In Volume Three of his eleven volume series of historical works, the great American historian Will Durant says that some have attempted to prove that Jesus Christ was a myth. They denied that Jesus lived.
Among these was Bruno Baer, who in 1840 began his series of passionate controversial works in which he attempted to prove Jesus was a myth. Later in the 19th Century, some Dutchmen laboriously attempted to prove Jesus never lived. Among these were Peirson, Naber, and Matthas. Durant says that in England J. M. Robertson and W. B. Smith made attempts to prove Jesus never really lived.
It is obvious that Will Durant did not believe that the New Testament was written by men who were directed by God in what they wrote. However, following what he wrote about those who deny Jesus actually lived, Durant said that it would be easier to believe the miracles recorded in the New Testament than it is to believe that a few simple men in one generation invented so appealing a personality as Jesus and the lofty ethic attributed to him, and the inspiring vision of human brotherhood which Jesus is pictured as presenting.
Durant goes on to say that after two centuries of “Higher Criticism” the outlines of the life, character and teaching of Christ remain reasonably clear, and that there is no feature in the history of Western man as fascinating as this story of Jesus Christ. (See: Volume III of Will Durant’s works entitled: Caesar and Christ, Simon and Shuster, NY, Page 557.)
An Impostor, And Designing Opportunist?
Other skeptics admit Jesus Christ really lived as the New Testament says he did in the land of Palestine. However they say he was an impostor and a designing opportunist, therefore not what he claimed to be.
This concept of Jesus is self-destructive, because some scholars have pointed out that there never has been a period that offered a more tempting opportunity to a designing opportunist than when Jesus lived in Palestine. C.S. Farber, presents some of the evidences of this in hisbook entitled: Difficulties of Infidelity. (See pages 96-201.)
When Jesus lived, the Jews in Palestine lived under the bondage of a Roman military occupational force. They were very restless and impatient because of their Roman oppressors. They were eager to cast off this unpalatable and vexatious suppression. They expected a mighty deliverer. Even the two disciples of Jesus who talked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus told him they had hoped it was he who would redeem Israel (Luke 24). Obviously they meant redemption from Roman bondage.
If Jesus was a designing impostor who was seeking an opportunity to be what the Jews werelooking for, why did he not play that role? The Jews expected, not a prince of peace, but a prince of war who would liberate them from Caesar. Had Jesus been a designing opportunist and an impostor, doubtless, he would have fit himself into the expectations of the Jews.
The Jews thought the Messiah would confer on them abundant prosperity and exalt their nation and raise it from the ashes and anguish of ages of deterioration and devastation. Why did Jesus not fulfill their expectations?
According to what the Jews expected the Messiah to be, when Jesus was saying “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heavens have nests, but the Son of man has not a place to rest his head,” he should have been conducting a financial campaign to raise funds for an army. If he had been like what the Jews expected, he would have led a rebellion against Rome under the banner of a heaven-sent deliverer! Instead he taught the Jews to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s!
If Jesus had been an impostor seeking to be what the Jews were expecting, he would have flattered the vain Pharisees for their hypocrisy (Matthew 23). Had he been an impostor seeking to please the Jews, doubtless, he would have attempted to entice the Sadducees with offers of temporal abundance. Instead, even though he never said temporal blessings were wrong, he did often warn of the dangers thereof.
Was Jesus A Deceiver About Himself?
Jesus claimed to be God’s only begotten Son. He said repeatedly he came forth from the Father. (For examples see John 6:38; 16:28). If he was not what he claimed to be, he was not even a good man, for he told things about himself that were not so. If he told such knowing it was untrue, he was not only not a good man, he was a liar. How could a liar and deliberate deceiver have produced a flawless system of morals and standard for living? Reason compels us to say he could not have done so.
Was He Deceived?
Others say Jesus really thought he was what he said he was, but that he was deceived. Reason rejects this because if he was deceived about himself he must have been a deranged and naive simpleton. How could such a person have done the teaching he did?
Skeptics have tried in vain to do away with the miracles that the New Testament says Jesus performed. His miracles make it easy for one to believe he is indeed the Son of God. John’s record of his miracles was designed to convince of this (John 20:31-31).
The easiest things to believe about Jesus are the things the New Testament says about him. If one does not believe all these things he will have to believe things about him which are much harder to believe.
If you are a lost person, the most reasonable and most profitable thing you can do is to believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and that he died for your sins. Then, turn from your sins. The New Testament calls this repentance. Then for God to forgive your sins, confess that you believe Jesus Christ is God’s Son, and be baptized (immersed) upon the name or authority of Jesus Christ in order for God to forgive you of all your sins. In thus being buried in baptism you will be raised to walk in newness of life in Jesus Christ, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). You will be a Christian which means you will be in the body of Christ which is his church.
Read your New Testament and you will see that all of this is taught in it.
Written by Basil Overton