Do you know the real Jesus Christ? Find out what He actually taught and what He expects you to do. Prepare to be surprised!
He's the victim of a stolen identity. For more than 2,000 years the true story of this man has been lost among the murky shrouds of misunderstandings, misconceptions and outright lies. We see Him portrayed in writings, pictures and even movies, not as He was but as others imagined Him to be. A man by the name of Bruce Barton thought the misunderstanding was so rampant that he published a book in 1925 called, The Man Nobody Knows. His subject? Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Do you know who Jesus was? Are you sure about that? Join us on Beyond Today as we discover The Man Nobody Knows.
On January 20, 1804 Thomas Jefferson ordered two copies of the King James Version of the New Testament from a Philadelphia book seller. Amidst all of his duties as President, Jefferson spent several nights in the White House with the two books and a razor removing one by one every passage in the Gospels that spoke of a virgin birth or Christ's divinity, His resurrection and anything else that portrayed Him as anything more than human. The final product that Jefferson entitled, The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth, contained the surviving verses, one out of every ten of it's biblical counterpart. The book which eventually became known as the Jefferson Bible portrayed Jesus as nothing more than a wise man who delivered to the world a sound philosophy composed of illustrative stories and memorable quotes. Jefferson's actions made him the first American to publicly mold and recast Jesus Christ into a shape that he saw as acceptable.
Many others over the course of the next two centuries follow suit, reimaging the man into whatever form that suited their purposes. Some pointed Him to be no more than a kind hearted social worker others making Him out to be a radical, justifying their own revolutionary activity. The Library of Congress has 17,000 books on file about Jesus. For a reference point that's twice as many as it has on Shakespeare. You see Jesus Christ may be the most famous person in all of history but how sure can we be that the popular story is the true one?
Centuries and centuries of men like Jefferson cutting and pasting the bits of the story they agree with while adding in their own ideas and misconceptions to the final product, generations after generation tweaking everything from the length of His hair, the color of His skin to the fundamental doctrines He preached. The Jesus we hear about today is often a customizable one, ever changing, adaptable to wants and the desires of whoever happens to be preaching Him. But the Bible says without exception that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever and if that's the case then lets put aside 2,000 years of misunderstandings and go right to the source.
Who was Jesus? Arrested and put on trial by a mob of angry Jews Jesus was asked the question. The high priest furious at Jesus' refusal to answer the accusations aimed at Him exploded saying, I put you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are Christ the Son of God. Christ reply was enough to send the Jewish authorities into a rage. "You have said it". Christ proclaimed to have come as the very Son of God, God incarnate, quite as statement.
The author C.S. Lewis knew that some would see this claim and still pick and choose like Thomas Jefferson what parts of the story, what pieces of Christ's philosophy they wanted to follow. Concerning this point Lewis wrote.. "A man who is merely a man who said the sort of things Jesus said who not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice, either this man was and is the Son of God or else a mad man or something worse. You can shut Him up as a fool, you can spit at Him, kill Him as a demon or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us, He did not intend to". Quite a quote from Lewis.
Jesus Christ was either a lunatic, a liar or the One who made the universe. Those are really the only options we have. Most of his contemporaries settled on lunatic and liar. When He told a crowd those that believed His words would never taste death, the Jews responded now we know you have a demon. Who do you make yourself out to be? His eventual answer caused the Jews to take up stones with the intent to kill Him.
He told them most assuredly I say to you before Abraham was I Am. Now Jesus wasn't being grammatically incorrect, He was declaring Himself God, using the same title that God used on Mt. Sinai speaking with Moses.
Centuries earlier Moses had asked God when I come to the children and say to them the God of your fathers have sent me to you and they say to me what is His name what shall I say to them? What was God's response? He said I Am who I Am, thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I Am has sent me to you. Christ was claiming to be God and contrary to popular belief at the time He was.
Here's why, the Old Testament is filled with prophecies about a coming messiah. The Jews knew them well. What they didn't know was that they were not intended to be fulfilled all at the same time. Subjugated by the Roman Empire the people read about a mighty king who would deliver his people from oppression while ignoring the lies about a lamb led to the slaughter who was himself oppressed and afflicted. When they saw Christ performing miracles, feeding a multitude with a few loaves of bread and fish for instance, their instinct was to take Him and to make Him their ruler. But when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force and make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by himself alone.
You see to become a king over the powerful Israel was not a part of Jesus' mission at that time. He made this clear when He was put on trial before the Romans, He told His prosecutor, my Kingdom is not of this world. If my Kingdom was of this world my servants would fight so that I would not be delivered to the Jews but now my Kingdom is not from here. But in the very next breath He confirmed that you say rightly that I am a king for this cause I was born and for this cause I have come into the world.
Christ is a king with a Kingdom that He will one day establish on this earth. His prophecies are sure as sure as the ones that promised His first coming as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. But the Jews, unable to see Christ as a king, crucified the One they had spent centuries waiting for. Jesus was misunderstood then and He remains misunderstood today.
Now we're going to spend the rest of this episode talking about some of the things that Jesus did here on earth that shattered the popular idea of who He was and what He did but we've only got so much time for discussion in one episode.
To truly understand who Christ was and what He came here to do you're going to need to look into the pages of your own Bible, now we've prepared a booklet that we think is going to help you do just that. This booklet is called, Jesus Christ the Real Story. It will walk you through page by page the life of Jesus as explained in your Bible, His life, His miracles, His purpose explaining the words that Jesus said, the things that He did in light of all of God's word. You can get your free copy of this booklet by calling the toll free number 1-888-886-8632 or you can go online and visit us at BeyondToday.tv. So call 1-888-8869-8632 or online at BeyondToday.tv for your free copy of this booklet. Now we are also very actively engaged in social media, you can go to Facebook and Twitter we hope you'll also leave us some comments about the program with any questions that you might have as well.
Let me ask you a question, do you remember when the acronym WWJD was everywhere? It seems like you don't see it quite as often anymore but people wore bracelets, t-shirts, hats, billboards all asking what would Jesus do? The idea was that we could more effectively follow the examples of Christ if we stopped and asked ourselves what He would do in any given situation. Not a bad thought but when it comes to understanding Jesus, really there is another question worth asking, it's important to ask ourselves what would Jesus do as we go about our days but it's just as important that we answer the question, what did Jesus do?
A far more important question. In the next few minutes let's take a look at a few of things He did that just don't fit with the Jesus that many of us have been told about by others. For starters, Jesus was a Sabbath keeper, many teach that Jesus came to abolish the law of the Old Testament, specifically the seventh day Sabbath. But we read in Luke 4:16 the Bible records
Luke 4:16 And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.
You see Jesus had a custom which is a repeated habit of observing the Sabbath, the weekly Sabbath of God.
Much of tradition Christianity holds that Sabbath, God's day of rest has been moved to Sunday but what does the Bible say? You'll find it says something completely different.
On several occasions Christ was challenged by the Jews on the way in which He observed the Sabbath. The Jews over time had added many traditions and unnecessary rituals to the law that ultimately became burdens on the people. A day intended to enhance and enrich the lives of those who kept it was instead transformed into a joyless miserable chore.
On the Sabbath day Jesus and His disciples were plucking handfuls of grain to eat as they walked through a field. The Pharisees saw this and were eager to discredit the man who had been challenging their iron authority over the people and began to accuse Him of breaking the Sabbath. That moment would have been a perfect time for Jesus to explain that the Sabbath was no longer a requirement or that He was doing away with it shortly anyway. Instead the One who established the Sabbath at the dawn of time told His adversaries this, the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath, therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.
Christ was looking straight into the eyes of the Pharisees and telling them you don't have a right to tell people how to keep God's law. I am the One who gave law to the man in the first place, I know why it was commanded and how it was intended to be observed. Nothing in His words marks the Sabbath as obsolete. The very fact that He saw the need to challenge the Pharisees on how the day was to be kept shows that the Sabbath was and is still very much a part of God's will for us. Not a burden but a gift from God to man, the Sabbath was made for man.
Another aspect of Christ's story that clashes with traditional portrayal of this message that He brought is the coming Kingdom of God.
Mark records the beginning of Jesus' ministry as spreading the word. That the time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the Gospel. The Bible shows the Kingdom of God to be a literal Kingdom established on the earth a prophecy stretching as far back as the prophet Isaiah says where many people shall come and say, come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord to the house of the God of Jacob, He shall teach us His ways and we shall walk in His paths for out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations and rebuke the people, they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they learn war anymore.
The described here isn't possible if the Kingdom of God is just a symbolic rule or a warm fuzzy feeling in peoples hearts. It is a literal, tangible kingdom which God promises to establish on this earth ruled over by Christ and His saints.
One of Jesus' many parables was used to illustrate that His reign would involve a literal Kingdom in the physical realm as well as in the spiritual realm. He spoke another parable because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the Kingdom of God would appear immediately. The people we see knew their scriptures and were looking for the establishment of the Kingdom of God with Jerusalem as the center of government over the nations as the prophets had foretold. So Jesus explained it this way, He said a certain noblemen went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. Jesus represented by the nobleman in the parable taught that while He was away in heaven for an unspecified length of time the servants would continue where they were on earth doing their Lords business until He returned with His Kingdom where they would be rewarded each faithful servant being made a ruler over many things. The Kingdom of God was and still is at hand.
It is the gospel the good news of this kingdom that Christ preached on this earth and which He continues to preach through His church today. Those who repent and follow the teachings of Jesus, the real Jesus Christ, have the opportunity to serve along side Him when He establishes the Kingdom of God on this earth.
It's great news it is the story of the Bible. Now we've covered a lot of ground in today's episode but the story of Jesus Christ is a little more than we can cover in a half an hour. So again I'd like to encourage you to request or download the free booklet we're offering today, Jesus Christ the Real Story. Not as a truth that stands on it's own but as a companion to finding that truth in the pages of your Bible, the very word of God. What prophecies did Jesus fulfill, did He really have long hair, what is the Gospel He came preaching, did He abolish the Old Testament law of God, was He really who He claimed to be and most importantly what does His birth, His life and His death mean for you? All these questions and more are answered in the pages of this booklet. We're going to discuss more details of our Beyond Today panel before doing that I want to show you our primary publication, the Good News magazine. This magazine contains important articles on how to make sense of today's confusing world news. You'll find articles about Jesus Christ, His life and His mission. That's why you need your free subscription to the Good News it's going to help you with these answers and many more. So call toll free 1-888-886-8632 that's 1-888-886-8632 or you can visit us on line on the web at BeyondToday.tv where you can watch also dozens of Beyond Today in the past and our weekly Beyond Today commentary. Go online to BeyondToday.tv or call 1-888-886-8632 for your free subscription to the Good News magazine and also don't forget your free copy of this booklet, Jesus Christ the Real Story and while you're online don't forget to follow us on Twitter or Facebook page, sign up for those two social media accounts. Leave us a question or a comment about the program as well.
I'm joined now with our Beyond Today panel Steve Myers and Gary Petty to talk more about this very important issue of Jesus Christ, the man nobody knows. Gentlemen thanks for being with us on the program here today. Was Jesus an imposter?
You know Darris, there's plenty of proof that He existed as a human being. The real question is He who He said He was? Because if Jesus Christ isn't the Christ, if Jesus of Nazareth isn't the Christ, if He isn't who He said He was then He was liar and nothing He said really matters anyway and there is no such thing as Christianity. So is He who He said He was? His disciples, the people who knew Him in that first century AD believed it so that they died to protect the belief that He was real and I think that their witness that they died to do that to protect the idea that He was the Christ. That is a strong proof.
Yeah, there is no way He was an imposter. If you just take the historical aspects of Christ's life you can prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt that He existed and He was who He said He was. Look at if you Google Jesus Christ and the historical evidence you'll get page after page after page of historians who recorded His life and those are extra big biblical resources outside the of the Bible. So there are many sources. In fact one of Christ's teachings is that you would know them by their fruit. Well what was the fruit of Christ's life? I mean He's had an unbelievable impact in the world whether or not people are following Him exactly.
All those books have been written about him, 17,000 books.
Exactly it's an unbelievable number and so was Christ alive, did He exist, did He preach? Absolutely there's no doubt. Now people are doing different things according to His teachings and that's a whole other question but did He exist and was He who He said He was? Absolutely, no doubt.
You know Gary you mentioned that those in the first century went out and gave their life for what He was and for what He taught. But what about us today in the 21st century, how can we tell that, how can we make that sacrifice, how can we be assured that Jesus was what He said He was?
There is a certain amount of faith involved but you start by going to the Gospels. The four Gospels were written by witnesses, people who actually saw Jesus or who got first century accounts, they knew people who saw Him. You go there you read that material, you ask God to help you understand that material and there's where you discover the real person of Jesus Christ.
Yeah it's interesting that you put it that way when you look to the writers themselves, the directness of their writing and how close they were to the events that actually happened are some of the closest times in historical writings that there was not a long span between the time that the apostles wrote those Gospels and the life of Christ. They're just right connected together they were alive when He was alive so that's a vital truth, can you trust what they believe? Well they were there, they were eyewitnesses they knew it. One of the other interesting things is just the manuscripts themselves because some people say well the Bible you can't believe that, it's old, we don't have very good records there's all this question of whether it's legitimate or not. Well most people don't realize the fact that the New Testament is one of the most recorded documents of all time. Just the number of manuscripts of the New Testament is phenomenal. There's over 3,000 Greek documents of the New Testament. In fact, 13,000 parts and pieces have been found and you know they all match. The discrepancies in those documents is less than one percent. Less than one percent.
So they all say the same thing?
They all say the same thing. But what people don't realize if you went to Homer's Iliad something like five percent of the Iliad is disputed that they say well you can't match the documents of that or if you went to the writings of Plato there's something like on seven manuscripts. So which one could be the most reliable? Homer's Iliad, Plato or the New Testament. Well the New Testament is much better documented. You can rely on it.
So we do have an accurate portrait of Jesus from the Gospels, the scribes are accurate? What about these so called Gnostic gospels or the lost Gospels that tell variances of the story of Jesus Christ that especially have been brought to light and more discussed it seems in recent years? Is there validity? Do they really add to the story?
When you look at the Four Gospels in the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, those scholars all agree those were written by people who either witnessed Jesus or got first hand accounts of people who were with Jesus, who saw Jesus. You see we have a very close, as you were talking, you have accounts that were very close to the actual events. The other Gospels were written in the second century, even up into the third century. They were not written by eyewitnesses.
So written more than 200 years after His life?
And most of them are Gnostic, in other words they come from a branch, another branch of religion called the Gnostics and they are quite different in intent. I mean the Gospel of Judas makes him the good guy, Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus, it actually makes him the good guy. So these gospels were written later, they have nothing to do with the historical accuracy, in fact, they are fiction.
Yeah just the validity alone, there is just not enough evidence to show that these should be a part of the Bible itself, it's just not there. So that's why they're outside the Bible, they are not included in the Bible because the reliability is so questionable. So you've got to go with what actual proof you have in the Bible and the ancient manuscripts and how they all match up outside what these original biblical gospels were all about.
Well I know there's a great deal of interest in the academic world and they come out in popular books that I think really cause confusion among people. I like a phrase Gary that you used to step into the gospel which really leads us to a really a thought. What does Christ expect us to do, what does God expect us to do once we step into the Gospel? There's enough there for a lifetime. What does He expect us to do with that?
You know I say this a lot, Christianity has enough believers. What Jesus Christ wants is dedicated disciples. The idea of discipleship is that you mimic the master. You live your life trying to imitate the master and you have to go to those gospels and what you will find there, what you will discover is exactly how Jesus Christ wants you to mimic Him. So that's what we have to do, we have to go to those Gospels, we have to study them, we have to make them apart us, we have to really live and follow our Master.
There's an interesting example in the Bible where Paul was talking with one of the leaders and after this long discussion the leader finally said well you almost convinced me to be a Christian. And we can show all the proof, we can talk about all the manuscripts, we could talk about all these things but people have to get into it for themselves. You have to look into it for yourself and see the evidence. Christ said follow me. It's probably on of the most common phrases He said over and over again. He was the ultimate example, He told us imitate Him, to follow the things that He said and taught and learn about them. And that's what we've got to do. So there is that measure of faith that you mentioned before and that aspect of proving it for ourselves and taking it to heart and realize the awesome nature of Christ and the tremendous spiritual truths that He taught.
But you know most Christians would be shocked to see what Jesus actually taught.
Well we talked about the Sabbath being one of the key things. Also teaching that the Kingdom is going to be established on this earth that was a core part of His message. What else would we be shocked at?
He did not come to destroy the law, He came to magnify the law which the Old Testament prophesied that the Messiah would do, I mean there's one major one right there.
Well that passage in the book of I. John where He says we should walk as Christ walked. You know he said what would Jesus do and we're to follow His example. Well what did He do, how did He walk, how did He live His life? It's an interesting phrase because it doesn't say imagine Christ in His heavenly glory right at this moment it points back to the time when He walked the earth. How did He live, what was His example and most people don't realize what that example was so we'd encourage people to look at that, to study it, to find out. What was Christ teaching about the Sabbath, what was His teachings when it came to the truth to the Gospel message? What was that all about? Look into it for yourself and you may find something so totally different than what you thought your whole life.
Other scriptures talk about Jesus as our elder brother, out high priest, our soon coming king. How do we really get to know the Jesus of this Bible? How do we really begin to walk with Him?
You get to know Christ the same way you get to know anyone else, you spend time with Him you read the word you study His word you study what He taught, you study what He was all about and then you communicate with Him. You've got to pray, you've got to develop a close relationship, it's not just know the Lord, oh yeah that's Christ.
That's the emotional part. You have to step beyond that to the practical part.
That's right, a practical personal relationship. It's not just a saying but its actually developing that close bond with your Creator.
Well I hope that we've given our audience some steps to getting to know this Man that a lot of people don't know, that can be known. Let me ask you this, what if the words that you wrote and the instructions you gave were misquoted, ignored and completely altered? What if the message you brought and carefully explained were changed and reinterpreted into another message and teaching? What if you could not recognize the organization you founded to carry on your work? Think that through and ask yourself how closely you follow Christ's teachings and commandments.
Are you among those who claim to follow in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth but in fact follow human traditions and fables? Those who claim to preach and teach in the name of Jesus Christ must confront these hard questions that we've covered today. Do you know the real Jesus, do you know what He taught what He practiced, what He left as a commission to His followers? If you are to be His disciples then you need to understand what He expects you to do today.
In this program we have put some startling concepts before you. Look at them in the light of what your Bible says and decide what you will do. When you want to understand more about your future, remember this program and look beyond today. Thanks for watching.