Did Jesus really exist? (Part 4)

The historical record of Jesus life outside the Bible continues.  The Greek satirist of the second century Lucian labeled Christians “misguided creatures” for worshipping the crucified Christ as the Son of God and for living a godly lifestyle.

“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites and was crucified on that account…You see, these misguided creatures start with general conviction that they are immortal from all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which is so common among them; and then it was impressed upon them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.”

These “misguided creatures” worshipped Jesus just like the man born blind did in John 9:35-38. “Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ ‘Who is he, sir?’ the man asked. ‘Tell me so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said, ‘You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.’ Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.” After receiving his sight from Jesus, this man “saw” that Jesus was the Son of God. The later believers “saw” the same thing, and worshipped Him as well.

Moreover, these “misguided creatures” were not only persecuted through name-calling but also through physical means. First century Roman historian Suetonius mentioned the expulsion of Jews from Rome in Life of Claudius 25.4, “As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Christus, he expelled them from Rome.” Luke recorded the same fact in Acts 18:2, when he wrote “because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome.”

Furthermore, after a fire swept through a part of Rome in 64 AD, Suetonius noted that “Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.” What was their punishment? Tacitus gives us the grisly details: “Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames. These served to illuminate the night when daylight failed.” Besides crucifixion like their Lord, these believers were wrapped in animal skins and fed to dogs, or tied to stakes and used as torches for the evening festivities of Emperor Nero.  These early Christians knew the truth of Jesus’ existence–His life, death, and resurrection–so much so they were willing to die for it.

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