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Real Historical Events

Have you ever heard the story of how George Washington chopped down a cherry tree as a child? Or perhaps you have read the tall tale of how Paul Bunyan was born? As the story goes, Paul Bunyan could yell so loud he scared all the fish out of the river. His parents had to milk two dozen cows morning and night to keep his milk bottle full. This American tall tale and many others like it is meant to teach us something. But we recognize easy enough that these tall tales are mostly fiction. Many historians argue that there really was an African American man named John Henry who helped build the American railroad system after the Civil War, but the tales about him are extremely exaggerated. Many in our world today believe that the story of Jesus' life is the same way. Most people know that there really was a man named Jesus who live in Israel during the time of the Roman occupation, but that most of the events that the bible portrays him accomplishing are tall tales. This is why it is important to understand the real Historical events.

Suffered Under Pontius Pilate

Last week we looked at the importance of the virgin birth and now we need to look at what happened at the end of Jesus' life. When the creed stays that "He suffered under Pontius Pilate," it is making a historically verifiable statement. We can look at history outside of scripture to see that Pontius Pilate really was the governor of Judea at the time of Christ's crucifixion. The point of having this in the creed is to remind the reader that these events really happened. The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ are real historical events. Paul in 1 Corinthians reminds the reader of the historicity and the importance of accuracy. He starts chapter 15 by saying;

"Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain." - 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

Paul wants his readers to know the gospel is true, and that they are not believing in vain. So he reminds them.

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me." - 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

Paul writes this letter to the church to say there were all these people, over 500, who saw the real death and resurrection of Christ. These are not exaggerated events that have been made up. This is the gospel message. A message of the historical events. That Jesus was born in time and space, to the virgin Mary. He lives a perfect life. He suffered under the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate, under whose authority Jesus was crucified.

A True Death

There are many in the world today who would question the death of Christ. Many Muslims for example, believe in what is known as the swoon theory, that Jesus only appeared to die. This theory has many forms but the general idea is that Jesus appeared to be dead, was taken down from the cross before death, and the large numbers of herbs that Jesus was wrapped up in in the tomb revived him. This of course has many logical and historical flaws, not to mention the rejection of the scriptural witness. For this theory to work, the Roman soldiers, who were really good at killing, did not know how to tell if a man was really dead. For it to make sense a man who had been wiped and then had been hung on a cross for several hours, just gets up and walks away from it after taking a three-day nap. I do not know about you, but at this point in my life, if I scratch my arm it takes longer than a week to heal. That is in a sanitary environment where I can clean bandages and wash the cut. No, Jesus was truly dead. Not even the people who hated Jesus, those who had him killed, argued that fact. Matthew 28:11-15 tells of how the religious leaders bribed the soldiers to tell the people that the disciples stole the dead body of Christ. Even they knew he was dead.


The historical events of Christ's life are important. If Christ has not really died, then our sins are not paid for. If he has not been truly raised from the dead then there is no resurrection at all. But the message of scripture and of history is that Jesus really came and lived on this earth. That he really suffered under the Roman Government. That he really died the worst kind of death imaginable. He died the death that our sin deserves. He was really buried. All of these are historical events. They took place in the same way that I am writing this, at a specific point in history. Christianity is a religion based on real, verifiable, history. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus actually paid the penalty for sinners on the cross. He did not potentially pay the price. We don't have some fanciful story of how it might have happened. We have the good news that it is finished. Be entourage this week that the good news is true. It is the best news ever. Jesus really died, was really buried, and was really resurrected. The penalty for sin was really paid for all who believe. Those who the Son sets free are free indeed.

Soli Deo Gloria

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