The Bible presents Jesus who is called the Christ, not as some mythical figure, legendary hero, or romantic fictional character, but as a real live person with a definite historical background. We read in Luke 3:23, "Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli." The next verses then trace His genealogy back to Adam, probably through His earthly mother Mary. It is generally believed that the royal ancestry of Jesus through Joseph, who was His legal, though not actual, father, is found in Matthew's account. In Luke's account, the words "the son" (being in italics) with reference to Joseph being "of Heli" could well mean "the son-in-law of."

F. F. Bruce, in The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable, p. 119, wrote, "Some writers may toy with the fancy of a 'Christ-myth,' but they do not do so on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not the historians who propagage the 'Christ-myth' theories." However, pseudo-historians, such as the infamous "Jesus Seminar" of recent note, being influenced by modernistic, liberal Bible criticism over the past couple of hundred years, say that while they may accept a historical person named Jesus they still claim that the historical Jesus and the picture of Jesus presented in the Bible as an object of faith are not the same person.

To take the position that Jesus never even existed is to deny the overwhelming historical evidence contained in both Biblical and non-Biblical literature. Yet, the Bible surely pictures Jesus as more than just a person who lived in Palestine some two-thousand years ago. It presents Him as a divine being who was prophesied throughout the Old Testament, was born of a virgin, and became known as "the Son of God." This is what Peter confessed in Matthew 16:16 when he told Jesus, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." The phrase "son of" is often used to denote likeness to. People say that I am "the son of" my father, not just because I am his offspring, but because I am like him in so many ways (more than I care to admit sometimes!). So to say that Jesus is "the Son of" God is to say that Jesus is like God, that is, He is a divine being (note John 1:1).

The word "Christ" is the Greek form of the Hebrew word "Messiah" which refers to the "anointed one" who was promised throughout Old Testament times. Peter confessed that Jesus, the Son of God, was also the Christ. Some have affirmed that the "historical Jesus" never made such a claim for Himself but that it was invented for Him after His death by His followers. However, in John 4:25-26, when the Samaritan woman asked Jesus about the Messiah, which John tells us means the Christ, Jesus responded, "I who speak to you am He." There can be no doubt that Jesus had come to understand that He met all the qualifications to be identified as the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. The evidence upon which we can believe this is recorded in the written word (John 20:30-31). And all those who were persuaded by the evidence to accept Him also confessed it as truth (Acts 8:37).

The articles that appeared over the past couple of years have examined various aspects of that evidnece which backs up the claims of Jesus to be divine, some of which has been mentioned previously in this article, such as fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and the virgin birth. Other evidence relates to the testimony that Jesus received from others, specifically John the Baptist and the Father in heaven, while still other evidence concerns that which Jesus Himself did--His teaching, His sinless life, His miracles, and His resurrection. One other interesting piece of evidence is found in the conversion of Saul. Any single bit of evidence is important of itself, but when all this evidence is put together it adds to the cumulative argument which is that the only way to explain all this evidence is to conclude that Jesus is exactly who He claimed to be--the Messiah and Son of God.

By -Wayne S. Walker

Return to the General Articles page

Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /