Summary: Part 4 focuses non-biblical sources of Jesus' existence and why we need Him in our lives!
Why Jesus – Part 4
An Empty Jar
This morning my message is part four of my series “Why Jesus.” In parts one through three, I reviewed prophecies pertaining to the Messiah that only Jesus fulfilled. I shared with you that it is nearly impossible for one man to have fulfilled eight different prophecies that were given hundreds of years before his birth let alone over a hundred plus prophecies. I have tried to impress upon you that if you believe the Bible as you say you do, there is no way you cannot accept the fact that Jesus is the Messiah – the One who brings us back into a proper relationship with God. To illustrate our current position I used an analogy of a UPS man trying to deliver a package and demanding more and more identification that you are whom you say you are and yet they refuse to give you the package. I told you this is the same when people today question if Jesus is the Messiah with all the proof that is available that He truly is the One. Last week I shifted the analogy slightly as asked you to think about the UPS man who knocks on your door and you refuse to answer and accept the package. This is what we are doing when we refuse to open our hearts to Jesus. He is ready to come in unto us if we will just open the door. In the first three messages I wanted you to accept the proof that Jesus is the Christ. This morning I want to shift from the prophecies that prove that Jesus is the one and only Messiah to why we need Him.
The subtitle of my message this morning is “An Empty Jar.” You may ask what does this have to do with Jesus being the Messiah and my answer is “Everything!”
I. Did Jesus Really Exist
Let me take a short detour before I get into the heart of the message as it relates to the empty jar. I told you a couple of weeks ago that there existed information on Jesus the Christ separate from what has been recorded in the Bible. This morning I want to provide a few examples of this information that many of you may not be familiar with that also provide proof that Jesus existed. You see, there are those who believe that the stories in the Bible are just that – stories. There have also been TV documentaries where scholars are interviewed and they question if “the Jesus in the Bible” really existed. It is a foregone conclusion for a true Christian that we believe that Jesus existed and is real. We believe what is recorded about Him in both the Old and the New Testaments. We believe that He is alive and sitting on the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf. We believe that we will see Him face to face when we die or meet Him in the air should we still be alive at His second coming. Although we believe this, there are many who do not accept the Bible and question Jesus’ existence first and Him being the Messiah if they are able to first believe that He indeed existed.
When I was doing my research, I came across several non-biblical references to Jesus. I have shared with you previously about the Jewish historian Josephus who mentions Jesus twice in his “Antiquities of the Jews.” This volume of books was written approximately 94 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. In book 18 he refers to Jesus as a “wise man as he was a doer of wonderful works; a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.” Some scholars debate whether this quote is authentic because it is favorable of Christ and a Jewish historian would generally not speak this way of Him. However if Josephus was secretly a believer then this would make sense - just something to consider. In book 20 Josephus wrote about James the brother of Jesus. Again, it is interesting that he not only mentions Jesus, but one of Jesus’ brothers. Surely a historian would know if Jesus actually existed and had family members! There are a couple of other references that I read that also caught my attention as I had not heard of these two individuals. The first reference was captured in a book written by Pliny the Younger.
Pliny the Younger was governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor. He wrote ten books with the tenth book being written in AD 112. He wrote the following: “They (the Christians) were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit ant fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.” Doesn’t this sound just like Church? It sounds like they had their morning service, took a break, and then possibly came back for the Lord’s Supper. Again, this was captured by someone that was not a professed Christian!