Testament would make any sense if Jesus had never lived. Did the wholelist of well-known historical people in the first hundred years after the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, whointeracted with Him, deal with someone who never existed?Did Herod the Great try to murder an infant ghost?Did the Jewish high priests Annas and Caiaphas interview a spirit?Did the Roman governor Pontius Pilate judge a phantom on Good Friday,or Saint Paul and so many apostles give their lives for a myth?No one doubts that the above mentioned names are well known fromboth sacred and secular sources, as well as archaeological evidence,and are therefore historical. The same is clearly true of Jesus of Nazareth.From the internal, biblical evidence alone, Jesus existence is undoubted.There is also an abundance of additional information on this questionfrom outside of the Bible. remains of Herods palace:
DID JESUS REALLY EXIST?The External Evidence:Christian Evidence;Another long paragraph could be devoted to the writings of the early church fathers, some of whom hadclose contact with New Testament personalities. Jesus disciple John, for example, later became bishop ofthe church at Ephesus. One of his students was Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, and a student of his, in turn,was Saint Irenaeus of Lyons. The centrepiece in all of their writings was Jesus the Christ ("Messiah").Apart from such direct personal links to Jesus, there are writings by others such as Justin Martyr. Born ofpagan parents around A.D. 100 in Nablus (between Judea and Galilee), Justin tried and abandonedvarious philosophical schools until he found in Christianity the one true teaching. As a native of the HolyLand, Justin mentions sites associated with Jesus, such as the Bethlehem grotto in which He was born,and even such details as Jesus working as an apprentice carpenter in the shop of his foster father Joseph,where they specialized in producing such agricultural implements as yokes for oxen and ploughs.Jewish EvidenceThe Jewish rabbinical traditions not only mention Jesus, but they are also the only sources that spell hisname accurately in Aramaic, his native tongue: Yeshua Hannotzri—Joshua (Jesus) of Nazareth. Some ofthe references to Jesus in the Talmud are garbled—probably due to the vagaries of oral tradition—but oneis especially accurate, since it seems based on written sources and comes from the Mishna—the earliestcollection of writings in the Talmud. This is no less than the arrest notice for Jesus, which runs as follows:
DID JESUS REALLY EXIST?Jewish Evidence (continued)“He shall be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and luredIsrael to apostasy. Anyone who can say anything in his favour,let him come forward and plead on his behalf. Anyone who knowswhere he is, let him declare it to the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem.”Four items in this statement strongly support its authenticity as a notice composed before Jesus arrest:1) The future tense is used;2) Stoning was the regular punishment for blasphemy among the Jews whenever the Roman government was not involved;3) There is no reference whatever to crucifixion; and4) That Jesus was performing "sorcery"— the extraordinary or miraculous with a negative spin— is quite remarkable.Amongst other things this agrees with how Jesus opponents explained away His miraculous healings in the NewTestament: performing them with the help of Beelzebul (Luke 11:18).The first-century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, twice mentions "Jesus who is called the Christ" in his JewishAntiquities. In the second of these, he tells of the death of Jesus half-brother James the Just of Jerusalem (20:200).And two books earlier, in the longest first-century non-biblical reference to Christ, he tells of Jesus midway through hisdiscussion of events in Pontius Pilates administration: “At this time there was a wise man called Jesus, and His conduct was good, and He was known to be virtuous. Manypeople among the Jews and the other nations became His disciples. Pilate condemned Him to be crucified and to die.But those who had become His disciples did not abandon His discipleship. They reported that He had appeared to themthree days after His crucifixion and that He was alive. Accordingly, He was perhaps the Messiah, concerning Whom theprophets have reported wonders. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after Him, has not disappeared to thisday.” (18:63)
DID JESUS REALLY EXIST?External Evidence: SecularCornelius Tacitus, one of the most reliable source historiansof first-century Rome, wrote in his Annals a year-by-yearaccount of events in the Roman Empire under the early Caesars.Among the highlights that he reports for the year A.D. 64 wasthe great fire of Rome. People blamed the emperor Nero for thisconflagration since it happened "on his watch," but in order tosave himself, Nero switched the blame to "the Christians," whichis the first time they appear in secular history. Careful historianthat he was, Tacitus then explains who "the Christians" were:"Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the deathpenalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procuratorPontius Pilatus" (15:44). He then goes on to report the horrorsthat were inflicted on the Christians in what became their firstRoman persecution.Tacitus, it should be emphasized, was not some Christianhistorian who was trying to prove that Jesus Christ really lived,but a pagan who despised Christians as a "disease," a term heuses later in the passage. Had Jesus never even existed,he would have been the first to expose that pathetic phantomon whom such cultists placed their trust. Were no otherreferences to Jesus available, this passage alone would havebeen sufficient to establish Jesus’ historicity. Skeptics realizethis, and so have tried every imaginable means to discredit thispassage—but to no avail. Manuscript analysis and computerstudies have never found any reason to call this sentence intoquestion, nor its context.
DID JESUS REALLY EXIST?External Evidence: Secular (continued)Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus also recorded events of the first century in his famous Lives of the Twelve Caesars. He, too,regarded the Christians as a sect "professing a new and mischievous religious belief" (Nero 16) and doubtless cited"Christus" as well, spelling his name "Chrestus" (Claudius 25). That the vowels "e" and "i" were often interchangeable isdemonstrated by the French term for "Christian" to this day: chretien.Pliny the Younger was the Roman governor of Bithynia—today, the northwestern corner of Turkey—and about the year110 he wrote the emperor Trajan (98-117 A.D.), asking what to do about the Christians, a "wretched cult" whom hementions eight times in his letter. Christ himself is cited three times, the most famous instance referring to Christians"...who met on a fixed day to chant verses alternately among themselves in honour of Christ, as if to a god..." (Letter No.96). Trajans response, interestingly enough, suggests that Christians not be hunted out. (Ibid., No. 97). But again, if Christwere only a mythical character, these hostile sources would have been the first to emblazon that fact in derision.Other ancient secular sources, such as Theudas and Mara barSerapion also bear witness to the historicity of Jesus.The evidence overpowering that Jesus of Nazareth was no myth,but a totally historical figure who truly lived.The question that needs to be answered by us all iswhether or not Jesus was more than just a man.The question about Jesus’ existence is answered forall except those who choose to reject the obvious.
Prophesies about JESUSThe Old Testament, written over a period of 1,500 years,contains hundreds of distinct predictions which were literallyfulfilled in Christ.Of the Old and New testaments of the Bible it has been said: ‘The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is inthe New revealed’.Dates 450 B.C. is the historic date for the completion of the Old Testament. The Greek translation of theHebrew text, known as the Septuagint, was completed in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-246 B.C.).The Greek translation in 250 B.C. was based on the Hebrew text available at that time and was done for allthe Jews of the Greek speaking Jewish Diaspora. This translation was the Bible of the early followers ofJesus and is still the Old Testament part of the Eastern Orthodox Church today.This means that there was at least a 250 year gap from the time that the prophecies were written down(in Greek anyway) and their fulfillment. Examples of prophecies concerning Christ:1. Born of a Virgin“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and youshall call His name Immanuel.” (Immanuel means ‘God with us’) Isaiah 7:14“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before theycame together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:182. Seed of Abraham“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you obeyed my voice.” Genesis 12:2,3(God speaking to Abraham)“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham.” Matthew 1:1
Prophesies about JESUS continued3. Born at Bethlehem“And you, O Bethlehem, House of Ephratha, though you arefewest in number among the thousands of Judah, yet out ofyou shall come His goings forth were from the beginning,even from everlasting.” Micah 5:2“Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea.” Matthew 2:14. Ministry of Miracles“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear. The lame shall leap like adeer, and the tongue of the dumb will speak clearly.” Isaiah 35:5,6a“And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He makes both the deafto hear and the mute to speak.” Mark 7:37“Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, andbegged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were madewell.” Mark 6:565. His crucifixion"They pierced my hands and my feet. I numbered all my bones, and they look and stare at me. They dividedmy garments among themselves. And for my clothing they cast lots.” Psalm 22:16-18 (Septuagint Psalm21:17b-19)“And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him.” Luke 23:33“Then the soldiers when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier apart, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They saidtherefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be.” John 19:23,24
Prophesies about JESUS continued6. Silence under Accusation“Although he was ill treated He opened not His mouth. He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as alamb is silent before his shearers, so He opens not His mouth.” Isaiah 53:7“And while He was being accused by the chief Priests and elders, He answered nothing.” Matthew 27:12Many other prophesies could be quoted concerning Christ’sministry and the events surrounding His crucifixion: e.g. Hisbetrayal for 30 pieces of silver, the words that Jesus spoke onthe cross, His being placed between thieves, the darkness thatfell over the land following His death and His burial in a richman’s tomb.The statistical probability of all these prophesies coming truein one man’s life rules out any theory of coincidence.
CRUCIFIXION OF JESUSThe crucifixion of Jesus and His resulting death is an event that occurred in AD 33 when Jesus, whoChristians believe is the Son of God as well as the Messiah, was arrested, tried, and sentenced by theRoman Governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, to be scourged, and finally executed on a cross.Jesus crucifixion is described in all four Canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), and isattested to by other contemporary sources, and regarded as an historical event. Christians believe Jesussuffering was foretold in Hebrew scripture, such as in Psalm 22, and Isaiahs songs of the sufferingservant. According to the New Testament, Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane following the Last Supperwith the twelve Apostles, and forced to stand trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin, Governor Pontius Pilate,and King Herod Antipas, before being handed over for crucifixion. After being flogged, Jesus was mockedby Roman soldiers as the "King of the Jews", clothed in a purple robe, crowned with thorns, beaten andspat on. Jesus then had to make His way to the place of His crucifixion.Once at Golgotha, Jesus was offered wine mixed with gall to drink.Matthews and Marks Gospels record that He refused this. He wasthen crucified and hung between two convicted thieves. According toMarks Gospel, he endured the torment of crucifixion for some sixhours from the third hour, at approximately 9 am, (Mark 15:25) untilHis death at the ninth hour, corresponding to about 3 pm. (Mark 15:34-37).The soldiers affixed a sign above His head stating "Jesus of Nazareth,King of the Jews" in three languages, divided His garments and castlots for His seamless robe.
CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS continuedThe Roman soldiers did not break Jesus legs, as they did to the other two men crucified(breaking the legs hastened the crucifixion process), as Jesus was dead already. Eachgospel has its own account of Jesus last words, seven statements altogether. In theSynoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke), various supernatural events accompany thecrucifixion , including darkness, an earthquake, and (in Matthew) the resurrection of saints.Following Jesus death, His body was removed from the cross by Joseph of Arimathea andburied in a rock-hewn tomb, with Nicodemus assisting. Jesus then rose from the dead threedays later.Christians have traditionally understood Jesus death on the cross to bea voluntary sacrifice (given that He did not mount a defence in his trials)which was undertaken to overcome death and make salvation possible.Most Christians commemorate this sacrifice through the bread and wineof the Holy Eucharist, in obedience to Jesus’ command to do so at HisLast Supper with His disciples.Christians throughout the world also commemorate the crucifixion onGood Friday (the Friday immediately before Easter Sunday, whichcommemorates Jesus’ resurrection) each year.
THE EMPTY TOMB by Gary R. HabermasAn intriguing development in recent theological research is that a strong majority of contemporary criticalscholars seems to support, at least to some extent, the view that Jesus was buried in a tomb that wassubsequently discovered to be empty. I will list several of the more than 20 arguments that have beencited in favour of the empty tomb.Major Arguments for the Empty Tomb1) Perhaps the most powerful argument favouring the empty tomb concerns its location and the eventssurrounding it. The Gospel accounts are unanimous that Jesus was buried in a tomb that was located inJerusalem. Few critics question this, holding that Jesus died and was buried in the city. Most also agreethat early Christian preaching took place here, leading to the birth of the church.But it is precisely since Jesus grave was located nearby that we have a serious problem if it wasanything but empty. Unless Jesus tomb was unoccupied, the early Christian preaching would have beendisproved on the spot. How could it bepreached that Jesus had been raised from thedead if that message were starkly confronted by arotting body? Exposing the body would kill themessage and be an easy disproof of Christianitybefore it even gained momentum. Thus, Jerusalemis the last place for the early Christian teachingsto gain a foothold unless Jesus grave was empty.A Sunday walk to the tomb could have settled thematter one way or another.
THE EMPTY TOMB continuedA creative response might be to assert that perhaps the body was indeed in the tomb, but that, very soonafterwards, the body would have been unrecognizable, due to its decomposition. Or perhaps the tomb wasstill simply closed without being opened for inspection. But these questions miss entirely the point of theChristian preaching that the tomb was empty. Therefore, if any body was found in Jesus tomb, whetherJesus or even someone elses, or if it were still closed, this would have contradicted the teaching that it wasempty. In Jerusalem, the mistake would have been exposed in no time.2) The most-mentioned argument in support of the Gospel accounts is the unanimous agreement thatwomen were the first witnesses to the empty tomb. While it is not strictly true that women were disallowedfrom testifying in a court of law, it was clearly the case that there was a strong prejudice against usingfemale testimony for important matters.Notwithstanding this common stance, the Gospelaccounts insist in their proclamation that the womenwere the star witnesses to the empty tomb. But whyshould these writers highlight female testimony unlessthe women really were the first to discover this fact?To do so would be to weaken their case considerablyin the eyes of most listeners. Given this situation in firstcentury Palestine, we can only conclude that the Gospelauthors were clearly convinced that the women haddiscovered the empty tomb. They were more interestedin reporting the truth than they were in avoiding criticism.This argument is very widely recognized and few scholarshave challenged it, which testifies to its strength.
THE EMPTY TOMB continued3) While the empty tomb accounts in the Gospels are later than Pauls writings, it is crucially important thatthe empty tomb accounts are witnessed by many. In other words, whichever major view of Gospel originsone takes, the empty tomb narratives arose from more than one independent source. In fact, scholars thinkthat there could be as many as three or four independent traditions in the Gospels, which very stronglyincreases the likelihood that the reports are both early and historical. Along with the Jerusalem location andthe testimony of the women, I think that these are the best arguments in favour of the empty tomb.4) Most recent scholars seem to agree that, while Paul does not explicitly mention the empty tomb, theearly tradition that this apostle reported to others in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 implies an empty tomb. The listingof the Gospel content moves from Jesus death, to his burial, to His resurrection from the dead, to Hisappearances. This sequence strongly suggests that, however it may have been transformed, Jesusbody that died and was buried is the same one that wasraised afterwards. Thus, what was placed in the ground isprecisely what emerged. In short, what went down is whatcame up. Such a process would have resulted in the burialtomb being emptied.That Paul does not specifically mention the empty tombkeeps this from being as strong a point as it could havebeen. Still, to say so clearly that Jesus dead body wasburied, raised, and appeared would be a rather strangeprocess unless the tomb had been vacated in the process.
THE EMPTY TOMB continued5) Many scholars also concede that Acts 13 may very well contain another earlytradition, an early sermon account that was included in a book that was written at a laterdate. This report, found in Acts 13:29-31, 36-37, is attributed to Paul and clearly teachesthat Jesus body was placed in a tomb. Then he was raised and appeared to Hisfollowers without undergoing any bodily decomposition. If so, here we would have anearly text where Paul even more strongly acknowledged the empty tomb, because Jesusappeared and His body did not experience any decay.6) According to reports that are found in Matthew 28:11-15, Justin Martyr and Tertullian,for almost two centuries or more, the Jewish leaders tried to explain that the tomb wasempty because Jesus disciples stole His body. This means that the Jewish hierarchyeven acknowledged the fact that Jesus body was no longer there!However, even sceptics freely recognize that the explanation provided by the Jewishleaders was exceptionally weak. For example, if the disciples stole Jesus body, how canwe account for their incredible transformations, such as forfeiting their family years, aswell as their jobs, health, and even their peace, all for the right to be chased for decadesaround the Roman Empire, just so they could preach a message that they clearly knewwas a false tale? Further, how do we explain their willingness to die for what they knewwas a false proclamation of Jesus resurrection? Moreover, how does this explanationallow us to account for the conversion of Jesus brother James, who had rejected Jesusmessage? And we also lack any convincing reason for Pauls conversion from Judaism.So, all for the sake of providing a clearly unconvincing alternative account, the Jewishleaders even admitted the empty tomb!
THE EMPTY TOMB continued7) A word should be said about the scholarly thesis of N.T. Wright andothers. In the ancient world—whether pagan, Jewish, or Christian—writings up until the second century A.D. were in complete agreementthat the very definition of resurrection was clearly a bodily notion. In fact,there are almost no exceptions to this ancient view that being raised fromthe dead is something that, if it ever occurred, could happen only to thebody. So it had this same meaning throughout the Old Testament andGospel accounts, as well as in Pauls writings and the rest of the NewTestament teaching about Jesus. This would indicate that Jesusresurrection was conceived in a bodily manner, necessitating that thetomb was empty.ConclusionThese are some of the reasons why a majority of contemporary scholars recognize thefact of the empty tomb. Still other arguments could be provided, as well. That is whyhistorian Michael Grant concludes that "the historian . . . cannot justifiably deny theempty tomb" because if we apply the same historical criteria that we use elsewhere,then "the evidence is firm and plausible enough to necessitate the conclusion that thetomb was indeed found empty."In light of arguments such as those we have produced here, this conclusion seems tobe very difficult to avoid. The normal application of historical rules to the various dataindicates that, just shortly after his death, Jesus tomb was indeed found empty.
Easter Is it a surprise that only Christianitys leader rose from the dead? The leaders of all other religions can be found in tombs.Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. Jesus rose from the dead on the third dayafter His crucifixion. Christians traditionally celebrate His resurrection on Easter Day orEaster Sunday (also Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday), two days after Good Friday, whenHe was crucified.Traditionally Jesus’ death and resurrection took place in AD 33.Christians throughout the world have a season of fasting, prayer, and penance in the 40 daysleading up to Easter Sunday. The week from the Sunday before Easter Sunday (Palm Sunday) toEaster Sunday is known as Holy Week. Easter Sunday is followed by the Easter Season whichlasts for the forty days from Easter Day until Ascension Day. The first week of the Easter Season isknown as Easter Week or Bright Week.Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar.It depends on a number of factors;• The Jewish Passover, which depends on the full moon.• The northern hemispheres vernal equinox• Gregorian or Julian Calendars (= why Eastern and Western Easters don’t always coincide).Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in thecalendar. The Eastern Orthodox Churches in Australia use the Greek term for Passover; ‘Pascha’.Secular customs, such as the Easter Bunny and Easter egg hunts, have become part of themodern celebrations of Easter and are often observed by Christians and non-Christians alike.
The Meaning of Easter The resurrection of Jesus, whichEaster celebrates, is a foundation of the Christian faith. The resurrection established Jesus as the powerful Son of God (Romans 1:4) and is cited as proof that God will judge the world in righteousness. (Acts 17:31) God has given Christians "a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead". (1 Peter 1:3) Christians, through faith in the working of God (Colossians 2:12) are spiritually resurrected with Jesus so that they may walk in a new way of life. (Romans 6:4) Easter is linked to the Passover and the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt recorded in the Old Testament through the Last Supper and crucifixion that preceded the resurrection. • Jesus gave the Passover meal a new meaning, as He prepared Himself and His disciples for His death in the upper room during the Last Supper. • He identified the loaf of bread and cup of wine as symbolizing His body soon to be sacrificed and His blood soon to be shed. 1 Corinthians 5:7 states "Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed"; this refers to the Passover requirement to have no yeast in the house and to the allegory of Jesus as the Paschal lamb. In Eastern Orthodox churches, the Pascha service is preceded by a procession outside or around the church. When the procession leaves the church, there are no lights on. The procession conducts a symbolic and fruitless search for Christs body, before joyfully announcing, "Christ is risen!" When the procession returns to the church, hundreds of candles and lamps are lit to symbolize the splendour of Christs resurrection, and the Easter Eucharist is celebrated.
The Meaning of Easter The Resurrection. The Easter hymn of the Eastern Orthodox churches celebrated Christ’s resurrection and conquest of death, "Christ is risen from the dead trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life." The Resurrection of Christ “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain.” On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.” - Saint Paul’s first letter to the Church at Corinth, (15:1-11) First Century AD
JESUS IS GODMatthew, Mark & Luke’s GospelsThe gospels of Matthew and Luke both begin with a description of the circumstances surrounding Jesusconception and birth. Both agree on one very important point: Joseph is not the father of Jesus, but it is Godwho caused the miraculous conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The agreement of the two gospelsstrengthens the credibility of this fact.Mark does not say anything about Jesus origin and childhood, however he uses the expression son ofMary, in Mark 6:3 (compare the parallels in Matthew 13:55 and Luke 4:22) which reveals his understandingabout the birth of Jesus. At that time it was common practice to name a person after his father. The fact thatpeople referred to Jesus as the "son of Mary" suggests that they didnt regard Joseph as His father.These three gospels deliver a powerful indication of Jesus divine naturewhich can otherwise be derived from a few further passages, such asMatthew 11:25-30; 23:37-39; Mark 2:1-12.A full understanding of these passages without acknowledging Jesus divinityis impossible.Matthew 25:31 is a clear indication of Jesus’ divinity by itself, because theSon of Man Who comes in glory is also the judge of the world, a functionplainly given to God alone. Furthermore, Saint Matthew describes the waythe disciples worshipped Jesus in words that were reserved exclusively forthe worship of God (Matthew 28:9,17) by which he shows clearly Who heconsidered Jesus to be. Finally the expression to baptise "in the name of theFather, the Son and the Holy Spirit" in Matthew 28:19 speaks for itself.
JESUS IS GOD continuedSaint PaulIn his writings we find that Saint Paul never explains Christs nature to his addressees - he simply shareswith them the belief that Jesus was God.In Saint Paul’s letter to the Church at Philippi he equates Christs spirit with the Holy Spirit (1:19),and right after that (1:23) he defines ‘being with God’ simply as ‘being with Christ’. Chapter 2:5-11is especially obvious, because here he directly says that Jesus is of the same nature as God,and receives adoration that is reserved for God alone.“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, although He existed in the form ofGod, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himselfby becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exaltedHim, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERYKNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue willconfess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)Colossians 1:15 says, "...Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation..." - anexpression that is intended to point out the degree of relationship between the Father and the Son ratherthan the succession of further sons after Him. Paul goes on to say, "all things were created by and for Him"which would be highly blasphemous if Jesus were not God. Later on in 2:9 Paul writes, "For in Christ all thefullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" which can hardly be interpreted as anything less than God.Likewise, in Titus 2:13 he expresses what all Christians are waiting for: "...the appearing of the glory of ourgreat God and Saviour Jesus Christ."Unarguably there is only one saviour, God Himself!
JESUS IS GOD continuedOther parts of the New TestamentIf we consider the rest of the New Testament scriptures we can find a number of conclusive arguments.Luke renders the words of Stephen during his martyrdom (Acts 7:51-60) in a way that Jesus Messiahship,divinity and humanity are so closely connected that the only reasonable solution is to acknowledge that He isboth God and man.The writer of the letter to the Hebrews testifies to Jesus divinity by quoting from the Old Testament. He refersthe messianic Psalm 45 to Jesus rendering the Hebrew Elohim with the Greek word Theos (1:8f.), whichmakes every attempt to consider Jesus lower than God doomed to failure. Further on he directs the praisegiven to God in Psalm 102 to Christ (1:10-12), which proves again that the Christians considered Jesus to bethe creator.Finally, Peters frequent repetition of the terms, "Lord" and"Saviour" in his second letter reveals his own conviction.These terms are explicitly applied to Jesus in 1:1, 2, 8, 11,14, 16; 2:1, 20; 3:2, 18 and rather to God in 2:9, 11; 3:8, 15,though these passages could also be applied to Jesus,which shows clearly that Peter believed in Jesus divinity.
JESUS IS GOD continuedJohn’s GospelAll these testimonies - and even more could be mentioned - are confirmed, deepened and surpassed by thewritings of John the apostle. He does not begin his gospel with a description of the circumstancessurrounding Jesus birth. Instead he invites his audience to see the depths and mysteries of Christs nature -not in order to mystify, but to illuminate Gods great love for His creation and so to explain the background ofJesus coming.Already in his first words (1:1-3) Saint John leaves no room for doubt that the Word of God - the Logos - is ofthe same nature as God the Father Himself. John tells us plainly that this Word became flesh (1:14) -unambiguous proof for the two natures of Christ. Verse 18 deserves special attention due to the statement,"...the only begotten God..." (NU-Text ) - or according to some other early manuscripts, "the only begottenSon"; - "...Who is in the bosom of the Father..." which makes the equality clear on account of the procreation.Since God is spirit (John 4:24) and His existence is eternal, this procreation can also only be eternal. Verse18 is an appropriate characterisation of the intimate relationship between the two persons Who are incomplete unity both in nature and mind.This message is repeated and confirmed in the subsequent chapters that describe Jesus ministry. HoweverJohn does not neglect the human side of Christ either. On the contrary, this gospel - a first hand accountwritten by one of the Lords closest acquaintances - portrays in a vivid and believable fashion the remarkableministry of Jesus, as well as the thoughts of the disciples who had to internalise all the drastic andchallenging realities taking place before their eyes. John provides the reader with a clear and believableinsight into the far-reaching consequences of the events he experienced and the knowledge andunderstanding that resulted.
JESUS IS GOD continuedJohn’s Gospel continued...The way Jesus identified Himself, namely as the true image and the perfect minister of God is testified innumerous passages. It is entirely understandable that He used clear statements concerning His divinity inmoderation, because even His messianic claim caused increasing opposition. But it was just in the heatedcontroversies with His main adversaries that He could not and did not hide the truth about Himself, not leastdue to the presence of His disciples and secret followers.“Before Abraham was born, I AM”Thus, in John 8:37-59, in the course of the dispute over whether His opponents were true descendants ofAbraham, we find a powerful statement about His deity, to which they responded with appropriate indignation.His statement, "I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I AM" (8,58) far exceeds the claim - in itselfhardly acceptable - of having existed before Abraham (8:56) leaving no room for an interpretation other than "Iam God". This striking grammatical error had never been corrected in the course of copying manuscripts,since all copyists throughout all ages understood the meaning of the words, "I AM" - this is the name of Godfrom Exodus 3:14.“I and the Father are one”Likewise, the Jews felt challenged to stone Jesus in the situation depicted in chapter 10:22-39, since Jesusclaimed to have authority to give life and salvation. His words, "I and the Father are one" must have appearedto be an example of unspeakable blasphemy to his already irritated listeners. And, really, even if strictlyspeaking this statement still allows the interpretation, "I and the Father are entirely like-minded, one in spirit,and we pursue exactly the same goal", naming oneself and the Father in one breath and in this sequencestrengthens the claim of having divine attributes enormously.
JESUS IS GOD continuedThe testimony of Jesus’ deedsThe testimony of Jesus deeds made His words reliable. But even the greatest sign he ever performed -raising Lazarus from the dead, the sign that overshadowed all the other incredible miracles - would notchange their mind. On the contrary, it transformed the stubbornness and hatred of the High Priests and thePharisees into a specific plan to eliminate Jesus.On the final evening before his crucifixion Jesus revealed many important things to His disciples, and in sodoing continued to support the reliability of His words "Trust in God, trust also in me; I am the way and thetruth and the life; Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father; I am in the Father, and the Father is inme" (14:1-10) by the testimony of His deeds; “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, orelse believe on account of the works themselves” (14:11). He also provided His disciples with a deeperinsight into His relationship with the Father, and last but not least He explained to them the role of the HolySpirit. Although in this matter the disciples still displayed a rather low level of understanding - as we see fromtheir questions and statements in 14:5, 8, 22 16:17f. + 29f.“My Lord and my God”Slowly but surely the seed of faith started to sprout, culminating in Thomas spontaneous confession, "MyLord and my God" (20:28). Certainly Thomas, who had even doubted the resurrection of the Lord (20:24-25),did not suddenly come to a deeper understanding of Christ than all the other disciples. Rather he expressedwhat his fellow disciples had understood all the more before him. That is the conviction John wanted to getacross and to strengthen throughout his whole gospel.
JESUS IS GOD continuedRevelationIn Revelation Saint John reaffirms what he claimed before in saying that Jesus is the "First and theLast" (1:17; cf. Isaiah 44:6), Who is worthy of praise in the same way as the One Who is sitting on His throne(5:12-14), and Who, like God (21:6), is "the Alpha and the Omega" (22:13). The fact that John refers theclearest monotheistic statements in the Old Testament (Isaiah 40:10 & 62:11) to Jesus should actuallycompel all the deniers of Jesus divinity to surrender unconditionally. Otherwise they must consider John tobe a heretic who wanted to undermine the Jewish belief in the one and only God, something that was surelyunthinkable for John and the rest of the New Testament writers. Instead, they consistently testify that theAlmighty God has revealed that He Himself is the Messianic Saviour of His nation and of all people, showingHis everlasting love to the world in His one and only begotten Son.“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son,that whoever believes in Him should not perish but haveeternal life.”Final thoughtsIf Jesus was not God, why didn’t He ever deny that He wasclaiming to be God?Why was Jesus crucified? It was because the Jews knewHe was claiming to be their messiah (also see Matthew14:32-33 where Jesus accepted worship from the disciples).
HOW JESUS CHANGED THE WORLDJesus Transformed peopleJesus Christ’s exemplary life, His suffering, death and physical resurrection from the dead transformed lives.First his handpicked disciples were transformed and they in turn changed and transformed much of theworld: its morals, ethics, health care, education, economics, science, law, the fine arts and government.The early Christians, who were persecuted for three centuries, did not set out to change the world. Thechanges occurred as a by-product of their transformed lives. Their faith in Jesus obliged them to rejectpagan gods along with the accompanying immoral lifestyles of the Greco-Romans. For this they werepersecuted. But such was the certainty of their belief and the courage they received supernaturally that theycontinued to follow Jesus. Eventually, this demonstration of faith turned the empire culturally upside down. In363A.D. Emperor Julian the Apostate said, “vicisti Galilaee” “You Galileans have conquered”.Christian Influence on the Sanctity of life • The message of the early Christians was one of practical love and forgiveness, by word and deed, to all; regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, poverty or wealth. • The sanctity of human life was important to the followers of Jesus, in contrast to the ancient Romans who held a low view of human life. This low view resulted in a lack of outrage at atrocities. Our revulsion at murder and cruelty is largely the result of our culture having internalized the Christian ethic that holds life to be sacred. • The moral teachings of Jesus also made a significant difference to the sexual behaviour of His followers, by elevating sexual behaviour to a level far above pagan practices at that time.
JESUS TRANSFORMED PEOPLEThe Christian influence on the dignity and Freedom of WomenThe dignity, freedom and rights of women were raised to a level previously unknown in any culture. We seewomen with greater freedom, opportunity and sense of worth in countries influenced by Christianity. In Chinait was the influence of Christian missionaries that eventually led the Chinese government to outlaw thedehumanizing and mutilating practice of foot-binding in 1912.The Christian connection to Charity and compassionThe followers of Jesus led the greatest humanitarian movement in history. Sympathy for the poor is a Judeo-Christian concept that was prominent in the teaching of Christ. The rich and well-to-do in Greece and Romeat the time of the early Christian era despised the poor. The early Christians set a model which today’smodern secular societies seek to imitate, but often without Christian motivation. The early monasteriesprovided care and compassion for the poor and sick. More recently, as missionaries reached out across theworld they established hospitals, founded orphanages started rescue missions and worked to change unfairlaws. In short, the compassion of Christ led them to “live as if people mattered.”Swiss born, Jean Henri Dunant (1828-1910) was moved by his Christianbeliefs to establish an organization that would console and bind thewounds of the suffering. He established the International Red Cross.His faith led him to choose the Christian cross as the new organization’ssymbol.
Christianitys imprint on educationFrom the fourth to the tenth century we see the beginning of Christian education. Cathedral and Episcopalschools taught not only Christian doctrine but also the seven liberal arts, the trivium (grammar, rhetoric andlogic) and quadrivium (arithmetic, music, geometry and astronomy). Episcopal schools were mainly for thetraining of Priests. Children attended Cathedral schools, monasteries or nunneries. By the ninth centuryChristians also had parish schools. From the start both girls and boys were educated. Individuals from allsocial classes and ethnic backgrounds were taught. Teaching included preparation for church membership.Tax-supported public schools are a concept that first came from the mind of Martin Luther. Before this timeeducation was supported and operated by the church. With regard to the early origin of universities, historypoints us to St. Benedict of Nursia (480-543). The Benedictines invented a library system and provided theacademic foundations from which the first university arose: the medical school in Salerno, Italy.The Christian attitude towards dignity of workGreco-Roman society despised manual work, which it regarded as only fit for slaves. Christians held to theadmonitions of St. Paul to the church in Thessalonica; “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (2Thessalonians 3:10). The condemnation of slothfulness and a view of labour and work as honourable andpleasing to God, led to a strong work ethic and prosperity usually followed. There was a certainunderstanding of fairness in the gospels, “a worker is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7). Fair treatment anddignity for the worker produced profound economic effects. Christianity was one of the principal dynamicforces in the agricultural revolution.
HOW JESUS CHANGED THE WORLD continuedChristian influence in the world of ScienceIn the world of Science from the middle-ages to the mid-eighteenth century virtually all scientists weresincere Christian believers. Often they were inspired by biblical principles and propositions in their theories.To them God could not be ignored. Some examples would include Leonardo da Vinci who contributed tohuman anatomy, optics and physics; Ambroise who first developed the method of tying off arteries to stopbleeding; Kepler who discovered the elliptical movement of planets and defined and confirmed astronomicallaws; Galileo; who was first to use a telescope to study the skies; William Harvey who discovered thecirculation of the blood; Pascal who discovered that liquid exerts pressure and that barometric pressuresvary with altitude; Boyle who discovered Boyle’s law, which states that ‘the volume of gas varies inverselywith its pressure’; Sir Isaac Newton who discovered the law of gravity; Priestley who discovered oxygen;Ampere who discovered that electrical currents produce magnetic fields(hence the use of the word ‘amps’; )Ohm who formulated Ohm’s law, concerning electrical current; Faradaywho discovered electromagnetic induction; Pasteur who founded microbiology;Joseph Lister who found that antiseptics reduced infection thus revolutionizingsurgery. All these men professed faith in Christ.The conclusion may be drawn that Christianity’s values provided the fertilestimulus for the development of science and encouraged many of its educatedadherents to study the world of nature. Present day scientists stand on theshoulders of pioneering Christians who were earnest about their faith.This fact is sadly forgotten in today’s post Christian culture.
HOW JESUS CHANGED THE WORLD continuedInfluence of Christianity on LawIn our post modern society there is little awareness that the liberties and rights operating in free societies areto a great degree the result of Judeo-Christian influence. From the time of Moses, the testimony of twowitnesses was required to convict a person accused of a crime (Deuteronomy 19:15). This is still part of ourlegal system today. The Magna Carta signed by King John at Runnymede in England in 1215 granted thatno one could be imprisoned without trial, no taxes could be levied without representation, and property couldnot be taken from an owner without compensation. The preamble made reference to its formulation being“out of reverence for God and for the salvation of our souls and those of our ancestors and heirs, for thehonour of God and the exaltation of Holy Church and the reform of our realm”.EqualityThe concept of equality of the individual originates with spiritual equality. Moses told the Israelites that God“shows no partiality” (Deuteronomy 10:17). We read in the book of Acts 10:34-35 “God does not showfavouritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” Also we see in Galatians3:28 that all races, people of every status as well as men and women, are spiritual equals once baptized.“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you areall one in Christ.”Human rightsSir Malcolm Muggeridge, once not a believer but later a follower of Jesus and a strong defender ofChristianity, said: “We must not forget that our human rights are derived from the Christian faith. In Christianterms every single human being, whoever he or she may be, sick or well, clever or foolish, beautiful or ugly,every human being is loved by his Creator, who, as the Gospels tell us, counted the hairs of his head.”Supporters of communism, fascism and other highly centralized governmental systems dislike the freedomof the individual because it impedes authoritarian control of its citizens.
HOW JESUS CHANGED THE WORLD continuedSeparation of Church and State’The concept of ‘Separation of Church and State’ originates with the words of Jesus when the Pharisees triedto trap Him by asking whether it was lawful to give tax money to the Roman Caesar. Jesus asked whoseinscription was on the coin, “Caesar’s” they replied. Jesus answered “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, andto God what is God’s.” (Matthew 22:21). The understanding of this concept has been that both Church andGovernment serve complementary roles in a civilised society. When Jesus made this statement he did notintend to have Caesar (the government) jettison God from public life!Where Christian ideals have been generally accepted and their practices sincerely attempted, there is a realfreedom.Abolition of Slavery: a Christian AchievementThe foundation for the abolition of slavery is to be found in Saint Paul’s letter to Philemon. Onesimus hadbeen a slave of Philemon; he had run away and was being returned to his owner with instructions from SaintPaul that he was no longer to treat Onesimusas a slave but rather as a brother. Paul toldPhilemon, in effect, that as a Christian he was nolonger to practice slavery. The early Christiansreceived slaves into their membership and freedthem when they were able. Many efforts to removeslavery followed: Wilberforce in Britain, theabolitionists in America, Martin Luther King Jr.and the civil rights laws of the 1960’s to removeracial segregation.
Christian Influence on Art and ArchitectureThe influence of Christianity on art has been evident since the early centuries. Christian artwork of the thirdcentury has been discovered in the catacombs. Truth and religious significance in Christian artwork has thepotential to renew man’s life as it often contains a supernatural element. The early icons and later art of theMiddle Ages, the Renaissance and the Reformation era all conveyed an awareness of God and anunderstanding of the significance andmeaning of the Biblical events portrayed.Many poor and illiterate Christians learnedthe content of the Bible through Christianfrescoes, stained glass windows andsculptures. Many of these art works areof high artistic calibre and have made along-standing contribution to the world of art.
ARCHITECTUREArchitectureThe most noteworthy of the early churches, decorated with mosaic art and icons, was Hagia Sophia(meaning ‘Holy Wisdom’, referring to Christ) in Constantinople (now Istanbul). This large Cathedral wasbuilt by Justinian the Great between A.D. 532-37 and is the largest Church ever built. Its massive dome,nearly two hundred feet high, resting on four arches, had its interior beautified with gold-covered glassmosaic cubes, about one hundred and fifty million of them, made of one thousand tons of glass. Itcreated an image of the concept of the world governed ‘from above.’ When Justinian had completed thisstructure he said, “Glory to God, who has deemed me worthy of fulfilling such a work. O Solomon, I havesurpassed you.” (Referring to the temple built by Solomon in the Old Testament). This building has notbeen a Christian church since the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453. After the conquest thegold mosaic was covered with white plaster and even today has only been partly restored. The churchhas been a secular museum since the early 1930’s. One architect sadly noted, “Gone are the believers,the priests, the incense, the colours, the music, the choirs, the murmurs and the rituals.”Numerous other churches and cathedrals were built after Hagia Sophia, all built to glorify God and toedify the followers of Jesus. In some Orthodox countries like Russia churches redesigned the domes toresemble the shape of onions. The interior of these Byzantine churches are typically adorned withbrightly coloured icons and mosaics; of Christ, the Virgin Mary with Christ as well as revered saints. Onthe dome’s interior there is often an icon depicting Christ the Pantocrator (Ruler of the Universe). TheGothic style of European Cathedrals has left a lasting impression on the world, renowned for theirbeautiful stained glass windows. These magnificent windows are yet another product that the followers ofJesus bequeathed to the world of art and architecture.
CHRISTIAN MUSICMusicChristians have always sought to honour God through music and song. The early Christians,like their Jewish ancestors, sang psalms. References to ‘hymns and spiritual songs’ are foundin the New Testament. (Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:19 and 1 Corinthians 14:26).The earliest style of singing was called Monophonic which meant that all voices sang a simple melodywithout accompaniment and without harmonization. St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, (340-97) introduced theconcept of congregational participation and of antiphonal singing. He also introduced what became known as‘Ambrosian chant’. By the ninth century Gregorian chant, or plainsong, was used, sung monophonically andnamed in honour of Gregory the great (Pope from 590-604).Polyphonic music, which is the parallel movement of melodic lines, combining two or more melodies inharmony, was introduced by a French Benedictine monk called Ubalus Hucbald (840-930). AnotherBenedictine monk by the name of Guido of Arezzo (995-1050) introduced the staff of four lines on which thepitch of notes could be written. From then on musicians were able to notate music. So we have twoBenedictine monks to thank for music notation.Then followed the composition of Motets (13th century) Madrigals (14th century) Anthems (16th century)Oratorios (16th century) Symphonies (16th century) Sonatas(16th century) Cantatas (17th century). FromChristianity’s earliest years and for centuries thereafter, Christian musicians gave beauty and majesty towestern music, even to secular pieces.OperaBy the ninth century biblical stories were dramatised and performed in song in France. Operas, whichbecame popular during the Renaissance, evolved out of these Church dramas.
HOW JESUS CHANGED THE WORLD continuedInfluential Christian AuthorsChristianity has made immense contributions to the world of literature. First, by revering the Biblical texts,then by honouring the extra biblical works of the Church Fathers.There are many great books that have influenced society because of the faith of their Christian authors. Thefollowing are a very small selection:Eusebius (280-339) was a follower of Jesus who wrote treaties and monographs in the early centuries ofChristianity. His Ecclesiastical history is an outstanding work without which we would know very little aboutevents that transpired in the church’s first three hundred years. The vast number of historical details andcharacters chronicled and discussed in this work are astounding considering data was collected in the earlyfourth century.The Venerable Bede (673-735), an English monk, wrote, An Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation.This provides the first useful history of the Christian church in England in the Middle Ages. The work is inLatin. The book includes is information on the struggle between Roman and Celtic style Christianity. It isconsidered to be one of the most important original references on Anglo-Saxon history. The book is believedto date from 731 when Bede was about 59 years old. This is the first work to use the Latin phrase Anno AbIncarnatione Domini (‘after the Lord’s incarnation’, abbreviated to A.D.)Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) wrote the famous Canterbury Tales. These are a collection of stories writtenin Middle English. (English spoken between 1154-1485). The tales (mostly in verse, although some are inprose) are told as part of a story-telling contest between a group of pilgrims as they travel together on ajourney from Southwark to Canterbury. Chaucer uses the tales to paint an ironic portrait of English societyand the church at the time and gives keen Christian insights. He introduced the favourite metrical form ofEnglish poetry.
HOW JESUS CHANGED THE WORLD continuedJohn Bunyan (1628-88), a Puritan preacher and writer has stirred the spiritual emotions of readers forgenerations. While in prison for his religious beliefs he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress. This is an allegory of aChristians journey (here represented by a character called Christian) from the "City of Destruction" to the"Celestial City". Along the way he visits such locations as the Slough of Despond, Vanity Fair, the DoubtingCastle, and the Valley of the Shadow of Death. As we encounter similar trials we learn for ourselves theaccuracy with which Bunyan has described them. This is a book ‘once read and never forgotten’. It isconsidered a masterpiece of English literature.Charles Dickens (1812-70) was the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era, and he remainspopular. Some of his most well known books are: Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield,Bleak House, Our Mutual Friend, Oliver Twist and Little Dorrit.A Christmas Carol has engraved in many people’s minds the idea that Christmas is a time for goodwill andgiving. The main character, Mr. Scrooge is known for saying “bah” and “humbug” to those who found joy inChristmas. After some dream he becomes a changed man; kind and charitable. Although Dickens’Christmas story fails to note the real purpose of Christmas, namely that it is a special day celebrating Godbecoming man in Jesus Christ in order to redeem mankind, he atleast emphasises the goodwill that is a by-product of Christmas.This story includes the first introduction of the Christmas turkey.The story has been said to have done more good than all thepulpits of Christendom. Certainly it has left Christmas moresentimental in character and more universally observed thanbefore.
HOW JESUS CHANGED THE WORLD continuedLewis Wallace (1827-1905) an American General who was the author of Ben-Hur. (Its subtitle is “ATale of Christ”.) The novel focuses on a young Jewish male at the time of Christ, who sees Jesusperform miracles, including the healing of his mother’s and sister’s leprosy. He witnesses thecrucifixion, becomes Christian and gives his life to promoting the Christian faith. Wallace wrote thenovel to counteract atheistic comments made to him by a onetime officer in the U.S. Army. The bookreveals the powerful effects of the life and work of Christ. Ben-Hur is still in print. The movie version isstill popular on T.V. during the Easter season, indicating its long standing appeal to millions ofviewers.
HOW JESUS CHANGED THE WORLD continuedC.S. Lewis (1898-1963). Born in Ireland and for a while a lapsed Anglican who later became a powerfulapologist for Christianity. Lewis used words and imagery in his writings that caught the attention of themodern society.The Chronicles of Narnia series have been popularized on stage, T.V., radio and cinema. ScrewtapeLetters is an account of a conversation between Screwtape (the devil in hell) and Wormwood (hisdelegate on earth), instructing him on how to get human souls to end up in hell. Screwtape knows theweaknesses of modern followers of Jesus. So he tells Wormwood to encourage them to look for a churchthat suits their personal tastes, where the traditional liturgy is watered down, where a lot of newpsychology is used, and where novelty is in vogue. Wormwood is also told to introduce them to sexoutside of marriage, intemperate drinking and other sensual pleasures, because these are excellentmeans of getting them into the enemy’s camp.Mere Christianity was published in 1943. This is ahallmark of Christian literature. He shows thatChristianity makes sense. “When you are arguingagainst God you are arguing against the very powerthat makes you able to argue at all: it is like cuttingoff the branch you are sitting on.” Lewis’ works havebeen translated into more than 30 languages.
HOW JESUS CHANGED THE WORLD continuedJ.R.Tolkien authored The Lord of the Rings. It was largely due to the influence of Tolkien that Lewis becamea follower of Jesus in his adult life. Both authors were leading figures in the English faculty at OxfordUniversity and were great friends.Literature from the Eastern ChurchesOver the past fifty years many works have been translated into English from Greek and Russian and thishas enabled a greater appreciation of the Orthodox faith and the writings of the Early Church Fathers.Saint John Climacus (Greek for ‘of the ladder’) wrote The Ladder of Divine Ascent for monastics in the sixthcentury. It is an ascetical treatise on avoiding vice and practicing virtue so that salvation can be obtained. Ithas become one of the most highly influential and important works for followers of Jesus in the EasternOrthodox Tradition and helps guide them to a God-centred life. It is second only in use to Holy Scripture.The Way of a Pilgrim is the English title of a 19th century Russian work, recounting the unnamed narrator’sjourney across Russia while practicing the Jesus Prayer. It is not known whether the book is literally anaccount of a single pilgrim, or if it uses a fictional pilgrim’s journey as a vehicle to teach the practice ofceaseless inner prayer and communion with God.Metropolitan Kallistos Ware (Born1934), also known by his lay name, Timothy Ware. He is a Metropolitan ofthe Ecumenical Patrarchate in Great Britain. From 1966-2001 he was the Spalding Lecturer of EasternOrthodox Studies at Oxford University. His most well known book is The Orthodox Church first published in1963. This is widely read and available in most book stores. There is also a later sequel called The OrthodoxWay. Metropolitan Ware is also highly regarded for his translation work most notably of the Philokalia.(Philokalia means ‘love of the beautiful’; it is a collection of texts written between the fourth and fifteenthcenturies by spiritual masters of the Eastern Orthodox Church and were originally written for the guidance ofmonks in the practice of the contemplative life.)
HOW JESUS CHANGED THE WORLD: Holy-daysDuring the first three hundred years Christians often suffering severe persecution and had no voice in thepublic affairs of society. However, they still commemorated and celebrated the key events that highlightedthe life and acts of Jesus Christ and other events of early Christian history. After Emperor Constantinelegalized Christianity in 313 A.D., these commemorative events became widely institutionalized throughoutthe Roman Empire. ‘Holidays’ is a religious word. It originally meant ‘holy days’, a term of Christian originfrom the Middle ages. Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Pentecost were considered to beholy days because of the events they commemorated.Sunday was chosen as a day for formal worship because Christ physically rose from the dead on the firstday of the week. This was a major departure from the Judaic religious custom which still holds Saturday asthe Hebrew Sabbath. An early Christian Document called The Didache, written between A.D. 85-110describes Sunday as ‘The Lord’s Day’. (The first line of this treatise is:‘Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles(or Nations) by the Twelve Apostles.’)
HOW JESUS CHANGED THE WORLD continuedChristmas comes from ‘Christ’s Mass’ referring to the Mass celebrated on that day to honour the birth ofJesus.New Year’s Day was eight days after Christmas day and therefore commemorated Jesus being taken to thetemple to be circumcised according to the Jewish law. This is still commemorated in many churches today.Easter is the name used in the West for the time to commemorate the physical resurrection of Christ. In theEast the event is known as Pascha (Greek for the Hebrew word Passover, referring to the time of theexodus when the Hebrew’s were freed from slavery in Egypt). Jesus celebrated this Jewish festival thenight before His trial.Expressions we use every day.Goodbye. Shortened form of ‘God be with ye’– a Christian greeting at the time of departure.
What do the Followers of Jesus believe? "The Nicene Creed" is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian worship. It was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council in the year 325AD. The Nicene Creed has been normative for most Christians THE NICENE CREED• I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.• And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in essence with the Father; through Him all things were made.• For our sake and for our salvation He came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man• And He was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried;• And He rose again on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures,• And ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.• He is coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.• And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,• Who spoke through the Prophets.• I believe in one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.• I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.• I look for the resurrection of the dead,• And the life of the age to come. 1
What makes us so sure that God exists at all-especially when we cant see, you, or touch him? • Many things that are real cant be seen or sensed in normal ways. • The existence of the universe and its fine tuning. • The objective moral standards among people around the world...... all point to the existence of a God who is outside the universe but whocaused it, shaped it in an amazingly precise fashion so it could support life,and built morality into the fabric of what it means to be human. Our individual experience of God supports all this evidence.
WHAT CHRISTIANS BELIEVE ABOUT THE BIBLEChristianity is a revealed faith. We cannot find out about God unless God reveals Himself. God has revealedHimself first through the Prophets, as recorded in the Old Testament, and more recently in the person ofJesus Christ, Who is God’s ultimate revelation.“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has inthese last days spoken to us by His Son”. Hebrews 1:1The main way we know about Jesus is through The Bible record. The following is a quote from Dr.Christopher Chavasse, formerly Bishop of Rochester U.K.“The Bible is the portrait of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospels are the figure itself in the portrait. The Old Testament is the background leading up to the divine figure, pointing towards it and absolutelynecessary to the composition as a whole. The epistles serve as thedress and accoutrement of the divine figure, explaining and describingit. Then while by our Bible reading we study the portrait as a greatwhole, the miracle happens, the figure comes to life and steppingdown from the canvas of the written word, the everlasting Christ of theEmmaus story becomes Himself our Bible teacher, to interpret to usin all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”The Emmaus story refers to the resurrection appearance of Jesus onthe road to Emmaus referred to in Luke 24:13-35. “Did not our heartsburn within us while He talked with us on the road, and opened theScriptures to us?” (verse 32).
FACTS ABOUT THE BIBLEThe reliability of the New Testament has been shown by the number of manuscript attestations especiallywhen compared to the texts of other historical works of the same period. (E.g.; Livy’s Roman History writtenin 59B.C.-A.D. 17. The earliest copy we have of this is dated A.D. 900 (a 900 year gap from the original) andthe number of copies known to exist is 20. Also the Histories of Tacitus, written in 100A.D., have only 20surviving copies and the earliest surviving copy is dated 1100A.D. (a 1,000 year gap from the original). Incontrast, The New Testament was written between A.D. 40 and A.D. 100 and we have excellent fullmanuscripts of the whole New Testament dating from as early as A.D. 350 (some are stored in The BritishMuseum, London). There is also a fragment of St. John’s gospel (which was written in the latter part of thefirst century), dated between A.D.80- A.D.130 (stored in the Rylands Library, Manchester, England). This is avery small gap of decades, rather than millennia. The number of surviving documents is enormous comparedto the others. There are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts, over 10,000 Latin manuscripts and 9,300 othermanuscripts, as well as over 36,000 citings in the writings of the Early Church Fathers. According to F.F.Bruce (Rylands Professor of Biblical criticism and exegesis, Manchester University, England) “The intervalbetween the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence become so small as to be in factnegligible, and the lastfoundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have comedown to us substantially as they were written has nowbeen removed. Both the authenticity and the generalintegrity of the books of the New Testament may beregarded as finally established.”The Bible is uniquely popular and has always beena best selling book. It has been estimated that aroundone million copies of the Bible are sold every week.
FACTS ABOUT THE BIBLEThe Bible also appears to be uniquely powerful, offering readers an opportunity to meet with thesupernatural powers of good; to meet with the living God. Followers of Jesus believe that the writers wereinspired by God. The following interesting quote was made by The English Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin inMay 1928:“The Bible is a high explosive. But it works in strange ways and no living man can tell or know how thatbook, in its journey through the world, has startled the individual soul in ten thousand different places into anew life, a new world, a new belief, a new conception, a new faith.”The Bible is a Manual for life and acts as a guide on how to act and informing about what is right and wrongin God’s eyes. The Ten Commandments are a brilliant analysis of the conditions on which society, a people,a nation can live a sober, righteous and civilized life. It teaches that it is right to give, to forgive, to aid thosein need, to care, to love, to be humble, to live wisely in relationships with others etc. Rules like these do notrestrict freedom but result in freedom and joy. A sport played with no referee and no rules would be chaotic.As a society drifts from God’s guidelines disorder increases. The following quote is from David Suchet, aleading Shakespearean actor and well known for his title role in Poirot. He describes his experience ofcoming to faith through reading a Gideon Bible in a hotel. (The Gideons are an organization dedicated todistributing Bibles).
FACTS ABOUT THE BIBLE“From somewhere I got this desire to read the Bible again. That’s the most important part of my conversion. Istarted with the Acts of the Apostles and then moved to Paul’s Letters - Romans and Corinthians. And it wasonly after that I came to the gospels. In the New Testament I suddenly discovered the way that life should befollowed.”Reading the Bible leads to an experience of transformation in a person’s relationship with God and theirability to believe in Him. Transformation also occurs as readers experience peace in the midst of life’s crises,guidance in times of uncertainty, the ability to forgive others, an ability to see one’s own selfishness and toresist temptation. The nineteenth century English preacher D.L. Moody pointed out, “The Bible was notgiven to increase our knowledge. It was given to change our lives.”
TimelineJesus of Nazareth founded His church in AD 33, after His resurrection from the dead, with thefollowing words to His disciples; “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father andof the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”(Matthew 28:18-20).Since then, in obedience to this command, His church hasgrown into the largest of the major religions of the world.Throughout it’s history, the Church has had to work at clarifying its understanding of Godas revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ.From time to time disagreements have arisen and been dealt withas necessary. Usually it results in a clarification of belief (forexample the seven ecumenical councils, out of which came theNicene Creed). Sometimes a different group of churches ordenominations has resulted. The largest groupings of Christiansin the world today are the Roman Catholic Church, the EasternOrthodox Church and the Protestant Churches.Christianity began spreading from Jerusalem, and then throughoutthe Near East. It became the state religion of Armenia in 301 , ofEthiopia in 325, of Georgia in 337, and then the State church of the Roman Empire in 380,becoming common to all of Europe in the Middle Ages.it expanded throughout the world during the European exploration and discovery of largeparts of the world, including Australia in the 15th – 17th centuries.Christianity has become the worlds largest religion. 2
Where are the Followers of Jesus in the world today?The map is a rough guide. For example there are about 24 million Christiansin India (more than the total population of Australia!) but this is only 2.3% of Indias population so it doesn’t show up on the diagram below. 3
A brief history of Christianity in ChinaThe first documented case of Christianity entering China was in the 7th century, which is known from the Nestorian Stele, astone tablet dated 781 A.D. and discovered in 1623. It records that Christians reached the Tang Dynasty capital Xi’an in 635 andwere allowed to establish places of worship and to propagate their faith. The leader of the Christian travellers was Alopen, aSyrian missionary monk. This faith was known to the Chinese as jinjiao, the Persian faith.The 13th century saw the Mongol-established Yuan Dynasty in China. Christianity was a major influence in the Mongol Empire,as several Mongol tribes were primarily Nestorian Christian, and many of the wives of Genghis Khan’s descendants werestrongly Christian. Contacts with western Christianity also came in this time period, via envoys from the Papacy to the Mongolcapital in Khanbaliq (Beijing)In 1289, Franciscan friars from Europe initiated mission work in China. For about a century they worked in parallel with theNestorian Christians. The Franciscan mission collapsed in 1368, as the Ming Dynasty set out to eject all foreign influences,including Christianity and Buddhism, from China.In 1582 the Jesuits once again initiated mission work in China, introducingwestern science, mathematics, and astronomy. In the early 18th century adispute within the Roman Catholic Church arose over whether Chinese folkreligion rituals and offerings to their ancestors constituted idolatry. The Poperuled against tolerating of these practices among the Chinese RC converts.Following this the Emperor banned Christianity.Further waves of missionaries came to China in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)as a result of contact with foreign powers. Russian Orthodoxy was introduced in1715 predominately in Harbin, and Protestants began entering China in 1807.In the 1800’s, many overseas missionaries came to China, such as the LondonMissionary Society, and China Inland Mission. There were now Chinesetranslations of the Bible. During the 1840’s western missionaries spreadChristianity rapidly. During this time many Chinese became Christians.continued...
A brief history of Christianity in China...continuedIn 1895 the Boxer Uprising was in part a reaction against Christianity in China. The boxersviolently attacked foreigners, western Christians, and especially Chinese Christians.In 1924 the anti Christian Movement made a comeback by linking Christianity to Imperialism.Christianity was criticized as being the “Slave of the western capitalist countries”In 1949 foreign missionaries were expelled from China as the government tried to gain control over all religions. From 1966 to1976 during the Cultural revolution, the expression of religious life in China was effectively banned. The government requiredthe churches (Catholic & Protestant) to be registered, Catholics (Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association) and Protestant (TheThree-Self Patriotic Movement, China Christian Council), subjecting them to state monitoring and restrictionsinvolving personnel, preaching topics and congregational composition.In 1979 the government restored the TSPM after 13 years of non existence, and in 1980 the China Christian Council wasformed. Since loosening restrictions on religion after the 1970’s Christianity has grown significantly within thePRC but it is still tightly controlled by the government. Today the Chinese language divides Christians into two groups. Jidujiao (literally, Christianity) Protestantism, and Tianzhu jiao (“Lord of heaven” religion), CatholicismChristianity in China is a growing minority religion that comprises Protestants (39 million), Catholics (14 million), and a smallernumber of Orthodox Christians, as well as the many Chinese Christians who also meet in “unregistered” house churchmeetings. Estimated total Christians in China is 54 million. It is hard to get an exact figure as the numbers from varioussources vary considerably. 5
Christian Heroes FAMOUS MEN AND WOMEN WHO’S FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST AFFECTED THEIR LIVES AND THE COURSE OF HUMAN HISTORY.Isaac Newton (1642-1727) Born in England.• Mathematician, invented calculus• Astronomer• Philosopher• Discovered gravity• His three laws of motion have enabled Scientists to calculate the path of a rocket to the moon• Invented the reflecting telescope.Sir Isaac Newton was also a great Christian and Bible scholar.He left over a million words of notes on the Bible.He said “The true God is a living, intelligent and powerful being” George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) Born in Germany. • Musical composer • Works include: Messiah, Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks. The Messiah was a miracle of creativity by a Christian believer, composed in just 24 days. After writing the music of the Hallelujah chorus Handel exclaimed through tears ‘I did think I saw all heaven before me’ 250 years later this amazing work on Christ’s life is still famous and marvelled at every Christmas and Easter the world over. 9
Followers of Jesus who have made a difference FAMOUS MEN AND WOMEN WHO’S FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST AFFECTED THEIR LIVES AND THE COURSE OF HUMAN HISTORY.Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) Born in France.• A French Chemist and microbiologist• A founder of modern medicine• Discoverer of micro-organisms• Pasteurization grew out of his work• Created the first vaccine for rabies and anthraxLouis Pasteur believed in prayer, he believed in the Bible, he believedin the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and he made the truthsof the Gospel His goal in life and urged others to do the same. The Wright Brothers, Wilbur and Orville (1871-1948) Born in America. • Pioneers in flying • Invented and built the world’s first successful airplane, the first to provide mankind with wings. These brothers were sons of a bishop and always upheld Christian principles. 10
Followers of Jesus who made a difference in the lives of millionsWilliam Wilberforce (1759-1833) Born in England.• British Member of Parliament• Leader of a movement to abolish the slave trade leading to slavery abolition act of 1833Wilberforce underwent a Christian conversion experience which resulted in major changesto his lifestyle and resulted in his life’s work for the abolition of slavery in most of the BritishEmpire. 11
What now ?• Recommended reading • Websites, Podcasts • Fellowship groups• Campus based Priests • Churches • and of course prayer!Copyright notice: This work is not copyright as it is not for commercial purposes.Note that images and texts used may by subject to existing copyright.As such, reproduction of this work may be subject to copyright requirements.