Jesus Lived And Died

W. Terry Varner
September 15, 2013

The Gospel of John records the terrifying words, “Crucify Him, crucify Him” (19:6) and then the words, “they crucified Him” (19:18). The suffering of Jesus is beyond our comprehension but He suffered and died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3). After suffering six hours, Jesus cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:30). This references His finishing the work He came to do—redeeming man (John 6:38; Heb. 7:27). He paid the ransom and made atonement for all that believe and obey. Defeating the work of the evil one (Heb. 2:14), man now has hope if he obeys (Heb. 5:8-9).

We do not question that Jesus lived and died and that Christianity is true. Harrison writes, “Some religions, both ancient and modem, require no historical basis for they depend upon ideas rather than events” (11). Jesus life and death is documented as to time and place binding Jesus and Christianity historically. Christianity could not have started and survived without the historical existence of Jesus Christ, the divine Founder. Consider briefly the historical evidence that Jesus lived and died.

Jewish Testimony. The Old Testament is redound with explicit Messianic prophecies and the New Testament applies their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. The study of the Messiah in the Old Testament is most amazing. While the biblical records are sufficient to confirm that Jesus lived and died, there exists a body of non-Christian sources that verify the biblical record.

A Jew by the name of Josephus, who lived during the first century, gives historical evidence of the life and death of Jesus. In reference to James, he writes, “the brother of Jesus, who was called the Christ” (Antiquities 20.9). Also, “He was the Christ... He appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold” (Antiquities 18:3).

The Talmud. The Talmud is the oral tradition of the Jews preserved in written form of which one is known as The Babylonian Talmud stating: “On the eve of the Passover Yeshu [Jesus] was hanged [crucified]” (Sandhedrin 43a).

Roman Testimony. The first century Roman historian, Cornelius Tacitus (AD 55-120), describes Nero’s persecution of Christians. He wrote: “Christus [Christ], from whom the name had it origin, suffered the extreme penalty [crucifixion] during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of our procurators, Pontius Pilate” (15.44).

Another Roman historian, Gaius Suetonius (AD 69-?), makes reference to Christ in his statement, “Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [Christ], he expelled them from the city” (Claudius 25).

Conclusion. Christ and Christianity are inseparable and are tied to historical evidence. Consider Meldau’s comment concerning the evidence of Jesus living and dying. “One man only in the history of the world has had explicit details given beforehand of His birth, fife, death and resurrection; that these details are in documents [Old Testament] given to the public centuries before He appeared, and that no one challenges, or can challenge, that these documents were widely circulated long before His birth; and that anyone and everyone can compare for himself the actual records of His life with these old documents, and find that they match one another to a nicety. The challenge of this pure miracle is that it happened concerning one Man only in the whole history of the world” (3).

Also note how Jackson confirms our argument of the existence of abundant evidence showing Jesus lived and died in the following: “Jesus Christ was a verifiably historical character. He was no myth! His name was Jesus and he was bom in the latter half of the eighth century of the Roman era. His ancestry was Hebrew; his country Palestine. He died in Jerusalem in the administrations of governor Pontius Pilate and emperor Tiberius Caesar. These are incontrovertible facts; they are as historically certain as history can be” (22).