Occasionally I hear of someone who thinks that the story of Jesus as recorded in the Scriptures is more legend than fact. They assume that the accounts of Jesus Christ in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were the figment of some early church goer’s imagination.
If you fit that category can I ask you to consider the work of Dr. Sherwin-White? He was the great classical historian from Oxford University. With the care of laboratory scientist, Sherwin-White carefully examined the rate at which legends developed in the ancient world. After thorough study his conclusion on the matter was this: not even two full generations was enough time for legend to develop and to wipe out a solid core of historical truth.
What about the details regarding the life of Christ? Writes atheist-turned-Christian Lee Stroebel, “Historically speaking the news of his empty tomb, the eye-witness accounts of his post Resurrection appearances, and the conviction that He was indeed God’s unique Son emerged virtually instantaneously.”
When theologian Julius Muller in 1844 challenged anyone to find a single example of legend developing that fast anywhere in history, the response from the scholars of his day – and to the present time – was resounding silence.
So before you relegate the facts of who Jesus Christ was to legend, you better make sure you have all your facts about legends. There were far too many eyewitnesses, too many clear details, and far too many contemporaries of Jesus’ ministry who were living when the stories of his life began to circulate.
If you study the life of Christ carefully I believe you will come to the conclusion that it isn’t the stuff legends are made of. Jesus was Who He claimed to be. His story is fact not fiction. And His ability to change the lives of those who believe in Him further verifies this reality.