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“Who Do You Say I Am?” (continued from June)

    Since the movie “God’s Not Dead 2”, I have been asked numerous questions about some of the themes and discussions in the movie.  Questions such as:  was that just movie jargon about other sources, what other writings and what is the historical Jesus?  The interest has been so exciting and I will try to answer those questions. 

     First of all, yes, Jesus really existed.  This is often referred to as the historical Jesus or Jesus as a man who walked this earth.  Evidence also comes from those who walked with Jesus and shared his life:  the apostles.  Peter says in his message to the first Gentile believers:  “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.  They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.  He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen – by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”  (Acts 10:39-41)  

  Many of the apostles died horrible deaths as various leaders tried to get them to admit that it was all a hoax.  But they stood firm in their beliefs and testified that Jesus was real and had risen.  The following is how many of those closest to Jesus met their end:

  • Matthew – killed by stabbing as ordered by King Hircanus
  • James, son of Alphaeous – crucified
  • James, brother of Jesus – thrown down from a height, stoned and then beaten to death at the hands of Ananias (circa AD 66)
  • John – tortured by boiling oil, exiled to Patmos in AD 95
  • Mark – burned during Roman emperor Trajan’s reign
  • Peter – crucified upside-down by the gardens of Nero on the Vatican hill circa AD 64
  • Andrew – crucified on an “X” shaped cross by Aegeas, governor of the Edessenes, around AD 80
  • Philip – stoned and crucified in Hierapolis, Phrygia
  • Simon – crucified in Egypt under Trajan’s reign
  • Thomas – death by spear thrust in Calamina, India
  • Thaddaeous – killed by arrows
  • James, son of Zebedee – killed by sword in AD 44 by order of King Herod Agrippa I of Judea
  • Bartholomew – beaten, flayed alive, crucified upside down, then beheaded (

These disciples had close contact with Jesus and they believed, even unto death, that Jesus was God.  However, they were not the only ones.  Multitudes of unnamed Christians during this time also died faithful to their belief that Jesus Christ was Lord.  Tacitus, in his work Annals, tells us the fate common to Christ’s faithful, under Nero, who refused to recant their beliefs:  “Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths.  Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.”

     The apostles and early Christians’ actions speak very clearly.  Their actions matched their words.  They would not deny Christ nor would they say differently because they knew the truth.  By the apostles’ and Christians obedience and sacrifice, Christ has

allowed their deaths to become an extremely powerful witness to us of his person.  They died because they loved Christ.  Belief in Jesus is that important, and those who died knew it.  The deaths of Jesus’ closest followers are speaking to us.  Their deaths have become evidence of Christ’s deity and ministry on earth.  The evidence from non-Biblical sources and the evidence of these martyrs show the Bible’s believability that no historian, scientist or skeptic can ignore in clear conscience.

Suggested Reading:

  • The Case for Christ:  A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Strobel
  • Cold-Case Christianity:  A Homicide Detective Investigates The Claims of the Gospels by J. Warner Wallace
  • Man, Myth, Messiah by Rice Broocks

With Love and Serving with the Spirit of Christ,
Pastor Bud

About Rev. Bud Budzinski

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