What About Jesus’ Truth Claims?

question markIn my previous article, I discussed briefly how not all religions can be true when making competing truth claims.  For example, if Islam claims that Jesus cannot forgive sins on his own, but Christians claim he can, then either the Muslim is correct and the Christian is wrong, or the Christian is correct and the Muslim is wrong, or they are both wrong. However, it is impossible that they can both be right since it is contradictory to say that Jesus can forgive sins and at the same time cannot forgive sins.

In this article, I would like to examine some of the remarkable truth claims that Jesus made.  If Jesus is found unreliable, then any other philosophy making a competing truth claim might be true (or the competing truth claim might also be false).

Here are several of the remarkable claims Jesus made:

These are unique claims.  Most of them suggest divine prerogatives.  For example, who but God can forgive sins?  Who but God has the right to judge everyone?

Now, obviously, anyone can make these claims. As a matter of fact, numerous people have claimed some sort of deity or demanded worship (Jim Jones, Jehovah Wanyonyi, & Vissarion, to name a recent few).  Therefore, we can see that it takes more than just a claim to be God.  We must have proof of those claims.

Performing a miracle might be a good way to prove that one is God.  However, some miracles can be faked by slight of hand.  And, even if they are real, the Bible warns that  genuine miracles might even occur at the hands of deceivers (Deut 13:1-3 & Matt 7:22-23).   Therefore, if we are to have a miracle as proof of a divine claim, the miracle must leave no room for doubt or fraud.

One of the miracles that Jesus claimed – and that He suggested would be proof of His ministry – is His rising from the dead.  This is an extremely unique miracle because Jesus indicated that he would be able to raise Himself up from being dead after three days (Matt 12:39-40).  It is true that some have recovered from being dead after several minutes, like in an operating room.  However, it is unheard of to think that a person would be raised from the dead after three days.  And, to make it seem even more difficult, Jesus claimed that He Himself would raise Himself up from the dead!

Do we have any good evidence to suggest that Jesus was able to perform this feat?

History confirms that Jesus lived and died sometime in what we now refer to the first century, A.D.  This is long before I came into existence and so I have no firsthand knowledge of the resurrection.  However, like any event in history, if we have reliable, firsthand accounts, then we may be able to make some judgments about the event.

I believe that the historical record (Biblical and non-Biblical) reveals that Jesus was condemned to die by the Romans.  The record also reveals that several days after His death, His followers claimed that He had returned physically from the dead and that they spoke to Him and handled Him.  Because those who rejected the claims made by the disciples of Jesus could not produce the corpse of Jesus, it stands to reason that they recognized that the tomb was empty. But, why was it empty? What happened to the body?

Three of the witnesses who claimed to see Jesus after His death recorded their accounts (Matthew, John, & Peter [Mark’s Gospel]).  A fourth person, Luke, did not see Jesus,  but interviewed sources who did and recorded their reports.  All four of these accounts have been preserved to this day with only insignificant changes. Therefore, we have eyewitness accounts of Jesus resurrection.

The historical record also reveals that Christianity came into existence in the first century.  It is not, as some believe, a branch of Judaism.  In some aspects, it was a radical departure from Judaism.  It seemingly began when a small group of untrained peasants began to proclaim that they had seen Jesus alive after His resurrection.  Most of these men would eventually face brutal torture before being murdered for this testimony.  Yet, none of them changed their story.  Obviously, they were convinced that they had seen Jesus alive.

Yet, we do not have just the testimony of Jesus’ friends.  We also have adverse testimony.  James, a half-brother of Jesus, was once a non-believer (John 7:5).  Something evidently changed for him because he would become the leader of the Jerusalem church.  Also, Saul of Tarsus, who was a persecutor of Christians and had official documents giving him the authority to arrest believers, joined the church.  Not only did he join the church, but he would become the most influential Christian of all time!

What would make both friends of Jesus and enemies of Jesus depart from their Jewish faith and begin a new, persecuted movement?  What would cause them to live as paupers and go to torturous deaths when they could have easily avoided these things and lived comfortable lives?

I believe that the most reasonable, logical answer to these questions is that both these skeptics and friends had encountered a resurrected Jesus.

Why did the Jews not produce the body of Jesus and end the Christian movement?  Why did the Romans not produce the body of Jesus and end the uproar between Christians and Jews?  I believe the answer to these questions is quite obvious: neither the Jews nor Romans had the body of Jesus.

To my way of thinking, the most reasonable explanation for the empty tomb is that Jesus walked out of it alive.  This would explain why the Jews and Romans did not have His body.  It would also explain why the disciples of Jesus – and even skeptics and enemies – were willing to be tortured and die.  It would also explain why these men were willing to depart from their historical, Jewish faith and become outcasts.  As well, the resurrection of Jesus would explain the origins of a first century counter-movement in the center of a Jewish world.

Since it seems that the resurrection of Jesus is well documented, we can conclude that His unique claims are trustworthy. Therefore, any religion that makes conflicting claims simply cannot be true.



Dane Cramer is a backpacker, Christian blogger, jail chaplain, amateur filmmaker, and author of two books: Romancing the Trail and The Nephilim: A Monster Among Us



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