To historians, the facts regarding Jesus are as definite and evident as those of Julius Caesar. Not only do we find an accurate portrait of Him in the documents of the New Testament, but dozens of ancient non-biblical manuscripts confirm that Jesus was a genuine historical figure who lived in Palestine in the early part of the first century.
If any adjective were to describe Jesus, it would be “unique.” His message was unique. The claims He made regarding Himself were unique. His miracles were unique. And the influence He has had on the world is unsurpassed by any other.
One very outstanding and undeniably unique aspect of Jesus’ life is that literally hundreds of detailed predictions and prophecies were made many centuries before He was born—specific details regarding His birth, life, and death—that no mere mortal man could possibly have fulfilled. In the Old Testament, over 300 such predictions about the “Messiah” or “Savior” can be found, written centuries before Jesus was born.
In 750 BC, the prophet Isaiah prophesied that “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel.”1 Seven and a half centuries later, a young virgin in Israel named Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel, who announced to her that she would bear a son who would be called Emmanuel, which means “God with us.”
The New Testament tells us that “Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, seeing I have not lain with any man?’ And the angel answered, ‘The Spirit of God shall come upon you, and the power of the Almighty shall overshadow you. Therefore that Holy One which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.’”2
Although He was literally the ruler and king of the universe, He chose not to be born in a fine palace with the elite and powerful members of the governments of man in attendance. Instead, He was born in the humblest and most lowly of circumstances, on the dirty floor of a barn amidst the cattle and the donkeys, wrapped in rags and laid to rest in the animals’ feed trough.
When Jesus began His life’s work, He went about everywhere doing good, helping people, loving children, healing heartaches, strengthening tired bodies, and bringing God’s love to all whom He could. He not only preached His message, but He lived it as one of us. He not only ministered to people’s spiritual needs, but He spent a great deal of time ministering to their physical and material needs, miraculously healing them when they were sick, giving sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, cleansing lepers, raising the dead. He fed the crowds when they were hungry and did all He could to share His life and His love.
Just before He was arrested and crucified, knowing that He would soon be reunited with His heavenly Father, Jesus prayed: “Now, Father, glorify Me along with Yourself and restore Me to such majesty and honor in Your presence as I had with You before the world was made … for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”3
The Creator of all things willingly stripped Himself of His unlimited power and became a tiny helpless infant. The source of all wisdom and knowledge had to study and learn to read and write. He left His throne in heaven where innumerable angels worshipped Him, where all the forces of the universe were at His command, and He took the place of a servant. He was scoffed at, ridiculed, persecuted, and ultimately killed by the very ones He came to save.
The Bible tells us that Jesus is “a high priest who is touched with the feeling of our weaknesses, for He was in all points tempted the same way we are, yet without sin.”4 Imagine! The Son of God literally became a citizen of this world, a member of humanity, a man of flesh, in order to redeem us with His love, provide a tangible expression of His compassion and concern, and help us to understand His truth.
Deep in their hearts, most people know that something is missing in their lives. Outwardly they may seem to have everything—money, position, family, friends, all the things that are supposed to make them happy—yet they still have an emptiness, a hunger that nothing really satisfies. Jesus said that He is the bread of life who would fulfill our heart’s “hunger and thirst.”5 The loneliness, emptiness, and dissatisfaction so common to the human experience can be replaced with lasting peace and joy when we come to Him.
He also claims, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except by Me.”6 This is an extraordinary claim and is in fact the heart and soul of the writings of the New Testament—that Jesus alone is the way to eternal life, salvation, and union with God.
Jesus and His life and teachings are universal. God sent His Son to show all men and women, all nations, all people, what He Himself is like, to freely bring us His great love and truth. People sometimes ask, “Can’t you just speak of ‘God’s love’? Why must you insist on using Jesus’ name? Why is Christianity so exclusive?”
If Jesus is God’s Son, and God chose Jesus to reveal Himself to the world, then God Himself has insisted on it. The Bible says, “All men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”7
There is no other way to make peace with God. He will not accept any other terms, any other deal. In Jesus, the one thing necessary for the salvation and redemption of humankind happened in such a way that it never needs to happen again. It is for this reason that we can claim with certainty that for the greatest ailment of humanity, there is only one specific remedy—Jesus.
The historical facts regarding Jesus of Nazareth cannot be denied by anyone who seriously and open-mindedly examines them. In particular, there is no reason to doubt that after His death something incredible happened that transformed His tiny band of dejected followers into a company of witnesses that all the persecution of Imperial Rome could not stop. Downhearted and discouraged, their Lord cruelly crucified by His enemies, those disciples thought their hopes had died and their dreams had been shattered. But three days after Jesus’ death, their faith was rekindled in such a dramatic manner that no force on earth was able to quench it.
The New Testament tells us that Jesus personally appeared to over 500 eyewitnesses after His resurrection.8 This was the resounding message that His first disciples boldly proclaimed throughout the world, “God raised Him from the dead.”9
And that lowly handful of His original followers went on to tell the entire world the good news that God not only sent His Son into the world to teach us His truth and show us His love, but also that Jesus suffered death for our sake, and then rose from the grave. So we who know and believe in Him never need to fear death again, for we are saved and on our way to heaven, thanks to Jesus.