Earlier today, someone said this to me:
“There is historical evidence for Jesus crucifixion…but not any of his miracles.”
As those words hit me, I groaned inside. Why? Because I think this guy is just expressing something that is mistakenly assumed by so many skeptics of Christianity. And it saddens me because it is so NOT true!
I try to reach a skeptical audience with this blog – i’m not always successful. Having said that…it strikes me that, if I’m a Biblical skeptic, i’m not going to be too impressed by evidence of Jesus miracles from the pages of the Bible itself. So…what about evidence of Jesus miracles OUTSIDE the pages of the Bible? Does any of this corroborating evidence exist…evidence that supports the evidence in the Bible?
Are you willing to lay aside your pre-conceived notions…and begin to consider it?
First – the earliest portrayal of Jesus Christ we are aware of is a piece of graffiti that is drawn with the intention of insulting Jesus and Christians in general. It shows a man with a donkey’s head being crucified…and another man standing to the side with one hand outstretched. Beneath this is written in Greek, “Alexamenos worships [his] God.”
Weird, eh? But actually, the early Christian claims of a crucified God were viewed as ridiculous. This graffiti qualifies as ancient satire and it corroborates an important fact to my skeptical friend. Early Christians – strict monotheists – worshiped Jesus. What would cause them to do that?
Second – two inscriptions found on ossuaries (jars containing skeletal remains) dated around AD 50 – are actually prayers addressed to Jesus…asking for his help. Mark Mittleberg asks a penetrating question. “How is it that Jesus – if he never lived or never rose from the dead – is invoked in prayer a mere twenty years after his death?”
Third – historical sources like the Roman historian Josephus, Tacitucs and Pliny the Younger were no friends of early Christianity. Yet they mention facts about Jesus and his followers that line up with the New Testament accounts. Scholar Gary Habermas (in his book The Historical Jesus) provides over 100 extra Biblical facts about Jesus life, his death, his resurrection and his teaching. Jesus credentials are solidly historical. there’s no getting away from this.
Where does this leave us? Well – if we are willing to look at the available evidence, it gives us corroborating evidence that supports the text of the New Testament. Specifically – that Jesus lived, he died, he rose from the dead and as his followers worshipped him as God; they genuinely and honestly initiated the spread of Christianity in the light of the historical Jesus.
If the history is right…and Jesus rose from the dead as the New Testament Gospels affirm…then it confirms His recorded claims to be God Himself. Why? Because the thing that eventually masters each and every one of us – death – has no power over Him. In the light of that…wouldn’t it make sense to bring our lives under His love and care?
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29, NIV