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Google Trends says Australians still want to know who Jesus is more than any other person – more than ISIS, more than Banksy, more than the latest popstar!
And Jesus has meant a lot of different things to different people. But we reckon the best answers are found in the Bible. Especially in the Gospels – of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – which are his biographies.
I’ve found them full of interest over the years. More than that, they persuade me that…
For example, Luke says he carefully checked the eyewitness reports about Jesus. And the different Gospels supply various sources of such evidence (along with incidental info about Jesus from the letters of Paul, Peter, John and James later in the New Testament). Some can be confirmed with external non-Christian historical sources. They aren’t just made up fairy stories.
Tony Morphett is an Australian reporter and scriptwriter for hit dramas like Packed to the Rafters, Water Rats, Blue Heelers, and the Sullivans. He’s can tell the difference between fact and fiction, because he has been paid to report one, and write the other. He said, after reading the Gospels, “I was dealing with evidence. A large proportion of it dealing with the trial and execution …of this man Jesus… I’ve checked my sources, I have checked my facts, and I’m convinced.”
The Gospels report Jesus’ care as a healer. He restored the deaf, blind and lame. He exercised power over nature and evil forces. Such claims can be hard to assess in a scientific world. But even some external non-Christian references corroborate Jesus’ fame as a wonder-worker. And I’ve always thought if you are open-minded to the possibility God exists, then it’s silly to insist he’s got to be unemployed!
Jesus is also famous as a Teacher – so many of his sayings have become proverbial in Western culture: ‘Turn the other cheek’, ‘Do to others as you’d have them do to you’, ‘Salt of the earth’, ‘Go the second mile’. Alongside such wisdom, his teaching often challenged both the religious and the immoral in unexpected ways for our failure to love either God or neighbour.
Execution on a Roman cross brought Jesus’ career as healer and teacher to an abrupt end. But it wasn’t just something political. Jesus predicted his own death, and explained it as a ‘ransom for many’.
All four Gospels devote extra length to Jesus’ suffering in his arrest, trials, and execution. Jesus had predicted the judgment of the world would rightly fall. But to those who’d rejected God, he said his blood would be ‘poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’.
Jesus coming to seek and save the lost. Jesus dying in my place: it’s why the cross has become the universal symbol of Christianity.
His death was not the end. The Bible says that on the third day after, he rose again. Jesus is alive. And the Gospels provide eyewitness testimony to this amazing claim. For example, who can forget how ‘doubting Thomas’ changed his mind!
And Jesus’ resurrection means he has conquered the grave. It marks Jesus out as the true Son of God. And the Bible says that as such, he is Lord of the World, and will return to judge.
And that means he needs to be boss of my life. And yours.
More than your consideration, the Lord Jesus deserves your allegiance.
Senior Minister, St Michael’s
“Two Ways to Live” is an easy-to-follow presentation (with diagrams) about the message at the heart of Christianity. Read it in English, Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai, Portuguese, Croatian and Polish.
The full text of the Bible is also available in many different languages, for those who want to read further.