How do we know that Jesus really existed? If we take away the bible and look at history there is no doubt that there was a Galilean religious teacher and martyr named Jesus, who lived and died in first century Palestine. The Roman historian, Tacitus, confirms Jesus’ execution at the order of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. The Jewish historian, Josephus, mentions the Galilean teacher, Jesus, a renowned wonder worker whom some called the ‘Christ’ or Messiah, who was martyred by the Romans.
There are also four biographies of Jesus’ life, written soon after his death, that are included in the Christian bible. What is remarkable about these accounts are the many quotes from Jesus himself which show his understanding of who he was. He taught his followers that he was messiah, God who had come in human flesh to save people.
“But what about you?” he (Jesus) asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16.
Why did he come?
Jesus spoke of the purpose of his mission as rescue or salvation. As written in Luke’s biography, Jesus said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10.
Jesus came to save people from the clutches of their own sin, death and eternal judgement. The effectiveness of this mission is dependent on his claims that after his death he would rise again. This claim of rising to new life is recorded both inside and outside the bible.
“The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” Mark 9:31.
What does it mean to Follow Jesus?
Following Jesus begins with receiving what we don’t deserve. Jesus freely offers us forgiveness and new life with him. We receive this life through the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, who convicts us of our sin and failures and our need of forgiveness and salvation. We respond to God's call by turning away from our selfishness and sin and living the life of faith in Jesus.
The effectiveness of this life change is seen as we love, loving God and loving others. If we truly love God we will stop living by our own agenda and give of ourselves, our time, our treasures and out talents, for the benefit of others.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34,35.