Summary: In the city of Jerusalem, psychiatrists state that it is a frequent occurrence; happening on a weekly basis that someone, usually a visitor to the area will come forward claiming to be the Messiah. This is nothing new.
“The Case for Christ”
A man walked right into my office several years ago; I had never seen him before, he handed me a piece of paper with a message on it and then he told me he was the Messiah. He told me I should come to Gulf view mall that Saturday afternoon at 4 PM because Jesus was coming back at that time and at that place. My first thought was I’m not sure Jesus goes to the mall much but I decided not to comment. He left my office without another word.
In the city of Jerusalem, psychiatrists state that it is a frequent occurrence; happening on a weekly basis that someone, usually a visitor to the area will come forward claiming to be the Messiah. This is nothing new. In the day of Jesus there were many false Messiahs. One man named Theudas led the people out of the city and promised them that with one word he would split the waters of the Jordan River into two. One man from Egypt promised he would lay flat the walls of Jerusalem. It is said that a man named Simon Magus promised to go to a mountain; promising to fly through the air. He’s dead. Each of them offering promises they could not fulfill.
It brings us to our question for the morning. How can we know Jesus was the true Messiah? With so many people making this claim throughout history how can we know that Jesus is the chosen one? Lee Strobel was an atheist. He concluded as a teenager that God did not exist. He said God didn’t create people. People created God in their minds because they were afraid of death. So man dreamed up this thing called heaven because it made us feel better. Lee Strobel was a journalist-he was the legal editor for the Chicago Tribune. Had a background in journalism and in law. At his own admission he was a huge skeptic. Journalists and lawyers often get paid to be skeptical. They are doubters. Everything has to be proven. By nature, I am a skeptic.
Now when we research a topic like this-how can we know Jesus rose from the dead? How can we know Jesus is the Messiah? One thing we recognize immediately is that this journey toward belief in Christ always begins and always ends with one simple word-faith. Why? Because we were not there 2000 years ago. But look with me at the great evidence that points to Jesus as the true Messiah.
(1) The fact that Jesus is the Messiah is explained in prophecy. I searched through the Scripture to find out how many prophecies from the Old Testament were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. I found a list of 37. Then I found a list of 44. Then I came across another list of 300. I got then to a list of 354 and I read through that list and when I got to the end someone had written in to tell the author, hey,” you forgot one.” 355 prophecies (at least) fulfilled in Jesus.
• He would be born in Bethlehem
• he would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver
• They offered him vinegar on the cross.
• not a bone in his body would be broken
All of this is explained in prophecy.
2. Historians inside and outside of the New Testament tell us that Jesus was executed. Historians do not dispute the fact that Jesus died on a cross in 32 A.D. You say, now pastor of course the New Testament tells us that but historians from that day outside of the New Testament all wrote it down. Five very prominent historians. Josephus, Lucien, Tacitus, even the Jewish Talmud states that as a fact that Jesus was hung on a cross and was executed. Now tie these two together. Prophecy after prophecy was fulfilled in the crucifixion of Jesus. The method of crucifixion, the very words he would speak on the cross, the fact that no bones would be broken, that his heel would be bruised with nails. All of this prophesied in the Old Testament and all fulfilled 1000 years later in the death of Jesus.
3. The early accounts of witnesses. In first Corinthians, Paul writes down what we know as the early Creed of the apostles. It is here that Paul links himself with the earliest traditions of the Christian church.
1st Corinthians 15:3-8a. Look at the evidence he gives.
• Christ died
• Christ was buried
• Christ was raised on the third day
• Christ appeared to Peter
• Christ then appeared to the 12
• Christ then appeared to more than 500 at the same time. And Paul says, “and they’re still alive.” It’s as though he’s saying you don’t believe me, go check it out yourself.