Nothing in this life demands more attention than those claims made by the first disciples of Jesus (His apostles), in what came to be known as the New Testament. Such claims as the divinity of Jesus, His being the long awaited Messiah of Israel- the apex of the Jewish story, and the fulfillment of everything prophesied prior to His coming. Claims that, if falsified, lead us to conclude that Christianity has been (by the widest conceivable margin) the greatest hoax in history; but if confirmed, mean either peace, joy, and real forgiveness, or misery, shame, and judgement for the whole of humanity.
So what can I say in 700 words to convince you of the above assertions? Read on.
Reason #1- You’re Not as Autonomous as You Think
Not only do these claims impact you and I, but it’s a safe bet that our children, their children, and the children they have will inherit the likeness of our convictions. What I teach my daughter could mean bliss or condemnation, joy or damnation for her soul, and therefore it’s incumbent on me to carefully consider what is true about life, reality, and the claims of Jesus Christ. If you love those around you, you’ll seek the truth.
Reason #2- Morality’s Implications
Lets run to Hitler and beat a dead horse. If you’re going to call anything wrong in this world (really wrong- not just distasteful), you must appeal to a standard beyond the consensus of the majority or the will of the powerful… a transcendent standard to which all humanity is accountable and couldn’t change even if the desire was there. If your appeal is to anything else, you have no basis to condemn Mr. Adolf (for if the Axis Powers would’ve won, we’d be speaking German and indulging in the heinous). And if a transcendent moral code, then an equally lofty punishment for transgressing that code. Not scary if you’re a perfect man, but who among us is?
Reason #3- The Unity of the Bible
Being then in sin, the blackest and most humiliatingly painful dread would have been the fate of all the fallen sons of Adam if Jesus didn’t condescend [God in the flesh] to accept such a fearful and agonizingly dark punishment on behalf of that fallen lump. He is the piece that makes the picture of reality come into focus, and you can’t understand the Jewish Scriptures without Him as the explanation.
Jesus is the Seed of the woman that will crush the head of the Serpent (Genesis 3:15); the Offspring of Abraham that will bless all the nation’s (Genesis 22:17-18), the Lamb for the burnt offering- offered in Isaac’s place (Genesis 22:8), the Greater Joseph-who, in being forsaken by His kindred, was providentially used to save His father’s house (Genesis 45:5-8). Jesus- the Passover Lamb, whose blood hides us from the judgement of God Almighty (Exodus 12:13), the greater Moses who mediates a better covenant with greater promises (Exodus 33:12-23, Jeremiah 31:31-34), and the Great and True High Priest who stands in the Heavenly Tabernacle as proxy for True Israel with a perfect sacrifice, namely Himself, able and willing to cleanse His people and make them right before God (Leviticus 16, Hebrews 9:11-28). He is most definitely Joshua, the One who will lead Israel to the Promised Land, which is the reunion of Heaven and Earth- where man and God will again dwell together, unhindered by sin (Isaiah 11:1-10, 66:22-24, Revelation 21).
Without Jesus, the Jewish Scriptures are a disjointed collection of historical happenings, contrived imperatives, and empty promises. With Jesus, unity abounds. Unity between two people is tough enough. Unity between over 40 different authors with differing backgrounds and cultures, spanning 1500 years is outright miraculous.
Reason #4- Isaiah 53
Prior to the findings of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946, there were a good deal of people who considered Isaiah 53 to be a later addition to the Jewish text (and for good reason). Isaiah says that the Messiah will be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, that the Lord will lay on Him the iniquity of us all, that He will die and [in His death] will be an atoning sacrifice and ransom for many, and that thereafter he will see His offspring and be satisfied (He will live beyond the grave). With how closely Isaiah 53 resembles the life and mission of Jesus as declared in the gospels, it’s hard to believe it pre-existed the King of Kings. But the Great Isaiah Scroll, found in Qumran Cave 1, blew that skepticism out of the water (along with the minds of the skeptical). Read it yourself.
And the reasons don’t stop there.