Jesus tells us who he is.
John's Gospel gives us sections of teaching
that we do not find in any of the other three
Gospels. John underlines his picture of Jesus
with a series of sayings, all of which begin
with the words, "I am".
These sayings sum up who Jesus was and
what he had come to do:
"I am the bread of life. He who comes to me
will never go hungry, and he who believes in
me will never be thirsty."
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows
me will never walk in darkness, but will have
the light of life."
"I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever
came before me were theives and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them. I am
the gate; whoever enters through me will
be saved. He will come in and go out, and
"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep
and my sheep know me - just as the Father
knows me and I know the Father - and I lay
down my life for the sheep."
"I am the resurrection and the life. He who
believes in me will live, even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me will
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No
one comes to the Father except through
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a
man remains in me and I in him, he will bear
much fruit; apart from me you can do
Evidence outside the Bible.
The main sources we have for knowing
about Jesus come from the writings of
Christians, and especially from the New
Testament itself. But did any writers
outside the church say anything at all
Obviously the birth, life and death of the
founder of what was then merely another
Jewish sect did not greatly interest
historians and writers in the Roman Empire.
Yet several authors of the time refer to
Jesus, and two of them, living within a
century of Jesus' birth, are of particular
Josephus was a cynical Jewish historian who
became a member of the Roman civil service.
He was no friend of the growing Christian
faith, rather the opposite. But in his work
entitled "The Antiquities of the Jews", he
records the following information about
"At this time there was a wise man who was
called Jesus. And his conduct was good and
he was known to be virtuous. And many
people from among the Jews and from the
other nations became his disciples. Pilate
condemned him to be crucified and to die.
And those who became his disciples did not
abandon his discipleship. They reported that
he had appeared to them three days after
his crucifixion and that he was alive."
So here we have a non-Christian writer
telling us that Jesus lived, did good, had a
following, suffered, died and was reported
Josephus had no Christian axe to grind, yet
his record agrees substantially with the four
Tacitus was a Roman historian who married
the daughter of the Governor of Britain. In
one of his writings, he mentioned the
execution of Jesus at the order of Pontius
Pilate. In AD115 he recorded the persecution
of Christians in Rome by the Emperor Nero.
This is his account:
"Nero...punished with the utmost refinement
of cruelty a class hated for their
abominations, who are commonly called
Christians. Christus, from whom their name
is derived, was executed at the hands of the
Procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of
How we know about Jesus.
So through the writings of first-century
Christians and at least two authors outside
of the Christian faith, we are able to know
about the life and words of Jesus Christ.
Our knowledge of Jesus is far from being
shaky or uncertain. Critical study of the
gospels has shown that, even though we
cannot prove beyond all doubt the truth of
every single detail, they contain a reliable
core of historical information about Jesus.