Of all the religious figures throughout history, and throughout the world, Jesus is unique for several reasons. Some of those reasons include the following:
The Bible has several prophecies foretelling the life and mission of a Messiah, including that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, be a descendant of King David, suffer for the sins of others and bring salvation to people throughout the world. These prophecies were written long before Jesus was born. It is no surprise that Christians believe that Jesus fulfills these prophecies. But even non-Christians must admit that no other person in history can even claim to have fulfilled these prophecies.
The prophets Jeremiah and Daniel offer clues as to when the Messiah would appear. Both prophets lived about 2600 years when the Babylonians invaded the Holy Land, destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple, and forced many Jews into exile.
In Jeremiah 23:3-6, the prophet indicates that the Messiah would appear sometime after the Jews returned from their exile. The Jews began returning to their homeland from Babylon about 2500 years ago and rebuilt their Temple.
In Daniel 9:24-27, Daniel indicates that the Messiah would appear before the second Temple was destroyed. And the second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, more than 1900 years ago.
Jesus, of course, did appear during that interval, and he did proclaim that he was the Messiah that the prophets had spoken of. If Jesus is not the Messiah, then who is? Is it possible that another Messiah appeared and no one noticed? Is it possible that the Messiah hasn't appeared yet, but will in the future? If so, how are we to make sense of these two prophecies from Jeremiah and Daniel?
Some of the Bible's Messianic prophecies speak of a worldwide impact of a Jewish Messiah. Isaiah 49:6 (NIV translation), for example, says, "I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." Is it merely a coincidence that Christianity, with its promise of salvation to anyone who accepts Jesus as their savior, was the first religion to be evangelized to people (Gentiles) all over the world?
In Luke 21:33, Jesus said that regardless of what happens in the world, his words will never be forgotten. Here we are 2000 years later and the words of Jesus are all around us. More people in the world follow the teachings of Jesus than of any other person in history. The Bible is most widely published and most widely circulated book in the history of the world. Of all the people who have ever lived, could any of them have made this claim more convincingly than Jesus - that his words would never be forgotten?
As quoted in Matthew 24:14, Jesus said that his teachings (the Gospel) would be preached throughout the world. And, the lessons of Jesus have been taught to people in every country. This feat was accomplished long before the worldwide availability of radio, television or the Internet. Can any other religious figure make this same claim? Has any other religious figure ever made such a claim? Jesus did make that claim. And Jesus' claim has been fulfilled.
Jesus said that Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed, that the destruction of the Temple would be so complete that not a single stone would be left on top of another, that the Jews would be forced out of their homeland and into all the nations of the world, and that the church would prevail despite intense persecution. With our own eyes, we today can see the evidence that these prophecies have been fulfilled.
In Matthew 24:1-2, Jesus says that the Temple would be destroyed and that not one stone would be left standing on top of another. Ancient historians have described the Temple as a massive stone structure. Josephus claimed that some of the stones were about 37-feet long, 12-feet high, and 18-feet wide. (In meters, that's about 12-by-4-by-6). The Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. The Temple's destruction was so complete that today people can only speculate as to its precise location on the Temple mount in Jerusalem.
In Luke 21:24, Jesus says that Jerusalem would be destroyed and that the Jews would be taken as captives to all the nations. When the Romans destroyed the city in 70 AD and again 135 AD, many Jews were taken as slaves to different parts of the Roman Empire. Subsequent persecutions in those countries forced many Jews to seek new countries to live in. Eventually, the Jews were forcibly scattered throughout the world. Even today, the majority of Jews live outside of Israel.
In Matthew 16:17-18, Jesus tells Peter that even the gates of Hell will not overcome the church. Despite intense persecution during the first three centuries, Christianity became the first religion to spread to countries all over the world. Today, Christianity is the world's largest religion. The church not only survived, it thrived to an extent unmatched by any other religion in history.
In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus prophesized his own death and resurrection. Of course, a non-believer could argue that there is no physical evidence to prove that Jesus was resurrected. But, if Jesus had not been resurrected, then why did his followers continue to believe in him? Certainly, there have been many false messiahs throughout history, but would any of them have been taken seriously if they had falsely prophesized their own resurrection?
by Ray Konig
Written: July 17, 2000
Revised: Dec. 27, 2006
Next article: Life of Jesus Christ
Go to: List of all articles