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Who is Jesus?



No human in history has changed the world like Jesus of Nazareth. But who was he?

In this message, we welcome a special guest, New York Times best-selling author and professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dr. Darrell Bock! Using extra-biblical evidence and seven different events from Jesus’ life, Dr. Bock shows us that Jesus was more than just an ordinary man: He was the divine son of God.

Key Takeaway

When you take into consideration the extra-Biblical evidence, the multiple attestations, cultural scripts, and the explanation of the crucifixion and the resurrection, you have more than enough to prove that Jesus is real and really lived on earth.

Key rules to apply when figuring out if Jesus really lived or not

1) Multiple attestations.

There are multiple sources (not uses) or forms. Different sources say the same thing. The more streams of testimony flowing in saying that Jesus did something, the more confident you can be that He did it.

2) Embarrassment.

The early Church would not have used this unless it was true because it had embarrassment attached to it.

3) Cultural plausibility.

Does it fit in the world in which it belongs?

4) Effect.

It has to be able to explain the crucifixion.

Some Hard Facts

1) There's extra-Biblical evidence

Josephus was a 1st-century Jewish historian who was a general in the Jewish army and was captured by Rome. He's not a Christian at all. He wrote a book called Antiquities and there is a citation 18:63-64 that references Jesus. We know that Christian scribes added to the citation, but there is a later entry where he mentions the brother of "the Christ", talking about James. So classical scholars all accept that he did write about Jesus and acknowledged His existence. They agree He existed, He did wonderful works, Pilate and his leadership were responsible for the crucifixion, and the origin of the Church comes out of that experience.

2) The reality of the crucifixion

3) The importance of the Saul/Paul being present.

He was well aware of the debate between the early church and Jewish leadership. Jesus was alive in AD 20-30's and all of the Gospels were written between AD 60-90. Paul started writing in AD 49 so that started shrinking the gap. He was converted in the AD 30's.

The cultural scripts we are going to explore are shorthand. You can tell far more about what's going on without the words ever being used. It opens up understanding. The Gospels are full of cultural scripts.

7 events to see the storyline of cultural scripts at play.

1) Healing of the paralytic.

Four men brought their paralytic friend to Jesus and lowered him down through the roof at Jesus's feet. Jesus says to him, "Your sins are forgiven." Now, the paralytic may have been confused. He came to get healed and instead, his sins are forgiven? There are religious elite in the crowd and they hear Jesus say this. There is a cultural script at play. They think to themselves, "No one is able to forgive sins but God." Jesus asks them which is easier. To forgive sins or to say get up and walk? In a sense, it is easier to say your sins are forgiven. Who can tell? Words are cheap. However, if you tell a paralytic to get up and walk, it better happen. So Jesus takes something you cannot see and says that the Son of Man has the authority to forgive sins and then, get up and walk. So every step that the healed man takes is saying, "The Son of Man has the authority to forgive sins." But the cultural script is no one but God can forgive sins. If He can do what he says in the seen, He can do what He says in the unseen.

2) Sabbath controversies.

The Sabbath was absolutely rooted in the culture. There was a tradition of 40 minus 1, meaning there's a list of 39 things that constituted work on the Sabbath. They had THOUGHT about it, it's part of the oral tradition in the Mishnah.

So the disciples "worked" on the Sabbath when they picked grain to eat. See Matthew 12. When the religious leaders get mad, Jesus reminds them of when David ate the showbread, the prophets said the Lord desired mercy, not sacrifice, and the priests worked hard on the Sabbath. The kicker was when He said the Son of Man, Himself, is Lord of the Sabbath. This was a cultural script. It's another claim of authority.

3) Peter at Cesarea Phillipi.

This would be in the embarrassment category. It is a place of pagan alters. Jesus asks who Peter says He is. Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ. He is at the center of what God is doing. Jesus commends Peter and then tells him that He, Jesus, is going to suffer. Peter can't believe it and protests that suffering would ever happen to Him. Jesus says to Peter "Get behind me, Satan. I'm not the kind of Messiah that you anticipate. I will not bring victory before I have suffered." Peter goes from a high high to an embarrassing low.

4) The City of David sits to the right of the Shekinah glory of God in the Temple.

The first thing Jesus does after He rides in on a donkey is cleanse the Temple. Why? Psalms of Solomon, not in our Bible, depicts the expectation of what the Messiah will do when He comes. He will judge the nations, purge Jerusalem, and make Israel righteous. He's showing them that He fits the Messiah's job description. Cultural script.

5) Jewish examination of Jesus.

It's a collision of two Jewish views of Jesus. When Jesus quoted Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13-14, claiming that He will sit at the right hand of God and His enemies shall be made a footstool and that He would come with all Authority, the Sadducees accused Him of blasphemy. Which is an offense to the unique honor of God, which would have been true if Jesus wasn't who He claimed to be. Some Jews might consider that someone could sit at the right hand of God, but the Sadducees, whom Jesus was in front of, would not have accepted that.

The cultural script claims a shared authority with God. He uttered the words that took Himself to the Cross, that's how committed He was to die for us.

The test: is God going to prove that Jesus is God or is He going to leave Him in the tomb?

6) The Crucifixion.

This is an issue of cultural plausibility. The sign placed on the Cross says that Jesus was crucified as King of the Jews. He wasn't crucified for blasphemy, He was crucified for sedition. Only Rome could appoint kings.

All who work with the historical work of Jesus and believe He was real, believe that He was crucified for sedition under Pilate. Very few believe Jesus is a myth.

7) The Resurrection.

Multiple attestations. There's no way that a small group of people could come up with a resurrection story, which only the Pharisees believed in, and have the first ones to witness it be women. Women in the first century did not count as witnesses to anything other than the identification of a dead body and occasionally a sexual assault. The women are in the story because the women are in the real story.

There's a coherent link across the story of Jesus doing God stuff. The resurrection was God's vote in the dispute about who Jesus is. He's either the exalted one whom God has raised to His right hand or He's still dead in Jerusalem and He blasphemed. Those are the only two options the Bible gives you. But God vindicated Jesus and showed who He was.

Jesus is the central link. He sits at the right hand of God and gives us access to the Father because He has redeemed us.


"The Bible only lets you choose Jesus as either He is who He claims to be or He isn't. There's no in-between. Our culture likes the in-between, but that doesn't exist with Jesus."

Dr. Darrell Bock

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Scripture References

  • Daniel 7:13-14
  • Acts 9
  • Psalm 110:1
Darrell Bock Executive Director of Cultural Engagement and Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary