DID JESUS EXIST?
Yes. Jesus and groups of his followers (early Christians, in fact) are mentioned, often disparagingly, by first century writers such as Tacitus, Pliny, Suetonius and Josephus.
The fact that Christianity exists at all demonstrates that someone called Jesus inspired and changed the lives of people in the early part of the first Century AD.
WHAT DID HE DO?
Our best information about Jesus’ life and work comes from the four books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible.
Jesus showed people what God is like. He healed them and called them to follow Him. He told wonderful stories explaining how God wants all people to have a relationship with Him; to follow His ways and to help make the world as it was meant to be. He told them the most important thing was to love God with their whole being, and their neighbours as much as they loved themselves.
Jesus opened the door wide to all those who longed to come in. According to him, people didn’t have to be perfect to meet God; they just had to come with faith and trust. He put it this way: “Come to me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest.”
Jesus’ message and actions were challenging and controversial to the Jewish and Roman authorities. To them he was a trouble-maker. So they arrested and tortured him, then executed Him by crucifixion. He was in his early thirties when he died.
His friends went into hiding. It seemed all their hopes that this was the special man whom God had sent to free people and change the world had come to nothing. They thought they had backed the wrong person and were scared they too would be persecuted.
WHAT DO CHRISTIANS SAY ABOUT JESUS?
Three days after his death and burial, some of Jesus’ women friends went to his grave. They found the door open and his body missing. One of them, Mary Magdalene, recognised the man near the grave as Jesus Himself – and he was alive!
Soon, other friends met him in different places. They knew he wasn’t a ghost because they could touch him, talk with him and share food with him. They weren’t stupid or deluded. Like everyone, they knew that dead people don’t walk around, talk and share meals. They realised that what Jesus had said about his death and resurrection was true. Jesus was alive again.
Christians believe Jesus is alive today, and that he is God. We believe He shows us completely what God is like. We know that God does love the world, and wants it to be better, because of what we read about Jesus.
Through His words and actions Jesus brought God’s healing and forgiveness into the world. Because he was a real person, he experienced the same things we all do: love, pain, joy, sorrow, worry and hope. He understands what it is like to be human, how difficult and wonderful it can be.
We believe that, because of him, we can each be part of God’s family as we were always supposed to be. Not by trying to be someone else but by becoming the person God made us to be and to do the things he wants us to do. Jesus put it this way: “I have come so that everyone will have life, and have it in its fullest.”
WHAT DOES JESUS MEAN TODAY?
We believe that Jesus gives meaning and purpose to our lives:
WE CAN BE FORGIVEN FOR THE THINGS WE GET WRONG
WE CAN FIND PEACE, HEALING AND RENEWAL IN KNOWING GOD.
WE CAN FIND COMFORT IN WALKING WITH HIM EVERY DAY.
WE CAN FIND PURPOSE IN FOLLOWING JESUS, AND CONTINUING HIS WORK.
Christians aren’t always very good at this. We are far from perfect, and there are many nicer and better behaved people everywhere. That’s why we need Jesus.
We believe that, through Jesus, we can all enter into a relationship with God – a real, loving relationship. And God wants us to grow up. We are challenged to know God more deeply and live more and more according to what Jesus did and taught.
Fortunately we aren’t asked to be perfect to journey with God. He didn’t come to help those who have everything sorted but for those of us who are broken, vulnerable and flawed. He knows we won’t get things right, He knows we will fall down repeatedly. The trick is to keep getting back up to try again with his help.
The first step on the journey with God is recognising we can’t be the people we want to be alone. Each of us needs God’s help and love, and the help and love of others in the church. Here are the some stories of our individual journeys at Blairgowrie Parish Church. It’s a great journey, challenging sometimes and it changes us, but it’s worth more than anything. We’d love you to come and join us on it.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT JESUS AND CHRISTIANITY?
You can bring your questions and thoughts to us, just contact us. No question is silly or off-limits. Alternatively, come along to an Alpha Course, which we run regularly.