Who is Jesus? Some say he was a great man; many say he was the most influential man that ever lived; others say he was God in human flesh, and a few say he was a myth created by believers to begin the Christian religion. This question of who is Jesus has been asked for centuries.
I would like to begin a new series examining the historical Jesus. In the limited time I have I will not be able to go into great depth. Entire volumes of books have been written on this topic. However, I think I can make a strong case to support the Jesus of history is none other than the Jesus of the Bible.
Why is it important to make a case for a specific Jesus? Let me share an illustration. If I was to ask you to describe my dad, what might you say? You may say he is 6’5, weighs about 250, 75 years old and was an electrician. Another might say he is 6’0, weighs 170, 82 yrs. old and retired as a newspaper editor. Finally, another might say he is 5’9, has back trouble, is 94 years old, and retired from the gas company. Now one conclusion we can reach, all 3 of these descriptions cannot be true for my dad today. Only one description is correct. Currently, my dad is 94 and has been retired from the gas company for over 30 years.
Similar to describing my dad, there are hundreds of descriptions of Jesus. If they all contradict each other either they are all wrong or only one is right. In the book of John, Jesus says it important to be right about who he is. John 8:24 “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Jesus said if you get this wrong, you will die in your sins, which will lead to eternal consequences. It is crucial to believe in the one true Jesus. I am going to make a case the Bible accurately records the life of the historical Jesus.
So who is Jesus according to the Bible? Here are 6 characteristics to describe him. Many of these are beliefs that are central to Christianity.
- He was a miracle worker (healer, turned water to wine, calmed the sea, rose from the dead, etc.)
- He was sinless (John 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15)
- He was the predicted Messiah of the Old Testament (Ps. 22; Is. 53; Matt. 16:15-16; 26:63-64)
- He died on the cross to pay the penalty for sins (Rom. 3:25; Isa. 53:6, 12; John 1:29; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:28; 1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 5:8)
- Jesus is fully man and fully God (John 1:1, 14; 10:31-33; 20:28; Titus 2:13)
- He was raised from the dead (All 4 Gospels; 1 Cor. 15)
All these facts about the historical Jesus are established in the Bible. This is why I will spend the majority of my time defending the Bible. This is a book that has been under attack for over 2,000 years. I will not be defending the Bible as the word of God; instead I will make a more modest claim. I will be defending the historical accuracy or reliability of the Biblical accounts.
How am I going to do that? First I will present non-Biblical sources that give us important information about Jesus and support the Biblical record. Second I will show how archeology provides historical evidence the Bible is accurate. Third I will look at additional historical evidence to show how and why the Bible can be trusted as a truthful account of the life of Jesus.
Author and speaker Lee Strobel was a newspaper journalist in Chicago who didn’t believe in God. His wife became a follower of Jesus Christ and he noticed changes in her life. He decided to investigate the claims of the Bible and see if this book had any merit. He thought he’d confirm his feelings that Christianity was for fools. However, while researching the historical materials he reached a different conclusion. Using his journalistic skills he found the Bible could be trusted as a true source for the life and ministry of Jesus. His reaction to his findings was to commit his life to following him. Today he is a prolific writer defending the Bible and other issues of Christianity.
Will I convince you? Some of you are already convinced of the historical truth and will read this series to give you additional support. Others are on the fence and are interested in my evidence for the historical Jesus. And some are skeptics reading to see if I have anything of substance to say. My target for this series is all three groups.
 Lee Strobel has written The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for the Creator, The Case for the Real Jesus, and other books.