2. Jesus Christ of Nazareth

Let us look at Jesus.

It is a historical fact that Jesus of Nazareth existed, preached, and was executed by the Romans at the insistence of the Jewish leaders. Secular history says this much.

All Jesus would have had to do to avoid being executed in the most torturous way humans have ever come up with was to say He was not God.

That is all.

Yet He went to the cross with the words "I am (God)" on His lips.

“Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, "I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." Mark 14:61

(and, remember, this scripture was written by John Mark, believed to be the assistant to Peter, who was there when Jesus was on trial.)

Why would He do this?

There are only two possibilities. He either was God or He was not. There is no in between.

I am either God or I am not (I will tell you right now that I am not). You are either God or you are not. The chair I am sitting in is either God or it is not. There is no in between.

If Jesus was not God, He either knew He was not or He did not know He was not. Again, there is no in-between. He was either a liar (wasn’t God and knew it), a lunatic (wasn’t God but thought he was) or He really was Lord of all.

Liars, con-artists, are capable of convincing large numbers of people that they are divine. But they all have one thing in common: a strong sense of Self Preservation. A liar of the magnitude Christ would have had to be to pull off the things He did, would have been able to work out a deal with the Jews to avoid being crucified. The fact that He didn't even try shows that the man actually believed what He was saying. Anyone who honestly believes He is God (enough to go to the Cross for that belief) is either coo-coo or God Himself.

No alternatives.

The level of insanity that convinces a man He is God (strongly enough to override the self preservation instinct) is called Complex, Paranoid Schizophrenia. We have many examples of this disease available for study.

Charles Manson is probably the most famous modern case. I once saw a filmed interview of the man. No doubt about it. He was NUTS. He couldn't carry one thought to completion. He changed subjects in the middle of every sentence.

All victims of Complex, Paranoid Schizophrenia have one thing in common; they are very violent. Charles Manson committed his crimes (slaughtering a houseful of people) trying to start a race war that would allow him to take over the world.

He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Do good to them that wrongfully use you.

Turn the other cheek.

I could go on and on with quotes from Christ. Do these sound like the rantings of a violent lunatic?

What about the results of His teaching?

"You shall know a tree by the fruit it bears."

Christianity has been the greatest force for peace and brotherly love all over the world (see the next chapter).

Christianity is responsible for the elimination of cannibalism.

It has stopped countless feuds and wars.

It stopped human sacrifice.

Is this the fruit of Complex, Paranoid Schizophrenia? I don't think so.

"Once you have eliminated all the possibilities, what ever remains, no matter how implausible, must be the truth." (Sherlock Holmes)

If Christ was not a liar; if He was not a lunatic; He must be Lord.

"There is a God, and you are not Him." 

Jesus is.

The Romans who crucified Christ were experts at execution. Those soldiers would have lost their heads if they did not do it right, so they always made sure they did. And forensic doctors have examined the account of the crucifixion. There is no way anyone could have survived what Christ went through. It is not humanly possible. Christ was dead when He was removed from The Cross.

They placed Him in a tomb and rolled a stone so heavy that three healthy women (who were used to the normal hard labor of the pre-electronic age) were concerned they would not be able to move it away enough to get in.

The soldiers sealed the tomb with wax and placed guards around it that, again, would loose their heads if they did not do their job right.

Christ was not in a coma, as some have claimed. There is no way He could have moved that boulder to get out, even if He had been perfectly healthy, and especially not just three days after the ordeal of The Cross (with no water, food or medicine in the mean time).

The disciples did not steal the body. The soldiers (somewhere between 12 and 20 of them) would have killed them if they had tried (and these are the same men who had just run away when Jesus was arrested. Hardly the examples of courage necessary to attack trained soldiers.)

Every disciple but John was executed for claiming Christ was alive. (There is a story of John being boiled in oil and living. This a miraculous event and a cool story. However, I can find no reliable verification that the event actually happened.)

Again, the disciples' teachings were those of sane men (“Love your neighbor as yourself”), yet they died for the belief that Christ rose from the dead. They obviously believed it.

In addition, they had just spent three and a half years living day and night with Christ. They could not have been fooled about His identity. When they said they saw their Lord AFTER His crucifixion, all reasonable evidence says that is exactly what they saw.

(See “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” by Josh McDowell. A very good and highly recommended book for both those just beginning their walk with God and those who are more experienced)