Acts 13:31-32a and for many days he [Jesus] appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news…
I was having a conversation this week with a guy who raised an interesting argument. He said that there was no evidence outside of the Bible that Jesus ever lived. I let him know the names of a few historians that do talk about him, and that there is more than enough evidence that Jesus did exist.
It is one of those notions that seem to be gaining ground in the world. A movie was recently released which makes this assertion. I find it fascinating that people are buying into that idea. How can anyone insinuate that a man whose influence has literally changed the course of history, never existed in the first place? I guess it’s kind of like the belief that the holocaust never happened, and that man never landed on the moon.
We as Christians, of course, believe that Jesus was a real person, who really said the things he did, and lived, died, and then lived again. In fact, it is an essential aspect of our faith. If Jesus was not a real person, then we have nothing to believe in!
Some had asserted that Pontius Pilate was not real until 1961 when archaeologists found a limestone inscription giving him credit for rebuilding a theater. Some of the historians who lived during the life of Jesus or shortly thereafter talk about him and are critical of his followers. Josephus, a Jewish Historian hired by Rome, mentions Jesus. Tacitus, a Roman historian, makes a comment about the Christians, and the guy who started the following. The Jewish Talmud (history of Judaism) talks about him, and other names like: Suetonius, Lucian of Samosata, Thallus… and more, all acknowledge his existence, although they don’t have nice things to say about him.
I bring up these accounts because they are vitally important to disprove the above rumors. Unfortunately, however, proving that Jesus did, in fact, exist still does not win the battle. It is, at best, only half-way. Jesus is part of history, but unlike Napoleon, Alexander the Great, or Columbus, he is very much more a part of our personal history, and that will always be as important as the historical record. In other words, has his existence made a marked difference in our story?
The passage above is part of a message that Paul is giving to a synagogue on his first trip as a missionary around the Mediterranean. Paul makes the assertion that Jesus did live, die, and was resurrected, and then he follows it up with the important statement, “We bring you the good news…”
Is the fact that Jesus died and came back to life, good news to us? The fact that in real time, and space, there was an empty, Judean tomb early on a Sunday morning, changes everything! It changes everything about our lives, and hopefully it has over the years of our individual existence. For Paul, this “Good news” altered his life in more ways than he could have realized, and consequently, it altered our lives as well. That good news, or “Gospel” is so good; that we bring it to other’s and change the course of each person’s future history.