Atheist none-believer of Jesus say the story of Jesus in the Bible isn’t from the mouth of special messengers from God; it is by ordinary disciples to put their leader and their own selves in bright light.
True, the gospel of Jesus didn’t come to men through special messengers from God, nor was the ‘gospel of good news’ heralded by men of special endowments.
The disciples of Jesus were mostly of unsophisticated men of common sense courage, decision, goodwill, without much self interest, often naive. Most of them were chosen twelve Apostles by Jesus himself saying nothing more than “Follow me, I will make you fishers of Man” for they were fishermen, an insecure profession in the 15 Km wide by 20 Km long Sea of Galilee.
But some Apostles like Paul, Mathew, Mark and Luke weren’t fishermen unlike the others eking out life in a hard insecure profession. Paul’s father was a Jew of distinction with the highly prized title and privileges of a ‘Roman Citizen’, conferred by the highest Royalty of the Empire for distinctive Service to the Emperor; and Paul inherited the coveted Title from his father. He studied under Gamaliel in Jerusalem; Gamaliel was then known as the Flower of the Jews, because of his knowledge of Jewish Law and Culture par excellence. Paul described himself as having ‘knowledge no less than any of his Age’!
Of the Epistles in the New Testament Bible, more than half were by Paul and modern Christian Scholars regard Paul’s exposition of the Teachings of Jesus is the most exhaustive. Books after books have been written by learned modern scholars on the Theology of Paul.
Custom Officials are respectable, generally looked up by the Public in any Society of any Age. Two followers of Jesus were: Zacchaeus and Mathew, both Customs Officers of considerable standing. Mathew was the Custom Officer of the important city of Capernaum on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus saw him in the Revenue Office and said to him:
At once Mathew pushed aside the Revenue Register, the Account Papers and immediately followed Jesus. Mathew was a Levite by Jewish customary Regulations; they are not allowed earthly possession of immovable Properties; they performed Religious duties and taught the people the correct ways of worship of God. The book of law of the Old Testament –Leviticus- is named after the name of the Tribe. They should be able to read and sing the Scripture and to even to teach the unlettered. They were Treasurers of the Temple, Gate Keepers. David including other good Kings of Israel used them to help in the governance of the Kingdom and bring the people into correct ways of God. After the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem the Tribal duties came to an end: The Roman Government was no foolish to have a Levite Customs Officer in an important commercial city as Capernaum!
Mathew felt the responsibility to teach the Way of the Lord to the Jews, he saw John the Baptist level, repair and smoothen the Way of the Kingdom of God Jesus proclaimed. As a Levite, he has heard about the virgin birth, exile to Egypt and finally heard Jesus speak in the Synagogue at Capernaum, heal the people, cure their diseased and he recognized the Son of God from the circle of religious at Nazareth. Mathew wrote the Gospel Jesus to turn the Jews to the new Kingdom of God. No wonder his account of Jesus forms the first book of the New Testament –the New Way of God.
Saul who is also called Paul was one of the fiercest opponents of Jesus and sought to obliterate the teachings and followers immediately after the crucifixion of Jesus. He co-operated with the killers of upright Stephen; his special knowledge of the ancient Scriptures screened off the kingdom of God from his eyes. Only when he became blind in the Road to Damacus did he see Jesus and he converted to Jesus and perhaps became the foremost profounder of the teachings of Jesus into a world wide religion, principally by his personal exposition of the prophesies in the Old Testament Prophets of the Jews as witness to the son of God. He is perhaps the person that made the gentiles of the world accept ‘JESUS IS CHRIST, THE MESSIAH of the Jews yet the MESSIAH OF THE WORLD’. For this the Jews treated him just like they treated Jesus; and like Jesus, the Jews with the help of the Roman Power crucified Paul in Rome!
The creation of the Christian Church in Asia and Europe rose mainly from the seed of the life of Paul’s sacrifice. His letters of guidance, admonitions, encouragement and expositions of the graciousness of ‘Jesus is the Christ’ created the core of the Christian Faith that grew into a world religion today.
Luke is the only uncircumcised gentile Writer to write the Gospel of Jesus; there has been no example before in history of any uncircumcised Gentile writing a Jewish religious book, perhaps there will be none in History afterwards also; and Luke’s concern for the Gentiles was so great he devoted two volumes firstly, the Gospel of Luke and secondly, Acts of the Apostles, to introduce the good news of the Gospel of Jesus to the Uncircumcised through his [Luke’s] excellent friend Theophilus.
Luke’s literary character as found in his writings and the personalities he associated, testify him not an ordinary exponent of the graciousness of the Christian Faith.
People gather in public places on their own pleasure to celebrate certain publicized or pre-arranged functions, festivals or to hear celebrated Leaders speak, and people pays to even be present at such functions like Beauty Shows, Song Festivals. Sports competitions, Dramas etc or even sometimes to show protests to a wider domain of the People.
The crowd that pressed around Jesus were there not on invitation or on some pre-arranged clarion calls by workers on propaganda to aggrandize themselves or their leader:
Pressing Crowd around Jesus was to get cured of physical ailment by the unknown Jesus; and many to see if the unknown mystic healer was somebody going to lead the Jews to bring them freedom from the heavy burden of foreign domination and its hated Taxations. Of course the poor sometimes liked the free meals the crowd is treated.
But, quite many were there anxiously to satisfy the inner thirst of life for words of wisdom, peace of the kingdom of God and Rest and graciousness that came out from the mouth of Jesus, unlike the dry, grey teachings of the Pharisees and of the religious priests.
Some people say Jesus is not historical, which is not true. The Jewish history from the time of creation of the world to 475 BC, of Prophet Malachi; is recorded in monumental volumes of ‘Jewish Antiquities’ and ‘The Jewish War’ by no other than the authoritative peerless Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus, perhaps the most illustrious of Jewish historians, born in Jerusalem four years after the crucifixion of Jesus, Leader of the Jewish Nationalist revolt against the Romans in 70 AD when Roman General Titus completely razed down Jerusalem Temple.
Let me reproduce what Josephus wrote of Jesus: [quoted]
“At this time there was a wise man called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. Many people among he Jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. Accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day”.
Also, it was only from the writings of Flavius Josephus that we learned of the name of the daughter of Herodias, whose dance costs the head of John the Baptist.
Josephus recorded:- “Herodias had a daughter Saleme, after whose birth she undertook to flout the precepts of our fathers by marrying Herod [Antipas], her husband’s brother”.
Of James (Jacob] the brother of Jesus Christ, Josephus wrote around 64-66 AD:-
“Ananus, [the youngest son of Ananus the Elder] thought that with Festus dead and Albinus still on the way [to Procurator of Judea] [appointed by Caesar] he would have the proper opportunity. Convening the judges of the Sanhedrin, he brought before them the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, whose name was James [Jacob] and certain other. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered them up to be stoned. But those of the city residents who were deemed the most fair-minded and who were strict in observing the law were offended at this. Accordingly, they secretly contacted the king [Agrippa II], urging him to order Ananus to desist from any more such actions, for he has not been justified in what he had already done. Some of them even went to meet Albinus, who was on his way from Alexandria, and informed him that Ananus had no authority to convene the Sanhedrin without his consent. Convinced by these words, Albinus wrote in anger to Ananus, threatening him with punishment. And King Agrippa, because of this, deposed him from the high priesthood in which he had ruled for three months, and replaced him with Jesus, the son of Damnaeus.
Later, Agrippa appointed Jesus, son of Gamaliel, as successor to Jesus, son of Damnaeus. These two high priests feuded as a result, and their partisans hurled stones at each other, typical of the lawless confusion in the city.”
These historical records by Josephus at the end of his 30 volumes and 60,000 lines of Jewish Antiquities and Jewish War, less than some 30 years of the death of Jesus gives us today great insights into the Life, condition of the land, and the internal affairs of the Jews of the time. No wonder in 70 AD, the Romans grew tired of the Jew’s propensity to rebel, and invaded Jerusalem to end the incessant turmoil in the Jews.
Josephus was not a Christian and his description of JESUS as: “he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders.” is of great significance, in the sense that the Jews do not recognise Jesus as ‘Christ’, that is ‘Messiah’; and Josephus was not Christian; but described Jesus by the expression “he was perhaps the Messiah’, for which the Jews crucified Jesus.
Living at a time and place, when the mindset the whole population was under the shadow of self-interested corrupt, foreign domination, and under rigid religious systems; any Idea however sublime, universal and high, but propounded by so called small time ‘son of the Carpenter’ of Nazareth rejected, is understandable.
The divinity of Jesus, his virgin birth, his being the ‘son of God’, his power over laws of nature and over life & death, are however outside the domain of historical references or scientific investigations. These qualities confine his life in the realm of Faith and Belief, not to Kingdoms or Empires of man and the world.
Scholars, Researchers, Archaeologists, Historians and Theologians, for centuries since the dawn of modern age, spent lifetimes in search of historical account of Jesus of Nazareth; today in 21st century, only the less informed wonder at the paucity of papers of historical Jesus. This is due to the uninformed not having the chance or the inclination to go through the records by expert Scholars who have found and compiled historical evidences of Jesus of Nazareth beyond any doubt of the ignorant.
These historical evidences of historical Jesus and innumerable historical records of Events, Places, of Kings, Prophets, Predictions of those days, forgotten and buried underground for centuries are now excavated, located by Satellites from the Sky, DNA tested with modern Science and Gadgets and verified as true, bear witnesses of the truth of historical Jesus.