I Found the Historical Jesus!

By Joel Hess

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Searching for Jesus. Looking for Jesus. Finding Jesus. Killing Jesus. Every Easter everyone is suddenly interested in Jesus! Oh not the Jesus you know about from the Bible. That’s boring. No one will buy a book or watch a show about that. In order to make money con artists need an angle to exploit, to shock, to draw even the most balanced individual into his grasp. The lowest common denominator of each show or book is the claim that they know the “real” and “historical” Jesus.

Even the great messiah of Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, prefaces his book Killing Jesus by writing “Much has been written about Jesus but little is really known. The gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are written from a spiritual perspective and not historical!”

This sounds like the opinion of some of my 8th graders. It’s also the 19th century theology that allowed the castrated church of Europe to welcome Hitler and now Muslims.

So Bill, living 2000 years removed from the event, thinks he will do a better job at telling us about the historical Jesus than Mark. Were you there when they crucified….

Unfortunately, if it isn’t historical, it isn’t spiritual. If isn’t historical, it’s just like all the other religions.

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In the same book Mr. O’Reilly doesn’t include Jesus saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” because he determined that it would have been too difficult for Jesus to say these words as he hung on the cross. I suggest he try it himself to confirm.

Mark tells us that three women were also searching for the historical Jesus. They weren’t looking for spiritual answers or existential solutions. They saw the historical Jesus have historical nails driven into his historical feet and hands. They saw the soldier pierce his historical side with a spear. They could even smell, let alone see, the historical blood and water pour out of his side. They saw them take down his historical dead and mangled body and lay it in a grave. They could still taste the salty tears on their faces from non-stop crying since Friday.

They approach the tomb. The stone is rolled away. No one jumps to the conclusion that he rose again. That doesn’t happen. That’s not a part of history.

A man dressed in white robes is there. No Jesus. He says, “Don’t be alarmed, you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go; tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” He is risen. Later they see Him. The disciples see Him, touch Him, and eat with Him. More than 500 people saw Him.

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The New Testament is not a book that fell from the sky. It isn’t the work of 4 white guys smoking cigars in a room trying to invent a religion to keep them in power. It is the collection of witnesses who didn’t want to be witnesses.

It isn’t a “spiritual” book full of sayings and good ideas for living life to the fullest.

There is more evidence that Jesus rose from the dead than for most things we take for granted in ancient history. If someone were to invent a religion, this would be the silliest one! A poor Jew on a cross!? Even more unusual is that women were the first witnesses! No culture back then accepted the witness of women in court cases. But, God could care less about what is acceptable. He goes against the grain and lets these faithful ladies be the first witnesses to the greatest event in History!

He is risen.

Well good for Jesus. Great story! Like any underdog story, we get all excited about it – for sure. It pumps the blood and brings tears to our eyes. We leave the theater only to go back to our boring lives.

But what does it really have to do with our History? Your history?

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What did the Angel say?  “Just as He told you!”

All along Jesus told them he was going to die and rise again. If there is anyone you can count on, it is Christ. His words mean something. You can take them to the bank. His words make history!

What has He told you!

Take and eat. Take and drink. This is the cup of the new testament in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. Come to me, all you who are weary, and I will give you rest. I will raise you up on the Last Day! The historical event of Jesus resurrection has become a part of your history!

Your grave will be empty one day, too.

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