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Faith Facts - Jesus Facts

 
Approximately 750 years before Christ's birth, the prophet Micah predicted the location of His birth. "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days." Micah 5:2   
The Prophet Zechariah prophesied of Jesus (Joshua) by name (520-518 B.C.), speaking of Him standing in filthy garments with Satan standing before God accusing Him. The filthy garments were replaced with clean clothes and the prophet is told that God would, "remove the iniquity of this land in a single day." Zechariah 3.  
The Old Testament contains over 300 passages that refer to the first coming of the Messiah. Within these prophecies, scholars have found 48 specific details about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. All this from passages written over five centuries before their fulfillment!  
Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman historian and governor of Asia [Turkey A.D. 112], confirmed many facts written about Jesus in the Gospels. While referring to the persecution of Christians at the hands of Nero he wrote, "Christus [Christ], the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also" (Annals XV 44). Tacitus, as a careful historian with access to the government archives of Rome, confirmed many details in the Gospels, Acts, and Romans.  
Lucian of Samosata [A.D. 125 to A.D. 180], a Syrian rhetorician and satirist, wrote of Jesus and His followers in his book The Passing Peregrinus. In it he says that Jesus was worshiped by his followers and was "the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world."  
Flavius Josephus was a Pharisee and priest living in Jerusalem who was born in A.D. 37. He personally witnessed the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. In A.D. 94, he published a study of the history of the Jewish people called Antiquities of the Jews. In it are passages concerning the events in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. "Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as received the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him: for he appeared to them alive again the third day: as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not e  
Plinius Secundus, a governor of the Roman province of Bithynia [Turkey A.D. 112], wrote that Christians were "in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verse a hymn to Christ as to a god, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to do any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up." In his Epistles X 96, he states that these believers would not worship Emperor Trajan and would not curse their leader, Jesus Christ, even under extreme torture. He stated they loved the truth at any cost and asked the emperor about how he should interrogate them.  
Suetonius, the official historian of Rome in A.D. 125, wrote of Christians causing disturbances in Rome which led to their being banished from the city. In his Life of Claudius (25.4) he identifies the sect of Christians as being derived from the "instigation of Chrestus" which was his spelling of the name Christ.  
In Josephus's book, Antiquities of the Jews (bk. XX, chap. IX, sect. 1) he described the death of James, the brother of Jesus. "As therefore Ananus (the High Priest) was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus (the Roman Procurator) was now dead, and Albginus (the new Procurator) was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned."   
Julius Africanus, a North African Christian teacher writing in A.D. 215, recorded the writing of a pagan historian Thallus who lived in A.D. 52.Thallus wrote of a miraculous darkness covering the earth at the Passover in A.D. 32. Julius Africanus writes, "Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun - unreasonably, as it seems to me." Julius goes on to explain how this explanation is unreasonable because a solar eclipse could not occur at the same time as the full moon and it was at the season of the Paschal full moon that Christ died.  
For years, many manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls remained unpublished. After a public relations campaign led by Biblical Archeology Review magazine demanded the release of the unpublished scrolls to other scholars, the last of the unpublished scrolls were released to the academic world. One of the most extraordinary of these scrolls released in 1991 referred directly to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It referred to "the Prophet Isaiah" and his Messianic prophecy that identified the Messiah as one who will suffer for the sins of his people. The scroll identified the Messiah as the "Shoot of Jesse" (King David's father) the "Branch of David," and declared that he was "pierced" and "wounded." The scroll goes on the describe the Messiah as a "leader of the community" who was "put to death." Clearly the Essene community who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls were influenced by the contemporary events taking place in Jerusalem!  
Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, a fascinating scroll discovered in Cave Four known as 4Q246 refers to the hope of a future Messiah. The text in the scroll refers to the Messiah as "the son of God" and the "son of the Most High." Clearly the writer of the scroll broke from typical Jewish beliefs of a Messiah as merely a future religious and political leader and embraced the Christian view of the Messiah. These titles are the exact words found in the Gospel of Luke.