Jesus' Resurrection - Persecution
In 115 AD, Roman historian, Cornelius Tacitus, described the suffering of early Christians at the hands of their tormentors. Emperor Nero, in order to expand his Palace, had fires set to portions of Rome. These fires blazed out of control and became known as "the Great Fire of Rome." He then blamed these fires on the Christians and sparked a wave of persecution throughout the Roman Empire. Though the fiddle was not invented until some years later, this was the birth of the old saying, "Nero fiddled while Rome burned." Tacitus writes: "Consequently, to get rid of the report [that Nero ordered the fire] Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus (Christ), from whom the name had its origin, suffered extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberious at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much for the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of charioteer or stood aloft on a cart. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed."
Jesus' Resurrection - Historical Authorities
Jesus' resurrection and/or the persecution of His followers were documented outside of the Bible by the following historical authorities: Gaius Suetonius Tranquillas, , Thallus, Pliny the Younger, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and the Jewish Sanhedrin. Beyond these ancient historians, there are documents from other sources such as the 2nd century Greek satirist Lucian. John Foxe wrote the classic Foxe's Book of Martyrs, describing in detail Christian suffering from the deaths of 1st Century Christians up to the persecutions during the reign of Queen "Bloody" Mary in England. The Inquisition put to death 68 million Christians between 1200 AD and 1800 AD for their convictions regarding the fallacies of the Popes and their heresies against Christ. Again, those who were put to death could have their lives, if they would renounce their convictions and worship the Pope.
Jesus' Resurrection - Individual Decisions
The men who witnessed Jesus' resurrection testified to it with their lives. Their testimony, besides the compelling evidences presented in the Bible itself (such as incredible prophecy), has inspired millions more to follow suit—to suffer persecution and death at the hands of an unbelieving world for the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God Almighty. That He came to earth to die for our sins as was foretold in the Bible hundreds of years before His miraculous birth. That He died upon the cross and rose again. That He presented Himself to hundreds of disciples before returning to heaven. That He will return again at the end of the age. These men did not proclaim their beloved Gospel with their words. They cried out to the world with their very lives. This, as well as detailed prophecy and such compelling evidence as the empty tomb itself, add proof to their claims. Thus, mankind the world over has the opportunity to accept or reject the Resurrection based upon their own convictions. It is not for a lack of witnesses to the event, nor a lack of evidence.
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