Today in our Western society, there are many scholars who attack the identity of Christ. Some say Jesus was merely a good moral teacher, along the lines of Buddha or Gandhi. Others say He was a lunatic who believed He was the Messiah, but should have been locked up in a mental hospital - someone along the lines of Jim Jones or David Koresh. And a small minority still believe that Jesus never existed at all.
But these people are simply wrong.
In the book of I John, which we’ve been studying here at RBC, the Apostle John says, “That which was from the beginning,” which alone is a phrase pregnant with meaning. This small phrase reflects the same meaning as the intro to his gospel, which says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1). “That which was from the beginning,” the second member of the Trinity, in which all things were created, “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). John says that he heard this God who became flesh speak; he saw Him with his own eyes, and he touched Him with his own hands. This is the One we proclaim concerning the “Word of life.” John makes the case that this God-Man, Jesus Christ, was just as real as any other character in history.
The Apostle Paul made the same case about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead when he said in I Corinthians 15 that over 500 people witnessed His resurrection. Many of these people testified to this reality were still alive when the letter was written - and yet many also had suffered a martyr’s death for their testimony.
One of those testimonies is the Gospel of John. We have a copy of the original manuscript that’s been dated to the early second century, which is now housed in the Bodmer Library in Geneva. This is a copy of the original gospel that was created a mere 40 or 50 years after the original was written. As a matter of fact, we have more manuscript evidence that Jesus was a real person - who was an authoritative teacher and miracle-worker - than we have of Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle combined. And yet there are still those in the Academy that want to pervert the evidence about Jesus.
John also makes the case in his prologue that not only did the Word of life appear, but eternal life was found in Him (I John 1:2). In the gospel of John alone, the word “life” is used 50 times. For 31 of those times, it’s used in connection to the person of Jesus. As a matter of fact, John makes the case that “Jesus” and “life” are synonymous. In John 1:4 he says, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.” In John 14:6, Jesus Himself says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
When the Bible talks about eternal life, it’s not talking about a duration of time. It’s primarily talking about a quality of life. Jesus said in John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” John makes the strong statement that not only was Jesus a real flesh-and-blood person who walked this earth, but He was the God-Man Messiah who came to this earth to bring eternal life to God’s creation - and that eternal life is found in Him and only in Him.
Skeptics can make the case that if Jesus existed, He was merely a good moral teacher. They can even make the case that He never claimed to be the Christ. But 2,000 years of Christian testimony speaks to the fact that life after life has been changed through faith in the name of Jesus. Addicts have experienced supernatural recovery. Relationships that were on the rocks have been restored through the power of His name. Many can even testify that physical maladies have been cured through faith in Him.
To abandon faith in Jesus as the Savior of the world is lunacy. I’m putting my faith in a person who has more archaeological evidence of existence than any other person from antiquity. I’m putting my faith in a person who has transformed the lives of millions of men, women, and children. I’m putting my faith in a person who gives me meaning and hope for this life and the life to come.
What else can you trust on this planet that will offer you the joy that knowing Christ brings?
Pastor Toby Gallego
Riviera Baptist Church